In 2013, I called musician Luke Bern Carr's Pigrow EP "utterly mind-blowing." Produced by Deerhoof's John Dieterich, it remains one of the best albums I've ever heard in my life—local or not. As a precursor to Carr's full band project, Storming the Beaches With Logos in Hand, it set the stage for a dystopian sci-fi narrative universe about an apocalyptic, energy-obsessed future.
In 2015 with the full band, Carr released Southwick Howls, a sprawling concept record that further explored the fiction. Joined by such heavy-hitter Santa Fe musicians as Andrew Tumason, Jude Brothers, Leticia Gonzales, Will Dyar, Max Kluger-Bell and Peter Duggan (among numerous others), it's what I probably called a triumph at the time—hell, I probably used even more fawning language.
And then in 2017, on the cusp of STBWLIH's second full-length release, Bailiwick, Refused, Carr and some of his bandmates allowed me to conduct a series of long (and I mean long interviews) about the band's history, and the resultant Abridged Oral History of Storming the Beaches With Logos in Hand remains a fascinating look into how such a monumental project came to be, and what might happen in the future.
Today, I'm pleased to debut the video for Carr's newest song, "American Romantic" from the upcoming 8-track (number of songs, not the physical media, although that'd be pretty wild…and annoying, probably) album Have Had, out today, as well as a brief interview about some of went into the song and video.
SFR: I'm curious if this is in some way a successor to Pigrow (maybe just spiritually)?
Luke Bern Carr: Yes, Have Had is absolutely a successor to Pigrow. Mainly because it is a solo record, as opposed to a larger collaboration like Storming the Beaches. I actually talked to John Dieterich, who I worked with on Pigrow, about helping me produce Have Had. Like a Pigrow II. He encouraged me to take on the project on my own, especially from a production aspect, which really pushed me to further my skills in mixing and mastering. I'm forever chasing a sound in my head, and I really made progress during the production of this record in learning more about what that sound is and how to make it come alive. So, it turned out to be the 'no' I needed to hear. I'm really grateful he pushed me in that direction.
Is this more rooted in reality than Pigrow? if so, what made you step over into the REAL (as it were)?
Yes, Have Had is more rooted in reality, I suppose, because reality became more interesting and demanding of my attention than the fictional universe. For now. Even so, both realms do dance with one another, so I am sure the connections can be found.
Is the bent political, or am I just assuming because you used the word "America?"
(Laughs) I mean, yeah, and no. And yeah. It's interesting that the word 'America' can be so controversial, or risky, especially in a title, especially with a word like 'romantic' next to it. I like to think of the song like a road trip through the country, which I was doing a lot of while on tour before settling down to finish this solo record—especially through a lot of the south. Road trips through America are fascinating, especially when so much of the country is communicating and struggling to understand all of its parts through the internet/social media. Getting in the car and seeing people, hearing people—even holding doors for people at gas station rest stops—and getting into conversations can be an enlightening experience in such a siloed world. Politics is supposed to be about people, I think, and this song is certainly about people. So yeah, it's political.
Anything else you wanna add?
Yeah. I made this video well before the pandemic, before global quarantining and COVID. Y'know, before quarantine music videos were a thing. This was made in good-old-fashioned isolation, just me and a few cameras in a remote building in Northern New Mexico where I finished producing the album. I realize it's an old camera trick, the same person playing all the instruments, I was hoping to do it in a way that was subtle, tasteful and not overtly clear that it is me playing all the instruments. Which, I hope, is a reflection of the song and the album as a whole. I produced the whole thing myself, on purpose, so I wanted to do the same for the video.