Carnivores has been described as “tropical punk,” “psyche-surf,” and several other bizarre combinations that only arise in instances in which music journalists, desperate to pigeonhole bands as we are, must invent new subgenres in order to properly categorize something that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else. And maybe that’s the best descriptor of Carnivores’ music: It doesn’t quite fit anywhere else. The style certainly takes a great deal from the 1960s, with the Doors’ trademark carnival-of-the-damned keyboards and guitars that wouldn’t sound out of place on any of a few dozen surf- or acid-rock bands of the era.
But the Atlanta-based band isn’t merely a throwback outfit content to blend disparate sounds of ’60s nostalgia. Indeed, in its uncategorizeableness (Uncategorizability? Uncategorization? Whatever.) the group fits in nicely with a handful of weirdo-rock outfits such as Animal Collective. But there I go pigeonholing like the rest of my ilk. Best to just see the band for yourself. When I caught up with Carnivores’ former drummer and current guitarist, Ross Politi, the group had just finished off a show at the Earl in its native Atlanta.
Do you find there’s such a thing as home-field advantage when a band plays a show in its own town?
I want to answer that positively. It’s not that playing other places isn’t as cool. Things change, but I can’t say it’s a negative thing about other places. It’s just always a good energy level.
You just got home from playing some of those other places, no?
We were with Atlas Sound [the side project of Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox], on the West Coast with [Frank] Broyles, and on the last leg of the tour we were also with White Rainbow. We did … about a month and a half. Then we got home and went to South by Southwest five days after.
What’s the weirdest thing that happened on tour?
I don’t know any that are necessarily interesting off the top of my head. But everybody kept asking about the Minnesota Incident.
Every night on the tour was a different kind of show. Some nights, it was a very classy show, everybody did their thing. And other nights, we did different things. Some nights, like in Portland, everybody got onstage and played a Television cover. We all got onstage together in Minnesota, too, but there was no press there, so stories sort of grew. I guess there was one guy who didn’t have a good time. He was the guy yelling out “My Sharona” all night. So we played it. I don’t think it was necessarily to call out that guy. It was just a little more of a free-spirited thing. The people that worked at the club and all had a really great time.
How does that balloon into the Minnesota Incident?
Everybody got on stage and was dancing around, having a good time. So it was more of a party than some crazy scenario. We played “My Sharona” for 30 minutes, maybe a little longer, but afterward, they made it sound like it was an hour. It was this really fucked-up version, like this no-wave version of this song. And people loved it. People thought we were playing “My Sharona” just to be rude, but it was just for fun.
So, this guy was pulling a “Freebird” with “My Sharona”?
Right. There’s always some drunk idiot yelling “Freebird” or “Stairway.” Just the idea that you’re daring to say something so stupid makes it funny, I guess. So we all came out during Atlas Sounds’ set and just did this crazy, crazy “My Sharona.” They said a bunch of people ended up walking out, that they were scared, but that’s not how I saw it at all.
They said people were scared of your “Sharona”?
So, “My Sharona” won’t be on the upcoming album then. How’s that coming along anyway?
We just finished recording our third album, which will probably be out by the end of the year. It was recorded on tape at a studio called Living Room in Atlanta. A bunch of cool bands recorded there – Coat Hangars, Black Lips. We’re working on some other stuff too. But pretty much our stuff we play live now is from our newest album. And we’re a five-piece now, the last two [albums], we were a four-piece.
How’d that happen?
We went on a European tour, and a friend of ours named Billy Mitchell came on tour with us to do the merch. And we were working on some songs that needed two guitarists, so we said Billy, you take drums, and we’ll get me on guitar.
Speaking of home-field advantage, playing down here will be kind of the same thing for you.
I was born in Boca, moved [to Atlanta] in 2003. My mother’s husband got a job. I wasn’t planning on moving here, I just ended up staying. But I like South Florida. A lot of the reason I set up the Florida tour is to get back to this laidback place. A lot of the people we meet elsewhere are just so fast-paced. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but people we meet in Florida seem so much more supportive. A lot’s changed though. When I lived there, I knew Lake Worth cause I drive through it, but I never heard of a band playing there. I try to revisit all the old places, but a lot of it changes, between the hurricanes and the housing market falling.
Yeah, last time I was down there I think I went to the Bubble to see the Holy Terrors. There seemed to be a lot happening when I was a kid. I remember hearing that Against All Authority, the Violent Femmes, and Goldfinger played in the auditorium at FAU. But by the time I got to school there, there was nothing happening. I think that the only celebrity that went there Carrot Top. Great. That’s kinda cool, I guess.
You excited to see any bands this time around?
I like those Dewars boys, they’re fun. Excited to play with them, excited to go to South Florida and get to the beach.
Carnivores performs 9 p.m. Thursday, May 10 at Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., in West Palm Beach. Lille and the Dewars will also play. Admission is free Call 561-832-9999 or visit Respectablestreet.com.