Born and raised in East Los Angeles, Joe Cardamone of Icarus Line is no stranger to the changing face of LA's ever-growing music scene. Does he give a fuck about what anyone else is doing? Probably not. Joe has been the center of Icarus Line through its many changes in line-up.
Icarus Line is one of the last great rock-n-roll bands. Critics often liken the band to our generation's answer to the Ramones or the Stooges. Icarus Line is known for their high-energy performances on stage and, over the years, have been regarded as one of the more outspoken LA music acts. The Icarus Line’s new album, All Things Under Heaven, was released worldwide last week via American Primitive / Agitated Records.
Hear what Joe has to say about the first guitar he ever bought, rap music, recording, and the worst show he's ever played.
Have you been in any other bands besides Icarus Line?
The Icarus Line is the only band I've ever been in. I've done side projects with folks, been on other records, but nothing that I would call a band or group. I've been asked to be in other bands but I never saw the point.
Who are the members of Icarus Line?
We are all raw talent, not interested in indie rock super groups so no...no one is from anywhere. Just a bunch of scum from around the way, like me.
How would you describe Icarus Line's sound?
Romantic meat-grinder american primitive.
What bands do you draw inspiration from?
Recently Alice Coltrane's been on a lot. I like the new ASAP Rocky album as well. There are a bunch of great rap records this year. Vince Staples. Watts. I saw a Travis Scott show a few weeks ago. It was interesting for about four songs then I got bored and went home. Kids seemed to think it was the place to be.
You have a studio now. What was your favorite band to record there?
My band–because they don't care what happens. They just play and I hit record and then join them. That's about as good as it gets right there. They know if they play right it will sound right and that's all there is to know. It's really simple and fun when you boil it down that way. Besides my band, I did a bunch of fun records recently, including Destruction Unit and Pink Mountaintops. I produced on both those.
Do you prefer to record analog or digital?
It doesn't matter, really. Whatever you got. I can make anything work at this point. I do a hybrid of the two mostly. We don't fuck with actual tape too much. Why? We're not geeks. We don't need that shit. Digital is tape. Either you have the stuff or you are fronting. That's all there is to it. I've done tape plenty in my life. It's dead now. Anyone who says it ain't is dreaming and the alarm clock will probably never go off. At the end of the day none of that stuff matters if you have a good musical idea.
How and why did you first pick up the guitar?
I picked one up by saving money being an alter boy at weddings in the church. Why? Probably Guns 'n Roses. It took me a minute to get one after I figured out I needed one though. My family didn't have a lot money back then so I had to save up.
Who were your main early influences?
Micheal Jackson and the Beatles as a child. Guns 'n Roses, 60s and 70s rock as a young boy. In middle school it was alternative punk rock bands of all sorts–then off into crazier shit as life got crazier.
What was your first instrument?
My first guitar was found miraculously across the street at a yard sale after I had been saving dough and basically waiting for one to appear that I could afford. It was a Les Paul copy and Im pretty sure it was $40. That was a lot of money to me because I didn't ever have any money that was mine. I woke up in the morning, looked out my parents front window, and saw it laying there across the street. The fucking thing was so beautiful to me but it didn't even work. It took another month for me to earn money to get it operational.
What other instruments do you play?
I'll play on whatever is around I guess. Im not trained on anything really.
Tone-wise, what is your favorite recording setup ? Amps, pedals, guitars, mics, etc?
I use a Jag a lot these days. I can make them sound like shards of glass to the eyes. Amps? Whatever is there. Pedals? Any four pedals will usually make something cool happen. I think tone is all in your hands or connection to your instrument. Gear can only cover a weak hand for so long. It's really all about sexual thrust isn't it? Look at Johnny Thunders or Jeffery Lee Pierce. Enough said.
If you had to pick one pedal you could not live without which would that be?
Most of the time I play electric guitar not plugged into an amp. I only use amps when I have to play with the band. To answer the question, a spring reverb can be useful.