TP Mix #145 – Guerilla Toss

Like a melting pot of potential, band Guerilla Toss expand their sound with a more electronic-infused direction. The result is an electronic rock-infused odyssey with whimsical characteristics. Consisting of vocalist and songwriter Kassie Carlson, instrumentalist Peter Negroponte and guitarist Arian Shafiee the band explore topics like substance abuse and mental health. Guerilla Toss anticipate releasing their forthcoming album ‘Famously Alive’ via Sub Pop on the 25th of March, until then we are pleased to share an exclusive mix from the band along with a Q&A with band member Peter.

Enjoy the mix below:

Set the tone for us. Why the arts? 

It’s the only thing I was ever alright at. Being creative is a blast, and when it’s going well, it’s a great buzz! Way better than drugs, almost as good as ice cream!!

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea? 

Cool question. It varies. We are a “rock” band but our latest record was written entirely on a computer during pandemic times. I’d say half the songs were produced based on digital sounds, mangled synths, noises, samples, etc – a combination of unrelated sounds that determined a harmonic zone and mood to work within. The other half was written based around riffs or drum beats, and often times those elements will come from a pretty basic concept or idea. Like, let’s have a “punk” song on the record, not an actual punk song, but a song that has a relentless bashing beat the entire time. And with a blown-out 808 instead of a bass guitar or whatever – now we’re cooking. 🙂

Does your material feature any collaborations? 

Outside of Kassie, Arian and myself, Nick Forte co-wrote 2 songs with us. He’s a great artist and lives in our town, so we like to get together and mess around with ideas and share what we’ve been working on. He’s made lots of great electronic/noise/experimental music over the years, currently plays in the metal/punk band Raspberry Bulbs, and was a founding member of legendary ’90s hardcore unit Rorschach. He’s a bit older and has been doing this longer than us – he’s turned me onto lots of cool shit. The title track of ‘Famously Alive’ is a collaboration with one of my oldest college buddies Jon Tatelman who releases music and performs under Jonny Kosmo. The lyrics are from a poem he wrote years ago. Another collaboration was with our friend Wes Kaplan, who contributed guitar to one of the new tracks.

What’s on your current playlist? 

Mostly chill, current, electronic/pop with very pleasing soundscapes and aesthetics that I find inspiring. 

  1. Andy Stott – ‘Versi’
  2. Water From Your Eyes – ‘Quotations’
  3. Zuli – ‘Penicillin Duck’
  4. No Joy – ‘Four’
  5. Arca – ‘Waste’
  6. Lyra Pramuk – ‘Gossip’
  7. Severed Heads – ‘We Have Come To Bless The House’
  8. Helm – ‘I Knew You Would Respond’
  9. NTsKi – ‘1992’
  10. TNGHT – ‘Clever Pants’ 
  11. DJ Rashad – ‘I Don’t Give A Fuck’
  12. My Idea – ‘Keep Lying To Me’
  13. Yacht – ‘Stick It To The Station’
  14. Giant Claw – ‘Soft Channel 008’

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage. 

We get them moving, it’s extremely fun. NYC goes especially hard which is a treat because I find most NYC “rock” crowds to be shy about moving. Kassie connects with them the hardest. She brings it.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound? 

On a technical level – learning new production tricks, software, experimenting with different textures and timbres to find things that sound somewhat unique. I go down rabbit holes on YouTube watching how different producers work, learning about the hottest new plugin that makes your mix sound like it was recorded underwater, or on the moon,  or even in hell. On a songwriting level – it’s fun to combine different genres and influences into one song, making as many odd choices as possible. On an experiential level – relentlessly digging for inspiration from all music genres, from all eras, from books, movies, TV, nature, hiking, etc. I find the older I get, the more I realize how little I know about everything, so there’s this drive to keep searching for new information. It’s fun.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

Depends where in the process we are, but generally, a day in the studio is just focused work, some laughs, nothing particularly exciting or unique. Tracking usually happens quickly, and everything is done separately – drums, bass, etc. The real fun is in the production and mixing. This record was different because we spent over a year just writing it at home and making detailed “demos” – producing it to the best of our ability before actually hitting the studio and doing it all over again.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”? 

Not sure there was ever a moment, but I started playing music when I was 12. I took drum lessons from this amazing percussionist named Annette Aguilar. She was deep into Latin Jazz and Samba and she was tough too – she’d be pissed if I didn’t practice! I was a weird kid – very dyslexic, awful at school, terrible at sports. Music came somewhat naturally once I started experimenting with it. I realized pretty quickly that it was my passion and just kept doing it

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set? 

Mint chewing gum and water.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

I like the band Water From Your Eyes, I think their records are great and I’m happy to see them doing well and being recognized. The dude Nate also has a band called My Idea with our old friend Lily Konigsberg that I included on the playlist. Her solo work is fantastic too. I really like what that crew is doing with electronic/pop/rock music zones.

What gets your creative juices flowing? 

When the weather is nice – hiking. Kassie and I live 2 hours upstate from New York City on a mountain in the sky in the middle of nowhere. When I’m walking in the woods, I start hearing fun melodies and beats or riffs in my head. Then I turn around, go home, and start messing around on the computer. In the winter I watch movies most nights. I love actors and characters, cinematography and stories. After watching a good movie I feel very inspired to write music.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression. 

To make demos I work in Logic with midi and soft synths, as well as some old analog synths. My guitar and bass are always in reach. Every once in a while, a song I start on guitar will become a thing. Nothing too crazy.

Any side projects you’re working on? 

No, not really. I’m always messing around and writing, making beats and such. If anything is really great it usually ends up being a GT thing.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry? 

Learning to produce and record my own music was huge. I didn’t start doing that until around 2016. It’s hard to write songs or riffs and then have to wait a week until band practice to mess with it. I’ve always been pretty fluent on drums, guitar, bass, and keyboards, so once I figured out how to record it all I finally was able to get deep into songwriting/producing on my own (and sometimes with Arian Shafiee the GT guitar shredder) – at least the instrumental parts. Kassie writes all the lyrics and many of the melodies over whatever I or we come up with.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year? 

Our record drops March 25th on Sub Pop and then we tour forever! Until we make the next record. The Sub Pop thing is a dream come true. So grateful to get to work with them!!!

Famous last words?

Take the brown acid…?


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