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Interview: Douglas Von Irvin’s Carnival
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
When I was in kindergarten I saw the “Monkees” TV show and fell in love with music that year. Later, in my pre-teens, I heard the album, Kiss Alive. Then, I heard more albums and saw the photos of “Kiss” in magazines. Their cinematic approach to the music was thrilling and exciting. I loved the monster and fantasy characters all four of them portrayed while performing. From then on, I wanted to be in a band. If I hadn’t gone into music I certainly would have went for acting.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I enjoy films and art and find most of my muses from classic horror films.
How long has your band been around?
We met October 2018, in Las Vegas and went to work immediately.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We are based in Toronto and the San Francisco Bay Area. It has influenced us to indulge in our eclectic musical tastes.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
With our band name we wanted something bigger to describe the large scope of what we offer our listeners musically and lyrically. I enjoyed a horror movie from the 60’s called “Carnival of Souls” , and I thought would be in line with our timeless, eclectic, rocknroll revival music. So, we kept the “Carnival” part of the movie title. With our name, we decided to present me as the ringleader of a carnival, singing songs about unearthly characters doing their own things and being themselves.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
January 2020 we played the Viper Room in Hollywood on the same day as releasing our first single “Cave Man Rock”. After our performance, we had a blast, having dinner in
Jack Webb’s booth, across the street at The Rainbow room. Last spring, I played a music festival in northern California, just after covid restrictions were lifted. During our performance, expressions on the faces of our audience was priceless. It seemed like we were all experiencing a concert for the first time. It was wonderful.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
My favorite venue to play is in California called Art Boutiki, because it’s like a speakeasy. We are definitely ready to move up to larger venues.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Kiss, for their fireworks show.
Rob Zombie, for his horror show.
Flaming Lips, for their magic show.
And, Douglas Von Irvin’s Carnival for the sideshow!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
It’s not how many notes you play, it’s how you play them.
The only difference between a pro musician and an amateur, is a pro musician will play within their own abilities.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Never quit. Once a musician, always a musician.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Our song “Punk Rock Heart” is my favorite because of the collaborative journey it traveled to be recorded. First, I took a songwriting class with Gene Simmons (Kiss). I had a melody and lyric for a chorus about my feral cat to share at the class. After Gene loved
it, I brought it back to my band feeling like the song had a very important person give it a thumbs up. Well, my songwriting partners, Dr. Prycenstein, and Matt Starr (drummer with Ace Frehley) decided I needed to change the subject from a cat, to a girl with feral tendencies. At first I was not sure about the lyric’s subject change, but now I couldn’t agree more. I always think about my songwriting partners and their input, when I hear people sing along with me when I perform it live. Cats aren’t for everybody, but everyone knows a girl that they love.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
My favorite song to perform live is called “Cave Man Rock”. Recently, I have been singing it and the crowd has been following my cue to beat their chests like King Kong and sing the chorus along with me. Our song “Vampire Lovers” is the most requested by the girls because it’s sincere song about choosing to be less self-centered.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
My favorite start for a writing a song is when Dr. Prycenstein sends me a two part guitar arrangement with a rhythm and lead guitar. I let the tone of his guitar melody, or hook send me in the direction of one of the basic human emotions. Because I love cinema (especially the spooky stuff), I like to start with some sort of fictional character or creature when I first begin writing the lyrics. Then, I add a goal, or wish, or declaration based on my own wishes, or something universal to people everywhere. Finally, we edit lyrics together to make sure my basic message is understood. I am inspired by songs that give hope, and can give a person a break from everyday life, even if the break lasts three and a half minutes.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Bottom line, I think Andy Warhol said it best when he said, “I think everybody should like everybody”
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Well, once in while, I want to play guitar onstage. Dr. Prycenstein and I were rehearsing for a gig with our producer/co-writer/drummer Matt Starr. Matt Starr told me to “put the guitar down, and stated that the guitar was the equivalent of kryptonite to my super-powers as a frontman for our band.” Dr. Prycenstein agreed with Matt. So, to get along with my collaborators I keep my guitar playing in the studio and never touch Dr. Prycenstein’s amp before a show.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We are continuing to write, perform live, and collaborate with TV and film productions. The next song to be released will be a remix of our song “Monster Pool Party” by Dos Feratu from Los Angeles. We are very excited about it!