As a man that lives and breathes for going to shows, one of my favorite things is seeing a band I have never heard of and being completely blown away by their performance. This happened back in October 2014 when I saw a band Slingshot Dakota, a dynamically talented duo. They filled in for a recently disbanded Hostage Calm at a You Blew It! show in Amityville. It was clear that these two had wonderful chemistry, come to find out this is because they are married. The blistering drums, commanding vocals, and unforgettable drum faces had lasting effects on me. I jumped at the opportunity to see them again in January (2015). That show was captivating, I saw cute girls and burly bearded dudes united in singing along with Slingshot Dakota, myself included! As it turns out, not only are they great musicians but they are also awesome people as they let us score an interview with them. One of our very talented show photographers, Rebecca Weinberg, showcases her interview skills below. Enjoy!
I have never interviewed a band before. It was basically like a blind date, but alas my partner in crime err music, Tyler Holland, couldn’t make it so I sucked it up and grew a pair.
When I arrived at the new-ish venue, Aviv, in the East Williamsburg/Greenpoint area of Brooklyn, I met Carly Commando and Tom Patterson, the awesomely talented husband and wife duo. They radiated friendliness. They knew who I was because of Tom’s infamously epic “Drum Face Collage” that I created for Tyler’s “Baby’s All Right” show review back in January…and then they invited me back to their van. What awaited me in this van (which I must mention was parked in a desolate semi-creepy area of BK) was an awesome conversation about music, life, and last meals.
Carly: Do you wanna do the interview in our van? We are doing this in the dark, we’re doing the interview in our van, Tom propped his seat back, he’s in nap position.
Rebecca: We’re in a creepy van on a random side street and there’s nothing around.
Carly: There is nothing around.
Rebecca: Ok so my first question is….What are you currently listening to?
Carly: Ooooh we’re currently listening to 880 AM radio to hear the traffic, BUT before that it was “What the Fuck with Marc Maron.” We pretty much listen to podcasts non-stop especially on tour because we’re surrounded by so much music. Sometimes we need like a palette cleanser. Marc Maron is a comedian, he’s hilarious and he has pretty great guests on. He’s got that New York humor, very dry. He’s hilarious and lovable all the same.
Tom: And he does great interviews.
Carly: We listen to that and then Tom works at a record store in Easton, PA so he just has this huge box of crazy CDs. We’ve been reliving the ’90s in the van. We’re listening to the first Hole record.
Tom: We just listened to the first Hole record and I’ve never listened to the whole thing before.
Carly: Some songs are great, some of the songs we’re like “what is happening?”
Tom: It’s very raw and there’s not a lot of hooks.
Carly: Even the great ones you know, you can hear what was good and what they worked on for Live Through This, which is one of my favorite albums ever.
Tom: Hmm the new Cloakroom record is amazing, man not a lot of new stuff lately.
Carly: The most recent music we bought was our friend’s band in Bethlehem, PA called VoirVoir and they’re awesome. They just came out with a full length.
Rebecca: So what do you think are your biggest influences?
Carly: Oh man, I’m gonna go for, being on the ’90s kick, my general answer to this question is that I grew up listening to whatever my parents put on. I never really fought that, I never really thought “ew your music sucks” even though I probably said it. Deep down inside, when I hear the songs my parents would play for us on car trips now, there’s something incredibly comforting about them. Their music was James Taylor and Carly Simon, that’s not bad music at all. They listened to safe music, The Beatles. My parents were never druggies in HS, they were straight laced. When I was able to buy my own music, Live Through This by Hole, was the first album I bought and The Blue Album by Weezer. So that stuff resonated with me and then I did the thing where I’d listen to the radio and tape the songs I loved. The most influential time for me was listening to music in high school, you know, “Carly’s Mixtape” was what I played on repeat. Now as an adult, I think because I see music all the time, I take it in a live setting and then when I go home I shut it off, tune it out. It’s weird, there’s people that are like me out there, I know it and if you’re reading this interview please email me because I feel crazy! There’s people who fill up their iPods and computers and brains with music, and I love them for it but I find something that I take comfort in and I’ll just listen to that for a year, then find something else for the next.
Tom: I’m the total opposite, I love everything. Ever since I was a little kid, I was totally obsessed with music, influenced by everything. During high school was the time when I got real deep into it. Around that time I was listening to rap, punk, hardcore, I graduated in 1996. That’s when I was discovering my local punk scene. I grew up in Easton, PA. Of course Nirvana and Pearl Jam were really big bands for me. I was in 9th/10th grade and I taught myself how to play drums listening to those bands. I fell in love with Dave Grohl when I first saw the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” He just had a different style to him, it was cool. When I was younger growing up I was really into hair metal too.
Rebecca: Do you have any favorite albums of 2014?
Tom: Man, I had everything on my top list written out. My favorite record of the whole year was the Run The Jewels record. That got me so hyped up. Their first record, I listened to over and over and over again. I thought if they could just capture the first record and add a little to it, it would be so good. Everything was perfect. And to be honest, I was so deep into working, I just didn’t have time to keep up with all the new music. I’ve got lists made up of bands I need to check out on Spotify.
Carly: I’m so terrible at this. I had made a list of people I was inspired by. I’m actually really bad at making lists. I need to try to immerse myself in more music for sure. Every time we have an interview, they ask what we’re listening to and I’m like a deer in headlights. It makes me realize I don’t listen to a lot of stuff. I’ll listen for a little and I’m either really into it or not at all.
Tom: I also stop suggesting bands to Carly, because she has to have her own time and space planned out for new music, which I totally understand.
Carly: The thing that’s good is that Tom is the driver for tour, like 90% of the time, so I have no problem with him putting stuff on that’s gonna motivate him. I want myself to be exposed to music because I’m terrible at doing it on my own. Tom plays stuff and I’ll either be so stoked on it that I want to listen to all the time and if not, at least I’m aware of it.
Tom: That new Wye Oak record.
Carly: Oh man, ok that’s the record I listened to over and over. Obsessed with it. We saw them live and we didn’t know they came out with a new record, they played all of it. It was so amazing that I didn’t care that I didn’t know it. The sound at Union Transfer [in Philly] was so good that it just put me in a beautiful moment. Then we found out at the same time that there was a bed bug infestation at our neighbor’s, so now I will always remember that terrible time and associate it with this great album unfortunately. I had to stop listening to the record basically! I think they had to get in a company like the Pest Control Experts to get it all sorted out, it was rough!
Carly: Oh wait who am I thinking of, Purity Ring…
Tom: And Chairlift.
Carly: Yes! The woman who sings in Chairlift has the most insanely awesome voice ever. She can do amazing things with it and it’s the most beautiful artistic voice ever.
Tom: We’ll play it for you, I think you’ll like it. I think they’re from Brooklyn.
Carly: This is a good thing and a bad thing though, which I think is what makes Slingshot Dakota just inherently weird, because my influences are still what they were when I was 15. So there’s bands coming out that cater to what’s cool, and since I don’t listen to “what’s cool,” or I don’t know if I like it, I feel like that makes us forever stand out. My brain opens up like once a year to new music apparently, it’s very weird. When we see shows, I watch every band. I’m totally there and everyone that we see I enjoy, unless they’re total assholes. It’s hard for me to get past that point to want to take home the good records. There are times, because the way me and Tom are live, it’s different from the recording, which is what we’re trying to bridge the gap between on the new record. We want the raw energy to come through on it. I like actually watching music before I listen, because I feel I’ll get a better perception. I like to know the people doing it aren’t jerks. That the people I’m supporting are nice people. I don’t care if they’re socially awkward or they’ve got issues or whatever, that’s probably what makes their art absolutely beautiful and amazing. I like to see it’s genuine, so I love seeing people live.
Rebecca: So you have a date for the new album?
Carly: So, the whole month of March is recording time. We’re trying to have it out ideally by September so we can tour.
Rebecca: Is there a name yet?
Carly: Haha, no. So far, the only title is Greatest Hits. That’s all we have.
Rebecca: Are you guys doing it on your own? Unsigned, signed?
Carly: We don’t even know. Dark Hearts came out on Top Shelf, Golden Ghost was self-released. Keener Sighs came out on Immigrant Sun Records, but that was when the band was completely different. We’ve had three different like, growth spurts as a band, but yeah not sure yet.
Rebecca: I have to ask the most obvious question, how did you guys meet?
Carly: So, Slingshot Dakota was originally me and my friends Jeff and Pat. Pat was in a band on hiatus, so when they reunited, he left and we needed a fill in drummer. Tom, we knew him because he booked shows at his house in PA. He was in a bunch of bands too. We all played shows together, it was a DIY community, you know NY, NJ, PA, we all kinda knew each other. Tom heard we needed a fill in drummer and he was like “oh I’d love to play.” And I was like “that guy? He’s gonna play drums in our indie band, doesn’t he play hardcore music?” I didn’t even think he played drums at all. I thought “is he even good?!” Little did I know, haha. He was amazing, incredibly abrasive but all his parts were perfect. I was just like, yeah, you’re in.
Tom: I had just gotten out of playing in other bands. I had been playing you know, punk and hardcore, at that point for almost 10 years. I was in the mode of playing super loud, and Slingshot Dakota, I had seen them play and I became a fan instantly. They’re way more mellow, so I knew I had to change my playing. I played a lot heavier, faster.
Carly: There’s this picture, I need to find it because I mention it all the time. The first show we ever played is me and Jeff singing, we look like little angels in a soft moment and then you look at Tom behind us and his sticks are in the air and his mouth is wide open and it literally looks like we photoshopped him in. He doesn’t look like he is a part of what’s happening at all! I remember thinking: “This is now the band. Whatever is happening here, this is now Slingshot Dakota.” I loved that Tom was a complete weirdo in this band. Eventually we started writing with Tom, so he stayed in the band. Then Jeff wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue music. We had booked a tour so if he wasn’t sure, this was the time to move on. We re-thought everything as a 2-piece. Golden Ghost was the most urgent record ever because we needed to get it out for people to hear right before just the 2 of us started touring. We were very insecure for a while actually. Our friends loved it though so that helped propel us.
Rebecca: So the first time Tyler and I saw you guys, we were sitting at a table at Revolution in Amityville, NY. I was like “they are definitely together, they are a couple.” So obviously, you guys are married. Is there a different connection being in a band with your spouse as opposed to platonic band members?
Carly: Ok I’m gonna liken it to this, as I got older I feel like my ability to live with roommates got less and less achievable. Does that make sense? As I got older I craved alone time. With a band, it’s sort of the same thing as your friends, you get fed up more easily, they can annoy you. When living with a significant other or whatever, I’ve never felt that same animosity. I’ve gotten stupidly mad at a normal roommate which can be compared to a bandmate. Your partner is all there for you, they are not just an independent person hanging around. Tom is the only person I want to live with, so I view it the same way with the band. This is my life. Music all the time. There’s no one I’d rather do it with than Tom. It’s so easy to tour together. We fight like anyone else but it’s rare, honestly. I love it. You don’t ever have to put on an act. Your significant other gets you in a way no one else does. The hardest part about it is writing songs.
Tom: It’s easier to take it personally if your partner doesn’t like something you’ve done because when you’re in a band with someone and they tell you they don’t like the part you’ve done, you let it roll off. if Carly says it a certain way, I’m like “Oh, so you don’t like me.” [Laughs] Even though it’s not like that!
Carly: That’s the bad part, the hardest part. Writing new songs in the hardest thing. I go to practice knowing a new song is going to be so good but I struggle to communicate to Tom how the song should be. I know he’ll put up a fight emotionally if I don’t like something he does for the band. I’ll tell him don’t take it personally and he’ll be like, “ok we’re good!” Then I’ll see him over there in the corner looking all mad. It’s hard to communicate when I don’t play drums.
Tom: Also, there’s a lot of stress on Carly because I only play drums. She has to come up with everything pretty much. I can only write so many drum beats. It’s easier for me to write around her than it is for her to write around me. When she comes to practice, it’s hard enough that you just wrote a new song, now you’re sharing it with your husband and it’s very personal.
Carly: Writing a song is a very vulnerable thing with anybody.
There are times where I know I’ll cry when I sing it the first time.
Tom: With other bandmates you can get in a band fight, you can be nervous about sharing a song and then you can just separate and go home. With us, we go to band practice together, we drive home together and then we hang on the couch all night together. It’s difficult, the constant conversations about each of us liking what the other is doing. We try to divide the band responsibilities to what each of us are good at. Carly’s good with money, talking to venues and booking. I’m good at hulking out on all the equipment and getting us to the shows.
Carly: We’re the yin and the yang. I love being married and I love being in a band. It definitely has its hardships, it’s not the easiest thing. But we’re both in it together. We’re out there meeting cool people, playing shows and going around the country together. We’ll plan vacations from music, just to make a line between band and couple. Sometimes we need to make a physical distance between band and our relationship to just focus on us. I honestly love it though. Man, I really love being with Tom, it’s the best. So even if anything ever happened with the band, Tom’s first, I tell him that all the time. If this gets too crazy, we’re stressing out and our relationship suffers because of the band, the band stops.
Tom: I think it’s great. We like being around each other. We’re best friends. We were friends before we started dating. We were in the band, we didn’t know each other very well, then when Jeff left, we got to know each other really well. We still didn’t start dating till months later. I always loved going on tour with all my bands in the past and the worst part was leaving my significant other behind. Now, I get to do all of the things I love with Carly, we get to share all the same experiences.
Rebecca: One last question, what would your final meal be?
Carly: Oh god I think about this all the time.
Tom: This is the hardest question oh god.
Carly: I’m gonna go with sushi.
Tom: Dude, I was gonna say the same thing.
Carly: Yeah, “Bamboo.” All those crazy ass rolls. There’s this place called Bamboo in Allentown, PA that we eat at. Some crazy platter of sushi, and I would eat it all.
Rebecca: You’d each get your own platter?
Carly: Oh yeah!
Tom: Of course, c’mon. I mean last meal?
Carly: If we’re gonna have our last meal, we’re gonna have it together, we’re gonna high-five and then say “See ya, on the otherside.”
Thanks to Slingshot Dakota for hanging with me! Keep your eye out for their new album being released in Fall 2015 and then proceed to buy it!
Slingshot Dakota Interview by Rebecca Weinberg.
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