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Home » Rock n Rolla

Upstream unorthodoxy

Submitted by on February 11, 2010 – 9:45 amNo Comment


Neil White and Jahmal Tonge utilize a style that sees them swimming upstream. Collectively known as The Carps, White and Tonge, equipped with only a drum kit and bass, practice an art aptly known as eardrum unorthodoxy. Though still in their nascent stage, it’s only a matter of migrations before these small fish in a big, frozen pond, break out and flood Canada with their sick sounds. Martyr’s Remi L. Roy caught up with the two over myspace to discuss Harper’s Conservatives, gay-bomb initiatives in the States and The Young and Passionate Days of Carpedia.

RLR-Could Lupe Fiasco potentially save Canada from Harper and his Conservatives?

Jahmal-Definitely not. Nobody can. They are too powerful in this world of fear mongering. The only way to get free of their agenda is to educate ourselves. The Globe and Mail won’t tell you what’s really up.

RLR-“The Carps isn’t just the name of the band,” you told Lindsay Kneteman of The New pollution, “it’s a word to describe the friendship.” Can you explain?

Neil-Jahmal and I came to be friends largely due to our respective outlooks on life; that is to say we held a common lust for life. This is a defining feature of our personalities, and it explains how we are able to get along with each other so well. The Carps, short for carpe diem, speaks to this common interest of making the most out of our days, and seizing life by its reins.

RLR-In that same article she writes that you and Neil met when you were 11, while Cameron Gordan reports that you met in church during your tweens. Who’s got their facts straight?

Jahmal-Both. We met in our youth, at church.

Neil-We were probably about 13 when we really started to hang out, but met at around age 11.

RLR-Why do people call Scarborough a “pretend hood?”

Jahmal-I think I’m the only one to ever say that. I think that Canadian kids need to go to Marcy Projects and south side Chicago. South Keys Ottawa has a fairly new strip mall. Canadians don’t know what the ghetto really is. But they wish it upon themselves.

RLR-How did it feel to record The Young and Passionate Days of Carpedia in The Roots’ studio in Philadelphia?

Neil-It was an incredibly humbling experience. There we were – two young ragamuffins who just drove a compact car 12 hours to be confronted by walls upon walls of gold records signed by the likes of Justin Timberlake and Jennifer Lopez. We will forever be grateful to Larry Gold for granting us such an opportunity. Songs that were recorded there, such as Seed 2.0 were instrumental in defining our musical interests, and in inspiring our talents.

RLR-What exactly is Carpedia?

Jahmal-Carpedia is one of the seven islands of the Carpian empire, and is the second closest island to the mainland (the first being Flemingdia). Most of the islands off the coast of Carpedia were reclaimed by the Carpedian crown during the reign of Carpsian X. Very little is known of Carpedia. Its name means “land of the young and passionate beings.”

RLR-In a review for the EP, Andrew Chin wrote, “Perhaps the jungles of Sri Lanaka still run through his veins, though he could never lose class and distinction that only he, as a real British bloke, could carry.” Do you agree or refute?

Neil-I’d say this is a pretty accurate description of my personality. I’ve always been deeply involved with academic research (often under British tutors, and in tropical jungles), but have balanced this against a rock and roll sort of social culture.

RLR-Jahmal, how influential was your father’s record collection during your younger years as a “soul junkie?”

Jahmal-My father’s records molded my voice, my approach to song writing and generally gave me a swagger.

RLR-What’s your take on the gay-bomb initiative in the U.S.?

Jahmal-I think it was a funny joke someone in America took too far. But the governing bodies sincerely do want to kill gays, blacks and Jews…NOT so funny.

RLR-The sound has been described as: “Punk rock with a gun to R&B’s head on the dance floor.” Is this an accurate assessment?

Jahmal-Yes. Totally.

RLR-Given The Carps’ style of eardrum unorthodoxy, still any fear of falling into what Jahmal called the “I dunno what to do what to do with these guys category?”

Jahmal-We will always be the odd men out – we just have to roll with it.

RLR-Are you the first rock band to switch from singing about fat bottom girls to black bottom girls?

Jahmal-The booty doesn’t have to be black – just big.

Neil-I don’t always enjoy such big booties.

RLR-“Life is a journey then if you’re lucky you get to see triumph – but it’s one of those things that could go either way.” Any predictions of what the future holds for The Carps?

Jahmal-Hopefully a nice career making music, chilling out with my wife and kids and strumming an acoustic guitar. Life is long. Do it well, and enjoy it.

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