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Carrie Nation And The Speakeasy Expands Boundaries With 'Gnosis'

Jesse Nichols

Carrie Nation and The Speakeasy issues its new album, Gnosis, on July 4. The record is a succinct portrait of the Kansas band at this moment in time. Fusing elements of jazz, traditional roots music and adding some additional experimental threads, the record is another step in the group's evolution.

Founding member, guitarist and vocalist Jarrod Starling recently discussed the album's origins and the decade-plus the band has spent as a recording, performing and touring entity.

Interview Highlights

It strikes me that you have something on your mind when you're writing. What was going on with this material?

I like to read stuff and regurgitate it into songs. Reading this and that from different places and different angles about old pervasive truths that have been, in one way or another, proven or fortified by modern science or modern thinking, these old truths that persist and the idea, whether or not through science or through our acquiring of knowledge we're getting closer and closer to some real truth or if we're getting farther and farther away from it considering that these old, what were taken as truths thousands of years ago, have persisted. These concepts, these ideas that have kept their strength through the years, that's where the idea of the album came from and the beginning of the songs.

You've made this album so that it's one continuous piece.

There are six tracks, but they all float into each other and, hopefully, flow into each other. It's set up like an old concept album. It's not prig by any means, but it's set up in that vein of creating a piece of art as opposed to a collection of songs. We wanted to make this release as its own piece of music. It's got fast stuff, it's got instrumental stuff, it's got spacey, ambient, ethereal stuff. A lot of work was put in by the producer and mixer, Johnny Kenepaske in Kansas City with Dead Horse Sound.

He did a great job making some real cool soundscapes, helping us get away from that acoustic boom-chick-boom-chick. There's still a lot of fast, aggressive stuff in it but we wanted to inject some space into it, he was really happy to do that. He got to play with some of his old tape delay, his toys. It was really cool. Cool experience recording it.

Each of your recordings has been a little bit different than the previous one. Is there part of you that knows there's a fan base that expects certain things from Carrie Nation? Do you think, "We gotta stay in the lane on some of this stuff?"

I guess. That's just what we've always loved doing so we're going to keep on doing that. I don't know what kind of fan base you expect. We're playing shows for 65-plus and little kids and our crusty punk friends, whatever. Whatever cohesive fan base is not necessarily there. We just want to play. We got a little bit of something for everybody. This album is just an exploration of the fields that are available to us. We're not trying to force anything, we're trying to stick within our boundaries, stay with what we know, stick with what we know but step out a little bit. Move toward the deep end.

You guys passed 10 years as a band last year. You and I both know that there are plenty of bands that don't get out of the garage or don't get that second gig at Kirby's. How's it felt to have that time behind you and still be doing new things and interesting things?

We got our second gig at Kirby's, but it took a long time to get our third gig at Kirby's. We'll just leave that there. It's come a long way. When we started this, it was just a Wichita band, a local band. Even in the name. The name has hamstrung us. Carrie Nation and The Speakeasy. It was a great name for kicking around Wichita and Kansas, but then you start traveling to the coasts and traveling across oceans and having to answer that question, every time, who Carrie Nation is and such but it's been great. I wouldn't trade any of it. I've been able to work with amazing musicians and great friends and see some awesome stuff and hopefully make music that people are digging still. Yeah, it's been a long time but it doesn't seem like that long.

Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.