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Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy continues to evolve with ‘Logos’

Courtesy photo

The band Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy has had nearly 20 members through its ranks over 16 years. The band's co-founder, Jarrod Starling, says that each of those members has in some way shaped the group's sound.

Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy will celebrate the release of the EP Logos at The Brickyard on Thursday, August 17.

The show will mark one of a handful of appearances the veteran act makes in 2023 and, for now, according to band co-founder, Jarrod Starling, Thursday’s performance is the only Wichita gig on the books for the rest of the year.

Though founded in Wichita, the band has members in New York, Missouri, and, Starling says, one member may be relocating to California. Despite the different locales, the outfit has continued to write and record new material across the past 16 years, gaining a following that has stretched from Kirby’s Beer Store and Barleycorn’s to Michigan, Oregon, and Europe.

Speaking from his home in Kansas City, Missouri, Starling discussed the inspiration behind the four-song release, including its perhaps unlikely inspirations, and what has kept Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy together longer than many of the other bands it has shared stages with over the years.

Interview Highlights

Where did you find the inspiration for the lyrics on this new record? 

Do you know the book The Horse, the Wheel, and Language?


No? It’s David Anthony. I was reading that and some more of the history of English language. I’ve been doing trees for the last three years, I’m a certified arborist now. A couple of these songs have themes of cycles and regeneration and death and rebirth. A couple of the songs, coincidentally, fit into those themes. But when I was writing “Cover the Altar” and “Gulls of the Glow,” the last two songs on there, those are pretty specifically about human migration and the idea of the migrant or the stranger becoming the native over time. The native Europeans now are not the same people as the native Europeans before, just like this country. You can call yourself a Kansas native or a Colorado native but your blood’s from somewhere else. [And they’re about] the through lines of those cycles. What we keep from tradition, from heritage, from phenotype.

Do you think that being in a touring band and seeing different parts of the country and the world also served as inspiration? 

Totally. You think about that stuff less if you’re hovering around the same place that you were born, I guess, your whole life. Going out and seeing places where other people live and the migration tendencies…. A lot of places, it’s what makes them who they are, who came there. We travel a lot and we were traveling a lot when I wrote this. I never really thought about that but I suppose that that could have had quite a bit to do with it. At the same time [we were traveling] I was reading history of proto Indo-Europeans and their early migrations through Celtic lands and such. [We were] driving around in Europe, touring some of the same places, so I suppose that’s relevant.

I have to say that, without taking anything away from your previous work, that this is the best you’ve sounded on record. 

We recorded it with the same engineer as [previous release, Gnosis]. He mixed and mastered it as well, our buddy Johnny Kenepaske at Dead Horse Recording Company up here in Kansas City. He has a really good ear for getting the best out of acoustic instruments but getting weird with it. He was excited to do some weird stuff on Gnosis.} We decided to come back to him because it’s kind of a follow-up to “Gnosis,” almost like a Volume I and II. He knew the aesthetic that we were looking for and how to match some of those feels, the general sonic patina of how the album’s going to sound.

We had played these songs a little bit live, that always helps, going into the studio, having those nights where you get to explore and maybe change some stuff and see what actually works and what crowds like. Kind of focus group the songs before you put them down.

I think I asked you this question when the band hit the 10-year mark and now you’re looking at 16 years. How do you keep a band together for 16 years. 

Flexibility. Me and Tyler Grubb are the only original members. Keeping the idea that it’s about the songs, trying to nurture an atmosphere and a culture that people really want to be a part of, our players, but [they’re] also open to freely come and go. We haven’t had any really bitter quits or anything like that. No kicked out of the band stuff. We’re getting close to 20 members in and out of this band, this project, but it’s cool how it always keeps evolving and it changes with every member that comes in and goes out. We try to cater to everybody’s strengths which is naturally going to lead the songs and the project itself to a different place.

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.