I sat down with Caracara at the Chicago stop of their recent tour with String Machine to discuss their newest record New Preoccupations, available now on Memory Music.
Before we get to the meat of the interview I wanted to share a little about the events surrounding it since everything really did not go as planned.
On March 12th It was yet another frigid night in Chicago. Caracara and String Machine are performing at Chop Shop, a restaurant/venue in Wicker Park. I parked my car around the corner and gather my recording equipment from my trunk before heading to the venue. I am intent on catching Caracara’s performance before I interview them. I close my trunk and make my way to Chop Shop. This is the last stop on Caracara and String Machine’s short run across the East Coast and parts of the Great Lakes. I arrive at the front door of the venue but curiously there is no line. On the door is a printed sign that explains that the show is canceled due to a busted water pipe. Outside the locked doors I am freezing while I think of how I can salvage this. I frantically pull out my phone to email Caracara. There is already an email in my inbox from them confirming that the show was canceled BUT they were still looking to play if there was a DIY show available. I suddenly went from interview mode to a big time booking agent mode. I sent out a blast on instagram, tagging everyone I could think of in Chicago that might be able to put on a show last minute. I tagged friends, people I had never met (but followed) and anyone that I knew who sort of liked music. I wanted to see Caracara play, so I threw caution to the wind as I entered the DMs of Chicago’s preeminent emo acts. I had no other choice. It was a busy weekend for Chicago shows and the chances were slim to none that we would find something on short notice. I let Caracara know I was eager to conduct an interview if they were still interested in giving one. The band obliged and invited me into the empty venue. I met Sean, drummer for Caracara, in front of the stage and he led the way into the green room. As I was introducing myself to Caracara members of String Machine trickled in to say their goodbyes. String Machine had come to terms that tonight just wasn’t the night for a show. It was an anti-climactic ending for both bands but Caracara eventually decided to throw the towel in as well.
We conducted the first half of the interview in Chop Shop’s green room. In the middle of our discussion we needed to change locations because the venue was closing up. Caracara invited me to continue the interview in their van. We made our way outside and traversed the alleyways of Wicker Park until we found a parking lot to finish the interview.
We covered a lot in the hour that we spent together and I made sure to include key parts of it here. In the next couple weeks I intend to release the full audio interview which includes our transition from the Venue to the Van.
TL;DR: I still got to interview Caracara even though their show got cancelled.
In Kurt Vonnegutt’s Slaughterhouse Five an unlikely connection occurs between a porn-star and a time-traveling war veteran. The two are trapped in a glass dome on the alien world of Tralfamadore, in a sort of zoo where they live on a movie set for the enjoyment of aliens, called Tralfamadorians. It’s here that Montana Wildhack and Billy Pilgrim fall in love, far away from their earthly problems. “There’s more truth in that scene than a single Hemingway novel” says Will Lindsay, frontman and guitarist of Caracara.
Lindsay continues “I dig Hemingway as well, but when I think about something lyrically that I might not want to do. There’s a scene in Farewell to Arms where these two characters are going through incredible emotional hardship and instead of talking about anything real, they tell each other how brave and strong they are and how they’ll get through it no matter what, and that to me feels like an oversimplification of the entire human experience.”
In their earlier works like their debut Summer Megalith and the Better EP, Lindsay draws lyrical motifs from references to biblical stories and Greek mythology. In the Better EP, Lindsay offers a personal perspective of the opioid crisis in the band’s hometown of Philadelphia, “…the lyrics to “Better” are really a meditation on imagining running into one of my friends who had passed at K and A” Lindsay continues “[Better] EP was largely focused on that [story] and figuring out what it is that I need to take away from all this.”
Caracara has tried to incorporate their experiences from the past couple of years into this new record. These experiences included Lindsay’s personal relationship with alcohol as well as the global crises at the time of recording in May of 2020. The events at the start of the pandemic, including the BLM demonstrations, ended up being a precarious time to be making a record. According to Lindsay “[In] May of 2020 the world seemed to actively be falling apart” he continues “We are making a record while everything is burning around us.”
“Throughout the story of the record we wanted to include those moments as well, so there’s lighter moments, brighter songs, that are more upbeat, that are not so soaked in reverb and distortion. There’s happy moments.” – Will Lindsay
Though New Preoccupations was conceived in a dark period for the world, Lindsay’s focus is mainly on his experiences. The complexities of the subject matter aren’t cut and dry in Lindsay’s mind. He recognizes the good moments that can come from substances even if he chooses not to indulge in the same capacity. “I have these beautiful memories, I have these experiences that could have maybe been possible without alcohol; awesome experiences that I don’t want to forget and that I cherish and were tied to the substance that ultimately became not okay for me.” he goes on to say “Throughout the story of the record we wanted to include those moments as well, so there’s lighter moments, brighter songs, that are more upbeat, that are not so soaked in reverb and distortion. There’s happy moments.”
“The long form title of this record is New Preoccupations As the God’s Descend, it’s all about the things that preoccupy us, that preoccupy me amidst true global hardship, true chaos and anyone who struggles with addiction in any capacity…”
Caracara has devised a matured sonic landscape that rises and falls smoothly across New Preoccupations. Songs like “Ohio” and “Monoculture” have precisely executed builds that are reminiscent of post-rock greats like Explosions In The Sky or This Will Destroy You. The peaks and valleys in these performances hit so much harder when they’ve had time to build. The incorporation of the Rhodes piano played by Carlos Pacheco-Perez has far more presence throughout this record. Pacheco-Perez’s synth layers on the poppiest track, “Colorglut,” provide a cinematic foundation for the driving rhythm. “Colorglut” also incorporates the tenor of fellow Philadelphian Anthony Green, the only feature on the record. Green, known for his frenetic stage presences in Circa Survive plays a surprising supporting role in the bridge of the song. Caracara has taken strides with their compositions on New Preoccupations
In the most stripped back song on the record, “Song for Montana Wildhack” is a minimally accompanied acoustic ballad. The song was originally debuted on the No Earbuds instagram page, with Lindsay accompanied briefly by his dog Louie. The lyrical content deviates from appraisals of the past to focus on a moment of love, pulled directly from Vonnegutt’s A+ novel, Slaughterhouse Five. We are grounded in this moment between two people who haven’t found peace in their lives, but share something special in an absurd circumstance. Lindsay’s acoustic guitar strumming is a relaxed down moment for the record, inviting a moment of reflection. This moment seems secure, and somehow safe from the gritty subject matter that surrounds the record.
Together this collection of songs from Caracara tells an impactful story at the intersection of global disaster and personal crisis for Lindsay. In the record’s final moments Lindsay screams “I am finally free to let go” in a cathartic break that soars over everything before it. These yells encapsulate the challenge of feeling stuck between versions of oneself and struggling to find peace in absurd circumstances.