Handsome Karnivore is a New Jersey rock band originally formed in 2019 as a three-piece instrumental unit. Later, the band moved to Los Angeles and added a fourth member. The four-piece band is recording their forthcoming albums with all the musical fortitude they can muster.
With three vocalists and a wide range of songs, Handsome Karnivore played shows across the Los Angeles area, including the world-famous Whisky A Go-Go and Viper Room, gaining a strong following. Recently, the band mobilized and started a documentary about the band, their record, and the show, still actively filming while creating and playing live shows. The band is also working on their fourth record, a complete left turn from where they stand now musically.
"The Kiss from Venus" kicks off with an electric guitar reverberating its energy like a severe electric storm. This introduces us to their hypnotic instrumental, which takes us on a dark journey into the abyss. Handsome Karnivore's mystical vocals set an eerie mood over the soundscape that adds a dramatic pull to the track. While the ghostly vocals float on the charging guitars, they create a mysterious atmospheric realm of energy, merging the two sound profiles perfectly.
"The Kiss From Venus" is a cinematic and moving masterpiece, and Handsome Karnivore does an amazing job delivering honest lyrics that truly convey the emotion to the listener.
Dive into Handsome Karnivore's thoughts and electrifying production and stream "The Kiss from Venus" today.
Welcome to BuzzMusic Handsome Karnivore, and congratulations on your latest release, "The Kiss from Venus." What inspired this electrifying record, and could you explain a bit more to us about the journey creating it?
The album was recorded through the entire covid 19 pandemic. Making this a unique process of recording in a way we have never experienced. Due to covid, we had to record in various locations all across Los Angeles. We recorded in bedrooms, studios, rehearsal spaces, living rooms, etc., making this record the most places we have ever recorded an album. Outside of music, the album was heavily influenced by Jack Parsons (a rocket scientist that invented the fuel to get the first rockets to the moon and occultist) and Aleister Crowley. The Devil's Gate Dam in Pasadena, a place where Jack Parsons apparently opened a portal for the UFO incidents in the '40s and '50s, also right next to JPL ( which Jack Parsons started, which became NASA), was a place we frequently visited during the making of the record. The songs were written over a period of several years, some reaching back to 2017. The newest being finished in 2022. Half of the songs were written by Ray and the other half by Franco, along with Shane ( of Vigil of War), who wrote the last track, "The Abyss," with Franco. The bulk of instruments played on the record is played by Franco, Ray, and Shane. This is the first record produced by Shane Taylor. When the trio needed outside help, there was live bassist Zander (from Missouri's Moodring on track 4,6,9) and live guitarist Jonathan (from Nebulaen on track 1) to answer the call. This group of guys also make up the live lineup of Handsome Karnivore. This is the first time there wasn't a stable lineup in the band while recording the record. Dug Pinnick from King's X also played bass and produced (track 3) on the record as well, which added his process to the mix, which was really cool to be a part of!
"The Kiss from Venus" has many poetic aspects. What would you say your favorite line is, and why?
Thank you so much for the compliments on "The Kiss From Venus!" That song came a long way and is a band favorite. The poetic aspects come from me trying to write a spooky love song but in a surreal astrological metaphor. The middle section with the spoken word is my favorite line which goes -"With this mass, I cast into this fire, My desire, From trees, blood, bone, and booze, I choose to sacrifice myself, In the name of you." The reason this is my favorite line is that it is an all-or-nothing type of saying that builds with the atmosphere so well. The song kinda slows down and drops with the music while the lines set the scene. The scene starts to build and hits the climax of the song and sends you into another world when the solo hits! I tried to basically create a vibe of the dark night of the soul, the ultimate sacrifice, and it comes across in a visual way. The inspiration for this part of the song comes from Type O Negative's "Haunted" from the October Rust record.
We're so intrigued by the production. How did you choose which instruments to involve and what's the production decision-making like in a band like yours?
The production and what instruments for each song are extremely crucial to what you hear. We really wanted a fuller sound on all the songs this time around. We have Shane Taylor as the main producer of the record. He is also a very talented musician, especially in the realm of keyboard instruments. Shane added so many magickal touches to the songs through his playing and creative production techniques. We believe that we are transmitters for the current of songs that surround us. We channel the song and harvest them during the writing period. Then when it comes to the productions, it's a free for all. The song will tell you what it needs. You just have to listen and add those elements that make the difference. All the songs for the first time have keyboards, organs, mellotron, and pianos all the way through the songs or some with a combination of them. In the past, we would just use a keyboard, piano, or synth for a specific part.
This new approach has shaped the sound of the record to a more dynamic outcome. Also, there are some constant elements that we are known for from previous records like spoken-word vocals, samples from movies, guitar solos, intros, and having outside musicians on tracks. We wanted to keep those elements while showcasing something new. The track "Be Careful" is produced by a friend of the band, bassist, and vocalist of King's X Dug Pinnick! Dug also played bass on the track. Dug says the track reminds him of Derrick and The Dominoes' "Layla ."To my ears, he invoked that late 60s early 70s feel, so we went for that type of arrangement. At the end of "Be Careful," there is a good example of studio magick. At the end of the song, the instruments fade to a point where you just hear an acoustic 12-string guitar and Rays vocals. It's very Led Zeppelin! Studio magick is also a great part of the production process. Sometimes you don't plan for a certain layer to be in there, or you get inspired on the spot to put something down you haven't done before. Recognizing these moments creates studio magick and ends up in the record in a way you can't recall. When you listen back, it's almost a mystery to how it got there, but you're glad it made it onto the song. All this and more is a good example of how we chose and adapted to the production of this record. You have a lot of creative brains thinking outside of the box, so the scope is broad when it comes to adding instruments.
For example, "Snow In Monrovia" needed sleigh bells because we heard it from "Pet Sounds" by The Beach Boys, so of course, we put them in the song. Ray, having never played sleigh bells before, learned how to do it on the spot while recording. I also knew that song needed organ and piano specifically together. Shane had never played the organ before this recording session and learned on the spot when we started tracking "Be Careful ."We just believe in serving the song. It's the only way to write the music. It's about trusting your instinct, going for it, and not giving a f*ck. Listen to a lot of great music, and you start getting the ideas for your own songs. If we could just be a glimmer of a shimmer on the shoulders of the legends that have inspired us, then mission accomplished.
As a rock band, what's been the highlight of your career so far? Can you explain why and what it meant for your career?
We have had serval highlights throughout our ten years as Handsome Karnivore. For a past example and the first thing that comes to mind. As a band coming from New Jersey, it was always a dream to play the Sunset Strip clubs (Whisky A Go-Go, Viper, Roxy), So when we moved here back in 2014, we started on that dream. We accomplished 2/3 of that dream. (one day, we will play the Roxy) Having our second album release show at The Whisky in 2018 to a sold-out show was amazing, and we actually had Dug join us on stage for a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," which was also a highlight of the night! Another example has been the longevity and commitment we have put in over the years to continue to play shows and grow as a band in sound and song. To continue to grow as songwriters and a live band in new ways is inspiring for us. It's not easy, but we believe in what we are doing, and it only takes one song, one show to change things around. We have opened many doors while forging our way through, and we have met so many incredible people along the way! To be honest, this lineup as a five-piece is a highlight! It's the best we have ever sounded! There are many checkmarks to go on that highlight list, but we aren't going anywhere! It's all about how you measure success, and we ain't no overnight success.
What's up next?
Up next is us playing more shows, hopefully in places we haven't played before, possibly the east coast and hopefully getting on a festival show. It has always been a dream for us to play at a festival! At the moment, we are in the process of editing a documentary about the recording process and the album release show at The Mint this past Feb. At the same time, we are recording demos for our 4th record ( yes, we write a lot) and preparing for some live shows, hopefully in the summer and more. Please check our social sites for the info regarding the future.