We chat to female fronted power trio Tarah Who? from Los Angeles
Tarah Who? are a band masterminded by grunge-punk sage Tarah Carpenter, a firebrand frontwoman who channels explosive emotionality into rousing anthems. Tarah exudes a spiritual centeredness that is poetically aligned to the origins of her name. The name “Tara” in Buddhist lore refers to the “mother of liberation,” an apt archetypal reference for such a strong and shamanistic female artist.
Tarah Who? recalls 1990s alt-rock and grunge’s tradition of balancing integrity with tuneful songcraft. Entries in the Tarah Who? oeuvre sit nicely alongside Alanis Morissette, Foo Fighters, The Distillers, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Spinerette.
It’s a remarkable feat for an unsigned band to make such waves in the biz, but Tarah Who?’s incendiary live shows and snarling sing-alongs are hard to ignore. Even alt-pop goddess Alanis Morissette’s guitarist Jason Orme has given a big stamp approval to the group, co-producing and playing guitar alongside Tarah on the recently released EP, Half Middle Child Syndrome. Jason will also be onboard for the band’s upcoming EP.
All sound pretty good, doesn’t it? We wanted to get to know the band a bit more so we sat down and chatted to Tarah, Joey and Coralie about all things music.
How did you get into music in the first place?
JS: Exposure to live music at an early age turned into a drive to learn. ZZ Top was my first arena concert. The next week my parents took me to see Metallica…I was 12. The many paths I have gone down all revolve around music and I look forward to the thrill of what is yet to come.
CH : My mom just got into the music school of my town, for fun. And, I think that it helped me to try and see, I never stopped since hahaha, it’s been 13 years.
TGC:I don’t really know.. I just know that I wanted to play the drums and the bass guitar and I started a few bands doing that when I was 14 years old.
I moved to Kentucky when I was 15 as an exchange student. I was not able to play the drums there so I bought myself an electric guitar and learned a whole Alanis Morissette songbook! I taught myself all of the instrument that I play just by playing with a bunch of people.
If you had to describe your sound in 3 words, what would they be?
JS: LOUD, PURPOSE, PASSION
CH : Loud, Heavy, Unique.
TGC: Authentic, Raw, Loud
When on tour, what’s the ONE thing you always need to have with you?
JS: A TOOTHBRUSH!
CH : HAHAHA so true Joey!
TGC: My glasses! to make sure I can drive! but the toothbrush is essential as well!
What was your favorite ever on-stage moment?
JS: Every time I get the chance to mosh with the crowd!
CH : Every gig that we do is always unique and something happened, which is really really cool! I like the interactions that I have with Tarah and Joey on stage, anything can happen at anytime so I keep my eyes open hahaha but it always fun!
TGC: Stage diving in Paris. full crowd, we went crazy on stage, i dove and crowd surfed. It was really fun!
How would you describe your songwriting process? Do you have any rituals?
JS: Tarah gives us the intention of what the song is about and then Coralie and I add our personality…
CH : I love the fact that Tarah let us bring our own style, it’s awesome !! I really think that the three of us have a great chemistry together and we all feel the same about the meaning of each song so it’s more easier to play it.
TGC: So I write the music and lyrics. The songs are very clear in my head when I write them. I try to keep the control as much as I can when it comes to the intention of the song. Each notes has meaning and I want to make sure that this original emotion is kept. Of course it is my story and what i have felt so i have to transcribe to Coralie and Joey so that they can play the song “correctly” . It DOES make a difference when the intention is not right. I write the songs and record demo tracks with the bass and the drums. Then i send the demos with all the instruments and one version without the instrument that they play. (no bass for Joey, No drums for Coralie) Since Coralie and Jeoy have different techniques, sounds and overall creativity, I like to give them the freedom to come up with their own parts as long as they follow the main intention. I am lucky to be working with professional mature musicians, who will not get offended if I don’t like an idea. The reason for this, is to keep the emotions authentic again, so one note or one fill can get in the way of that or change the overall mood of a song.
Once we have gone through the writing process, we play the song over and over until it is part of us, and record it
Jason Orme (Alanis Morissette) has been helping out with the writing process in the last couple of eps. Having an outside point of view, and being in the industry for over 20 years, Jason does not try to change anything, but suggests great ideas as well.
Overall, it is a really nice collaboration between all 4 of us.
What would your dream festival line-up be, including yourselves playing?
JS: TOOL…A Perfect Circle…Nine Inch Nails?
CH : Hum, it’s really really hard to choose !! I’ll say Nightwish, Evanescence, Tarah Who?
TGC: lol! Coco!! Well .. unfortunately Motörhead cannot be part of my dream line up… Brody Dalle or the Distillers though , are definitely part of my festival line up! , I agree with Tool even though I don’t know if we would fit but I would love to see them live! so that’s just selfish! Foo Fighters i think would fit, Dead Sara, L7 , Eagles of Death Metal.
What has been your biggest challenge as musicians?
JS: Staying true to ourselves because when you grind you have to make ends meet by any means…
CH : Don’t let other people tell you what to do, just make your own path and do what is best for you.
TGC: Finding Coralie and Joey. I have met and worked with A LOT of musicians. It is really hard to meet people who you can trust, or who are good , professional, dedicated etc… I feel so grateful to have met Joey and Coralie.
Stories from the road – what’s what funniest thing that ever happened to you on tour?
JS : Hahaha I have two for you. First wacky incident happened in Oakland. A regular patron stopping in for his usually pint after work ended up crawling all over the stage on his knees and basically attempting to duct tape Tarah and I together at the legs. It is common for us to encourage the audience to come up on stage with us so this seemed half way normal. But at one point, I saw him behind her making motions to pull the tape out, up and over her head to tape her mouth shut. I was on one foot anticipating to physically kick this guy off the 3 foot stage. Luckily the bassist from Enemy of my Enemy came to the rescue and escorted him off stage again…and again. The bouncer made his way to the front and gave me the look like, “Do you want him out?” I smiled and said no way man haha we basically told him to come up here so oops. Another fun one in Pittsburgh, again inviting people onstage comes with no boundaries and opens up a can of worms or a can of a#$ in this case. A member from another band comes on stage and drops his pants mooning the crowd…maybe to be insulting? Or just a crude sense of humor haha. Either way we took him by surprise when we said, “Get back up here and get that a#$ out again so we can take a picture.” You can find it @tarahwho on Instagram.
CH : So many! Each tour is always fun and a lot of stories to tell. I’ll say the one at the gas station. We were on our way from Eugene to San Francisco because Joey had to take the plane back to LA. We didn’t realize that it was a 8 hours drive, so we play and take the road, his plane was at 7am! On the way we stopped at this gas station in the middle of nowhere. We entered the ‘’shop’’ and I was looking around, the guy arrived next to me and say ‘’Are you looking for the pisser?‘’ , I said ‘’Yes’’, he gave me a flashlight and says ‘’You gonna need it!” The ‘’toilet’’ was actually outside and it was a portable toilet that you can find on the construction, it was really creepy! But we always laugh at it!
TGC: Like Coralie said, We have so many funny stories. One of my favorite was booking a show without knowing that it was a strip club. We arrived at our destination and we obviously saw the signs and lights. We were really confused… but people were definitely expecting us. As we pull in, the owner tells me “Alright, when you come in, you put all of your stuff here, DO NOT LOOK AT THE GIRLS, DO NOT TAKE PICTURES!” that s when I realized that I , indeed had booked us at a strip club! It was also one of the best nights I have had. It was so cool to play Loud Rock with Girls dancing and doing their thing! 🙂 One of our favorite nights for sure, People really loved us, we stayed, got our drummer a lap dance, and got SO drunk! It was a very memorable night!
What was the first album you ever owned?
JS: For me it was RUSH 2112!
CH : I don’t really remember but maybe Kyo, a french band.
TGC: I don’t remeber either.. It must have been Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill.