Interview by Bre Cura and Matt Davis // Article by Matt Davis
Photos by Bre Cura
Hailing from Philadelphia, Caracara is a four piece rock band consisting of Will Lindsay (vocals & guitar), George Legatos (bass), Carlos Pacheco-Perez (Rhodes), and Sean Gill (drums). Driven by emotional and personal lyrics, the group creates a sound that leaves a large sonic footprint on ears of listeners. Fresh off of releasing their Better EP earlier this year and performing an Audiotree Live session recently, we sat down to talk with the band before their show at Philly’s own Johnny Brenda’s.
How did Caracara become a band?
Carlos – “We all met after college. Shaun and I went to music school at Indiana University (PA) and moved out here with a friend of ours. We loosely knew about these other guys and were admirers of each others bands. A few years after being in Philly, Will was like “we should jam sometime.” There was no intention of making a band, but that first time we jammed we ended up making Apotheosis, which is one of the keynote songs off the first record. That happened right out of the gates, so we kinda new we just had to keep going with that.”
The band seemed to gain some popularity relatively quickly. What do you attribute that early success to?
Will – “I think a big part of that is, like Carlos said, we appreciated each others bands when we started. I don’t want to say we started this later in life, but this wasn’t the first band for any of us. We’ve all made mistakes before in bands, we’ve all rolled things out the wrong way, we’ve all posted a stupid tour poster with shitty graphic design. When we started this band, we immediately took inventory of everyone’s intent. We made sure that we all wanted to tour, we all wanted to commit to this, and this is the first group of people that I’ve ever played music with where everyone was like “yes, 100% committed.” And I think that whatever success we have had can be attributed to the fact that we really want to work at this. We’ve all been lucky enough to be in a bunch of bands that have been fun, and have gotten to do a lot of cool stuff, and Sean and Carlos are still in another great band that is crushing it (Square Peg Round Hole). But we’ve learned a lot from that, and we’re very deliberate about everything we do.”
George – “Coming out of the gates with Caracara, we knew what we wanted to get into right away. A lot of the groundwork had already been established in terms of connections because of our previous experience playing in bands, and by the time we started this band we were already ingrained with other people and other scenes around the country, so that was a big help.”
For you guys that play in other bands, how do you balance doing two projects at once?
Carlos – “ It can be pretty difficult. Scheduling is a big part of it, but we’re learning, and keeping the mental spaces somewhat separate is important too in terms of what each band is trying to accomplish. Preparing and knowing what we want to do on tour and what we want to accomplish, that certainly helps. But we all still have day jobs, and honestly that’s the real problem. If I only had to do two bands, I think that would be okay, but you throw in 2 bands, life, a job, that’s when it gets tough.”
Will – “It helps that George and I genuinely love their band. There’s no Caracara without the two of them, and there’s no Square Peg without the two of them. So there’s no real chance were going to say yes to conflicting commitments on the same date and we’ll have to duke it out with each other. There are things that come up, but it’s mostly positive. We share a rehearsal space and we basically exist in a parallel way. Scheduling can be tough, but scheduling for any band is tough. It comes back to the point of commitment, and we’re committed more than anything.”
How do you keep the creative process in terms of writing music for each band separate?
Sean – “I can say that every different project is exactly that, very different. It’s not like we’re in three different indie rock projects. Square Peg is completely different from Caracara, Will does some film scoring and that’s very different from Caracara. Our music interests are extremely diverse, we all like a lot of different things. We have a lot of different goals musically, and those goals get channeled into the corresponding project. I play the vibraphone in my other band, so there’s very little overlap in the ideas I bring to that project and the ones I bring to this. We all have a lot of different ideas of what we want to say with music, but they’re in so many different directions that it makes sense for each idea to go where it belongs.”
Carlos – “Square Peg has a computer on stage and a lot of electronics, and it’s way more in that world. Out of pure simplicity, we’ll never have a computer on stage. This band is much stronger when we focus on the elements that are already here, the Rhodes (piano), the guitars, the bass and drums, the vocals. It’s a totally different design philosophy for both bands.”
Will – “I want to add that there is a forthcoming conflict. Carlos wrote the most incredible part, and I think he thinks it’s a Square Peg song, but I’m pretty sure its a Caracara song. We might have to have a beat battle to see who gets it.”
You’re music blends a lot of different genres to create something unique. How would you describe your sound?
Will – “Earlier I (jokingly) described it as dynamic-alternative-indie rock. I think dynamics are super important to us. That’s the number one priority, and it’s been like that from the jump. What’s more of a priority to us than genre is that every song covers a lot of sonic geography. We like moments that are super quiet, we like moments that are super big, and that’s a big part of our live set too. We’re trying to play with volume, play with intensity. We commit hard to our instrumentation, and we don’t do a lot of extra production stuff on the album, it’s mostly just what we can play. So I think we can get really get away with all kinds of genres, just keep our tones the same and sneak them in there.”
George – “I think you’re in a good spot to be in when it’s kind of hard to define the genre specifically. One time we were even mentioned in a podcast where people are just a little confused as to what we are. A lot of people will say we’re in an emo band, but I don’t think that’s it, even if there’s a little of that in our music. It’s easy to say we’re indie rock, but I don’t even think that’s really accurate. So I think that, in a away, it helps us to stand out a little bit.”
How do your lives outside of the band influence the music that Caracara makes?
Carlos – “We don’t try to make music like the people we listen to. Our favorite band’s are most likely rappers. But we do try to actively think about, at least instrumentality, what those artists are bringing to the table and try to incorporate some of that into our music.. When we’re writing music, even if it’s super subtle, we might sneak in a part that is more fitting to rap music. But it still becomes rock music because that’s what we’re playing.”
Will – “My life outside the band comes through to the music most when I’m writing lyrics. In the time that we’ve been in this band, I’ve had a lot going on in my life. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve observed a lot, I’ve been through a couple super interesting years of life, and I can’t help but write lyrics about that. My lyrics are generally pretty straight forward. I like storytelling, I like describing characters, I like getting freaked out about the future, and I love writing lyrics about that. So I think that’s where my life sneaks into the music.”
Your debut album Summer Megalith cam out two years ago, and you dropped and EP titled Better this years. How has the band changed since then, and what writing this most recent EP like?
Sean – “We wrote and recorded our first record before we announced ourselves as a band or even played a show. So knowing the scene we were walking into and trying to do something significant in, we sort of had no choice but to think of that album in the context of the Philly music scene. That went pretty well, and we did stuff with that album for a while. Then we got the opportunity to work with Will Yip, and that helped us to feel more free to explore all these different influences rather just think of ourselves as a Philly band. I think we’re a little more free to just be a band of Sean, Carlos, Will and George. We like all these different things, and we’re not making music for the Philly scene. We’re making music for us, and I think we’re able to draw on and express all of those influences more than we used to.”
Will – “With the first record, we knew we wanted to put a lot of horns on there, put a lot of strings on there, and there’s some weird sounds in there. With the EP, we pulled it back and did a more straightforward rock arrangement. Now with this new single, Dark Bells, we’re like “let’s use this synth.” We weren’t sure how people were going to take it, and we thought people might get freaked out. But it seems like the weirder we get, the more people respond to it. It feels like people are fine with us doing whatever we want musically. After releasing Dark Bells, nobody was like “ew, there’s a synth now.” It’s just been 100% of people saying “yo, new sound? Tight!” So that’s super encouraging going into LP 2. We’re not at all afraid to throw out the script and do whatever we feel is good for the song. We do want to make sure we can play everything live though. Live has always been a priority for us, especially now more than ever, and it’s our favorite thing to do. So I’m pretty determined to make sure of that on the next record, all though instrumentation will get a little whacky. There will be things that you have not heard from us yet, but everything will be able to be played live.”
Is there any new material that you’re particularly excited for people to hear live.
Will –“I’m not going to give too much away, but there is a song, that when I listen to the demo, it makes me more uncomfortable than anything I’ve written in my entire life. I personally think that means it must be tapping into some pretty difficult stuff, and I think it will get there for people too. I’m more nervous than I ever have been for something to be heard. It’s more revealing, but I love it and I want it to get out. We also have a Stairway To Heaven length, sci-fi epic song with multiple movements on some American Idiot shit. It’s going to flip the paradigm.”
Caracara is band of great musicians, and even better people. They put on a phenomenal live performance, so if you haven’t seen them before, check them out next time they come to town. You can check out their latest single Dark Bells here, and as always, keep up to date with the band by following them on Instagram!