London band Carnivals have been very busy these days. They’ve been playing a lot of shows around town and spending a fair bit of time in the studio as well. Their first single, “Shadows,” is loads of fun in a ‘60s sort of way, displaying a reverence for the past, while keeping things fresh. I got a chance to ask guitarist Joe Hannen a few questions about the band’s formation, their influences, their hometown, and their plans for the future.
How and when did you all meet? And what was it like the first time the four of you played together?
Me and Harry went to school together and played with each other in a couple of bands before Carnivals. Cal also went to our school but we didn’t really know him. It was only when we reached 16 that we got to know him at parties and discovered he could sing. He was in another band at the time so we had to wait for our moment to poach him! George came about through playing a couple of gigs together. Our manager put Carnivals in its early form on in New Cross, and George was on the same bill. We invited him to play one of our little local gigs and as soon as we mentioned we needed a bassist he jumped straight in. Playing together has worked since day one really. We all have similar taste and influence so we’ve never had any issues! The sound took shape pretty quickly.
Your sound suggests 1960’s psychedelia. Are there any bands from that time that you would list as key influences?
How long have you got? We’re all huge fans of the Doors. I think that’s pretty evident in Cal’s vocal. But aside from the Doors we all like The Beatles, Kinks, Zombies, 13th Floor Elevators and the list goes on!
Who are you listening to the most these days?
It’s varied really. We’re all big Growlers fans, but then artists such as Tame Impala, Temples, Wytches, Allah Las. Harry’s really into all the new Kendrick Lamar stuff too.
You often list yourselves online as being specifically from South East London. Is there a distinct scene there? And if so, where do you fit in?
I don’t think there’s much of a distinct scene in South East London, but we hang about and play with quite a few quality bands. There’s a fair few of us and we’re just into making good music. It’s not necessarily closely related in terms of sound.
You’ve been playing a lot of shows around London. Is there any one place that you would consider to be your ‘home’ venue?
Well, we have our local The Iron Horse which is down the road from where we all live. We do a handful of shows there a year. Other than that probably the Amersham Arms. We go out in New Cross a fair bit, and that’s probably the coolest venue round there at the moment
At present, what are your plans for the rest of 2016?
We have a single out April 1st. We’ve also got a launch of that at the Heavenly Social. Then hopefully some festivals, loads more gigs and some recording! Maybe squeeze a video in there too!