Ahead of their hometown headline, we catch up with Salisbury’s most exciting (and excited) exports.
From its historical landmarks such as the cathedral with the tallest spire in the country, Old Sarum castle and Stonehenge a few miles out, to the widely publicised 2018 Novichok attack, Salisbury has been put on the map for many reasons, both positive and negative. Its lesser known to many and rarely recognised otherwise. However, there’s one upcoming band who joke they have “the keys to the city”, who could change just that.
Enter CARSICK, the post-punk four-piece, made up of brothers Joe (vocals) and Jack Richardson (guitar), and their best mates, Jack Hardiman (bass) and Tom Armstrong (drums), who are already taking the city by storm.
Prior to their return to the city’s main music hub, Brown Street, located in the centre of town, CARSICK took the time to meet with Silence & Sound to discuss their rise so far, as well as what’s to come. But, how did they choose their stage name? “Well, me and my brother were in a band before and we had a song called ‘Carsick’ and it was probably the only good song we did”, explains Jack Richardson. Following the break of that band, he adds, “Joe was like, ‘Can I steal the song name for a new band?” and that was it really.”
After meeting Armstrong and Hardiman at a local college, frontman Joe explains that they, “just started playing together over the years and then we were like, ‘let’s take this semi-seriously.’”
The strong bond between band members is clear as soon as you meet them. They’re sitting at an electric blue picnic table in the outside bar area of Brown Street; brothers, Jack and Joe, are sitting opposite each other, closest to the Perspex windows of the bar which is currently undercover due to the winter months, whilst Tom and Jack, the bassist, are opposite each other, next to them. Behind them is the venue’s brightly painted, but lop-sided door. A packet of cigarettes is in the middle of the table.
When asked to site their main influences as a band, Hardiman is quick to answer with “Blur and The Streets”, two bands whom are instantly recognisable within the quartet’s current three releases, Is What It Is, Muzzle and Local Legend. Joe takes a moment to think. “It’s tough. I think we all have such different musical backgrounds and I think the main inspiration is sort of The Streets. A lot of like early punk, as well.” Armstrong interrupts to shout out Jamie T, before Richardson continues, “Slaves, that sort of vibe. But they are mainly Britpop inspired, I think. And then we were like trying to put our own twist on it.”
Their singles so far are relatively genre-less, mixing elements of post-punk, indie-rock and hip-hop as well as electronic music. In a time when there’s bands like The 1975 who are releasing punk songs on pop records, Joe explains that the reason for their music to have no set genre is due to “the sort of inspirations that we had when we started the band [being] a little bit done to death, especially because a lot of our inspirations are from like the 90s. So that’s kind of a sound that’s already been recreated four or five times by a lot of different bands. So, I think in order to sound like something that’s not just rehashed, we wanted to mix genres that have been mixed before, but in a way that it’s kind of familiar but different.”
“It’s good to be diverse and like hit the different ears of people who don’t want to listen to the same thing everytime.” his brother weighs in before Hardiman concludes, “We don’t know how we can describe our sound”
The band are clear on what their songs take their lyrical inspiration from, however. “[It’s] usually like nights out” the guitarist explains before Joe adds how they usually find themselves “just drawing from real experiences.” This sparks Armstrong to issue a warning to anyone they know: “Don’t annoy us!” as the band are not impartial to just “fully name drop people we do know in songs and take direct quotes from them.”
The band bounce off each other in conversation, interrupting each other’s answers to offer corrections or crack a joke, and talking over each other to the point of complete inaudibility, something that Joe suggests as a strength within their approach to song-writing. “Usually, I’ll come up with fifty ideas; two of them will be decent and then the rest will go in the bin. Then we all kind of co-write lyrics together, and then when we get in the studio, everything is like, ‘oh, that’s so [many] changes!’” the frontman continues, “It kind of just comes out as we record. A lot of stuff happens on the spot.”
It's this approach that saw the creation of CARSICK’s new single, Runner, which has been released today (09/02). After originally “not vibing” with the track, Joe explains how they left it for a bit then came back to it after “a few months” when going through old demos. Guitarist Jack Richardson remembers how “When we heard it in the studio, we were all straightaway convinced [it was] a banger!”
Despite currently being a band on their way up, CARSICK have already had some impressive highs; from being the big winners at last year’s Salisbury Music Awards, winning in the categories, “Best Band”, “Best Live Act”, “Best Vocalist”, “Best Drummer” and “Best Guitarist” (Hardiman insists he won the award for “second best bassist”), to winning the public vote to play main stage at TRUCK Festival. Following a few trips to the festival as fans, Joe explains how “As soon as we saw they were asking bands to apply, we were on it straightaway” before he recalls, “When I found out [we’d won], I was at work and [the email] said strictly confidential and I immediately shouted, ‘Oh my God, we’re playing main stage!’, and then looked back at my phone and [had to say] ‘Oh, not really!’ I think so far, that’s been one of the best days being in the band for me. Just like really, really excited and completely out of my depth.” The rest of the band are quick to agree, adding how great it was meet and be playing alongside so many bands that they love. “It was funny pulling up next to the big band’s tour buses”, Jack Richardson laughs. “It was CARSICK’s Vauxhall Corsa and Sam Fender’s two double decker buses.”
In the week of the interview, it was announced that the band would be returning to the Oxfordshire fields, which they can only describe as “surreal”. “We thought after last year they’d be like ‘well, we’re not having them again!’ Yeah, it still feels stupid to play on the same line up as like Alt-J and Royal Blood”, Hardiman marvels.
For Armstrong, the excitement lies in the indirect notices from some of his favourite bands, also on the bill. “It’s cool seeing them share [the poster] to their story and then seeing our name. So, when Royal Blood posted it on their story, it was like, ‘technically, you just promoted us!’” Next to him, the guitarist exclaims, “Technically, we’re best mates with Royal Blood!”
Joe chimes in, “we’re just really excited to play again!” whilst his brother takes a moment to pray that they don’t clash with Jacob Slater’s new Americana inspired band, Wunderhorse.
The festival wasn’t all sunny last year, however, and they’re hoping there will be no repeats, specifically surrounding the fairground rides. “We were camping and it was a heavy weekend” begins Hardiman, before excitedly recalling how it was the first time he had ever been recognised for being in the band. Changing the topic, and judging by the reactions of the others, maybe not for the best, Joe teases, “Yeah, and I mean, the bumper cars, right?” Tom’s quick to fight back, “don’t get me started on the bumper cars!”, whilst Hardiman adds to the mystery: “We need to have a whole separate interview about the bumper car situation!” It can only be assumed that this is the band’s version of Gavin & Stacey character, Uncle Bryn’s, unexplained ‘Fishing Trip’ story.
From the point of view of the outsider, these are the band’s biggest achievements to date, but what are they most proud of so far? Whilst Armstrong is quick to joke that it was winning “Best Drummer” to spite Hardiman, Jack Richardson is quick to exclaim, “Signing to Alcopop! That was like a childhood dream!” The latter was another of the band’s announcements in the week prior to our chat, and sees them sharing a label with the likes of The Subways and Pulled Apart By Horses. “That was insane. It was actually the double whammy of getting signed to Marshall for our live [shows], then Alcopop for our label because they’re both companies that we really love and respect for different reasons,” explains Hardiman, before he reflects, “it’s the fact that it’s little old us, a band from Salisbury!”
Whilst Salisbury is richly notable for its historical contexts, it lacks profusely when it comes to a music scene. After a quick Google search, Wikipedia tells me that the city was an important centre for music in the 18th century, following concerts being directed at The Assembly Rooms by some of the most famous musicians and singers of the day. In 2023, however, only a couple of independent bars exist as venues, and despite being a city of great beauty and notorious landmarks, established bands almost never visit on tours.
When I ask them about what they think the local music scene is like, the guitarist begins, “I think it’s definitely changed over the last like five years where there’s new venues popping up like Brown Street [which] is now like the venue in Salisbury, whereas before you just had small cap venues like Winchester Gate and Music Box to see people.” Hardiman quickly notes how in comparison to other cities in close proximity to the band’s hometown, such as Bristol and Southampton, the scene is pretty quiet. “The base of CARSICK is in Salisbury and we kind of grew from there, but like the nearby scenes like Southampton is very easy to get to, as long as you’re willing to make a little bit of a trek.”
Time is quickly ticking on and very soon, it’s time for the band to start thinking about the night ahead. Soundcheck is scheduled in for five, with tonight’s doors being an earlier time of six-thirty. I leave the band at the venue as they decide between Greggs or the local independent sourdough pizza restaurant, Nole, located on the picturesque, medieval market square, for food prior to the gig.
At ten o’clock, the band take to the stage before a sold-out Brown Street. From the get-go, there’s a real buzz in the air. Groups of friends stand around the venue chatting and drinking, and the scenes are the same in the undercover bar filled with picnic tables, where I spoke to the band mere hours prior. The band members mingle amongst them, also drinking and catching up with members of the crowd.
“The best thing for me is playing live shows. That’s the whole draw.” Joe explained earlier in the day when prompted what the best thing about being in a band is, with Tom adding that for him it’s when “We put out so much energy when we play live and we get it back from [the crowd]”
Last year, the band toured in the summer, where they made their return to Brown Street, before embarking on the Local Legends tour, stopping off in Andover, Trowbridge, Swindon, Southampton and Bristol, back in September. Tonight’s show, however, marks the beginning of the band’s biggest UK tour to date. “I feel like we’re better now than we ever have been”, Joe offers.
This tour also sees the band venturing out to new cities that they’re yet to have played. “I’m excited to play in Manchester because we’ve not played up north.” Jack Richardson adds as Hardiman provides context that the most north they’ve ever played is London, and Joe teases his brother saying the furthest he’s been from home is the A303. Jack backtracks, humbling himself, “It might be to like five people but I’m buzzing!”
A phrase that was used extensively during the interview is “liquid courage”, mostly when in response to how they have dealt with some of their biggest achievements so far. However, it needn’t be necessary tonight because here is a band who already have their crowds in the palm of their hands.
Moshing, circle pits and crowd surfing are entertained from the outset, and the band only further encourage the behaviour onstage, with Joe even getting into the centre of the crowd to join in, before bizarrely singing the first verse of early 2000s hit, Hey There Delilah by The Plain White T’s, the crowd surrounding him.
From the audience’s point of view, it’s a high energy, chaotic and sweaty performance; the band describe their shows as being “a lot of energy, a bit loud, and a bit bad.” Hardiman went on further to promote this run of shows by suggesting it’s “just a mess. If you’re willing to get out and have a nice time, then come along!”
The show is intense and everybody gets involved. Muzzle and Local Legend are welcomed to great acclaim with the crowd giving it their absolute all, the moshing getting rougher, yet more enthusiastic as the set goes on. New tracks, such as the then unreleased Runner are tested out on tonight’s crowd, but you’d hardly know that they’re currently unheard, as the crowd continue to go for it despite knowing no words, yet. Even when the band play a new, slower track that has the same feel to it as Arctic Monkey’s Only Ones Who Know, the energy does not falter, the crowd still seeming to love it, despite it being more down tempo in comparison to the rest of the tracks on tonight’s set.
“I’m very excited to play the new songs live, as well” Joe Richardson mentions during the calm before the storm and Armstrong potentially leaks new information, suggesting that the “EP is sounding good!”
It’s a set of both old and new, originals and covers. The most memorable of the latter being a heavier sounding cover of The Specials’ hit Too Much Too Young, to which the frontman attempts to claim is an original song, despite what anyone might think.
Closing on Is What It Is, the first track the band put out back in October 2021, it’s one that’s most fitting in Salisbury, especially with its spoken word line, “Salisbury, yeah?”, which the crowd take great pleasure in shouting in unison. It’s punchy, confident energy and lyrics depicting a night out on the town, is conversational and relatable to the Salisbury audience made up mostly of twenty-something year olds. On stage, the band are joined, for some reason, by a life-sized cardboard cut-out of the well-known ITV’s The Chase host, Bradley Walsh, which Joe lifts up in the air mid-song.
As the show draws to a close, the stage is flooded with beer, as is the entire central dance floor, a sign of a great time and the giddy, careless energy.
It’s pretty safe to say they’re ‘local legends’, if you will, with most young people in the city knowing of them. And with their imminent return to TRUCK Festival on the horizon, as well as multiple local awards under their belt, they’re off to a strong start. But what’s next for CARSICK?
“The break-up?” offers Joe. “Yeah, literally, we’re dropping this single and then breaking up”, his brother adds, before Hardiman gets serious. “Our summer is looking pretty good at the moment. We’ve got some things to announce that we haven’t announced yet and then maybe later in the year we’ll do some more shows.”
The band go further to contemplate what they hope the future holds for them. Straightaway, Joe announces that he wants them to headline the prestigious Glastonbury, in an answer that has almost certainly been considered before. Hardiman adds, “Joe said to me the other day that he wants to be in the top two hundred most listened to Spotify artists!” before Richardson defends his dreams with a simple statement: “Go big, or go home!”
Watching CARSICK already feels so special. I felt it when I saw them for the first time, headlining Brown Street, and worried I was being simply too enthusiastic. But tonight, I felt it again; this is a band that will go far and these are the shows that will be looked back on as the dirty, gritty, enthralling nights out depicting that of utter chaos that fans to come will wish they were in attendance of. A well-kept secret. The band putting Salisbury on the map.
CARSICK’s new single, Runner, is out now.
You can catch CARSICK on the remaining dates of their UK Tour:
11/02/23 – Bournemouth, The Cellar Bar (free entry)
16/02/23 – London, Signature Brew E8 (tickets)
17/02/23 – Manchester, 33 Oldham St. (tickets)
18/02/23 – Bristol, Crofters Rights (tickets)
03/03/23 – Southampton, Heartbreakers (tickets)
CARSICK will be making their return to TRUCK Festival this summer (bumper car permitting), and you can get tickets here.
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Words and photos by Katie Hillier (@silenceandsound)