What sparked your interest in pursuing a career in music, and what was your journey to becoming a musician or band like?
Personally, for Thom it was his first heartbreak at 17 that prompted him to write lyrics, and musically he was influenced by the Second British New Wave of Music in the 80’s. Afterwards, he continued to write lyrics that were for the most part very personal, and then now and again would write a ‘third person song’ which was about a subject that touched him, but wasn’t necessarily a personal event. He would work with musicians over the years who would fit their own style into his lyrics. Some of Thom’s early music has a country feel, a rockabilly feel, even some gospel stuff (which ended up his 4th solo CD) For the most part Thom enjoys the rock and harder rock feel of a band, and he now has that now in Steve Wright (drums) and Stan Antone (guitar). (And a soon to find bassist!)
Who are some of the musicians or musical acts that have had the most significant impact on your work and your sound?
Brand New, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Pixies, Soft Cell & Sonic Youth. They’d play covers from these bands, but unfortunately the band’s favorite songs were the really deep cuts and fans of these groups probably didn’t even recognize them, although “Tainted Love” does come up as an encore song now and again.
Can you describe the progression of your musical style and what sets it apart from others in the industry?
Thom believes that it’s been built up from his confidence, even though the group is basic bass, guitar, drums and voice, they bring something different to the table with their working class roots; something unique in this day and age. There is a distinct honesty in the lyrics, and the music successfully conveys the emotion of the subject matter. Their sets are comprised from all of the stages of their musical evolution. “Nuthin’ at All” is one of the first songs Stan and Thom ever wrote together, but it holds up well with something newer like “Living in Fear.” The band also construct their sets so that all the songs have a definite flow.
Could you elaborate on the backstory and significance of your artist or band name?
The Carving Knife is a precise instrument, carving directly into the heart and soul of their audience. Each song is a slice of the band’s writing history and with their 20 song set list they hope to serve up a cacophony of sound and emotions.
How do you typically approach the songwriting process, and what role does collaboration play in your work?
Thom writes all the lyrics while the band contributes towards the music. Sometimes they will have a riff that he writes to, and other times Thom will have finished lyrics that inspire them. As they play the song over and over, it will slowly grow and morph into it’s own thing. Playing the songs live really helps them grow as the band can see what the audience is digging, and perhaps what they may not be.
Can you share with us a particularly meaningful or personal song in your discography, and what inspired it?
Most of the band’s songs are personal, but Small Town sticks out more as the guys were each raised in towns of 700 people or less. Thom is from Ailsa Craig, Stan is from Beachville, while Steve is from Bright. They each know what it’s like, trying to break out of that small-mentality mold. But the song also resonates from fans in bigger cities too because their particular neighbourhood (say East London) could be much like living in a small town.
Could you discuss the evolution of your live shows and performances, and what you aim to convey through them?
The band wants people to listen to the lyrics and move to the music. They want their music to touch every fiber of the audiences being. Stan thinks their live shows have remained the same, engaging the audience and making a genuine connection through their music, but still keeping it personal and not act like the group is just going through the motions or just doing their “job.” Each song is a musical vignette of some aspect of their life, and they try to charge that with top energy and full conviction.
Can you recall any memorable or unique experiences you have had while touring or performing?
Seeing people slam dance to their song “Chainsaw” at the Embassy in London was a pretty cool experience. Playing Country Camping down at Port Rowan was the band’s first outdoor venue, and it seemed that sea of bodies and waving arms were also grooving to the sounds the band was making, even though the plug go pulled on them mid-song. Lee’s Palace in Toronto was an enormous venue to play and the sound was just amazing. It wasn’t a full house, but the band fed from the raw energy of the folks who did travel out to see them that evening.
What is your perspective on the current state of the music industry, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
Stan believes that it’s going to become more of a grass roots movement because the industry has sucked all the life from the art to make a buck. He’s seeing a return to the more DIY from the early 90’s as people realize they don’t need fancy gadgets or fads to come off sincerely. A band just needs to have that true love for their music and the conviction to get their message across to the fans.
Can you speak to the role that activism, social justice or charity play in your music and career?
Themes of activism and social justice are in many of the band’s lyrics including “Par For the Course,” “Prey Time,” and “Living in Fear.” The band have always believed in the saying, “Charity begins at home,” and so the group has donated their door money twice to charity. The first time was to the Big Brothers in Woodstock, ON and the second time was to the food-bank in Brantford, ON. Thom Ryerson and the Carving Knife are firm believers in the grassroots support for one’s community.
How has your hometown or region shaped your musical identity, and what elements of it do you attempt to incorporate into your work?
The band tends to buck away from their hometown roots in Woodstock. As far as the city is concerned a band hasn’t made it in that city until they’ve made it somewhere else bigger first. So they don’t think about that aspect as much, instead just making their music and seeing what sticks and who digs it. They’d like to put Woodstock on the map, it’s a great city, their just not fans of the nepotism stemming from the local political scene there.
Could you share any exciting new projects or collaborations you have in the works?
The band is hoping to record a new brand album this coming winter. Their going to play a whack of shows over the summer and fall, and then take the winter off to record, and come back blazing with a new CD and some amazing new songs.