If Joe Cardamone’s entire musical output was transmuted into a speech it would be spoken by one of Skid Row’s finest misfits, stuttering and stammering, spitting vitriolic truth bombs out on the uninterested swathes of other homeless bodies herded and crammed into one block of DTLA. But with the grit of the music comes also an eloquent and even organised attack on the banal and the mundane; from the fully-fledged combative aural assault of his formative punk years to the more nuanced but still urgent output of the latter years, Cardamone is doubtless a unabashed pioneer of originality, bucking trends in favour of creating masterpiece theatre.
As a Los Angeles native Cardamone is well-versed in the dichotomy that exists in his hometown; the Hollywood glitz versus the gangland violence. “I’m an East-sider. When I was young, in the neighbourhood where I grew up I was scared to walk down the street. We grew up in LA but not the LA that held inroads for sons and daughters of the connected. East Los Angeles might as well be a million miles from Hollywood.”
From this duality sprouted Cardamone’s own penchant for experimentation between genres which would eventually lead to him disbanding The Icarus Line after 17 years to focus on his solo experimental, beats driven project. The first fruits of that output being explicitly un-commercial track ‘New Cross’. An aural attack, underpinned by industrial beats and glitch synths – it sets out the manifesto for Joe’s forthcoming recordings in a very forthright manner. Each release from Joe’s new project will have its own uniquely dark visual…..the ‘Holy Wars’ films, as they’ve been tagged by Joe.
Asleep At The Heel is from Joe’s new Holy War mixtape; Joe talks in-depth about his passion for the new direction and the possibilities it has opened up visually for him as a creative. “The Holy War Collection started as a thing to do late at night years ago to keep my mind occupied. I don't play video games or have many hobbies so I make beats while everyone is asleep. Alone in the laundry room with an MPC and headphones. Sometimes doing more than 4 a night. When my group dissolved a few years ago due a few reasons, most notably Alvin’s health, I decided to bring them into the studio.”
“I think it was the day after Bowie died that I first sang on one of them. I had been trying to locate a space in music that made sense for me in current time. Guitars and band format all felt like going backwards which to me is a sinking feeling. I remember at the time thinking that it was exciting to sing on instrumentals that were created purely for personal fun. I've always been a punk type artist but the trappings of that genre had caught up with me. The rock band genre became burnt over the last decade so to look forward I looked backwards.”
“All my favorite artists had been inspired by contemporary black music of their time. Elvis, Young Americans era Bowie, The Stooges, Nick Cave...all these acts had been heavily affected by their black counterpoints. This influence, to me, is what the best rock n roll music formed out of. Holy War has a lot of that in it. I have been immersed in this music for years but it was never really a touchstone in a band format. How could it be? So while bands increasingly bored me, I turned to the type of records that got played in my car. Gucci or Ye or Playboi Carti or Frank or whatever.”
“I guess the day I decided to take this project a little more seriously was long after I had already begun to form its building blocks. It went from 300 beats to 50 songs to a smaller selection of songs that have been readied for release. 2 years in the making. While I worked with my engineer Michael Musmanno we saw something happening that was really exciting to us both. A new sound that didn't deviate from the core truth of who I am as person. It wasn't a labored concept it just happened naturally out of making shit that put a smile on our faces. While making the music it also became clear that music alone wouldn't be the most complete way to paint this picture so I began to make films to build a visual language around the concept.”
“The first Holy War film was shot during the production of this record and the second installment a much longer player was finished in tandem with the mixing of the records. The visual component is as essential as the audio. The two began to inform each other to build something emotionally rich and deep. I have never made disposable records because all of my favorite records unfold a little more each time I hear them. That mindset has infected the way I do art. While they may seem difficult to certain ears upon first listen they subsequently reward on repeated listen because the tracks change on you and tell you about you life a little more each time. We had a lot of fun making this material even though a lot of the subject matter is life and death. If you don't laugh you'll cry.”
Thus far, Cardamone has performed a handful of these new tracks extensively in Europe and the UK, while supporting Mark Lanegan over a two month period at the latter end of 2017. A supremely creative visual and aural assault, the performance was a genuinely jaw dropping event unlike anything most of the audience had ever seen. Showcasing Joe’s dynamically visual mind on a large on-stage screen - silhouetting Joe’s contorted frame perfectly - and complemented by his hard-hitting storytelling, it’s a thought provoking experience to behold. With new music, and more of the project now unveiled, Cardamone is readying himself for more live activity in summer 2018.