“No one’s moved away from this dirt city, so we might as well stay in a band together,” says Matti Darrah, who handles keys and shared vocal duties for Red Shag Carpet.
The group has been around since 1999, the year its four band members graduated from high school, and it’s been the same lineup ever since.
“We’ve all been friends since Grade 7, or before that, so if anything we’re just friends and we’re the only people we know that all play different instruments, so it’s a perfect fit,” Darrah explains. “We each only have three friends, and it’s the rest of the band.”
The group—which includes Daniel Yarmon on bass, Allan Pickard on drums and Teddy Ani on guitar, with vocals shared amongst everyone—originally rejected the well-intended advice to keep day jobs to focus on the band full time, but a few kids, marriages and career aspirations later and the gears have changed.
“Al’s becoming a doctor, so priorities have shifted around, but we still manage to carve out that little bit of time to write songs,” Darrah says. “It’s evolved so much that we’ve become more efficient, I think, rather than just selling the farm and getting together for six hours, drinking a bunch of beers. Now we have the two hours to play and practise—and drink less beer.”
Whatever the case, Red Shag Carpet continues to make new music and is ready to release its new album When I Need You to Be. The band has never been easy to pigeonhole when it comes to genre, intertwining influences of pop, folk, rock and punk into its melodies. When I Need You to Be continues this approach with tunes moving between piano-driven blues ballads to sing-along rockers. Regardless of the style, Darrah says the focus continues to be crafting songs that are honest, finding inspiration in the little things.
“Never these sensational things or tackling anything too deep,” he adds. “It’s real things living in the dirt city that we find things to write about.”
It’s difficult for him to say exactly where that inspiration comes from in each song, as all the band members write material and take turns on lead vocals, a configuration that’s opened up creative possibilities for the group while allowing everyone to stay on an equal playing field.
“Lead singers always have to be really cool—none of us are cool,” Darrah laughs, noting having four different sets of ideas has never made things more complicated. “I think it would be more challenging if there was one cool guy in front of the band and everyone else is kind of along for the ride. We all jumped into this bucket 15 years ago, and from the get-go it was all even across the board. Everyone does the same amount of driving, books the same amount of shows, loads the same amount. I think that’s what goes back to being four friends. You don’t want to stab your friends in the back; you’re never cooler than your friends.”
Sat, May 10 (8 pm)