A Chat with Tarah Who? (08.03.19)

Image courtesy of Tarah Who?

On this year’s International Woman’s Day, we are fortunate to sit down with the phenomenal Tarah Who?! An indestructible force from Los Angeles, this alternative rock/grunge trio – led by Tarah G. Carpenter – recently released their single ‘Hurt’, and released their new album 64 Women today!! Chatting with vocalist and guitarist Tarah (TGC), bassist Joey Southern (JS) and drummer, Coralie Hervé (CH), here is what they had to say in our latest interview. 

OSR: How did you guys meet?

CH: I joined Tarah Who? in the summer 2017. Tarah messaged me when she needed a drummer. We were friends on Facebook but we never met before, so it was funny to meet in Los Angeles for the first time.

JS: I am the newest member of the band coming up on almost a year now. We met back in April 2018 via Facebook messenger.

‘Hi Joe, I am contacting you because I am looking for a bass player for my band Tarah Who? If you like what you hear hit me back. Have a good day!’

Random; it seemed strange and went unanswered for six whole days. The idea rolled around in my head enough, and I decided I needed to listen to the songs. Two weeks later, we left on a west coast tour and we have been constantly working ever since! Each experience seems better than the last.

TGC: Yeah, pretty much! All through Facebook!!

OSR: Who are your biggest influences? 

CH : Nightwish!!!! A symphonic metal band from Finland. I just love their music!!!

JS: From Motorhead to Bob Marley!!! I have a wide range of influences, but the main ones that have always stuck out are Lemmy, Les, Geddy and P-Nut!!!

TGC: I listened to a lot of Alanis Morissette growing up. She probably tainted me a little in my writing. Soundwise, I am a Tool, RATM, Distillers, Motorhead, (early) Foo Fighters (when they were a fourpiece and not an orchestra!), Garbage, Pantera fan. 

OSR: What inspired you to write the EP 64 Women?

TGC: Album or EP titles of Tarah Who? are general. They are not related to any topics of any song. 64 Women is the number of women who were incarcerated at the time I was in the immigration jail back in November 2016 in DTLA. The songs in that EP are all from different events within the past couple years I would say; maybe more for some songs.

‘Linger’ is about boredom. It is more of an experimental, drums song. It is the rhythm that comes to my hand when I am bored. Does that makes sense? Like when you do something and unconsciously you tap a rhythm? Or like when you are waiting for a page to load. Well, the rhythm during the chorus when we all play together is what always comes to me.

I don’t know why ‘Copycat’ is a reminder to be yourself and focus on that rather than trying to be someone else who already exists, who you will never be.

‘Hurt’ is our slow song. It’s about betrayal in a friendship. Someone letting you down and you feel totally used. ‘Umbilicus’ is our fun song on this EP. There is always one, or light song I should say. It is about being responsible for your own acts and not getting everyone around you involved.

‘Numb Killer’ is about the Manchester attacks. I was just trying to put myself in the terrorist view and not understand, because I will never understand. Just trying to picture the scene, and how he felt when he blew himself up at the Ariana Grande show with all of those kids. 

OSR: Are you from a musical background? 

CH: I began taking drum lessons in the music school in my town. After I graduated from high school, I moved to Paris to take lessons with Nicolas Bastos (Dagoba), at the Drumming Lab and Agostini. I arrived in Los Angeles more than two years ago to study at the Musicians Institute and graduated last year.

JS: My dad played in bands in high school with David Shankel (Manowar), and my mom was in the front row at every concert throughout the Chicago-land eighties. My parents have a passion for music that sparked my interest at a young age. The first concert they took me to was ZZ Top at the United Center in Chicago, and the next week, Metallica at the All State Arena!!! I was 12 years old.

TGC: Oh gosh! Not at all! My mom was born in ’43 and was abandoned as a child. German soldier, French mother. I don’t know anything about them, and my mom was a nurse. She is retired now. We are super close, so I was raised Asian really! My dad was born in Saigon. My grandpa was a diplomat and they fled Vietnam during the war, ended up in Paris. My grandma was Miss Saigon.

My dad is a famous doctor in a small town near Paris, and my brothers are not musical at all. I was drawn to rock ‘n’ roll, and being in a band. I started playing drums and bass in bands at the age of 14, and I  never stopped playing. I never thought of it as a career; it is just what I do to feel sane! I am not even kidding!!

OSR: What job do you think you would be doing if you weren’t in music? 

CH: I think I’ll be an archaeologist. I always loved history, so yeah.

JS: I would be learning and growing the family business. My family owns a construction company.

TGC: Honestly, I have gone over this so many times and really, really tried. I just can’t find anything else. I do have hobbies and other things I am interested in, like photography or welding, but none of it is as strong as music, and I would do anything for music. I can work on our music and not sleep or eat. There isn’t any other career that I am into. I love psychology and helping people, but I feel like I do that with music too. Being an independent musician, you end wearing a lot of hats! 

OSR: Are you planning to tour? 

CH: We actually began our tour for 64 Women on March 1st. We have some dates in southern California, and after that, we are heading to Texas.

JS: Yes, we are on the road now till mid-March 2019. Make sure to check out our EP on Spotify or Live in Hollywood at the Whitley, if you are in Los Angeles!

TGC: We are touring until March 17th with the UK band YUR MUM. Amazing people. This could not be any more fun. After this tour, we are going to work on some new material. In September we are touring in Europe (France and the UK) and we will probably add some more shows in between, so stay tuned!

OSR: What are you looking forward to in the future? 

CH: Always playing shows, and be able to do a world tour one day to discover and visit countries.

JS: Keep touring and doing what we love. Yes, Coralie, I can’t wait to visit new countries!!!

TGC: I can’t wait to play festivals worldwide. I am just ready to do this 24/7. I love being on tour and meeting new people. I love writing and recording. I love what we have with Coralie and Joey, and I sharing what we work on. I just can’t wait to be able to share to many, many more people worldwide! 

OSR: What’s an average day like for the band? 

CH: Most of the time, if we have a gig the night, we meet arou5 pm5pm to load the gear, drive to the venue, play and reload the gear, drive to our rehearsal space and unload. That’s pretty what we do every time.

JS: Aside from loading and unloading, gigging and rehearsing, we are constantly on social media promoting and pushing Tarah Who?! Always onto the next task thanks to Tarah! Our fearless leader!

TGC: Joey! Yeah, I keep them busy! Well, like I said, we wear many hats. My day is not the same as everyone ‘s day. I am always on the move, and my brain is going a thousand miles an hour constantly. It is not just about coming to play a show. We learn new material to have variety in our sets. I like to come up with different structures and ideas so that it is special to come to a show; it is not song after song. We entertain you!

I write a lot on the side, so I work on new material at home. I make demos. I am continually working on the next step for us to keep the ball rolling, and the momentum going. We work on music videos; I have a documentary that I am working on with a couple of producers who are interested in coming along. A documentary about the music industry today as an independent band and being a woman in that world. I try to come up with new stuff for consistent news! 

OSR: Ever dealt with performance anxiety? 

CH: I’m always anxious before playing, and I always been, but once we begin to play, it vanishes. I just love to play, and I feel good when I’m on stage!

JS: Yes, Coralie, me too! I seem to have this dry heaving thing going on, which is tough, but I have managed to get it under control.

TGC: When I started, but not really anymore. I get anxious if I know someone important is coming, but not really. I just like to stay away from people, stretch and concentrate. I like to be alone or with Joey and Coco before a show because they don’t talk, but we’re all together!

OSR: What was the first instrument you learned to play?

CH: Always been drums, since I was 10, and I never stopped.

JS: Saxophone was my first instrument in middle school, but I had no idea what I was doing until I played bass.

TGC: I took two drum classes that I paid for out of my 14-year-old pocket money. I think I took two more classes until they kicked me out because I did not have money; then I taught myself. I started to play bass in bands at the same time. Guitar came later. I was an exchange student in Kentucky and I could not play the drums. I bought myself an electric guitar (instead of food), and an Alanis Morissette song book, that’s how I taught myself the guitar! I still play all three for Tarah Who? when I write and make demos. I play the bass and drums in different projects.

OSR: What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

CH: Just go for it!!! Do what you love!!!

JS: That’s right, Coralie! Do what you love, and if you are scared to do it and make that leap, good! That means you are doing the right thing! Take the chance because you are worth it!

TGC: Totally, don’t think about it. Whether it is music or not, if you feel inspired, don’t think twice. Do what you are meant to be doing. You have one life to live with this body; you might as well do it right. You are the only one in control of what you do next. Money flows, if you REALLY want it, you WILL make it happen. If you have too many excuses, you don’t really want it. 

Thanks Tarah, Coralie and Joey for chatting with us! To engage with the band, check out their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or official website. Listen to their new EP and singles on Tarah Who?’s Spotify.


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