It’s hard to feel anything other than enthusiasm for a band with a name like Carb On Carb. Sure, there’re Atkins devotees out there, and people who strive for ketosis in their diets. But honestly, pick an average person off the street and chances are that they, like Nicole Gaffney (guitarist of the Auckland two-piece), would willingly indulge in something full of starchy promise, a hashbrown sandwich or potatoes and pasta. And the name aside, theres a lot to like about Carb On Carb.
With Gaffney on electric guitar and James Stuteley on drums – and vocal duties shared between them – their sound is exactly what you want to hear from a self-described ‘noise-pop’ duo. They are rowdy without being screamy, simple without being too pared back.
It’s a natural, almost knee-jerk reaction to draw comparisons with The White Stripes, but that would be doing a disservice to Carb On Carb whose nonchalant female vocals and instrumental balance have much more of a Pacific northwest, ’90s punk feel. The closest comparison is possibly Excuse 17, Carrie Brownstein’s pre-Sleater-Kinney band, but they are their own entity. Some of their current inspiration comes from “…’90s emo stuff,” but Gaffney says that ultimately their sound is built bit by bit on influences from friends and others they play with and learn from.
Carb On Carb are fresh off the release of their second EP ‘Ladies Mile’ – a follow-up to last year’s ‘No Body Perfect’. Both have cover-art designed by Gaffney, the music and visuals tying in nicely together – handcrafted and sort of zine-like, but at the same time professional.
They’ve opted to go the EP route to keep things fresh and interesting. With their sound constantly evolving it helps each release maintain a cohesive sound that might otherwise get a bit stretched over a whole album.
Gaffney and Stuteley cut their musical teeth in bands like Moron Says What?!?! and Mammal Airlines, and have been playing as Carb On Carb with just the two of them since 2011. In that time, they’ve opened for Die! Die! Die!, toured with Cool Cult throughout the country and have just gotten back from several gigs across the ditch (including a date in Newcastle where they shared a venue with an Elvis impersonator and an Irish jig band). Stuteley waxes lyrical over the desert-like sand dunes at the beach and both agree that seeing new places and exotic landscapes are part of the reason they love touring. Even before this set of dates wrap up, they’re plotting their next destinations, with a China tour possibly on the cards.
And let it be known that, despite featuring in the artwork of ‘Ladies Mile’, the band have yet to experience a donut burger. Maybe you can get in their good books if you bring one to their next gig.