Tarah Who? are an LA trio who recently released their EP, ‘Half Middle Child Syndrome‘.

The mind, soul, rock’n roll heart beat and operator behind Tarah Who? is French / American Singer & Multi-Instrumentalist Tarah G. Carpenter.

Born in Paris, Tarah got her first drum set at age 14 and shortly after began playing the bass, and the guitar. After performing drums and bass in Paris for a few years, in several bands, Tarah decided to travel to Los Angeles to explore the music scene. Tarah answered an ad on Craigslist “looking for an artist to perform original songs at a warehouse party Downtown“. After performing solo for the first time, the songs she had secretly written on the guitar, she decided she wanted to do her own music and started playing under the moniker Tarah Who?.

Joined by Matthew Peltcher on bass and Coralie Hervé on drums, Tarah Who? is known for being a power trio that delivers raw, authentic and loud rock.

To find out a bit more about the EP, the band answered our On The Record questions this week. Have a listen to the EP while reading about it.

(TGC) = Tarah G. Carpenter: Vocals, Guitar
(MP) = Matthew Peltcher: Bass, Backing Vocals

LISTEN

ON THE RECORD INTERVIEW
Tell us about the release title.
TGC: Our latest EP is called “Half Middle Child Syndrome”. I meet a lot of people that ask me if I have siblings. the answer is “Yes, I have an older brother and a younger one” I immediately get this reaction: “Oh! You’re the middle child” as if suddenly everything made sense. Not too get too personal, but my little brother is actually my half brother. While, it seemed to make total sense for those people that I was the middle child, I actually happen to be the younger of two, and then … the middle child, with the birth of my half little brother. I thought that it was funny and interesting, and wondered if indeed, I had some of the so called “middle-child syndrome”.

Tell us about the artwork.
TGC: My wife, Lesley Hoang Roberts did the artwork. I love the human brain, I enjoy reading about psychology, behavior and trying to understand our brain. Most of our songs talk about disappointment or misunderstanding our behavior. Really it all comes down to: “Why is it so hard to love each other?” I talk about not understanding the reaction or actions of certain people I have either encountered or heard about. ( sometimes disgusting behavior such as killing in “Numb Killer” or “14 Months” that talks about a mother who has killed her 14 months old baby. So, back to the question… I love psychology and I think Neurons are beautiful and fascinating! I told my wife about the idea of putting neurons on the cover and she did. All of the other artwork (posters, promotional tools etc..) is made by Angie Joseph.

What format/s will it be released on and how will it be packaged?
TGC: We like to travel light when we go on tour. We also are asked to send a lot of packages so I choose the slim case. It is compact, We can take a bunch on tour, it is easy to carry, it is a solid case. I really like this format. In the future we may go for a digi-pack or even a vinyl. I haven’t really found the need for us to order any of this yet. I like to keep it simple. Our fans are more 90s lovers. Nice packages are great, but we are not really into this world of having a booklet and all of this artwork. Our music is available digitally, and for those who want it on a CD, it is available at our shows.

Who will it be released through, and when?
TGC: I release everything digitally through Cdbaby. I have been doing it for years now, I like them. They are very easy to work with. This last EP “Half Middle Child Syndrome” was released last June 21, 2017. We are currently working on a new EP that we will release on our upcoming US tour in April.

Tell us about the studio and why you chose to record there?
TGC: I chose to record with the person, more than the studio. I could have rented a studio out, but I was more interested in working with Jason Orme than working at a big studio. We made it work at his rehearsal space, and it was an amazing experience.

Tell us about the producer / engineer and why you chose to record with them?
TGC: I had a few recording options but I chose to work with Jason Orme. It has been a dream of mine to work with him. Jason has been playing the guitar for Alanis Morissette (among other artists) for over a decade now. I was a huge Alanis fan when I was a teenager. This is how I met Jason. Jason doesn’t have a recording studio per se. It is more a rehearsal room in Hollywood, with great gear to record. Whatever you want to call it, it worked out perfectly. It was not about the studio it was about working with someone who understands the project. I couldn’t have asked for better. I have known Jason for years but we had never worked together. Turns out he is an amazing guy! I knew that he was a great, talented musician but I had no idea how great and how talented he was, and as a co-producer, he turned out to be the best person I have ever worked with in the studio. He was very understanding and open minded about the songs. Very honest and even participated. Jason got involved on a couple songs and came up with great arrangement ideas. He didn’t touch much of the songs. He didn’t try to change anything, he had ideas that would add to the song. It is great to work with someone who gets involved and cares like that. He was on the ball with everyone and everything that was going on. Very professional, very respectful. I think because he is a working musician too, that he knows how it is to be on the other side. Once again, it wasn’t a fancy recording studio, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was that everyone felt comfortable, and that everything worked out. It worked out so well that Jason will be helping us out again on our next EP.

MP: I have to say that I had no idea what to expect going into the studio to work with Jason but it ended up being an absolute pleasure to work with him. When working with other musicians you hope the chemistry will be right. Jason, like Tarah said, is very professional, easy to work with and just so down to earth. I remember him thanking me for being receptive to ideas. It’s important that every participant cooperate as a group to produce the best possible product and Jason understands that profoundly. Jason suggested some last-minute changes to bass lines for some songs and I liked some of his suggestions incorporating them into the song on the spot. I like the idea of sculpting the music to the very end. Jason is truly an awesome musician and I really look forward to working him again.

Did you go into the writing process with a clear direction in mind?
TGC: Yes, when I write a song, everything is already full sounding in my head. I have all of the arrangements in mind and it is really hard for me to hear anything else afterwards. There are sounds that I hear and a feeling that I need to feel when I listen to the song. I don’t know if that makes any sense.. but i don’t know how else to describe this!

Were you listening to anything in particular during the writing / recording process that influenced the songs at all?
TGC: Yes, actually I do most of my writing while listening to other songs. They are usually not songs that would influence me, it could be while listening to the radio while riding in the car, or listening to my playlist while on a train etc… I either need music in the background or complete silence.

Were there any albums you were referencing in the studio to aim for a certain type of sound production wise?
TGC: I always say the same references and every time I end up saying.. “but we don”t sound like them at all!” So in the end we end not having a reference! but yea, I say “the Distillers, or the foo fighters” for the guitars and drums.. but we sound nothing like any of these bands! So we end up doing our own thing..

How long did you spend in the studio recording?
TGC: I think that in total we can count this as 4 recording days. We did 2 full days recording the drums, bass, and my guitars. Then I went back in a couple times for half evenings to record Jason’s guitars and my vocals.
MP: I think we put in about 50 hours Tarah. There was a lot to do but it was very worth it. Can’t wait to get back and record again.

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Tell us a little about the recording process the band used?
TGC: I wanted to record live, but we didn’t have enough tracks to plug everyone in. We started with the drums and my guitars, which took a full day. The next day we completely changed “Pay to play” Jason came up with a better groove on the drums ( so glad he did that!) so we redid “Pay to play” then we moved on to the bass. As long as everyone was there we did as many percussions or vocal arrangements as needed, so that when I needed to record my vocals it would just be Jason and I. It is just easier to concentrate. I came back for my vocals and to add some of my guitars. I got to play some amazing guitars that Jason let me borrow. Most of those guitars I had seen him wear on stage with Alanis so I was really excited! Then Jason added his guitars and started mixing the whole EP.

Was this any different to previous processes you have used?
TGC: Yes actually, every album or EP has been very different! From home studio to big recording studio in the countryside of France! This was very casual, very low key, but very cool. Jason was very involved. For the first time I was working with someone who actually cared about the project and gave all of his attention, every time was were working on it. It makes a BIG difference. You can actually communicate with that person and share ideas without hurting anyone’s feelings or ego.

Any guests involved? if so, who.. and what did they do?
TGC: Yes! we were very happy to have Anne Lupieri and Antoine Abinun from the French band DRY CAN (who we are touring with in April). They happened to be touring California at the same time so I asked them to stop by and add some vocals for the backing vocals of “Ache”, “Garden of Chloé(s)”, and “Sirens” . Jason also, added guitars, backing vocals and percussions and it is a real honor to have him on our EP!

When it comes do naming the tracks, is there any particular approach or process to it all?
TGC: Oh no… I’m not really good with finding names for anything.. for bands, tracks or even animals! It is usually what comes up first, I might change it later. I like it things to be simple. I don’t like to think about things like that for too long. As we say in French “ça passe ou ça casse” (It is going to make it or break it!)

Any particular equipment outside your usual live gear used in the process?
TGC: All of Jason’s guitars!! hahaha! I didn’t use any of my pedals or any of my guitars. It is ALL his! Also the percussions. We used whatever thing we found laying around to bang on as percussion.
MP: Don’t forget the vibraslap we used for Pay to Play. Cool instrument… I totally want one.

Any memorable studio moments?
TGC: The percussions were really fun and when Anne and Antoine stopped by. Another memorable moment was when Jason suggested that Anne and I sing in French on “Ache”. We improvised that part and I can even hear one sentence that I am saying where I just about to start laughing! It was the first time that I was recording anything in French. “Sirens” is about the Paris attacks so the bridge is in French. Then, Jason came up with those vocals on “Ache” so we added that on the fly. We were very limited on time- budget. So i tried to keep everything going and rolling quickly.
MP: Doing “gang-vocals” was very cool. Recording banging on different objects in studio to get the right sound was very fun to do. The entire studio time was memorable in itself.

Any additional tracks recorded that didn’t make the cut but may see the light of day sometime?
TGC: No, we wanted to record another track but we didn’t have time to even start recording it at all. We thought it would be better to focus on those five than add a sixth one that would probably not make the cut in the end anyway.

What track/s are you most looking forward to playing live?
TGC: I love playing “Ache” Live. we have rearranged it too for our live performances and It is really fun to perform. I can’t wait for people to know the songs to sing along with us at the shows. It’s always more fun when people know the songs. We can play with the crowd and entertain better shows when this occurs.
MP: Pay to play is my favorite. It’s a straight up punk rock song with attitude that gets everyone dancing and moshing.

How would you compare the final product to previous releases?
TGC: “Half Middle Child Syndrome” turns out to be in my opinion more pop than the previous EP (“Federal Circle of Shame” that was really raw, punk and angry) I like it though. I think HMCS is probably better produced too, since we spent more time on it. 4 days instead of one day for “Federal Circle of Shame”. We also added more vocals and percussions, that we didn’t do for FCS. It is a different approach and different sound. Also, an interesting point is that HMCS was recording, mixed and mastered in the US by Americans. FCS was recorded and mixed in France. So there is most likely a difference in sounds and recording, mixing process.

Anything else you want to say or about the release?
TGC: I am really happy about this last release because I got to involve my band mates and we are happy to be releasing and promoting it together. We are really excited to move forward with another EP next year, and we really hope that you dig the music as much as we do! 🙂
We love to see our fans dance and mosh pit at our shows and we write thinking about how to keep entertaining our fans.
We cannot wait to meet you all on the road, and we are happy that Rock lovers are still around;)
MP: We had a fantastic E.P. release at the Viper Room in June to promote Half Middle Child Syndrome. Thank you to all the wonderful people that showed up to see us. They are the ones who really made it a special night.

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