Interview with Fuzz and Carrie Sangiovanni from Caravan of Thieves; Playing Catskill Chill
Bridgeport, Ct.’s Caravan of Thieves are heading to Catskill Chill this next month, and what a spectacle they’ll be bringing with them! Formed in 2008 by husband/wife team Fuzz and Carrie Sangiovanni, the quartet plays a style of gypsy inspired music that is certain to entertain Hancock, NY come September.
With as many albums under their belt as years active, Caravan of Thieves are keeping a steady pace in bringing their sounds to the crowd. With a focus on audience participation and interaction, the group strives to get the crowd involved in the music, making the experience truly interactive for those who wish to help them create a fun and festive atmosphere.
Having shared stages with The Decemberists, Emmylou Harris, Keb Mo, and many others, Caravan of Thieves look like a great way to spend some time in front of, so check them out when they perform near you and get out there and have some fun with them! I managed to speak with husband and wife team Fuzz and Carrie prior to their show at Catskill Chill to discuss their musical stylings, influences, and what it’s like being married and in a band simultaneously.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! Introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and how old is everybody?
C &F – Fuzz sings, plays guitar, buckets and pans, he is 42; Carrie sings, plays guitar, hubcap, she is 31; Ben plays violin, he is 27; Brian plays upright bass and he’s 34
G- Caravan of Thieves is a relatively new band, forming in 2008. When did you play your first show and can you tell us a bit about when you found yourselves working as a husband/wife creative team?
C&F- Our first Caravan of Thieves show was late march of 2008 in Fairfield, CT, we opened for Ryan Montbleau Band. It was originally booked as a Fuzz and Carrie duo performance but we showed up as the quartet, the new name, spiffy clothes and all new material. A nice surprise! Before that, we (Fuzz and Carrie) started making music shortly after we met in 2004, did a variety of projects/ styles which led us to caravan. But the connection was there right away, both personally and musically.
G- What is the dynamic like now that you are not only married to, but performing with your life partner? Do politics from your union enter into the creative process, and how do you balance the 2 areas of your life as performers?
C&F- The dynamic hasn’t changed too much over the years. We still do well keeping personal and artistic/ business situations separate, and give ourselves enough time throughout our daily lives doing non band related stuff, discussing things other than music and caravan. But the two areas do effect one another, so we share our concerns when needed and its made us better partners both in the band and outside of it. Communication in any relationship is essential.
G- Indeed, especially when creating. In this case, both music and a life together… Kudos! You are currently touring “The Funhouse” album, which was released in 2012 by United For Opportunity. How is it working with the label, and are you currently shopping the record or other demos to larger companies to release?
C&F- It was a beneficial next step to put The Funhouse out on a label, UFO. We had more attention on this album than the last two with press, radio, distribution and just having a bigger team to help and bounce ideas off of is great. We are not actively shopping to any other labels at this time but the music is out there and if a bigger opp comes along, both the band and label have a mutual interest in seeing it go there.
G- Nice, and it looks like they’ll be busy when the time comes… At one album per year, you are not wasting any time getting new music out there for your fans. Are you working on any releases right now?
C&F- We are working on new material, as we do all the time, all year long when we can. The rest of this year is going to be spent touring the US so we won’t be releasing a new album till next year, maybe a single sooner? But we’re planning to record a full album this winter.
G- Excellent make sure to keep us updated about drop time. Can you tell us a bit about your tunes and where you come up with new musical ideas? What is the inspiration behind your current recorded material, and do you have any ideals or politics that you put on display in your releases?
C&F- We (Fuzz and Carrie) write at home or anywhere really, sometimes together, sometimes individually, sometimes with our ghost (see the Ghostwriter lyrics), but the two of us always get together on all the songs to bring them to completion, then to the band and our audience to see if they have staying power. We trash just as much as we write, they certainly aren’t all keepers. Most of our material is a bit dark and twisted in some way, but we always counter balance that with fun, upbeat music, brighter images and humor.
The latest (Funhouse) album has a main theme running through most of the songs. To keep it entertaining, we used antique carnival images on the surface of the songs, but we are really comparing our lives as humans in the modern age to being on an amusement park ride. The ride in the park keeps you strapped in till the end with lots of stimulation and distraction and this is much like the ride that takes most of us through the human factory system we’ve created for ourselves here. Its deeply flawed, from the first day of school in the standardized, uninspiring, debt burdening education system, through all our years as good worker bees and consumers, feeding a machine that’s destined to collapse on itself eventually (see lyrics to our song “Funhouse Exit”). We know that’s a bummer to hear, but necessary, so we decorate it with something fun and entertaining, like an amusement park.
G- Debt burdened due to ediucation… Yea, I know a little bit about that myself. Know any countries that won’t extradite by chance 🙂 To talk about the road a little bit, how often does Caravan of Thieves get to go out on the road and perform, and how do you balance your time between gigs while traveling?
C&F- The past year and this year even more so, we are touring most of the year. We did a solid 3 months in the spring with some shorter runs before and after, a bunch of summer fests and we’ll be out again most of October, November and December, to the west coast and back. Busy!
In this band, more so than others I’ve been in, we try to make the most of our off time while on the road. We’ve rented vacation homes on lakes (which can be very affordable in the off season), gone on hikes, etc. Or if we’re condemned to just be in the van all day, at least we’ll have lots of music and books to listen to.
G- Nice… It’s great to give yourself some time to check out the scenery when you can. Lord knows the van is no vacation home lol. Now what should your fans, both old and new, expect of the performances when you guys hit the road? Do you often debut new material at your shows, and should we expect any new material or special appearances when you play Catskill Chill next month?
C&F- We are constantly altering, adding, subtracting material in the set. So we’ve been doing a few new songs and rearrangements the past couple months, and will be adding new material and reworking more of the existing material soon so, yes, I’m sure there will be new things to see and hear.
G- Can you give us a few examples of any bands or artists in particular that influence your style? Who do you typically like to listen to, and are there any acts you think we should know about?
C&F- Our tastes are all over the place and there’s always something you can pull from the different music you love, whether its the beautiful melodies Chopin composed, the playful spirit of Django Reinhardt, the diverse Beatles catalog, Radiohead’s consistent inventiveness or the soul Otis Redding puts into his performances. So we named a couple there and that can go on all day so… How bout add Tom Waits, Cab Calloway, Tim Burton, Duke Ellington and we’ll call it a day.
G- Haha ok… That’s a nice little handful of legends to work with. We’ll start there! And talking about some other awesome artists, you have already shared stages with several high profile cats, but are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future?
C&F- There’s a band Gypsy Caravan from France that looks interesting and fun. We’d go to Paris and play a show with them.
G- And here i’d go to Paris just for a chocolate croissant. In your short life as a group, what is the most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
C&F- Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale, CO. The venue was covered ceiling to floors with guitars and watching the transition from listening show to a dancing in the streets party time, that was a pretty memorable scene.
G- Very cool! So to finish up today, can you give some advice to the young, up and coming bands out here who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician like yourselves?
C&F- As long as you love what you do, and put that love into every performance, composition, concept, that will come through and be unmistakable. And that will create a bigger buzz than hiring an expensive publicist or being a social media wiz.
Check out Caravan Of Thieves and MANY more acts at this year’s Catskill Chill, happening September 6-8!