Carp 18 | bug rump

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Rock: Folk Rock Pop: with Live-band Production Moods: Mood: Funny
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bug rump

by Carp 18

A roots rock band from Minneapolis goes into a studio to record their second album 2 days before Y2K, find a Mellotron and end up trapped in the freight elevator for 7 years.
Genre: Rock: Folk Rock
Release Date: 

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  song title
1. Understand
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2. Up In Yer Neck O' the Woods
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3. Dreamhouse
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4. Weeping Willow
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5. Hey Ivy
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6. Find Me a River
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7. Muscle Car Blues (Tell Me Another)
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8. Views From the Desert
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9. Padded Amps & Flannel Shirts
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10. In the Next Life
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11. The Coolest Place On Earth
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12. The Hamelburg Polka
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Album Notes
ROB FORBES, LEICESTER BANGS (LEICESTER, UK) A double release - Joe Fahey is the frontman of Carp 18 - though musically, two completely different animals. Carp 18 first. The band run through a selection of rootsy rock and Midwestern pop styles on Bug Rump, giving the impression that on the right night in the right bar, they'd be a top notch night out. In fact, if they'd been around London during the early '70s pub rock explosion, we'd probably be talking about Carp 18 in the same way we talk about Eggs Over Easy or Bees Make Honey. Joe Fahey's vocal possesses the same awkward lilt as Paul Westerberg's, though it's a noticeably gentler voice - which brings us round to Fahey's Tote Bag. Far more experimental that his band's recordings, and an indication that Fahey's record collection is both large and varied. So, we get bits of the Beatles, Bright Eyes, Syd Barratt and the Flaming Lips, and a sound that's both psychedelic and sparse - which results in mood hops from trippy to forlorn. It's maybe a little too eclectic for a truly satisfying listen, though it's not without its moments. Personally, I like it best when it's spacey and abstract, with 'Porta One' my out and out favourite track.

JEREMY SEARLE, AMERICANA UK (LIVERPOOL, UK) — Potted history of americana — Recorded in 1999 but unreleased until now because the band split up during the recording and have only just reformed, “Bug Rump” sounds rather like Carp 18 got together and decided to record a series of songs each of which was in the style of one of their heroes, said heroes being the the likes of Michael Stipe, Neil Young, Gram Parsons et al. So we have “Muscle Car Blues (Tell Me Another)”, which has a tune and intro that’s first cousin to “Return of the Grievous Angel”, but which also gets bonus points for including the words “19th viscosity breakdown” in it’s story of a has been car nut. Then there’s “Hey Ivy”, which swings like early REM with Jeff Tweedy on vocals, “Views From The Desert” which recalls Jay Farrar at his most experimental and “Padded Amps and Flannel Shirts”, which could be the Long Ryders with Sid Griffin in full flow but which also benefits from witty lyrics about country music bandwagon climbers. I could go on, but I’m sure you’ve got the idea. Overall “Bug Rump” is quite a fun listen, and probably as much fun live, but ultimately it just sends you back to the originals.

TOM HALLETT, PULSE OF THE TWIN CITIES (MINNEAPOLIS, MN)— Every once in awhile, you'll see a flier or a handbill announcing that local band Carp 18 (a play on "carpe diem," dontcha know) are playing a gig around town. Despite the fact that the band has been around in one form or another for 20 years or so, and they do about as much self-promotion as the aquatic creatures they snagged their moniker from do, their shows inevitably bring out a gaggle of "in the know" fans of from-the-gut, no-bullshit Minnesota music.

Though the press packet I received in the mail contained no less than four CDs (OK--the Jethro Tull Thick as a Brick complete with interviews was entirely my fault--thanks, guys!), including the band's Americana-inflected Russian Racehorse, lead singer/guitarist Joe Fahey's solo album, Tote Bag, and this here little nugget I'm reviewing, I chose this album to focus on merely because it was the most recent material the band's recorded together.

By "most recent," I mean that recording for Bug Rump began back in 1999, a project Fahey, bassist/vocalist Dave Helgerson and drummer Paul Schmitt readily admit took a backseat to their "grown-up lives." That being said, the three albums each carry their own cachet and style, and reflect the times they were recorded in. A testament to the fact that the band is thrilled to finally have finished Bug Rump is found on the rear inner sleeve of the CD, a short but sweet message that simply reads, "the fuckin' thing's done."

Me, I was just happy to finally hear the finished product and consider myself lucky that I was able to compare the different periods and musical trends the band rode out in the interim. Where Russian Racehorse was pretty much a spiffy collection of straight-up cow-punk à la Uncle Tupelo or Whiskeytown (excluding a few rockabilly-ish numbers courtesy of the bassist and drummer), and included guests like former Gear Daddy Randy Broughten on pedal steel and producer Tom Herbers on bass, Bug Rump is a veritable potpourri of indie-laden pop rock with just a hint of the band's former direction.

Album opener "Understand" is a dire, whip-smart cry for love and understanding that's equally reminiscent of John Prine and John P. Strohm's finer solo work, while "Up in Your Neck of the Woods" is a bouncy, acoustic homage to lives spent north of Brainerd and the folks who populate that geographic locale. "Dreamhouse" finds the band allowing bassist Schmitt to lead the trio through a slippery melange of jangly pop, straight-up jukebox jamming and tense rock and roll moments.

"Muscle Car Blues (Tell Me Another)" (which was submitted to and accepted by NPR for a humorous auto-themed CD they were releasing a while back) finds the band proving they still have those old pedal-steel-driven country chops and exposing their subtle, yet genuinely intelligent sense of humor. "Padded Amps & Flannel Shirts" is a direct slam at the bandwagon jumpers who've found some sneaky way to connect Nashville with indie country, the band rocking at their finest and Fahey in perfect voice.

"The Coolest Place on Earth" is a moving, harp-driven ballad that's like a perfect cross between Neil Young and The Mammy Nuns (oh wait, is there even a difference?), a tune written with both one specific place in mind that also translates perfectly to wherever you are, whatever you're doing, whoever you are.

In the end, Carp 18 are one of those bands that will probably never put out albums at as quick a pace as you'd like them to, yet in doing so, leave listeners on the edges of their seats waiting for the next installment from their ongoing "grown-up life" sagas. Hands down, a true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool release from an outfit you should make every effort to check out. Highly recommended listening. Check 'em out at


Carp 18 is a Minneapolis-based band formed in 1991 by 3 former members of a pop/rock band called the Tangents (1987-1990) who were originally called the Pungent Reflection who gigged mainly at places like Fernando’s on Lake Street and the Valli in Dinkytown.

In late 1990 the Tangents fell apart but their was a strong desire by drummer Paul Schmitt, bassist/Tangents soundman Dave Helgerson and guitar player Joe Fahey to form a new band and concentrate on writing original material and to knock out a few songs by Neil Young, etc.

Guitarist Joe Fahey had played guitar and bass in a few MInneapolis bands since 1979 but as more of a sideman who was just happy to be in a band. As time went on, he began to write and sing more songs.

Drummer Paul Schmitt grew up in Stanley, Wisconsin, a small town near Eau Claire where he raced motocross bikes and jammed to Thin Lizzy. His first concert was Brownsville Station at a local county fair who just may have been the gateway drug to AC/DC, Angel City and the like. He later moved to Brainerd, then landed in the Twin Cities where he joined a band called Rock Bottom.

Bass player Dave Helgerson grew up in Albert Lea, Minnesota. His Dad played guitar and took him to many shows featuring country music legends such as Buck Owens & The Buckaroos, George Jones and this singer-songwriter from Arkansas named Johnny Cash. The family lived in St. Louis for a couple years but ended up back in Albert Lea.

The band played their debut gig at Mayslack’s in Nordeast Minneapolis in 1991 though, at that time, the only live music at that venue was polka. They hauled their own crappy PA in and their gear smelled like garlic for months afterwards.

They recorded their first, self-produced work “A Rough Fish Mix” in the summer of ‘91 in a matter of hours, on a 4-track cassette deck in a pole barn near Stillwater. They sent their tape in to KJJO, a radio station that was playing a format new to the world .... “Alternative Rock.” The song “Alone in the Dark” from the tape ended up winning in some type of competition and the band’s 2nd gig was a Battle of the Bands contest at Peavey Plaza. Carp 18 was proud to finish 4th out of 4.

It was around that time that they began to produce a newsletter called “The Catch O’ the Day” which was devoted mostly to the embellished, and humorous antics of Carp 18 and all other sorts of craziness. Though, at its peak, the mailing list was around 200, the COD (as subscribers knew it by) began to get some very positive response from people such as City Pages writer Jim Walsh & Twin Tone founder/music fan Peter Jesperson. And all the mothers of the band members, of course, agreed with all of the above.

Oh shit, I’m out of space ... okay ... between raising children, drinking Jägermeister and working their day jobs, the band played gigs at about every club in town for the next 10 years and rarely missed a weekly practice; recorded at Paisley Park where Prince upgraded them to the big studio because he didn’t want to tear down, received some major label interest from MCA among others. In 1997 they released their debut, full length CD “Russian Racehorse” (produced by Tom Herbers) which yielded a few pretty decent reviews.

While recording their 2nd album in December, 1999, the band members felt pressure on their long friendship and decide to split up. Nobody believed it and, for good reason because here they are, back together after a ridiculously long hiatus (more of a schism I suppose) with their completed CD “bug rump”
Joe: electric guitars, acoustic guitar, toy piano
Dave: bass
Paul: drums
Tom Herbers: chamberlin (not wilt)
Up In Yer Neck O’ the Woods
Joe: acoustic guitar, banjo,
electric guitar, handclaps
Dave: bass, singin’, handclaps
Paul: drums, singin’, handclaps
Randy Broughten: pedal steel

Joe: electric guitars, acoustic guitar, singin’
Dave: bass, singin’
Paul: lead vocal, drums
Weeping Willow
Joe: electric guitars, acoustic guitar, piano, chamberlin (was told the wilt thing was amusing ... once)
Dave: bass, singin’
Paul: drums, tambourine

Hey Ivy
Joe: electric guitars, acoustic guitar
Dave: bass
Paul: drums, singin’

Find Me a River
Joe: acoustic guitar
Dave: bass
Paul: drums, tambourine, singin’
Cousin Tom Murphy: mandolin
Tom Herbers: mellotron

Muscle Car Blues
(Tell Me Another)
Joe: electric guitars, acoustic guitar
Dave: bass, singin’
Paul: drums, tambourine, singin’
Randy Broughten: pedal steel

Views From the Desert
Joe: acoustic guitar, talk box,
hammond organ, swirly sounds
Dave: bass
Paul: drums
Tom Herbers: piano, wurlitzer electric piano, hovering ivories

Padded Amps & Flannel Shirts
Joe: electric guitars, acoustic guitar
Dave: bass, singin’
Paul: drums, cowbell (recorded three
months pre-Walken/Ferrell history)
Ian Bodean: Flute

In the Next Life
Joe: acoustic guitar, electric guitars
Dave: bass, singin’
Paul: drums, singin’

The Coolest Place on Earth
Joe: electric guitars, acoustic guitar, harmonica
Dave: bass
Paul: drums, that crazy train thing

The Hamelburg Polka
Joe: electric guitar
Dave: bass
Paul: drums

Basic tracks recorded at Third Ear Recording in Minneapolis, on December 29 & 30, 1999. Additional recording & mixing done at the same joint in between paychecks, mood swings and world events over the next couple years.

Produced by Tom Herbers & Carp 18

Mixing, mastering and aluminum can recycling by Tom Herbers.
Thanks to Mark Downey at Nerve Center for getting the CDs made.
Art & design by Joe Fahey; photos by Nik Wogstad, Paul Schmitt, Steve Hendrickson, Joe Fahey, Kathy Fahey, Colleen Fahey, Selph Tymer & a few of unknown origin.

Many thanks to family & friends. Also, a special thanks to anybody who has ever taken the time to ask about the band ... or maybe they never ask and the subject of Carp 18 comes up anyway. That's cool too.
All songs published by Rough Fish Music BMI © 2006. Dreamhouse written and belted out by Paul Schmitt, the rest written and crooned by Joe Fahey. The Hamelburg Polka is based on a traditional Bavarian folk song and rearranged by Carp 18.

Rough Fish Records
P.O. Box 21568
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55421

Have a good one.


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