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Carbellion: American Heavy Rock on the Rise

Carbellion: American Heavy Rock on the Rise

Carbellion: American Heavy Rock on the Rise

Formed in Southeastern Wisconsin in 2004, Carbellion has been rocking the Midwest and beyond for 20 years!  Their latest album entitled Weapons Of Choice has been released through Eclipse Records digitally with vinyl and CD’s being presented through Qumram Records!  The band has opened for the likes of Buckcherry and Black Stone Cherry, and are about the head out their very first UK Tour!  Highwire Daze recently caught up with lead vocalist Cameron Kellenberger to find out more about the amazing Carbellion, their Weapons Of Choice manifesto, and a whole lot more!

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Carbellion, and how long the band has been together.
Sure thing, Cameron here on lead vocals for Carbellion. We are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year which is crazy! We’ve gone through a few subtle lineup changes but the core of the band has been tearing it up that long.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
We are based out of Southeastern Wisconsin with members and rehearsal spots from a bit North of Milwaukee down to closer to the Illinois border. The good thing for us with being spread out is we have venue/clubs and fans spread out across a decent size chunk of Wisconsin as a result. The scene (like many scenes in the US these days) has its high points and low points. We find ourselves having the best fan reception in the smaller cities and towns outside of Milwaukee and Chicago where the cover and tribute bands reign as kings (more power to them, no disrespect). Cities like Green Bay, Plymouth/Sheboygan, Manitowoc, and Racine/Kenosha have been pretty good to us in the hometown scene.

How did you wind up signing with Eclipse and then Qumran Records?
We were shopping our new record around before release and Chris Poland from Eclipse got a hold of us and liked the sound we were going for. Eclipse is super savvy with the digital ecosystem that includes social media, steaming services, online marketing, etc. which is an area we felt we could really use some help in to get what became the “Weapons of Choice” LP out to as many new fans as possible. With Qumran, I knew some of the guys through other bands in the Chicago scene that are directly involved or on the label. They are really good with physical distribution like vinyl and CDs (you can get our record online at Best Buy and Barnes & Noble for example) and have great relationships in the stoner/prog/psych/doom rock and metal scenes somewhat globally. Knowing all that, we signed with both labels and split the digital from the physical to capitalize on what they were both best at.

Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title Weapons Of Choice?
Yeah, absolutely. In the time we live in, and this record being written and recorded from just pre-Covid through completion in the first half of 2023, the idea of such a wide base of things that could be weaponized felt like it was becoming more apparent in our daily lives. The age of social media becoming a bully pulpit to preach opinions viewed as the news and hard facts became full established in my opinion during this time. It feels now that what someone is against identifies them versus what someone is for and that isn’t productive to resolving any kind of conflict. Perhaps someone’s “Weapon of Choice” should be civility which could lead to open thought discussion and conflict resolution…

Select two songs Weapons Of Choice and what inspired the lyrics?
Let’s do “Pity the Backseat” and “Origin” to keep it interesting. “Pity the Backseat” was written lyrically (and mostly musically) by our drummer Brent Nimz. The Outsiders book by S.E. Hinton and movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola were very influential to him growing up and he still digs the story and characters today. Lyrically the song is right out of the story so give it a listen if you haven’t from that perspective! I wrote “Origin” after an insane binge of the TV show Ancient Aliens. Say what you want about the tin foil hat conspiracies out there regarding aliens, but a lot of the things on that show series make some sense and are just as or more reasonable to me than a lot of people beliefs about creation-lol!

Who produced Weapons Of Choice and what was it like working with them?
We worked with Chris Djuricic at Belle City Sound in Racine, WI. Chris recorded and co-produced two of our earlier records, “Villains” and “The Horse”, so it felt natural to get back in with him to work through the songs and bring them to life in the studio. He’s got a great ear for capturing enough lightning in a bottle from our band’s live vibes.

What are you looking forward to the most about your upcoming UK Tour?
This will be our first time touring outside of the US and the first time for most of the band to cross the Atlantic, so we are really stoked. We’ve developed a new following of people over there with the last record that led to two festivals reaching out for us to play in late June; Love Rock Festival in Dorset, EN and Wildfire Festival in Wanlockhead, SC. After that, clubs started reaching out and it turned into our first non-US tour! The thing we are most excited about is playing for new people that haven’t see us live and are genuinely thrilled we are making the trip over.

What could one expect from a live Carbellion show?
Carbellion live shows pack a punch. We are ol’ school live performers with guitars up in the air, fist pumping, call and response chants, and big rock beginnings and endings to every song. Fans are usually like “holy sh!t man, I didn’t see that coming!”. We like to say it’s Four to the Floor Rock n’ Roll or Full Contact Rock n’ Roll !

Has Carbellion ever played here in the Los Angeles or is that something you would like to do in future days? If so, what was the experience like?
It’s been some years, but we’ve been to the NAMM convention in Anaheim a handful of times, and we did a killer International Battle of the Bands in the final round for Live Nation at the House of Blue on Sunset (RIP) in 2012. It’s been too long and we’d love to get back out that way.

What was it like opening for Buckcherry and Black Stone Cherry, and were you able to meet or hang out with them at all?
It was a great time playing to a packed venue for both of these gigs. Fans who like them tend to like us too. For these two in particular we didn’t hang out with the bands but from memory got a few thumbs up from side stage during our set from members of both. We’ve been very fortunate to never really have a bad experience in Carbellion opening for national and international touring bands. There is a kindred spirit that bonds the smallest bands to the biggest bands in the live rock scene.

If Carbellion could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
I’d probably have to say Black Sabbath back in the day with the original lineup when they were breaking the classic rock mold into something darker and taboo. That had to be just so different and powerful when no one was really doing anything like that.

Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of Carbellion?
I sing and play bass in another band called “Higgins” in Wisconsin that sounds a bit like a mashup of garage, grunge, punk, stoner, and straight up rock. It keeps me challenged and creative with lyric and songwriting as it’s a bit different from my more established songwriting role in Carbellion.

What’s up next for Carbellion?
After the UK tour we are going to take a few weeks off and try to enjoy the Wisconsin Summer! After that, we are going to start working through the songs we’ve been writing for the next album. They are in various stages of completion and need to be fleshed out in the rehearsal room. There are definitely some rough songs and song ideas coming together we think people are going to dig as much as we do. Fans can look for a new album in early 2025 most likely.

Any final words of wisdom?
I don’t know if I’d say what I’m going to say is particularly wise, but I’d go with honest. All of us in Carbellion really appreciate the ride that is being in an original rock band. The friends and fans we have met and made over the years continue to inspire us to write songs, record them, and then play them live for as long as people want us to. It’s a lot of work that doesn’t really feel like work so what more can you ask for?

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Carbellion is:
Brandon Bauer – guitar
Cameron Kellenberger – vocals
Brent Nimz– drums
Jamie Damrow – lead guitar
Steve Sheppard – bass

Carbellion on Instagram

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