February 1, 2011 | 1:56pm
Tag, You're It is Heard Mentality's new weekly interview feature. The concept is simple: One local artist picks another local artist to interview, then the interviewee becomes the interviewer of an artist of his or her choice in the following week's issue.
Danielle Bacher/ OC Weekly
My relationship with Steve Carson spans more than 15 years. I can't imagine what my life would be like without his support. When I first became acquainted with Steve and his music, I was 16 and hanging outside AB Music in Huntington Beach. Steve was with his guitar player at the time, cranking a tape cassette of some songs they just recorded. I was blown away! I couldn't believe someone so young could sing and sound so mature. The songs felt real to me, and I could hear and understand their influences.
I told myself, "Oh, my God, I'm listening to the next Bono!" At that point, all I knew of the local music scene were the hardcore bands that came out of Orange County, so the idea of a band that sounded like U2 and REM from my town was a revelation. Currently, Carson is the front man of Echo Echo, which includes Bruce Yolken on bass, Darren Carr on drums, Jameson Burt on guitar and Andrew Carter on keys. I'm so fortunate that I was given the opportunity to ask my friend these questions and share them with you.
Kernkamp: How does it feel to have watched your guitar player of seven years (Jameson) grow and find his own voice outside Echo Echo?
Carson: I'm so proud. He was 19 when he auditioned for the band and was already so amazingly talented. I got to witness the complete metamorphsis of an artist. Jameson is always committed to being the best that he can be. He is a true singer/songwriter. I'm such a fan of his.
Kernkamp: It is my opinion that rock & roll often leaves its disciples stunted and deformed. It is understood that artists are always out of step with what is considered a "normal existence," that ideal mode being college, career, marriage, children and mortgage. At this point in your life, do you feel you have sacrificed too much in chasing your muse?
Carson: When you make a commitment to anything, it is human nature always to look back and wonder if you have missed out on something. But I have come to a point in my life where I realized that being in a band, writing songs and performing is not a choice anymore--it's what I do; it's who I am. I gave up on the brass-ring mentality years ago, as in "getting a record deal and touring the world." In doing so, I have freed myself from conforming or being something I'm not. Every day, we are being sold something. All I want is honesty. So I don't feel I've missed out on anything. I know I couldn't have done this without the support of my family and friends.
Kernkamp: So you have no desire to do anything else?
Carson: At this time, no. I've never been good at multitasking when it comes to following my passion. I know many people that can balance a career and marriage and still be in a band. That is not me. The times I have tried that, I watched my life become a mess. I don't want to be mediocre. What's the point in having a family if I know I'm going to suck at it because I'm more concerned about writing a song? If and when I'm ready for that, I'll give it 100 percent as I have to my music. If not, I'll be a 60-year-old greeter in front of Costco saying hello to the customers and immediately handing them a flier to my next gig.
You can download Echo Echo's music here.
You can listen to Billy Kernkamp's music here.