Ex-Dag Nasty & Descendents Bassist Doug Carrion Speaks On FIELD DAY's Upcoming "OPPOSITE LAND" EP (The Witzard Interview)
Doug Carrion is a long-time Punk/Hardcore bassist, vocalist, producer, and musician. He's best-known for playing and recording music with the likes of Dag Nasty/Doggy Style with Brian Baker (Bad Religion, Minor Threat,) Descendents from 1985-86, For Love Not Lisa, Daddy X/Humble Gods, Ultrahead, Pale, Kottonmouth Kings, Con-800, Six Degrees of Right, and his own band, Doug C. & The Blacklisted. Additionally, Dough Carrion has produced, composed, and performed music for TV and film; as a music editor, Carrion has worked on a number of reality/game shows such as Beauty & The Geek, The Biggest Loser, Identity, Science of Love, Opportunity Knocks, Parental Control, and Make It or Break It. As recently as Summer 2019, Doug Carrion has joined forces with another one of his ex-Dag Nasty bandmates, Peter Cortner, to form a new Dag Nasty-inspired Medlodic Hardcore band dubbed FIELD DAY. A thinly-veiled reference to Dag Nasty's 1988 Giant Records album of the same name, FIELD DAY's current line-up is rounded out by Kevin Avery (C*nts, Retox,) and Shay Mehrdad (Faded Grey, Masta Ace.)
Earlier this year, they released a 2-song digital/vinyl EP fittingly titled 2.0 on Unity Worldwide Records in partnership with Coretex Records, Revelation Records, Cargo Records, etc. Now, FIELD DAY are gearing up to unleash their second EP since their recent re-vitalization, Opposite Land, again, on Unity Worldwide. Opposite Land will feature four new songs on the digital release with an additional song tacked onto the vinyl version, as well as a Peter Cortner-designed etching on the A-side. We were fortunate enough to get in touch with Sean "SD" Duffy at Drift Artist Management, who was kind enough to get us in direct contact with Doug Carrion. Doug was gracious enough to chisel a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer a batch of our zany interview questions. Now, you can find that down below the break, along with a few songs from FIELD DAY and the Doug Carrion-era line-up of Descendents. FIELD DAY's Opposite Land is currently available to pre-order from Unity Worldwide Records and will see a wide release later this month on Friday, November 27, 2020.
I. How did you first come to get involved with FIELD DAY and what is your specific role within the band?
Doug Carrion: Peter Cortner & I were both in Dag Nasty, wrote songs and recorded Wig Out At Denkos (1987) for Dischord Records, as well as Field Day (1988) for Giant Records. We stayed in touch and in late 2018 we discussed doing an off-shoot of Dag Nasty called FIELD DAY. The idea was to focus energy on playing the first three records live and, then, jumping into writing and recording new music within the first year. Our first show as FIELD DAY was July 12th, 2019 in Washington, D.C. at The Black Cat and we released our first 7-inch, FIELD DAY (2.0) in June of 2020. FIELD DAY is a VERY D.I.Y. band and I wear a bunch of hats which include, producing the records, writing songs, booking shows, marketing, graphics, day-to-day tasks, and... I play bass and sing. Cutting my teeth in The Descendents, I learned the Black Flag approach to being in a band [and] being comfortable wearing lots and lots of hats; whatever skillset you have will be used and you will be learning a bunch as you go along. Truth be told, nobody is gonna push your career harder than you so suck it up and get going. I have been called a "Punk Rock impresario," meaning I can take an idea from my head, like a song, record it, release, produce a show, and perform it... rinse and repeat. The D.I.Y. approach is how I live my life, every day seven days a week it's just in my nature, I'm a music guy through and through.
II. Would you mind briefly breaking down who else is in FIELD DAY and where fans may have heard you and your bandmates from previously?
Carrion: Peter Cortner: Vocals (came from Dag Nasty)
Shay Mehrdad: Guitar (came from Faded Grey & Tomorrows Gone)
Kevin Avery: Drums (Retox)
Doug Carrion: Bass/Vocals (Dag Nasty, Descendents, and a zillion more... Google that sh*t!)
III. How would you personally say FIELD DAY's overall sound and style has progressed, evolved, changed, etc. in the years since your earliest round of shows?
Carrion: I think, we've become more focused as song-writers and better players. When Peter & I would write a song for Dag Nasty, we never worried too much about song structure, singing parts, and all that, we just did what came natural, wanted to have fun, and tried our best to re-produce that song live. Now, we do the same thing, as far as fun and write, but we re-write ideas or re-shape them more than we did before. The other evolution has been exploring the possibilities of doing dual vocals. Peter can take the lead, I can take the lead, we can split the lead. It's really satisfying to be comfortable enough with an idea to say, "you sing lead, I’ll do back-ups" or the other way around. We love writing songs and don’t get too caught up with letting our egos dictate who does what. When playing live, we realized what works is stacking up the vocals or pulling back on vocals to add more dynamics to a song part. It's kinda funny because we each like how the other sings parts and that gives us ideas on how to be more of a unit vocally. Sometimes, at rehearsal, Peter will opt not to sing and rest his voice, so I jump in and sing the songs... no biggie. Afterwards, he'll ask how or why I sang a part one way or the other... it's like him having another lens to look over vocal parts. That's new... that's the evolution of sharing creative ideas looking at the vocal more as a unit or overall instrument. Like a two-headed monster or Siegfried & Roy... you decide.
IV. Can you tell us a little bit about the various vinyl variants and pre-order packages/bundles for Opposite Land that were/are available directly from Coretex Records, Unity Worldwide Records & REVHQ?
Carrion: Opposite Land (the new release) out on Nov. 27th, 2020 comes as a 12-inch EP with a Peter-designed etching on the A-side and five new songs on the B-side. There are a few different colors and, usually, each distributor has their own color. I believe, there are red, gold, clear, blue, white, [and] yellow versions of the first pressing.
Cortex was given an alt. cover that looks like the old Cure Fiction records radio design with red vinyl and the regular cover designed by Simon Tripcony with clear and gold vinyl. [REVHQ] was given the regular cover with smoked white vinyl. FIELD DAY has the blue vinyl [available] at FIELDDAYSOUNDS directly from the band. Unity Worldwide has the regular cover, green, and yellow vinyl.
V. What might you cite as some of your greatest personal sources of inspiration and influence while writing and recording Opposite Land?
Carrion: The idea for Opposite Land came from an interview I was doing and referencing how when we first started doing shows, it was like living in Opposite Land... it was an "opposite reality" and everything was different and upside down compared to today's music standards. Peter liked the idea and we decided to build on that as a theme. Usually, songs are about life experiences, both positive and negative, and trying to figure out how best to navigate and move forward.
VI. So, when were the five tracks contained within Opposite Land actually recorded? What did your typical writing/recording processes for this EP entail?
Carrion: Writing started after we turned in FIELD DAY (2.0) to Unity Worldwide, so about mid-April 2020. By June 2020, we were, actually, in the studio doing basic tracks and by July 2020, we were mixing with Cameron Webb. Opposite Land was done mid-July. I apologize in advance to the readers, since this next part will take a second to explain... sorry! There are a few stages in the song-writing process that happen in four home studios and three traditional recording studios. It, usually, starts with an idea or riff that I crudely put into an iPhone and, then, later, record as a demo in ProTools at my home studio.
The Demo: In the demo phase, Peter & I go back-and-forth a few times deciding how best to sing parts and what's happening lyrically and melodically and it might take five or more drafts with him sending me MP3 files as we are learning and building the song. We got Peter an Apogee One that he sings into and can output MP3 files for [rough] vocals that are imported into the ProTools demo session. Once we have a solid direction with the vocals, I go back into ProTools and demo out scratch guitars and bass with programmed drums for reference. That demo gets sent to Kevin & Shay, who learn and add parts from their home studios. We continue to add and build on the song by way of MP3 files sent remotely. These files are, also, added to the ProTools demo. There have been times Kevin sends me rehearsal room demos of his drums that I chop up and put back in ProTools for reference. Finally, the demo is done and we have a basic idea of who is gonna do what, when, and we book studio time.
The Studio: Here, in Los Angeles... Van Nuys, CA to be specific, we go into PawnShop Studio with Patrick Burkholder and do all the basic tracks like drums and guitars for a few days. Although, everyone does their homework before going into the studio, this is the first time we get to hear the songs live and loud. On the spot, we make changes and continue to build out the song until we're happy. Back at my place, I start to edit the basic tracks we did with Patrick, which takes a week or two, depending on how many tracks we recorded. Once that's completed, I re-track the scratch bass and my vocals. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, PA. Peter is recording his vocals with Sam Pinola at New Sofa Studios. Sam, Peter, and I work remotely going back-and-forth a few times during Peter's vocal sessions. When that's done, Sam sends me the Peter vocals, which get added to the master session. By now, we’ve lived with the songs for a few months and have some decent [rough] mixes in-hand, but we don’t stop there.
The Mixing: Now, enters Cameron Webb (Motorhead, Pennywise, Ignite, Bad Religion) from Maple Studios in Santa Ana, CA. Cameron gets the master sessions for each song and begins his mixing process that takes a few weeks. I'm not sure what he does, but I'd imagine it involves coffee and Mexican food... you'd have to ask him.
Final Output: Cameron’s mixes come back to me for any subtle mastering needs, depending on what format that songs will be used. I'm sparing the readers the tech lingo (eye roll.)
VII. What is the intended meaning or significance behind Opposite Land's EP title and striking black-and-white cover artwork, especially, amidst the current state of the world?
Carrion: Simon Tricpony designed the cover and package for us. You’re spot-on, we are living in some very strange times. Thanks to algorithms and The Internet, one might conclude we are living within two or more realities of space and time, thus living in Opposite Land. We have, somehow, detached ourselves from a common reality with our neighbors and, although, connected by way of The Inter-webs, have made ourselves more isolated. It's a big subject and something we are quite aware of.
VIII. Upon Opposite Land's upcoming wide release, what's planned next for either FIELD DAY or any of its members' additional solo/side-projects?
Carrion: FIELD DAY is back in the studio Oct. 30th recording. Remember the part about being a music guy through and through? Although, we don't see ourselves doing any shows until Summer 2022 (believe it or not) we've had a few conversations with [people] about split 7-inches and requests for adding songs to compilations, stuff like that. We’re really busy!
IX. How has The COVID-19 Pandemic directly affected your livelihood as a touring musician and what can fans in a position to do so, do to help support?
Carrion: Everyone had to stop playing shows, including FIELD DAY, that sucks. We took a bit of a financial hit on travel expenses from airlines and hotels that wouldn't reimburse or credit us back (that's another story...) ugg. How to help us? Vote 🙂
X. What is the correlation between FIELD DAY and Dag Nasty's 1988 album of the same name? We noticed your logos appear to be striking similar, as well.
Carrion: Peter designed a graphic that was used on the Dag Nasty Wig Out At Denkos record for Dischord. It looks like a squiggle... we call it The "Peppa." When we started FIELD DAY, we decided to use Peter’s design as a nod to our history. It's the same singer [and] same graphic designer, welcome to 2020.
XI. Upon FIELD DAY's initial formation, what sort of feedback did you receive from your one-time Dag Nasty bandmates?
Carrion: Very supportive. We agreed to use The Peppa logo Peter designed and they agreed to use The Flame Head logo, so it would be easy for fans and promoters to know which band was which. It all worked out.
XII. What, if anything, can you tell us about your lone appearance on Descendents' 1986 album, Enjoy! and what do you recall from your brief 1-year period playing bass in the band?
Carrion: It was an awesome experience and I LOVE The Descendents, who are some of the best people, song-writers, and players in the world! I grew up in Hermosa Beach, CA, home of Descendents, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Pennywise, etc. and if you want a deep-dive into my backstory, you should listen to my interview on The One Life [One Chance] Podcast with Toby Morse [H2O, Hazen Street]. That explains EVERYTHING music history-wise.