CARL CANEDY Discusses KELAKOS – "We Basically Made A Sgt. Pepper-Type Album For A Fledgling Band"
November 22, 2023, 3 months ago
Throughout the history of rock, there are numerous bands that split before a promising early career could truly blossom. Case in point, Kelakos. Managing to issue just one obscure album in 1978, Gone Are the Days, the group has reunited for an all-new offering, Hurtling Towards Extinction. And it turns out that the group's drummer is none other than Carl Canedy – best known as the drummer for the Rods, as well as the producer of classic '80s LPs by Anthrax, Overkill, and Blue Cheer. Canedy spoke with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato shortly before the album's release, filling us in on the band's backstory, comeback, and potential future plans.
BraveWords: Let's discuss the backstory of Kelakos.
Carl Canedy: "I was playing in a band, Raw Meat, in Upstate New York. We actually played five or six states regularly. And it was a very successful band…but I wanted a major label deal. I wanted to work with people that wanted to do original music. So, I wound up going on a midwestern tour, I wound up going to San Francisco, I wound up going to New York, and then I wound up going to Boston. And in Boston, I meet a guy, Jack Stella and the Northern Lights. I auditioned for them, did get the job, and came back to Pennsylvania. A week later, they called me – the band wanted me, Jack thought I was too flashy for the band. I wound up going to Boston to play with Jack Stella and the Northern Lights – which was a huge experience for me, because all the musicians were Berklee and Julliard graduates. They were all brilliant, and the horn section taught me how to play with horns. I had already played in a horn band, but when this happens…you hit it. So, Linc [Bloomfield], George [Haberstroh], and Mark [Sisson], they somehow discovered me playing me in the band, and said they needed a drummer. They had a house somewhere in Massachusetts. I started jamming with the guys, and they were so passionate, and they had the same goals that I had – they wanted a major label deal. So, that's how it started. And once I was there, we rehearsed and it took off from there."
BraveWords: Why did the band issue just one album before splitting up?
Carl Canedy: "We were in New Jersey and we were playing rock music during the disco era. And we met some colorful characters – because in New Jersey club scene, there could be people who were connected to organizations that you might not want to work for. And we had some crazy encounters. And we were playing in clubs that played disco – it wasn't easy to get gigs. I had been playing with Raw Meat through Valex Agency – and Alex Perialas' father and mother owned it, which later became Pyramid Studios. So I said, 'Why don't we speak to Valex? Let's see if they can book us? Because we might fare much better in Upstate New York – there are a lot of colleges and frats.' That's what we did. We wound up relocating and we had a really good run for four years maybe. And we were playing sometimes five or six nights a week. And we made a living.
“We certainly weren't getting wealthy, but we were sustainable. We didn't have to have day jobs. And we decided to make an album, Gone Are the Days, and that album we went into the studio and we all wrote songs. And we were young, stupid and passionate. So, that album turned into I produced my songs, where on my song, 'How Did You Get So Crazy,' I had a string quartet on it. On 'All You Need Is a Ticket' I had a horn section on it. Linc had a million things – vibraphone. We basically made a Sgt. Pepper-type album for a fledgling band. It wasn't really representative of us as a band live. But it was representative of us as musicians. And I think when we reissued the album with all of our recordings in one place, Uncorked, the reaction was really positive and really made us feel good about the fact that we had been true to ourselves on those songs. However, the band wasn't getting a lot of gigs at that point. Linc was going to go back to school. So, Linc left the band. Linc followed a very political career – hugely successful to this day. We carried on for a short period of time – promoting Gone Are the Days. But it was really not going anywhere and we decided it was best to disband. And that's what actually led to me forming the Rods."
BraveWords: How would you compare the music of Kelakos to the Rods?
Carl Canedy: "The Rods were a whole different thing. And this band…our roots were Jimi Hendrix. Very similarly, David [Feinstein] and I in the Rods, we have the same similar roots. But in Kelakos, we were all very open-minded on music. So, we could go in a number of directions. We were doing boogie music, we were doing ZZ Top-type stuff – shuffles. And when we started the Rods, David and I had a simple vision – energy and had to be able to play it live as a three-piece. Which, in Kelakos, we were a four-piece. So, it was fundamentally a different approach. We targeted a narrow vision with the Rods. But with Kelakos, kind of anything goes. That was one of the things that I loved about Kelakos – we could do so many things and I loved playing it. So, coming back to this album, doing the music was like the proverbial 'coming home.' It's like second nature, it's in my DNA to play these songs – even though they're a little different. The fit was perfect for me."
BraveWords: Let's discuss the new album, Hurtling Towards Extinction.
Carl Canedy: "Lincoln and I had stayed in touch for years. And talking about doing a new album. I was playing on some of his songs – he would send me originals and I would put drum tracks down. So, he was really the brains behind this – the impetus to get this recorded. And he had sent me a song, and it worked out really well. So, he sent me another song. And Linc is definitely the producer on this album. Linc would send me tracks – what you hear on the Kelakos album is either one or two takes – drum takes. But the reason I could – without knowing the songs as well as I probably would have liked to, is Linc pushed me to go for the energy. Capture that moment in time when you're going for it. He would send me guide vocals and I'd have a click track in my ear. The music was so natural, it was organic for me to play what I felt. It gave me total freedom to play. I was able to be on the edge, stay on the groove, and yet, have freedom to knock out fills when it was time."
BraveWords: Are there plans to play shows in support of the album?
Carl Canedy: "There are no plans at the moment. It would be so great for all of us to get back together. And I think the fact that we're all healthy and still really at a high level of performance, it would be wonderful to play again. But we all live in geographically different places – Linc is in Washington, George is in Florida, Mark is in California or Colorado, and I'm here in Pennsylvania. So, logistically it would be difficult. And as you know, bands who do have that type of thing have 'fly dates,' and they can get together and rehearse one time. But I think for us it would be difficult. It would be a big hurdle to do that. But if it's possible, we would love to do it."