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'I Love Being The Band That Doesn't Fit': The Callous Daoboys On Standing Out From The Metal Crowd

Thursday, 15 February 2024 Written by Will Marshall

Let’s start with a simple truth. The Callous Daoboys are the most exciting prospect in mathcore since the Dillinger Escape Plan hung up their instruments. Now, it’s time for some nuance. Yes, the bands share maniacal shifts in time signatures, stabbing panic chords, acerbic screeches and a disregard for rules and good taste, but this Atlantan sextet are still evolving. Their new EP ‘God Smiles Upon The Callous Daoboys’ takes the pop structures they have flirted with in the past and embeds them at the heart of what they do.

When we sit down with vocalist and lead songwriter Carson Pace, the band have just landed in Europe for a run of shows supporting prog metallers Tesseract, including some meaty UK and Ireland dates that begin in Nottingham on February 20. As Pace talks, his excitement at being back on the road with new music in tow is obvious, even if it wasn’t necessarily the plan.

According to Carson there’s “about 70% of a new album” written, with the Daoboys having surfaced most recently with 2022’s ecstatically-received ‘Celebrity Therapist’. As he worked, the vocalist realised that they had three songs that could form part of a bridging release between LPs. “I spoke to the label [MRNK] and they said they’d be super happy for us to put something out this year,” he remembers. 

Recording the songs in around a week and a half, and spending a weekend filming music videos for each of them to tie it all together, ‘God Smiles Upon The Callous Daoboys’ quickly took shape. The EP’s tracks were unveiled one track at a time and immediately marked something of a change in their songwriting. 

A new lineup, with Dan Hodsdon joining on guitar and Marty Hague on drums, pushed them in fresh directions, even with Carson writing most of the music. “We wanted a good representation of our current lineup and where we want to go in the future,” he explains. “All three of the songs are pretty big swings.” 

In fact, all three songs on the EP show if not a newfound love, then a far more developed ear for pop writing, making ‘God Smiles Upon The Callous Daoboys’ their most accessible work yet. Pushing the Pink Envelope, for example, works in a bossa nova section and an earworm chorus while still finding time for Carson to shriek: “If it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll just get fucked instead.”

As Carson tells it, “The reason I want to write a pop-structured song is because there are pop songs that I think are some of the greatest songs ever written. I listen to the pop songs I love, and I wonder what makes it great and how do I push that to the extreme in our own music?” He singles out Bring Me The Horizon as a heavy band capable of incorporating these sensibilities into their sound and balancing it out. “When I can inject pop into something that’s super heavy, that’s my favourite thing at the moment,” he grins. 

“I’m constantly trying to evolve and not repeat ourselves,” he explains of their approach to melting minds as much as they do genre boundaries. Take Designer Shroud of Turin, which retains their shit-eating snark while also stacking up as one of the most immediate songs they’ve ever written. “I had that [song title] for about six or seven years, in my Notes app,” Carson laughs. “I was looking for lyrics and knew that was what the song should be called.”

That off-kilter sense of humour bleeds into their live shows. Carson’s become known for his laugh-out-loud mosh calls, like when he told the crowd at ArcTanGent Festival last summer to “show me how free your healthcare is.” Between songs, a burst of Sweet Caroline might sit next to a nightcore remix sample. “When we’re putting together a show lots of people are going to see, we want it to stick out in the best way possible,” he says.

To do that, Carson draws on his past as a DJ. “Making the crowd laugh, even if they don’t like the music or don’t know who you are, is the quickest way to grab their attention,” he observes. On stage, the band are a whirlwind of energy, throwing themselves around recklessly while playing songs that, Carson admits, are precision-tooled. They are a wrecking crew overseen by a perfectionist. “Much to my bandmates’ chagrin,” he laughs. 

This cocktail makes the Callous Daoboys stick out on any lineup, and that’s just how Carson likes it. Once they’re done getting their prog on with Tesseract, they’ll fill a noise-rock/folk-punk sandwich with ‘68 and the Homeless Gospel Choir across the US, before swinging back to the UK for Download. “I love being the band that doesn’t fit on a tour,” Carson enthuses. “Sometimes you have to play to people who’ve never heard anything like you before, and honestly I prefer that to playing to a bunch of people in Dillinger Escape Plan shirts.”

Of course, there’s a place for some Dillinger worship, too. Like when the Callous Daoboys open their ‘Calculating Infinity’ 25th anniversary shows in Brooklyn this summer. In their world, nothing is sacred. And that’s beautiful.

Tesseract (w/ the Callous Daoboys and Unprocessed) Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue February 20 2024 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Wed February 21 2024 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Thu February 22 2024 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Fri February 23 2024 - LONDON O2 Forum
Sat February 24 2024 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Sun February 25 2024 - GLASGOW SWG3
Tue February 27 2024 - DUBLIN Academy

Compare & Buy Tesseract Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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