Self-described as ‘ether-electrified porch music’, the eclectic Richmond-based band CARBON LEAF is always a crowd pleaser. Their signature cocktail of indie-rock blended with Celtic, Appalachian, folk, and country music is best served on the rocks, and it always goes down smooth. Pioneering dreams, broken hearts, and love’s renewal traverse the American landscape as common themes in Carbon Leaf’s music. The five-man band consists of lead vocalist and penny whistler Barry Privett, guitarists/vocalists Terry Clark and Carter Gravatt (Carter also plays mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and hurdy-gurdy), bassist/vocalist/accordion player Jon Markel, and drummer/vocalist Jason Neal. Last year, the band released two albums—Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle and Constellation Prize. We had the opportunity to speak with Terry Clark about some of his history with the band, as well as what they have planned for 2014.

On your website, in the section of your band biography, it says “We defer to GROUPON…” What is the story behind that?

We had a Groupon deal two years ago for “Groovin’ in the Garden”. It was a summertime thing that explained who we are, and it sort of encapsulated everything about us at the time. It’s just an inside joke about that.

I heard a rumor that your lead singer Barry is basically the stylist for the rest of your band. Is that true?

No, not exactly (laughs). He is certainly the center point of the band, but if we are playing a special show like a New Year’s gala or more formal event, he might say to us. ‘Hey guys, I’m dressing up. You should too,” but usually in situations like that it’s obvious to everyone we need to wear nicer clothes than what we would normally wear.

Being an indie-rock band that blends elements of Celtic folk, I know March is always a busy month for you guys with various St. Patrick’s festivals to play, including the Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day and Shamrock Fest in Washington, DC. How are you guys planning for these shows, what can your fans expect from your performances?

We are definitely going to tailor our set list with lots of material from our 12 albums. It will be a mix but heavily focused on our Celtic influenced songs. We recorded two records last year. Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle was our first attempt at a full on Celtic record, so we will be doing a lot of songs on that record as well as our more well-known Celtic influenced songs like “The Boxer” and “American Tale”, but we will also be mixing in our Americana side some with songs from Constellation Prize.

Since the release of your last studio album Constellation Prize, has your band been working on any new material?

We have been writing, but we have not started recording anything yet. Next week, we are going to start hashing through things. Last year was so busy for us, between writing and recording two albums and booking shows. We have a studio at my house, which has basically become the band headquarters, and we are doing everything ourselves. Barry and I do a lot of production, and two albums in one year was a big undertaking for us. In addition to being the band’s main songwriter and “stylist”, Barry is also the manager and primary decision maker. We do, however, have a cool announcement we are planning to make next week, so be on the lookout for that.

Do you plan to use a crowdsourcing website, such as PledgeMusic, like you did for your last record to fund any of your future records?

Yeah, we had a generally good experience, and the folks there were very supportive. We wanted to make cool offers to give something cool to our fans in return. For example, next week, I will be bringing some assistant engineers into the studio to show them some of our stuff. We also pressed vinyl for the first time, which was cool because they have to have all new audio and new art with not such a tight deadline. Ultimately, our goal is to record better and promote better.

I know that you guys have your own record label called Constant Ivy Music, but do you feature any artists other than your own?

We have talked about it before, and we have had people approach us asking if we wanted to produce their record. As much as we would like to, it’s tough to find the time. CARBON LEAF is our number one priority, and our time is much more important to us. Plus, I don’t know if I could handle that much work on top of the band. We have passed on that for now, but I wouldn’t rule it out for the future.

In the past 20 years since CARBON LEAF formed, what is one of your fondest memories with the band?

We have lots of good memories. Winning the American Music Award in 2002 was a huge highlight. There have also been so many good shows and new people we have met. Playing Red Rocks might be a close second. Also, Kegs and Eggs with DC101 and “Elliott in the Morning”. Elliott has always been a big supporter of our band. Another good memory was when we played the DC101 Chili Cookoff, and there were 50,000 people there. It’s impossible to pick just one.

For more updates on CARBON LEAF, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their YouTube page, and visit their website.

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