The Wild Bunch

Brooklyn's Guerilla Toss comes to the West Coast for the first time

click to enlarge Guerilla Toss frontwoman Kassie Carlson has hitchhiked through much of America, but she's never explored the Pacific Northwest before.
Guerilla Toss frontwoman Kassie Carlson has hitchhiked through much of America, but she's never explored the Pacific Northwest before.

They've lived in New York for one year and it suits them well. Travelling from various boroughs, the five members of Guerilla Toss are now able to practice up to eight hours a day, multiple times a week in their Brooklyn rehearsal space. They work odd jobs. They constantly go to shows and collaborate with other artists. This month, though, they're touring the country for the first time — six men (including a sound and light producer) and one woman in a somewhat smelly van.

"You can't stay in the same place forever," says frontwoman Kassie Carlson, speaking from California last weekend. "We'd lived in Boston for seven years and we wanted to try something different. And I'm so glad, I feel like my mind is so open. It's inspiring."

The skull-pop act, together since 2012, made its name by playing head-rattling electronic punk shows. On stage, the normally bubbly Carlson yells with abandon, like her soul is on fire. Often she'll throw her sweaty body into the audience and ride out the storm.

"When I first get out there, I have to close my eyes and forget I'm on stage. It's a spiritual thing in a way," Carlson says. "The music takes a lot of focus and concentration, but people will dance if I let go. Feeling everyone dance and smile, it's the happiest thing ever."

Carlson grew up on Cape Cod watching her older brother play in various punk bands. The first time she screamed into a microphone, she realized it was a way to release the feelings of a rough adolescence, experiences her lyrics often explore (not that you can exactly understand them).

Already this year, Guerilla Toss has released the full-length Eraser Stargazer, a live album and a remix tape, which Carlson says they want to do a whole lot more of. Recently, they've been influenced by the Grateful Dead.

"I know that band isn't a lot of people's thing," Carlson says. "But if you look at the band's music with no judgment, no hippie, crappy thing, it's really interesting. They were one of the first noise bands. Every set was different for them."

Inspired, Guerilla Toss now tries to make each show a completely new entity. They're jamming more and letting songs melt into one another.

Once the tour is over, they'll go back to the city and figure out a way to make money, Carlson says. But they're not thinking about that now. Instead, they're learning about the rest of the country.

"I've seen a lot of Trump signs and it makes me sad," says Carlson. "On the East Coast we're in this bubble, but this is actually a big place; no one thinks they're voting for the bad guy. We've seen a lot of interesting weather, too. In those middle flat states, you can see a storm coming from really far away." ♦

Guerilla Toss with Itchy Kitty and Outercourse • Sat, Sept. 24, at 9 pm • $5 • 21+ • The Observatory • 15 S. Howard • • 598-8933

Affiniti: A Celtic Christmas @ Bing Crosby Theater

Sun., Dec. 15, 7 p.m.
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About The Author

Laura Johnson

Laura moved to the great Inland Pacific Northwest this summer. She is the Inlander's new music editor.