Louisville Magazine

JUL 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 7.18 59 to sleep every night, annoying his older sister Laura. In fifth grade, Carney had his first proper guitar lesson at St. Barnabas. He and his best friend at the time were fascinated with the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, especially the main characters' band, Wyld Stallyns. "We played tennis-racket guitars, so I guess you could say my first guitar was a tennis racket," Carney says with a laugh. Soon, he was taking private lessons at Bader's Music Village in Hikes Point, with a teacher who, Carney says, resembled Ned Flanders from e Simpsons. Carney learned a lot, but, his mother says, "He was more into the harder stuff." His first live show was at the shopping center where he took lessons, and the song he wrote was about how to be a grade-school dropout. "I was horrified," Lynne says, laughing. "It was not a proud- mom moment, but I was OK with it as long as he sang about it and didn't do it." On his own, Carney began learning other instruments: bass, piano, drums. During his sophomore year of high school at St. Xavier, Carney, who dyed his hair black, met McAfee, who later became Wax Fang's manager and is the current bassist. "We occupied the same table in the cafeteria all four years," McAfee says. "It was an all-boys school, and we were like the rocker weirdos." ey jammed in McAfee's parents' basement, rotating different instruments. "Scott could play everything. He was better at playing everything," McAfee says. Carney's high school band was called Maggie's Wart, named after a lump on the drummer's dog, Maggie. "I brought it up as a joke and it stuck," Carney says. "I've been upset about it ever since." Maggie's Wart played some shows, and perhaps the defining moment was at the St. X talent show, when the group wrote and performed a song about their school ID cards and Carney smashed his guitar at the end. Halfway to Chicago, Chale and Driscoll are going on about a rhythm section in a David Bowie song while listening to the Kendrick Lamar song "i." Carney's asleep in the back, arms crossed like a vampire. McAfee sits sideways in the middle row, the massive window reeling flat Indiana farmland behind him. His square, black prescription sunglasses deflect the light as he slides white-sleeved records into album covers of e Astronaut, Wax Fang's 2014 rock opera. e vinyl copies were made possible by a fan who gifted the band some money to fund future endeavors. McAfee has a box full of records to sleeve before the band arrives in Chicago. Playing bass in Wax Fang is a recent development for McAfee, who has been a part of the band since its inception. "I've always filled in where I've been needed," he says. He started out as Wax Fang's manager in 2007, which he still does in addition to recording and performing. He first stepped into the role after the band's second tour with My Morning Jacket. "ey had a good buzz going and were gearing up to go down to South by Southwest. We went to New York to play for some booking agents and label people and find an entertainment attorney to shop us around for a record deal," McAfee says. He set up meetings and talked to attorneys, getting one to come to a show in New York. "He pulled me aside and told me I had a good band," McAfee says. "He said, 'In the music business you have to follow the talent.'" e advice stuck with him. "e thing about Scott is that he's somebody who really can methodically sit down and figure out what needs to be figured out. Like how some people are really good at fixing cars or taking things apart and putting them back together? Scott can't do that, but from a musical standpoint or a film standpoint, he's going to see all the aspects of it and then have the focus and dedication to learn how to do whatever needs to be done," McAfee says. It's 6 p.m. and dark on I-90 into Chicago. e road sparkles with red brake lights in the bumper-to-bumper traffic. Horns honk and beep sporadically, but everybody is quiet inside the van. Carney is awake now, on the phone with a local radio station doing a pre-show interview. With the phone to his right ear, the right side of his mouth pulls higher than the left like a ventriloquist as he responds to a question about the band's latest single, "Glass Islands," an epic and eerie eight-minute song featuring a hip-hop backbeat and vocals from Lacey Guthrie, of the former Louisville band Twin Limb. Positioning the phone to his right ear is intentional. e right one is the "good one." Carney's left ear only has about 15 percent hearing due to a birth defect. (He will later ask that this detail makes the story, as a kind of PSA.) "It's really only loud social situations I struggle with," he says. When people approach him, they sometimes talk into his left ear and he has to awkwardly turn and ask them to repeat themselves. Onstage, he stands so that everyone else playing is on his right. When Carney was 18, he had the choice to undergo surgery to correct his hearing, but he opted out and now jokes that his autobiography would be titled What?! As the van rolls into the city, Carney and McAfee constructively argue about which song the band will open with: "Pusher" or "e ings I Do for Fun," both from the band's latest full-length album, Victory Laps, released in 2017. Chale guides the 20-foot-long van into a narrow alley behind the Empty Bottle, a dive venue on Western Avenue. e guys almost immediately shake off the six-hour drive and start unloading gear. One by one, they carry amps, guitars, drums and coils of wires into the venue through a small back door. Carney hunches over and grabs a square- shaped case. He pivots and jumps from the back of the van, intending to land on both feet, but instead twists — possibly sprains — his left ankle and tumbles to the cold asphalt. He wraps his hands around his left knee, pulling it to his chest and shouting, "Fuck!" Everyone freezes. "Are you OK, man?" they ask. Carney looks pissed, but he stands and shakes it off like he's used to this sort of thing. As a kid, Carney was obsessed with horror and fantasy films. "But I wasn't like a Dungeons & Dragons kid and I never read a Tolkien" — he pronounces it Toll-kee-in — "book," he says. He grew up on Godzilla, King Kong, Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans ("e original with Harry Hamlin, not the remake with Sam Worthington," he clarifies). Carney's music video for the Wax Fang song "Mirror, Mirror" follows a mysterious woman in a white slip who gets sucked through a mirror and into a mirror-walled dungeon full of humanoid creatures. When he was a teenager in the late '80s and early '90s, MTV aired music videos, not shows about pregnant teens. "It was basically the Wild West, because it gave creative license to a lot of artists and filmmakers," Carney says, mentioning claymation in Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer," caricature puppets in Genesis' "Land of Confusion" and "animatronic robot parts" in Herbie Hancock's "Rockit."

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