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 61 After the release of La La Land in 2007, the band toured off and on over the next three years. Carney took out a line of credit on his house to help fund the band's projects and travel. Money was tight. Carney remembers catching flak for using band money to buy a banana from a gas station while they were on the road. "It was 75 cents, and I was fucking starving because I didn't have any money," he says. "My body and my personal health are not conducive to that kind of lifestyle. At the end of the day, I have to get up onstage and blow people's minds or whatever. It's really hard to do that when you haven't slept in five days and have been eating like shit. Just being in a van sucks." Carney says Ratterman was the only one making money at the time. "He could make $300 a day with his recording studio. It would take Jake and I two weeks, working 40 hours a week, to make that kind of money. It was straining on all of our personal relationships at the time, too. It was sort of a point of desolation. I really wanted to do it, but how much was I willing to suffer?" Carney says. In 2010, after finishing part of Wax Fang's third album, e Astronaut, Ratterman left the band to focus solely on his recording studio, La La Land, named after the band's second album. "Shit wasn't looking good," Carney says. "Before 2014, I hadn't made any money doing this. I put pretty much all of my free time and energy and money into it. I sacrificed relationships and the idea of living a normal life. I was constantly broke, and because I was constantly broke I was pretty miserable. I didn't need or want to make piles of cash, but I needed something. I needed anything. Kevin left the band, and it was like, 'OK, so maybe this isn't going to go on much longer.'" Tired, broke and down a band member, Carney went to Pittsburgh to visit friends for his 33rd birthday. "I was pretty much done with Wax Fang at that moment," he says. en he received a phone call on the drive. Carney doesn't answer unknown numbers, but the man left a message. It was Mike Barker, creator of the animated series American Dad! Barker, who had featured My Morning Jacket on his show, had come across a clip of Wax Fang, in Tron suits, opening for an MMJ Halloween show at the Yum! Center. He told Carney that "Majestic" pushed him through some creative struggles and asked to use the song in an episode. "I told him, 'Of course, that'll be $7 million,'" Carney says, laughing. Carney still receives a "nice paycheck" a couple times a year when the episode airs. Wax Fang moved forward with Heustis and McAfee. In the summer of 2013, they began taking writing retreats to Heustis' family cabin on the Kentucky River, an hour outside Louisville. On Labor Day weekend, they planned to start recording the material that would eventually become 2017's Victory Laps. But when Heustis arrived for the long weekend, he let McAfee and Carney know that he would be leaving the band to pursue his career in visual arts. "It was a bummer. I walked out to the woods and had a momentary existential crisis. I was like, 'Here I am. Alone again,'" Carney says. "At the end of the day, though, I'm not going to stop what I'm here to do just because someone else doesn't want to come along for the ride anymore. No. I just have to fucking pull myself up by my bootstraps and get back to work." It's nearing 8 p.m. and the Empty Bottle is living up to its name: empty. A couple of tattooed Chicagoans linger around worn pool tables at the front of the poorly lit venue, but it's unclear if they've come for the show. Promotional posters both forgotten and present plaster the thick black pillars throughout the main venue space — including the poster for the show Wax Fang is about to play. Carney and the band are in the green room in the basement. e brownish- yellow concrete walls are covered in sloppy, handwritten band names and drunken notes like "Noah's Ark was a spaceship." rift-store couches against each of the four walls give off a mildew smell. Carney drinks herbal tea while elevating his injured foot. Driscoll dabs beet juice out of his Champion sweatshirt with a napkin. McAfee and Chale sip "Dad Lites" (Miller Lite). Carney and Driscoll make their way upstairs, lurking in the back while watching opening bands half Carney's age. "When I'm onstage, I kind of turn into a space cadet," Carney says. "It's not that I'm detached from the present, but there is this weird balance I have to strike with being present in the moment and letting my muscle memory do its thing without overthinking," he says. Continued on page 96

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