The year was 2013. It’d just begun. I was unaware that over 365 days later I’d experience a mental breakdown and true love within a few months of one another. All the while I was still churning out one album review after the other. Get Well Cards’ Good Science was among them. A mix of textbook pop punk and a sense of maturity, the record left me wondering which way they leaned. Fast forward five years later and Get Well Cards’ Sam Carroll is leaning towards the latter while still preserving some of those pop-punk, emo-esque undertones with Owl Meet Rabbit.
This new project is nothing new though. Sam notes that in 2014 he released some “pretty stripped down” acoustic music on Owl Meet Rabbit’s first split. He remembers, “The songs were pretty bare and the goal was always to build up to a more focused and fleshed out sound.”
With the newest record, Sam feels the “idea finally coming together.” He noted that having a myriad of musicians join him has really made the sound well-rounded, “Matt Holmes, Charlie Thornton, David Rokos, Adam Howarter and Ellie Pritts all lent their unique talents to the record creating a much richer sound. For live shows, people join in whenever they are around. This creates more of a collective than a traditional band.”
That is where we leave off and our back and forth continues below as talk about emo-folk, breakups and more…
Kendra: The self-titled album dropped back in July. Were there any songs that you left within the pages of your notebook that were almost right for this record but you felt needed to be tucked away for later?
Owl Meet Rabbit: I would have loved to put more songs on the record but we felt that these six said something together. This was the first release in a little while so a bunch of songs was ready for it. Matt Holmes (who produced and recorded the record at The Echo Mill) sat down and helped figure out what six songs flowed best together. This was a whole new idea for me. Usually, you are trying to just throw whatever newest songs were available on a record and put it out. For the first time, we were able to think about what songs felt like parts of a whole. Once the record starting coming together I actually got so inspired that I started writing new songs. Those ones will have to wait for a little bit though but they make their way into the live show.
Kendra: Overall the album gave me a very early ’00s emo/pop-punk feel. Were you influenced by that era when writing and recording?
Owl Meet Rabbit: That is awesome that you got that feel from the songs! Someone recently described the album as “emo-folk” and although it stung a little, it felt pretty adept. One of my favorite records of all time is Clarity by Jimmy Eat World and I think I was trying to steal the vibe if not necessarily the sonic nature of that style. There are so many moments of beauty in songs like “For Me This is Heaven” that I wanted to try and make our own version of that. The call and response of the guitars and piano on “Red Ink” is a good example of that. One of the phrases we repeated during recording was “drunken bar band”. Since I’ve heard the record compared to the Replacements I think we pulled it off.
Kendra: What is your personal mantra when it comes to music as a way to not “Burn Yourself Out?”
Owl Meet Rabbit: That is a very interesting question. I am one of the worst judges of the songs I write. It is next to impossible for me to have a feel for what people will respond to. For that reason, the best way I avoid “burning myself out” is by writing simply for myself. I use to have this idea that songs had to be vague to be relatable.
My thinking was the more specific a line was the fewer amount it would speak to. How wrong I was. A great example that caused my thinking to change is the song “Time Tables” by the Menzingers. One of my favorite lines is “Well maybe if you want to wander around outside tonight meet me at Lake Ariel after midnight. Or really whenever, I only want to talk, I only want to relive what was lost”. I’ve never been to Lake Ariel, don’t know where it is and it doesn’t matter. That line connects because it’s real and specific.
Kendra: My heart broke listening to “My Clearest Blurry Thoughts” as breakup songs tend to do. Do you think it’s easier to write about the relationship once it’s over or when you’re in the thick of one?
Owl Meet Rabbit: For me, it is much easier to write about a situation in retrospect. Often I write and not give much thought to what lines mean in the greater scheme of things. It is much later that I can piece together what I was really trying to say at the time. It is awesome that the songs got that reaction out of you. I hope I am not ruining it when I say the song was originally meant to be a bit tongue in cheek. Owl Meet Rabbit songs are always so intense that I felt the record needed some moments to breathe. When writing “My Clearest Blurry Thoughts” I tried to start with a joke but then quickly I fell into old routines. Writing through sadness seems to be the lens that keeps being used.
Kendra: With the album out, what’s coming up for you in the coming months? Touring?
Owl Meet Rabbit: We have some fun stuff in the works. We are working on making a music video for the song “Pardon My Interruption” that we are really excited about. A week-long tour is also in the works for December. Between now and then we are playing some shows in the Chicagoland area and getting new merch together. We are always looking for new places to play and if anyone would like to book us please reach out! Writing has already started for a new record but that will still be some time away.