Tarah Who? Is a power duo masterminded by grunge-punk sage, Tarah Carpenter, a firebrand front-woman who channels explosive emotionality into rousing anthems. “I’m really sensitive to things that happen around me, and I love studying psychology and human behavior,” Tarah shares. “When I write, I seek to process personal stories and news stories through these perspectives, but in a way that’s relatable to everyone.” Tarah exudes a spiritual centeredness that is poetically aligned to the origins of her name. The name “Tara” in Buddhist lore refers to the “mother of liberation,” an apt archetypal reference for such a strong and shamanistic female artist.
Tarah Who? recalls 1990s alt-rock and grunge’s tradition of balancing integrity with tuneful song-craft. Entries in the Tarah Who? oeuvre sit nicely alongside Alanis Morissette, Foo fighters, The Distillers, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Spinerette. Tarah Who? is in every sense of the phrase, bonded together by telepathic musical interplay and profound interpersonal connections. In addition to Tarah, drummer/backing vocalist Coralie Hervé. Previously, Tarah Who? has released two full-lengths, three EPs, and one single of raw punky rock n’ roll. The duo’s output has garnered plaudits and earned feature-story coverage from GIG Radar, Kill The Music, La Grosse Radio, Loud Stuff, Moshville, Music Connection, Muzak, and The Ring Master, among other outlets. It’s a remarkable feat for an unsigned band to make such waves in the biz, but Tarah Who?’s incendiary live shows and snarling sing-alongs are hard to ignore.
Even alt-pop goddess Alanis Morissette’s guitarist Jason Orme has given a big stamp approval to the group, co-producing and playing guitar alongside Tarah on the recently released EP’s, Half Middle Child Syndrome, 64Women and the newly released single, Pantomath. With a stable lineup, and a dynamic rhythm section that can effortlessly shift from scorched-earth rock to tender balladry, the duo is embarking on a halcyon era ushered in by its current EP, 64 Women.
“We dedicate this EP to the 64 women who were at the immigration detention center in downtown LA on November 19, 2014 with Tarah G. Carpenter.”
Tarah was born in France and began smashing away at the drums at just 14, ignoring those around her who suggested she try her hand at a more “ladylike” musical pursuit. Willful, and somewhat stubborn, she honed her chops, forged her own creative path, and branched out to bass, guitar, singing, songwriting, and producing (she produces the band’s music). After a fateful move to Los Angeles, Tarah made her solo debut as Tarah Who? at a warehouse party. It was a gig she found on Craigslist, and it proved to be the perfect opportunity to share the songs she had been writing privately. Up next, the duo will be promoting the new single, Pantomath and coming back from their tour, they will be working on a new EP.
The Ladies of Tarah Who? Are fired up, inspired, and tighter as friends and musicians. In closing, drummer Coralie Herve offers this final thought: “When I first met Tarah, it floored me how bold she is; I felt this exuberance and fire from her. It reminded me of why I play music in the first place.”
With the single, Pantomath, now out for the world to experience, as well as an awesome back catalogue, Shayne chats with Tarah and Coralie about all things Tarah Who? in the latest instalment of Noise Pollutions “Introducing..” series.
Tarah G. Carpenter (TGC): Vocals, Guitar
Coralie Hervé (CH): Drums
What does the band name mean to you?
TGC: ha! The band name is sort of an accident… we were going by my birth name at the beginning, but back in France at the time, there was another artist who had the same name and who also was French/Vietnamese. She played French rap. WhenI was booking shows, people either thought I was her and were really shocked when they heard us play punk Rock or we wouldn’t get the show because they were wondering why some French rapper would want to play at squat for punks.
I had a few thoughts for band names, but I was never really good at it.I am into Buddhism, and I like the goddess Tara. Also my first friend in 1st grade I think it is in the US, was TARA. Initially I had wrote her a song, she had leukemia and all the kids were “afraid” of her. I thought that it would be a good way to honor our friendship. She passed away that same year.
We were not big when we were using the other name for the band, but we had quite a following. When I changed my artist name I send an email explaining what the name was about and the subject was” TARAH WHO???” since no one knew me yet by TARAH.. at the bottom of the email I put a few band name ideas and out of all of the band names I had come up with, everyone responded : TARAH WHO? is actually the best!
We had so many gigs lined up, we didn’t have much time so I thought let’s start with that and change it when we have time… This was nine years ago…!
Where is the band based?
TGC: I am originallty from Paris, France. Born and raised but I moved to LA in 2006. This is where everything started happening for Tarah Who?.We are now based in Los Angeles. Coralie is from a small town in France called Pledran in Brittany. We both met here in LA though. She went to MI and she needed advise when she moved out here so she reached out to me. Few months later, I hit her back when I needed a drummer and here we are!
How long have you been together?
CH : I joined Tarah Who? a little bit more than two years ago.
What style of music do you play?
CH : I’ll say that our sound is a mix between rock/punk/grunge but at the same time is unique, I’ll let people judge by themself.
TGC: it’s hard to fit us in one category. I write about how I feel and I don’t really care if it doesn’t fit anywhere. It is more important to me to be true to the feelings and the story of what happened. I will think about the marketing aspect of it later! Although I think that is what also makes us stand out and recognizable.
Give us the story of the bands formation.
CH : Tarah and I were friends on Facebook and I messaged her when I was moving in Los Angeles for school.
TGC: I started as an singer songwriter when I moved out here. I am a self-taught drummer, bass player and guitar player. I have always played in bands, drums and bass and when I moved out here, I thought” wait.. instead of looking for musicians, why don’t I just play my own songs as if I was part of this band and make demos of my own songs” and that is what I did and still do. I make demos of the songs and then found musicians to learn the parts.
We are now a duo, Coralie learns the drums and we play with structures for our live shows. We have a bass track that we play with live as well. I record the bass at home, and some backing vocals to make it full live.
It is not the most punk Rock as I would like it to be, but we have a good momemtum with Coralie right now, I don’t want to waste any second looking for a new bass player. Both tours were very successfull as a duo, it is like a new thing it seems like.
Tell us about your influences.
CH : I’m a big fan of Nightwish, a symphonic metal band from Finland, metal in general and classic rock.
TGC: I grew up listening to a lot of Alanis Morissette and by default, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi etc.. because my mom would BLAST their albums while cleaning the house.
Later, I discovered The Distillers, the Foo Fighters, RATM, Pantera, TOOL, PJ Harvey etc… anything 90s.. Those bands and sounds are still first on my playlists. Tarah Who? is a bit of all of those bands combined.
Tell us about your latest release.
CH : We released our last EP “64 Women” in March, we have a new single out now, followed by a new EP in 2020.
TGC: Yes our latest release was our EP called “64 Women” but we have a new single out called “PANTOMATH” that we are super excited about. Pure Punk Rock kind of like AFI. We hope you like it. Its available now on a digital platforms.
Where is your music available?
TGC: everywhere! google TARAH WHO? and you ll find us!
Spotify, itunes, google play, amazon, pandora etc…
What are your goals for the bands future?
TGC: I would like to book bigger festivals, motorcycle event,s a roller derby half time tour and fun stuff like that. We love touring and playing, but I like to play events, Art shows, where people meet and find passions and similar interests.
We were recently added to the grammys2020 consideration list, so if this every happens, we would be really happy! especially being independent…
If you could share the stage with any other band or artist, who would you chose?
CH : Nightwish for sure, Ghost and Beast In Black, it would be amazing !!
TGC: I would love to be on a bigger tour with our friends YUR MUM, and maybe add BALA, L7 and The Distillers. 🙂
What can you tell us about your live shows?
CH : We are giving a show to entertain people, so everybody has a good time.
TGC: Each one of our show is unique. Again we are big on feelings and we basically get the vibe of the crowd. If we have a rowdy crowd, we will go crazy, and it will push me to go crazy on stage. If we have more of a mellow crowd, we will play our show, but you’ll feel that we are a bit timid that night!;)
Do you have any upcoming gigs to promote?
TGC: I am actually going to work on the demos for our new ep for the next couple months. We have a couple february shows for 2020 and a tour in March2020.
We are releasing the dates soon!
What do you think sets you apart from other bands?
TGC: I hate comparing us to other bands… I think that we are all going for our own thing.
I think what sets us apart is that we don’t ever stop, and we don’t care what “people” say, we will play what we want because this is how we feel. I have had a few offers in the past, some wanted to change the structures of the songs, or the lyrics or whatoever… I said no. This is my art and this is how I feel.
We don’t pretend to be someone we are not or trying to fit in into a genre of music. We play what feels right.
Explain why you think a new listener should give your music a go.
CH : If you like heavy, raw sound and rock’n’roll, I think you should give us a try.
TGC: Yeah pretty much, jsut give us a chance 🙂 but to be honest, what usually happens is that people see us live and that’s where the magic happens.
So please come out to our shows!
Also, we have a docu-series out that explains everything about the band, give it a shout, and you might listen to our songs in a different way once you know our story.
What has been your biggest achievement as a band, so far?
TGC: having us on the grammys selection is pretty cool. We have had a lot of achievements but one that people can understand is that grammys thing.
Recently,touring as a duo, when we have had no other choice and such short notice was a huge challenge. We were very happy to make it work and we are looking forward everything else that comes up in the future.
What else do you hope to achieve?
CH : Keep rocking and go further !!
TGC: Well, I think that actually winning the grammys would be pretty mind-blowing. We have a couple music videos in mind and collaborations we are hoping to make happen.
We hope to be able to play some good festivals next year and continue the adventure, meet new friends on the road and new fans.
– Shayne McGowan.