Carina Round is nowhere to be found on Interscope’s Web site. She’s not listed on the artist directory page, and there’s no mention of her upcoming album. She shouldn’t feel slighted; these are very confusing times.
Regardless, the 24-year-old rocker from Wolverhampton, England, can hardly contain herself: She’s coming to America. After several years of opening for the likes of Coldplay, Elbow, Ryan Adams, Ed Harcourt – even James Brown – back home, she welcomes the chance to prove herself in front of U.S. audiences.
She already has won over Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart, who signed her to his Weapons of Mass Entertainment camp. Her debut album, “The Disconnection,” is out stateside via Interscope on March 9.
“I already released this in the U.K. by myself,” Round said recently. “I funded the whole record and put it out on my own record company (Animal Noise). Dave Stewart heard the record and took it to Jimmy Iovine at Interscope and he loved it and said, ‘Okay, put it out.’
“Because it didn’t cost them much to make, they’re putting me on the road straight away, which is really exciting. That’s where we shine, really, doing gigs.”
Tired of the Christina Aguilera screamfest, the fleshy flash of Janet Jackson and the voiceless, bellybutton wiggle of Britney Spears? Round is a nice alternative. She has clever lyrics and an appreciation for a number of styles of music, from jazz to folk to rock. And it doesn’t hurt that she has been compared vocally to PJ Harvey and Siouxsie (particularly on the first single, “Into My Blood”).
“I get compared a lot to PJ Harvey, just because she’s one of the very few people in the last five, 10 years that did the groundwork first so she can stick around a long time,” Round said. “It’s nearly impossible in this day and age to create a career like that. It’s important to pick up the fans by doing the groundwork first, to have a long career. It’s common sense, really.”
Round’s enthusiasm is infectious. She wants to talk about the United States – the cities, the food, the venues.
“My first time to the states was when I signed in L.A.,” she said. “The impression I got when I played for the record company and to the agency, what they were saying is that it’s not very often these days that you can get someone to stand up with an acoustic guitar and give that much passion. And, to be honest, I think my band fuckin’ rocks. When people see us live, they’ll really make the connection between live and the album and really get it.”
Round says she prefers small venues, such as the ones she’ll be playing in during her four-show stint later this month.
“I want to smell the audience and feel the energy coming off them. I’ve done big gigs, too, but they feel impersonal. When you’re doing small shows with your shoes sticking to the floor, I kind of prefer that.
“From what I’ve seen from Americans I’ve been with (in England), Americans seem a lot more open to my kind of music than the U.K. audiences. In the U.K., they stand there with their arms crossed and go, ‘Impress me then.’ I’m not saying the American audience is going to be a pushover, but I really feel that it could be the home where my music can touch people.”
Best of all about her tour, she says, is that two of her shows are in the Big Apple.
“I’ve never been to New York. I want to go and see where Woody Allen makes his movies and see everything,” Round said. “I want to walk around Greenwich Village. I want to swagger around and pretend I’m Patti Smith and I’m about to go to Robert Mapplethorpe’s house.”
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “It was a 7-inch vinyl of ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ by Monty Python. I was 5 years old and I got a turntable for my 5th birthday. I went to a record shop and saw this record. It had a big cartoon character on the cover. I didn’t care what the song was; I just wanted it because of the picture.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “I went to a Metallica concert at the NEC in Birmingham on the ‘One’ tour. They had all the pyrotechnics, and it was really impressive. I thought every gig was going to be like that for the rest of my life.”
THE WORST JOB I’VE EVER HAD: “I used to be a care assistant – I used to have to wipe old people’s asses. Amongst other things, I had to feed them – and they would spit at me and scratch me and swear at me. You can’t believe the things I saw; I can’t even tell you. It was kind of funny as well, because a lot of them were quite mad. They used to tell me that they had met the queen and she had come around for dinner. They’d tell me the entire conversation they had with the queen. It was quite entertaining.”
ON THE WEB: www.carinaround.com.
BWF (before we forget): The Carina Round album discography – “The First Blood Mystery” (Animal Noise, 2001); “The Disconnection” (Weapons of Mass Entertainment/Interscope, 2004).
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