10 reasons why you need The Callous Daoboys in your life

Atlanta mathcore maniacs The Callous Daoboys have cemented their reputation as one of the most thrilling new acts in heavy music. We sat down with frontman Carson Pace to get the lowdown on the band blowing up your scene…

10 reasons why you need The Callous Daoboys in your life
Sam Law
Sean Ageman

Listening to The Callous Daoboys is a visceral experience. This was true on their bonkers 2019 Die On Mars debut full-length, but it’s doubly so on 2022’s forehead-smashing follow-up Celebrity Therapist. Not since the glory days of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Every Time I Die has there been an American breakout act that so confidently combines the calculated and the chaotic.

Convening with bleary-eyed frontman Carson Pace as he sips his morning coffee after the latest leg of a North American tour that’s been ongoing since the middle of 2022, it quickly becomes clear that there’s also real heart beneath the havoc. When cranking amps with guitarists Maddie Caffrey and Daniel Hodson, violinist Amber Christman, bassist Jackie Buckalew, synth-specialist Abby Sherman, saxophonist Rich Castillo and drummer Matthew Ryan, the goal is for everyone – onstage and off – to have bloody good fun.

It’s a party you need to get in on. Here’s 10 good reasons…

1They’ve got history together

It’s easier to tread a mad musical path when you’re doing it alongside your best friends. The Callous Daoboys’ core of Carson, Maddie, Jackie and Amber have always done just that…

Carson Pace (vocals): “People have come and gone over the years, but the fact that we four are still in a band after so long is the coolest thing in the world. Maddie and I first met aged, like, 17 at a karaoke night at a church-run coffee shop. We did Weezer’s Beverley Hills, with me just singing the ‘gimme-gimme’ part. She laughed and we’ve been friends ever since. [When this began] I was just like, ‘Wanna start a band?’ Jackie was a 15-year-old fan of our first outfit, which sounded like Paramore. He’d make us funny album art mock-ups that looked like they were for Nails! Amber dated an acquaintance of mine. She was cool and liked cool music, so I was like, ‘What instrument do you play?’ She answered, ‘Violin!’ And so, from that point, the hardcore band I was starting had a violinist in it.”

2After lockdown, they’re ready to explode

Time plus excessiveness equals The Callous Daoboys. The pandemic might have disrupted their early momentum, but it also offered space to incubate Celebrity Therapist’s game-changing sound…

Carson: “The more time that we spend on something, the crazier it usually gets. The excessiveness stems from us asking, ‘What is the most ridiculous thing that we can write?’ When I look back at Die On Mars, I’d do a million different things differently. But coming into Celebrity Therapist we knew what we were doing, we set out to make the record we wanted to make, and we made it. That’s why this album is so different to what’s come before. It is fully us.”

3There’s no fear of lofty comparisons

Constant comparisons to some of heavy music’s greatest-ever bands – The Dillinger Escape Plan, Every Time I Die, The Chariot – could be a double-edged sword. The Daoboys are unfazed by expectation, though, and confident in their ability to create music that’s truly unique…

Carson: “I started this band because I was listening to those bands. I used to lip-sync the words to [Dillinger’s] Milk Lizard in the mirror, and I wanted to do that for real. Especially on this new record, though, we’re trying to do something that [our heroes] had never done. Given, Dillinger were always unique, but in the same way those other bands did, we want to follow a trajectory from wearing our influences on our sleeve to being our own thing. Plus, as much as a lot of people say that Celebrity Therapist sounds a lot like [1999 Dillinger classic] Calculating Infinity, I know how it was made, which certainly wasn’t all of us getting together in a practice space and saying, ‘Alright, let’s write a bunch of bars of 11/8!’”

4The live show is so much fun it’s dangerous

With the chaotic energy of a Molotov cocktail at a house party, their gigs are already getting a reputation for unhinged greatness. It’s all part of the fun…

Carson: “All those bands that we look up to had the most insane live shows. We try to match that as much as possible. But you can expect to laugh at our shows, too. You can expect to see us having fun up there. A lot of bands in our genre will have these dark, brooding transitions. We’ll transition with Everytime We Touch by Cascada. As much as I’m into tightening up the live show, once we get onstage, it’s like, ‘I don’t care if we play a single right note, as long as we have fun!’”

5They don’t buy into their own cult

Inspired by Hollywood egos and the Church Of Scientology, the Celebrity Therapist idea pre-dated this band. As Carson first tasted fame, though, it became about not buying your own hype…

Carson: “My great-grandfather was a preacher: a constant entertainer to a captive audience. I knew him for a little bit, so it’s not surprising that I am an egotistical lead singer. But I scared myself when we got a little taste of being a big band and I was just like, ‘We’re the greatest band in the universe. I’m the greatest singer that’s ever walked the Earth.’ Everyone in the band had to check me. I can definitely see how people become assholes in this industry. You need to stay grounded. Compare your streaming stats to really big bands: ‘Oh, yeah, we don’t make music like Parkway Drive!’”

6Their music is a statement of artistic freedom

Even if you don’t like The Callous Daoboys’ music, they want you to be inspired by it…

Carson: “I just want listeners to feel completely free. A lot of artists like our music. If it inspires them to make something specific, that’s awesome. Ultimately, though, what I want them to take from it is [the inspiration to] make whatever the hell they’ve always wanted to make, without compromise. Even if you don’t like what we do – even if it makes you viscerally uncomfortable – I want you to feel something. I hope people like it. But if they prefer to tweet about how you can’t believe venues let us play there, or that the sound guy just doesn’t turn us off, I’ll eat that up, too. Anything for attention!”

7There’s always space for a sing-along

There’s nothing better at a show than grabbing the mic and screaming your lungs out. Carson and co. are more than happy to provide those brilliant, often ridiculous moments…

Carson: “What am I proudest of in this band? Probably that moment when we play …Time Loops at our shows and I get a bunch of people to sing, ‘Jerk off in your car!’ Seriously, though, I think it’s that we’ve cultivated that atmosphere of singing along. It’s something that every band wants, and we’re very, very lucky to have it.”

8They’ve even got a song for your definitely-not-mathcore mother

As abrasive as they can be, the mind-bending melodies of Celebrity Therapist’s final track Star Baby prove that The Callous Daoboys are capable of (slightly) broader appeal…

Carson: “No matter how many records we release, any time someone asks me to show them my band, that’s the song. I love it to death. It’s important to me because it’s the one where my parents will be like, ‘Gosh, that’s a great song!’ My mom does not like our other music. I don’t think that she could name you another song. But she’ll always be like, ‘Oh, Star Baby is such a hit.’ Contrastingly, my dad was the one who got me into this stuff in the first place. Still, every couple of weeks, he’ll send me that song. I’ll be like, ‘Dad. I know. I wrote it.’ And he’ll be like, ‘Yeah, but it’s awesome.’”

9Imitation is the greatest form of flattery

Carson’s greatest ambition is to be the heroes passing their taste for chaos onto the next generation…

Carson: “We don’t compromise for radio play or other exposure. So the biggest compliment for us is when someone says, ‘Hey, I’m trying to start a band that sounds like yours.’ That’s how we got into this, so it’s a big thing when kids in high school come up to the merch table to tell us we’re doing it for them. I don’t care if we stop being a band tomorrow – it was all worth it for those moments.”

10There’s no limits on how far they’ll go

Two parts demolition derby to one of sheer dicking around, it won’t be easy for The Callous Daoboys to become the biggest act on the planet. But that won’t stop them trying…

Carson: “I think that there’s a ceiling that you can hit when you’re making whatever the fuck you want to make. My [realistic] ambition is to get to the place where ETID were at, with a yearly festival bringing bands and fans from around the world. But of course we’re shooting to be the biggest band in the world, if we can. I mean, c’mon, we want to be the next Foo Fighters. Look at Biffy Clyro – they’re the weirdest band ever and they’re massive!”

The Callous Daoboys play ArcTanGent in August. Celebrity Therapist is out now via MNRK. This article originally appeared in the December 2022 issue of the magazine.

Read this next:

Check out more:

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?