Behind the Mask – Throwaway Unveils Debut Album ‘WHAT?,’ Hosts Release Show Tonight at Detroit’s El Club

Throwaway will celebrate the release of “WHAT?” tonight at El Club in Detroit. Photo by the Ottolab

Throwaway knows how to easily extract the spirit of “Evil Cooper.”

The Detroit art rock/no wave vocalist-guitarist musically summons the demonic alter ego of Dale Cooper from “Twin Peaks” in “Julep,” a brilliant six-minute track filled with raw guitars, deep distortions and dark feedback.

“I’ve always had this affinity for it because it has a very dramatic arc itself, and it’s oblique, enigmatic and strange. The affinity for that particular recording came out because I wanted to bring some guitar feedback to the end of the track, and we were recording it right in the middle of ‘Twin Peaks: The Return,’” said Kirsten Carey, aka Throwaway.

“You know those scenes where it’s just Evil Cooper driving in the car, the camera is focused on his face and you hear all these uncomfortable bumpy drones? When I was recording that feedback, I thought, ‘Oh my God, it sounds like Evil Coop.’”

In a sense, Evil Coop is the artistic and musical spirit animal of Throwaway, Carey’s alter ego who dons a paper bag. “Julep” is one of eight standout experimental rock tracks featured on Throwaway’s debut album “WHAT?” out tomorrow.

Throwaway’s “WHAT?” album

“WHAT?” takes listeners on a half-hour cerebral journey through the raw, turbulent thoughts and emotions of Throwaway, a clever representation of the true inner struggles we all experience, but rarely articulate. Carey speaks for us all when she assumes the character of Throwaway in the studio and on stage.

“For me, having an album that has an art to it is just incredibly important, and I’ve gotten that from growing up listening to albums like ‘Demon Days’ and ‘The Crane Wife’ over and over again. I grew up on all these albums that were pretty theatrical and had art to it and not just songs plopped one next to another for the hell of it,” Carey said.

“I didn’t write these songs to go one against the other because they’re written across a four-year span of time, but I tried the best I could to find that thread between them and follow it, and I hope it’s effective.”

Carey beautifully weaves that artistic thread through “WHAT?,” named after the final lyric in the album’s closing track, “I Work!” It takes a unique angle on rock that one could only expect from a band fronted by a woman wearing a paper bag mask.

Recorded at Manifest Studios in Santa Monica, Calif., Throwaway’s debut album is the result of five years of cultivation between Detroit and Los Angeles.

From the buoyant cheekiness of “The Revenge Society” to the sardonic playfulness of “I Work!,” to the feisty Stranger Things-esque “Bonathan Jyers,” “WHAT?” is a perfect illustration of Throwaway’s unique angular, acrobatic riffs and unexpected musical turns.

Carey takes several musical turns throughout “WHAT?” ranging from punk to jazz to rock to the avant-garde. Hailing from Chicago, Carey developed an eclectic taste in music while listening to The Beatles and obsessing over Gorillaz’s “Demon Days.”

Throwaway will embark on upcoming tours in the U.S. and Japan.

While growing up in the Windy City, she learned how to play the saxophone and guitar and started playing jazz after a teacher encouraged her to experiment with improvisation. Over time, Carey studied Miles Davis, Naked City, the Boredoms and Sonny Sharrock and blended improvisation with an aggressive rock sound.

“Throwaway was formed the summer after I graduated college because I was suddenly overwhelmed with this existential horror of well, now what? I’ve graduated with a performance degree in jazz guitar, what do I do? I only had one very short-lived rock band in high school, but I still had this completely unfulfilled dream of being in a rock band like the ones I grew up listening to,” said Carey, who graduated from the University of Michigan.

“Out of that existential crisis and that desire to be in a rock band, I had this idea of this band Throwaway where I wouldn’t have to deal with the awkward band press photo. Instead of people staring at pictures of me trying to look cool, they would look at these pictures of a strange character in a paper bag mask trying to look cool.”

Carey increased her cool factor while writing the eight tracks for “WHAT?” and working with Los Angeles producer Elizabeth Erickson as well as Detroit saxophonist Molly Jones (“Vanity Block”) and William Hutson from clipping (“The Brilliant Society of the Illustrious Mule.”)

Tonight, she’ll celebrate the release of “WHAT?” with a special Throwaway show at Detroit’s El Club with Noveliss, SLOB and Siamese. Jonathan Taylor of saajtak will join Carey on drums for tonight’s show.

“We are planning to play the album front to back and do some other favorites, including the dinosaur song,” Carey said. “We also wanted to include several bands that were doing something different but complementary to Throwaway in some regard.”

Next week, Carey will embark on a 10-date Throwaway tour throughout the East Coast and Midwest. She’ll also tour Japan in November with stops in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and three other cities.

“I ended up playing two random experimental improvised shows there by myself, and it was an amazing experience. I met so many awesome people so quickly.” said Carey, who toured Japan for the first time three years ago. “I’m super thrilled to go back.”

Show details:

Throwaway “WHAT?” album release party with Noveliss, SLOB and Siamese

7 p.m. tonight

El Club, 4114 Vernor Highway in Detroit

Tickets: $12

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