Make Me a Mixtape: Carpool's Cathartic Jukebox Musical

Make Me a Mixtape is a segment where we interview artists and have them curate a mixtape of seven songs based around a particular scenario, explaining why they chose each song. This week, we chat with the Rochester-based emo band Carpool, who produce their own imaginative jukebox musical, featuring an array of emotive tracks paralleled to the downfall of their protagonist.

Photo by Matt Sledziewski

After releasing their superb debut effort Erotic Nightmare Summer last year via Acrobat Unstable Records, the four-piece emo band Carpool have been keeping busy. After recording a set on Audiotree Live back in May, the band started recording their second full-length album. Their scrappy and blustery songs are undeniably raw and bruised, sonically blazing off in an anthemic emo-punk style that sparks between Joyce Manor's jumpy hooks and Dogleg's angst-ridden explosions. Known for their energetic live shows, Carpool is comprised of lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Chris "Stoph" Colasanto, guitarist Tommy Eckerson, bassist RJ DeMarco and drummer Alec Westover. With their striking first offering, Carpool is undoubtedly one of the most exciting bands coming out of Rochester's underground scene.

Immediately on the opening track "Cruel Intentions," Carpool veer off into overdriven melodies and roiling unease. The band's blown out gang vocals and dashing power chords perfectly set the tone for the anxiety-filled runs to come. "The Salty Song (Erotic Nightmare Summer)" is packed with so much golden emo grandeur, enriching the best bits of the genre's commercial peak in the early 2000s. The tongue-in-cheek "Beauty School Dropout" is a gut punch that's infectiously catchy with its jittery guitar chops and ecstasy of distortion — they even sample a line from the teen drama Euphoria. The complex "Driving Under the Skinfluence" is quite mathy with their frenzy of quiet-loud dynamics and interlocking guitar lines, serving as a step forward for the band. In the end, Carpool's super-charged emotions paint a path towards self-discovery that's melded with their understated technical proficiency and musical growth.

Inspired by the band's brutally vivid and vital emotions, we asked them to curate their own imaginative jukebox musical featuring an eclectic mix of introspection. But Colasanto took the scenario to the next level, plotting the downfall of his character, the dentist, through his personal selection of tunes. The wielded emotions of these seven songs immerse listeners into the troubling mindset of Colasanto's protagonist.

The Dentist Goes to Vegas

"This is the story of an alcoholic dentist who is truly alone. The dentist lives their life stuck in a mundane monotonous cycle, the only relief they find is sneaking liquor at all times throughout their day — stuck in a rut and thoroughly depressed. The dentist gets inspired by a conversation they have with a patient who reminds them of a younger version of themselves. Inspired by the interaction, the dentist quits their job and packs up and leaves everything to seek happiness in the form of vices and debauchery in Vegas. The drug and alcohol fueled trip has the dentist feeling pure bliss for the first time they can ever remember, however the looming issue of addiction in order to be happy plagues them regardless. They wind up meeting a comedian with whom the two share an instant connection. They hit it off and for the first time, each of them experience true love and human connection. This is short lived as after only a few days of partying and falling in love, the dentist wakes up after a wild night to find the comedian in bed next to them dead from choking on their own vomit in their sleep. The dentist is distraught. The rock opera ends with the dentist wandering the desert alone with a bottle in each hand. looking out into the vast nothingness." —Colasanto

Radiohead — "Everything in its Right Place"

"I imagine this song plays as it sets exposition for the character that is the dentist. A montage of them working and sly drinking. The song carries repetition as it states over and over that everything is in its right place. The dentist has a successful career. They have a clean and orderly office. But there is a darkness to the song that everything being in its right place is not exactly what the dentist needs. The flask they keep hidden is in its right place, inside a secret pocket within their scrubs. The line 'There are two colors in my head' represents this duality of character. Someone trying to perpetuate a functioning member of society while still partaking in their habitual vices even though they know, deep down, it isn't helping. The song ends as a college student, visibly fucked up, enters the dentist's office.

Joyce Manor — "Constant Headache"

"The college student leaves a lasting impression on the dentist. Before they begin to work on the student's teeth, the two have a conversation about the meaning of life and what it truly means to live and be happy. The two break out into song together, singing 'Constant Headache' to each other in a conversational format. I chose this song because the two share this belief that life is just one constant headache. The lyric 'A tooth out of line' represents the dentist's character to the core. But it also has a happier message that 'Maybe human is not such a bad thing to be.' This resonates deeply within the dentist and the influence of the conversation with the student prompts them to quit the routine of their mundane job and life and seek true happiness in the city of sin and a place where they can indulge in each and every vice their heart desires."

Carissa's Wierd — "Farewell to All These Rotten Teeth"

"This song plays as a montage of the dentist leaving the life they built and worked hard on to create and become successful. They did not like their life though. I chose this song because Carissa's Wierd's album Songs About Leaving is one of my favorite albums of all time and I believe to be one of the most underrated albums as well. The lyrics of the song represent our character to a T. They are saying 'Farewell to all these rotten teeth' as they leave behind the stagnant day-to-day career they spent their entire life building towards only to realize it left them mundane, stuck, and depressed (as they usually do). This is a song about leaving."

Prince Daddy & The Hyena — "Klonopin"

"This song plays as the dentist enters a casino and begins to have the time of their life. Drinking, doing drugs, partying with strangers, and gambling. They eventually meet a comedian while at the bar. The two hit it off and share an immediate connection. I chose this song because to me it shows how lonely getting fucked up alone can be and how desperately we crave companionship. 'Someone get fucked up / With me in the daytime / Time is fuckin stuck / Laughing at me and my stupid fuckin' life / It's only getting harder / Every single night lasts a little longer' shows the dentist and comedian finding one another and easing each other's loneliness while singing this line together."

Short Fictions — "Really Like You"

"This song continues the montage of the dentist and comedian having the time of their lives together in the city of sin. Falling in love and singing 'I really really like you, I do' as they explore the debauchery together. Not realizing they are enabling each other the entire time."

Summerbruise — "Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off"

"After a night of partying, the comedian is asleep in bed next to the dentist. The dentist looks up at the ceiling and sings this song. Coming to the epiphany that they love the comedian but that their life isn't healthy mentally or physically, and that the dentist needed help. I chose this song because I think it represents a realization of a self and self-induced problem of substance abuse, and even confusing the two for love at times. 'It seems like I've forgot a lot / Like how to help the ones I love / And how to tell the difference between medicine and drugs.' One of the most beautiful songs and the most underrated emo band of all time and some of my best friends in the world — summerbruise."

Aimee Mann — "Wise Up"

"This is the end. The song begins to play. The dentist wakes up, hungover as usual, but beside them isn't the constant stirring they had already grown accustomed to from the sleeping comedian. The dentist looks to see if the comedian is awake only to find to their horror that the comedian had suffocated on their own vomit in their sleep. The next montage events is a direct rip from the Paul Thomas Anderson film Magnolia. Cops and paramedics enter the room to take away the comedian, each character singing 'Wise Up.' The dentist goes to the hotel bar as the bartender and dentist sing to one another 'You think one drink / Will you shrink you till your underground and living down / But it’s not going to stop / It’s not going to stop / It’s not going stop / Till you wise up.' The opera ends as the dentist walks aimlessly into the vast desert holding bottles in each hand. 'It’s not going to stop / So just give up.'"