Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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The phrase Candy Ambulance may conjure up images of something out of Willy Wonka’s health care plan, but it’s actually the name of a phenomenal indie grunge rock band from Troy, NY.
Consisting of Caitlin Barker, Jesse Bolduc, and Jon Cantiello, Candy Ambulance has a new album on the way, titled Traumantic, due out September 13th, and it’s an intense effort filled with stories from Barker’s own life.
With a five year history of melting faces at their live shows – and with over 200k miles on their beloved 2009 Toyota Corolla to show for their touring efforts – it seems reasonable to assume that once the album is out you’ll be able to see the band at a town or city near you.
With that in mind, here are eight things you should know about Candy Ambulance.
The band’s origin story involves a grocery store
Jesse and Jon have known each other since middle school, and have been in bands together since their teens, but Caitlin explains, “I enter the picture in their 20s, when I met Jesse. We were working at a grocery store. We were really attracted to each other, so what better way to flirt than to start a business together? I don’t think we realized how far we’d actually take the band.”
They’ve come a long way in five years
Every band grows, but according to Caitlin, Candy Ambulance has grown by leaps and bounds.
“We were mostly hammered for the first year,” she explains, “we’d play sloppy, punky sets at open mics. I think we began a little more like we are now – most of the songs I had written were singer-songwriter vibe – then (we) veered a bit to explore the punk thing, and now we’re more like lyrics story telling rock. We’ve developed our skills. We practice to a metronome, and we only START drinking when we go on stage now.”
They turned their basement into an indie music venue
Candy Ambulance’s home of Troy, NY is a solid 150 miles from NYC. In need of a venue to call home, they turned part of their home into a venue.
The process of creating the space, which is named Jacob’s Ladder, involved a bit of heavy moving. “We cleaned the fuck out of our basement,” she explains, “and it’s been overall successful.”
A typical show at Jacob’s Ladder involves a bill of three bands, as Caitlin notes, “Troy is a town full of young creatives right now. It’s very cool.”
Ironically, the one band they haven’t booked yet is their own. “We haven’t played our venue yet!”
Their upcoming album, Traumantic, features a lot of intense emotions
As the name implies, Traumantic is a combination of “trauma” and “romantic,” which are emotions Caitlin says she’s experienced simultaneously her entire life.
“Thematically, this record explores sexual abuse, an abusive relationship, my relationship to the world as a woman, and substance abuse. We are products of a violent society, and we all carry that weight in one way or another. For me, romance is tied up in being treated poorly. Who knew?”
According to Caitlin, performing these songs can be intense, cathartic, and “a little alienating.”
“I have a line – ‘Maybe that was why I fell for the guy / hit me in the eye / but it felt like pure love.’ Rehashing that stuff is not always comfortable. Then to see the audience really get into the songs when that is the content can feel conflicting. Like I’m making something raw, and exciting, for people, but it’s because I’m completely fucked up.”
A decent amount of bourbon was consumed during the recording process
“Me and (producer) Tommy (Stinson of The Replacements) both love bourbon,” Caitlin explains, “before we tracked (vocals) he said, ‘Tell me what this record’s about,’ and I filled him in on every brutal detail of my life. Meanwhile we're passing back and forth the bourbon.”
Caitlin feels this process of spilling her guts, while not spilling her drink, helped the album greatly. “I think him understanding my perspective allowed him to push me … I think he taught me how to sing like levels better than I was at.”
They’re just as good with their clothes on
At one point Candy Ambulance had a reputation for revealing more than their emotions during shows.
“We were really just drunk and partying in the early years,” Caitlin recalls, “we were sloppy. The boys started to take off their shirts for a few shows, so I joined in eventually. First time I wasn't planning on it, and was wearing a ratty, nude colored bra. Then we did it all the time. We stopped when it became a reason to see us, when it was wanted. Fuck that, we still will if we want to, but when we feel like it. It haunts us a bit.”
Caitlin nearly ended up spending time in a Chicago jail
Caitlin has no intention of going to jail, but in an incident earlier this summer she nearly had that experience.
“We were cited in Chicago – $600 for drinking on a beach … while screaming, and swimming after hours. I was almost arrested. They kept asking me, ‘Do you want to go to jail, or go home?’ I refused, at first, to give ID, then later refused to sign my ticket. I was very drunk, and in his face, saying, ‘This is fucking bullshit. I’m not signing anything.’ Strong reminder of white privilege, but maybe I held them up from harassing minorities, so it was productive in that way.”
The band was almost named Jesse’s Boner
Sometimes the band naming process is super involved. Sometimes, it just involves a few drinks.
After a long night of enjoying themselves while trying to come up with a name for the band, Caitlin remembers, “When we woke up two options were written on my fridge – Candy Ambulance and Jesse’s Boner.”
This means there was a 50% chance this article could’ve been titled 8 Things You Should Know About Jesse’s Boner.