Guerilla Toss’ origins are somewhat unusual. They started as an experimental art-rock project at the prestigious New England Conservatory in Boston. When Peter met Kassie at a DIY show in Allston singing in a metal/hardcore band, he quickly asked her to join Guerilla Toss and they played their first show together a week later at the infamous Death By Audio in Brooklyn, NY.
The next two years were spent touring relentlessly throughout the underground DIY circuits in the US, Canada and Europe, playing house shows, warehouses, art spaces, and (literally) a pigsty in southern Spain. During this time they released a slew of tapes, records and EP’s, label hopping around underground staples like Feeding Tube Records, John Zorn’s Tzadik, and the Vermont based NNA Tapes. In 2015, Guerilla Toss signed to James Murphy’s (LCD Soundsystem) DFA Records and relocated to Brooklyn to focus anew on making records. The DFA years proved to be an inspiring time for the band and marked a significant shift in the ensemble’s sound and attitude. A-tonal hardcore elements were replaced by a more psychedelic and harmonic approach. Moshing crowds became dancing ones as the live show evolved. GT released Eraser Stargazer (2016) and GT Ultra (2017) on DFA, both of which were met with significant critical acclaim, while barely scraping the surface of anything remotely mainstream…further establishing GT as a cult act. But it was during this period that things took a turn for the worst: Carlson’s years of substance abuse culminated in a near-death experience, heart surgery, and a month and a half stay in Brooklyn hospital.
“It was very intense. Had I not had Medicaid I would have been completely fucked. I’ve never had money - I grew up poor - with a single mother in sketchy neighborhoods living paycheck to paycheck - sometimes one never came. We lived in motels and run-down homes until we got kicked out, never staying in the same place for very long. My father died suddenly and unexpectedly when I was a teenager. As a child, I never had financial help and usually held down multiple jobs while still attending school. At the time of my surgery, my income was low enough that I qualified for full coverage of all medical expenses, including a six-week stay in the
hospital. My muscles were gone and I had to re-learn how to walk. Even simple tasks made me
exhausted, but I have since greatly recovered.”
In late 2017, Kassie cleaned up for good and the band returned to the studio to record “Twisted Crystal,” their third album for DFA. After it’s release in September 2018, GT hit the road in the US and Europe with more confidence and vibrancy than ever before. With their expansive repertoire, and set lists that cover each era of the band and change from night to night, you never
quite know what you might get from a GT show.
“It’s crazy how fast it all came back once I stopped using - I didn’t expect my friends to be so forgiving, but things are back in full swing and have never been better. So many things keep me from going back to that dark place. But most of all it’s the music, being creative and getting to perform. I live a truly interesting life. Breaking the cycle of addiction is more than just stopping. It’s more about fixing your environment, getting deep into your brain and figuring out what creates that thick dark cloud of depression.”
And then there was last year’s Guerilla Toss EP, What Would The Odd Do?; a further exploration into new territories, while still remaining true to their fringe sound. A portion of the proceeds from that album went to the Harlem Harm Reduction Clinic, in an attempt to further our reach in the opiate crisis battle.
All of which brings us to their 7” single “Human Girl” out now on Sub Pop Records! If someone managed to invent a perpetual motion dance machine it would probably sound like this. It’s an unstoppable bop of a track that’s paired with “Own Zone” it’s equally danceable motorik b-side.
Kassie Carlson is a true poet of punk, the voice of an unheard generation. Few people have been through what she has…and making it out alive is just the beginning. With her band of musical misfits, Guerilla Toss is an unstoppable force of nature. Like all great and
challenging art, their message is abstract, yet decipherable. And once the listener cracks the code, they’ll be immersed in a uniquely familiar world of wonder and excitement. What will unite us more than to celebrate the absurd and question what we’ve been told is obvious? Let GT be just one of the many songs among the soundtrack of existential infinity and divine recovery.