For the remaining original members of Caramel Carmela, it wasn't an easy decision to call it quits. After almost seven years as a band, Jack Roberts and Sha Gipson had weathered van breakdowns, geographical distance from other bandmates and a seemingly constant stream of fill-in members. The band's hybrid of electronic and post-hardcore easily found an audience in its hometown, something that translated nationally, too. In recent years, Caramel Carmela found kinship in out-of-state acts like The Animal In Me and Consider Me Dead. Touring together meant the Colorado band shared stages with these like-minded musicians while being able to get in front of new fans all over the country.
Despite success, Caramel Carmela in its current form had run its course — though the end of the group's life wasn't out of spite or lost love for the music it created. It just felt like it was time to say goodbye. The band will do so this Friday, December 18 at the Marquis Theater, the place where Caramel Carmela began.
"We were thinking about how we wanted the final show to go and we definitely wanted to do it at the Marquis. I used to work there and they helped us out a lot when we were first coming together. They helped us get on some bigger shows," says Gipson. "Shows we probably didn't deserve," Roberts adds with a laugh. "Soda Jerk definitely helped us, so when it came time to pick a venue for this show, we knew we had to do the Marquis because we felt like that's where a lot of things started for us." The band members share that they have nothing but love for the scene that birthed Caramel Carmela and hope to continue supporting the venues and musicians that helped them along the way.
That's also why the lineup for this farewell concert was also chosen with care — Tyler Glasgow, Kid Astronaut, The Coast Is Ours and Forty Fathoms are all friends and musicians that have been there along the way. "We just want to be able to thank everyone that was able to give us this opportunity to live our lives the way that we have over the last seven years as musicians," says Roberts.
Since 2009, Caramel Carmela has toured the country several times, acquired management and recorded music the band was really proud of. Roberts and Gipson made great connections, were getting offers for more tour opportunities and making music they loved. After a van breakdown earlier this year that almost cost them a tour, Caramel Carmela toughed it out and were able to share transportation with another band. But getting home to the reality that it was going to cost several thousand dollars to get the van back on the road was something they didn't think they could handle financially.
That, combined with the fact that all other members of Caramel Carmela now lived out of state, seemed to spell the end. Guitarist Kyle Browning moved to New York three years ago and while he was able to join in for some tours, there needed to be a fill-in guitarist any time Caramel Carmela wanted to play a local show. Cycling through five or six guitarists and four drummers in almost seven years proved too difficult to keep the band going. "It was feeling like two steps forward, one step back. Every time we have to audition new people and teach them the songs — it's exhausting," says Roberts.
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All current members will return to Denver for the last show later this week, which is exciting for Gipson and Roberts. Getting to be on stage together as a band means a lot to these musicians, who really came of age together during Caramel Carmela's time. From starting out playing youth church venues in Broomfield to landing at spot at SXSW, the musicians believe it's the community that made them who they are. Though this is the end for Caramel Carmela, Roberts says he's already got new music-minded plans in the works. Gipson, who is making a move to Dallas in the spring, hopes to continue playing, too.
In celebration of its last hurrah, Caramel Carmela is releasing this brand-new video for "You Can," from its 2014 release, Till Death Do Us Party. The collective energy of the band's live presence is captured in candid shots throughout. Roberts and Gipson are excited for what the future holds and genuinely thankful for a scene that has helped lift their music up. "We couldn't have done it without the support of the Denver music community," says Roberts. "I hope that we can continue to pass those feelings on, even if none of us never play in anything successful ever again — we just want to share our feelings of support for the entire Colorado music scene. That's what keeps it going."
Caramel Carmela's final show goes down this Friday, December 18, at the Marquis Theater, with Tyler Glasgow, Kid Astronaut, The Coast Is Ours and Forty Fathoms. Tickets are $10 t0 $12; the concert is all ages. For more information, visit the venue's website.