Warped Tour is an event like no other. Filled with stages big and small, the music festival travels the country every summer, exposing music fans of all ages to a unique sampling of bands from hardcore to pop. Within the festival sits a stage that doesn’t get near enough attention. The Kevin Says stage doesn’t draw the largest crowds and the bands playing aren’t the most well known, but they are the future of Warped Tour—whether they realize it or not.
Warped newcomers Carousel Kings are part of this new generation of trailblazing bands coming up in the music scene. Hailing from Pennsylvania, the four-piece band is no stranger to Warped, with their members growing up as attendees and playing one or two dates on the Ernie Ball stage during previous years.
“The Warped Tour community was the craziest and coolest and most inspiring family I’ve ever been around,” says guitarist Carmen Carangi. “Being able to do that every day, fully immersed in the vibe, was just really a dream come true.”
Carousel Kings’ love and support of Warped comes from years and years of attending the festival as fans and eventually landing a spot in the lineup. If it weren’t for a particular moment years ago at Warped Tour, Carangi might not have pursued a career in music.
“I remember seeing A Day To Remember and there was a wall of death. I laid down in the middle of the wall of death and got trampled,” he recalls. “It was somewhere in that moment that I realized I wanted to be in music and that kind of environment for the rest of my life.”
After deciding that a degree in mechanical engineering from Temple University was not an artistically satisfying pursuit, Carangi joined Carousel Kings, filling a void left by members who departed from the band after the release of their debut album, A Slice Of Heaven. His wall-of-death-induced epiphany came true, and Carangi jumped right into the band as if he had always been a part of the routine, trading in his textbooks for tour itineraries. This smooth transition came in part because of his love and support of the band prior to becoming a member. “I was the No. 1 fanboy. I would go to all the shows,” Carangi says, laughing.
While the band places themselves in the pop-punk category, they are heavily influenced by the metal scene in Pennsylvania, which gave rise to bands like Texas In July and August Burns Red. The influence of these bands can be heard in Carousel Kings’ latest release, Polarity, which features a deluxe edition of 2014’s Unity as well as an acoustic album called Duality. It’s a 30-song special release that showcases the spectrum of Carousel Kings’ musical talent.
“It’s cool to be this pop-punk band that flirts with danger,” Carangi says. “We’ve got a good thing going, and we’re very grateful for it.” S
A version of this piece was published in Substream #48.