A Chat with Corral

K.P. Peters | March 2017

Recently, I sat down with two-thirds of Corral, a young alternative band, to talk about their upcoming album, Leche, tattoos, and their story so far. It would have been the full band, but unfortunately, drummer JP was busy drunkenly rapping with a homeless man on the streets of Chicago. Regardless, lead singer/guitarist Danny Kulaski and bassist Michael Thomas had a lot to say. You can check out the interview below, photos on our photography page, and a private performance on our YouTube channel. Corral can be found on Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, and any social media (@corraltheband).

You guys worked together before in a band called Captain Hates the Sea. Talk about the difference between that project and Corral.
D: Night and day.
M: We all have different experiences with that band because Danny was an original member. I joined when the bass player moved because my cousin, Joe, was in the band. That’s how me and Danny met. For me it was like “we just need a bass player, you just need to show up.” So that’s what my investment was, and my intention was just to have fun. And it was very fun, but I wasn’t very involved in the writing process.
D: It was very different for me. I was the youngest member of the group. We started it when I was 17. It was like a screamo/electronica band, riding that whole wave. It was a lot of fun, but it was very serious. Our goal was to expand and be a touring group. With that came a lot of self imposed pressure. After working on that for a while, I just kind of started growing out of it. We broke off, and I started working on these songs that would eventually become Corral in total opposition of that. We used to play to a click track with in-ear monitors and all these synced up synthesizers, and there were like 6 of us. There were a lot of schedules to maintain and a lot of technical things that could go wrong, so with Corral, we cut the size of the band in half, no click tracks, totally raw, more free form, rough around the edges type of feel. Not to say that I didn’t love playing in that band-- it’s all of my best friends, but we were young trying to figure it out.

You guys have been working together for 7 years, that’s crazy. Can you comment on the progression you have gone through as a band?
M: Danny pretty much started Corral while we were still in the Captain, so he’s the seed. Alex Rodriguez was like the first water to hit the seed. That early on stuff is a lot more lo-fi, both how we recorded it and how it sounded.
D: It was more invested in emo rock sensibilities. Alex has a very particular rolling melody kind of feel. I think that it’s shifted gears into a more experimental rock place rather than an emo rock, but still a part of that tradition.
M: You have a box you create. At a certain point, you are pushing that box to see how far you can go, but you need to go the other way and start honing in on it. I think now we’re honing in on a heavier sound, a little bit more of an aggressive sound but still coming from that emo place.
D: Our whole thing is about dynamics, simplicity, and rhythms. I listen to mostly hip-hop music to be honest, but I grew up listening to a bunch of other stuff. So it’s just bringing that flavor into what we’re doing.

Your last release was called Rain Dance. What was your favorite track to perform off of that album?
M: I think mine is Trouble because that was the first song where I was like, “hey, look, I can just do this bass line.” And it’s like a minute and a half, and I think that’s awesome.
D: Probably “Rain Dance” because it’s really hard. When we really hit it I’m like fuck yeah. It’s really satisfying.

What song means the most to you from that album?
M: Mine is “Bad News.” That one just really hits the feels.
D: “Bad News” was really just embarrassingly honest for me. A couple of the songs off that album are pretty directly about a few people. They expressed discontent with that.
M: I think “Bad News” is just relatable. I’ll always be going through life wanting to talk to Danny about writing a song about what I’m feeling, then he’ll come and say he’s got a new song. It’s like he can vocalize my thoughts without even having those conversations. The last two records have just been lining up with my life perfectly.

This spring, you guys are set to release Leche. That’s very exciting. How would you describe this new album?
D: Leche is definitely a growth point for Corral. I like it because it feels like a cohesive musical thought. It definitely was a collision of two periods of Corral. It was recorded in two parts, like the first five songs and the second five songs.
M: I think it’s the best version of Corral yet, and I’ve loved all the previous versions of it.
D: It’s a harder version of Corral. It’s a little less ‘sing-songy.’ I often describe Corral, and I would describe Leche more specifically, as upset. It’s not mad, it’s not sad, we aren’t screaming we are kind of yelling; it’s upset.

What’s your favorite song on Leche?
D: It changes like everyday. Probably “Slang,” it’s a really hard rocking, upbeat, choppy song. It’s kind of fun because it has a very american rock feel in the choruses but a very british feel in the verses. And I like the lyrics as well, especially at the end.
M: I think “Slang” is mine too. It’s just catchy, it just grooves. The verse just has this really good groove to it. But I mean I’m pumped on all of them.

Art and music tend to go together? I see you guys try to do that with tattoos. Can you talk about the tattoos you have?
M: I think I stopped counting at 15 or 20 because I knew what my intentions were, to cover myself in them. My right arm (The black and grey arm) is linked up to family members and loved ones, and my colored arm is basically things that I like.
D: Well your back is all Japanese
M: Yeah, my back is all Japanese and my chest is American traditional. I feel like there is a pretty good connection between the tattoo world and the music world.
D: JP, who isn’t here right now, he’s covered in all sorts of wonderful tattoos. Most of his work is done by Josh over by Mayday. I go to Miles at Great Lakes. I just have a couple. Actually, I just made an appointment for a third. I’m getting an apple on a woman’s head, blindfolded.

You guys are really great guys, you must have some funny stories. 
D: We’re pretty juvenile. We are just idiots, lots of talking about dicks.
M: Haha, yeah lots of dick jokes.
D: Michael throws up a lot after we play.
M: I’ve gotten better about it.
D: He’ll just rock the fuck out and then be talking and be all “ughh,” and then keep talking. He’s a very physically expressive bass player.