Shagg Carpet: New Villains of Richmond Post Punk


Stopping in before a pre-tour practice, I talked with Richmond hotshots Shagg Carpet. The group formed in the sunny college days of 2022 when high school friends Laurel (guitar), Austyn (keys), and Brett (drums) saw Rook (vocals and mysterious masked figure) lounging in the park and staring into the sun. “I don’t really know how it happened,” Rook admits, but eventually, they were approached to play bass. After rotating members, the group finally locked into “phase 2,” with the current lineup and instrumentation. “From ashes we rose,” throws out Brett with a confident smile. When asked how phase 2 feels, they all erupt in a chorus of excitement. The group is optimized and making any “music of any kind” that will excite them.

I’m meeting them in Peppermint Haus (iconic to the local college rock scene), where three out of the four reside. It’s here that they recorded their debut album BUGGED, which has been extremely well received and has only invigorated the group. They have since put out a live record on Bandcamp and, more recently, a single featuring the singer of Tentative Decisions, Jack Sample. These releases continue to put them in an increasingly paramount position in the local circuit. Their process seems completely streamlined. “If I have an idea, I just have to go right upstairs,” Laurel explains. This dynamic has tuned the group like a clock; at this point, “[they] get away with just jamming on stage,” they add. This has provided a closeness that other bands dream about. “It’s more fun on stage now,” says Austyn, as he delves into the group’s ability to not only play musically off of one another but also theatrically. The system they have crafted oils the machine that is Shagg Carpet. BUGGED was made after an explosion of freedom, where they were pumping out multiple songs a day. The result: an anthem-packed masterpiece.

The album showcased the group’s ability to balance the hard reality of real-world issues such as being broke and paranoia while maintaining youthfulness. Rook, the primary lyricist, states the origin of it all: “growing up on the internet gaining a sort of nihilistic output… nothing ever mattered, it’s nothing new… you can’t let it get you down.” From this perspective, BUGGED was born. From here, each song began to take shape with its own twists and characters. They explain that “writing from the perspective of a character… you can explore a lot of emotions you relate to, but maybe you don’t feel to the same extent from the perspective you write from,” which allows the band to play into the grandiose and theatrics of their sound and style. Despite the eloquence of their explanation, they assure me that it is not calculated and that the songs came together rather naturally.

Shagg Carpet has a future. Each member of the group has started compiling influences for their next project. The group provides movies, bands, and ideas that are providing inspiration, as well as the simple fact that they “are getting tired of [their] old stuff” and are ready for something new. Rook monologues about the vision the group is forming: “We want to have an end-of-the-world type feel… and get more grand with our next big project.” If BUGGED was Ted Kazcinsky, their next album would be Mad Max.

With the sonic car filled with inspired gasoline, the band is about to set out on a five-date tour with another hardworking Richmond band, Tentative Decisions. “It’s nice to do it with friends,” Brett chimes. The two bands started at a similar time and have helped propel one another forward. “Their music actually caught my ear enough to really go… oh shit,” Rook explains as the admiration for the ever-exciting post-punk band is discussed. The duo has consistently played together and makes up an exciting, dynamic, and unmissable show. They start off the tour in Philadelphia on the 14th of June and snake their way up to Windsor, Connecticut, and Boston, Massachusetts before looping back down to Charlottesville, Virginia, finally ending with a home show in Richmond.

Shagg Carpet by Griffin Smalley_RVA Magazine 2024
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Addressing the post-tour future, they explain that the fans can only expect better shows, more music, and a variety of other projects. Movies, animations, and videos are also all discussed. “We have so many ideas that we say randomly, but really who knows” what will come out of a tour-matured Shagg Carpet. The group rapid-fires album atmospheres they plan on incorporating eventually, but really, “[they] don’t know what it will be, but it will be different.”

Never willing to slow down, the band ends the session with two exciting developments outside of the band that are growing their creativity for their next band project. Rook has taken a number of roles in the production of Cosmo, a film premiering at the Byrd Theatre on July 6th. They hope to release the soundtrack that they were a part of through the band’s label. M.E.C. Recs is their other development. “A subsidiary of the military entertainment complex,” the label is another branch of the band’s limitless potential and unending hard work. Make sure to follow their social media for details on the tour, updates on new material, and all future Shagg Carpet projects.

Griffin Smalley

Griffin Smalley

My name is Griffin Strummer Smalley and naturally with that name I am a massive music fan. Primarily you can find me fronting local punk band Artschool! As a fresh 21 year old I am currently cutting my teeth in music, writing, and painting. Keep on living!

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