Tuesday, July 25, 2017

10 Questions with Space Cushion

By Sean Claes
Space Cushion has been at the high-octane rock and punk game as a group for just over 5 years. Band members Scotty “MC” Carlin, Bill Corley and Bret Byron are all veterans of the Austin music scene in their own right and knew each other from previous bands (Bag, OddJob, Monkeywench) so it was natural for them to come together.

They’ve released a three-song EP and are looking at finishing out the year with the release of a full-length album to release in early 2018.

INsite caught wind of the band playing an awesome show coming up at Texas Mist on Saturday 7/29 with Wild Tinderbox, Darkness:Ending, Chasing After Alice and Dharma Kings, so we decided to take a chance to see if Space Cushion was interested in answering a few questions… ten, in fact.

Photo: Photography By Maurice (RIP)

10 Questions with Scotty MC from Space Cushion

Sean Claes: How did Space Cushion form?
Scotty “MC” Carlin: Between going back to school, finishing school, moving to Houston and then back to Austin again, I’d been out of the scene for a few years. I reconnected with a number of musician friends and made some new ones and really missed performing.

In late 2011, I decided I wanted back in but on my own terms. I’d always been a sideman as a bassist but I decided to go the “Sting” route and be the bassist and lead vocalist. My friend and supreme bad-ass Barry Welch jumped on board to play drums and we recorded a rough demo at his home studio with me on guitar, bass, and vocal while he did drums and backing vocals.

After a few months, I hooked up with an old guitar player friend who recently moved back to Austin that I had played with before. I told him about Space Cushion and he jumped right in. That man was Bill Corley.

Claes: So, after 5 years playing as a band, what has been your best gig?
Carlin: Best? Hard to say. I’d have to say my favorites have been our annual December Birthday Bash shows. We have a ton of bands, lots of surprises and special guests - it’s always one hell of a party!

Claes: The name is pretty great. I was trying to figure out how you came up with it and google told me a space cushion was “certain amount of distance you keep between you and the car in front of you that allows you to easily maneuver in any condition.” How’d you arrive at the name?
Carlin: In another life I’d be an astronaut/race car driver/rock star. So yes, the definition  above definitely plays into the name and also the idea of traveling through space plays a part.

It also happens to have matching initials with my name (HA!) I came up with it one day while trying to come up with a band name for my Guitar Hero band and it’s always stuck with me.

I liken our sound to that of a high-octane sports car so it fits the theme of the band well, too.

Claes: High-octane sports car is one way to describe your music, if I was pressed, I’d say if the Sex Pistols and KISS hung out backstage, got debaucherous and made a musical baby, I’d imagine it would sound like Space Cushion.
Carlin: First of all, that is extremely flattering because those are two of my favorite all-time bands! I’m influenced by almost everything I listen to but I definitely gravitate toward heavier sounds.

As a kid, I worshipped KISS which led me to other rock bands like AC/DC, Scorpions, Mötley Crüe, and Van Halen to name a few. In my teen years I began skateboarding and in that scene I was exposed to a lot of punk rock such as the Sex Pistols, Ramones, Dead Kennedys, and 7 Seconds. I loved the energy and attitude of the music and I was getting tired of the cock-rock mentality of many of the bands that were crowding MTV and radio.

And then of course, there is the influence of my parents who listened to a lot of 60s and 70s material such as The Beatles, Roy Orbison, Bob Seger, and Billy Joel. I love loud and aggressive music but also am just as happy listening to melodic pop with killer harmonies.

Claes: Who writes Space Cushions songs?
Carlin: I write all the original material but I definitely encourage other ideas to help shape my songs. I always say written by Scotty, produced by Barry Welch and Space Cushion. I’m always open to cool ideas on guitar from Bill since I’m not much of a guitar player and I also have spaces in some of the songs where I tell Bill, “just fill that part with whatever you can come up with” because I know it will be brilliant! I also give Bret a lot of leeway with his drum parts.

I have basic ideas about the beat and the feel I want but he is such a solid and knowledgeable drummer that I let him fill the spaces and do what he does best. My songs have gone to places I never thought possible and I could not have done it without these guys!

Claes: Are you working on new material?
Carlin: I have several songs and ideas in “the vault” and have been working them out on my own. I’ve shown a couple of them to the guys and when we have some time, we’ll work on them together and flesh them out. We hope to have at least three to four more originals ready to go by the end of the year for the album and I think we can reach that goal pretty easily. I’m hoping to have at least one new one ready for our December Birthday Bash!

Claes: You’re stage show is about a 50/50 blend of originals and covers. I’ve seen covers from Bon Jovi to Ramones to Judas Priest. Pretty eclectic. How do you choose them?
Carlin: Some of them were covers I’ve been wanting to do for years but never had the opportunity. A couple of them are songs that Bill did with another band that he brought in and he sings them which is great because it gives me a quick vocal break.

A couple of them were happy accidents. For example, “Wanted Dead or Alive” came about when we were at practice one night. We were in between songs and Bill just started playing the opening riff for fun. I started singing along with it and we were like “This is actually sounding good!” We got a couple of members of Stonekracker to play it with us and it’s gone over great!

As I said, I love all kinds of music and I like keeping things fresh in our set as much as possible. I prefer to do songs that I like and that I think an audience will respond to as well. I like to keep things somewhat unpredictable so you get a little something different with each show.

The three members of Space Cushion are veterans of the Austin music scene. Tell me about some of the other projects y’all have been a part.
Carlin: I played with both Bill and Bret in the late 90s with a band called Oddjob. Previous to that I played in a couple of short-lived projects and recorded some solo material.

After Oddjob, I played with Bag (with the previously mentioned Barry Welch) for about three years and then with a group called Bag100 with Ryan and Christine from 100 Days. We started out as an acoustic group but then decided to plug in a get loud. Christine had already scored a drummer and that’s how I got to know the mighty Ben Mills.

Bill was in a group called Moonstone and also a band called Monkeywench in the mid to late 90s. He joined Oddjob in 1998 and Bret was replaced with another drummer. After relocating to Boston he joined a group called Breathing the Void for a number of years.

After Oddjob, Bret played with Veronika and Relative Circle before departing to Atlanta and then living in Washington DC for making his way back to Austin a few years ago.

We reconnected and after Barry left Space Cushion, we had a drummer named Sean who was with us about a year before he left for San Antonio. Bret filled in for us on a few songs and a couple of shows and became a permanent member soon after that.

Claes: You’ve got a big show coming up at Texas Mist on Saturday 7/29 with Wild Tinderbox, Darkness:Ending, Chasing After Alice and Dharma Kings. How’d that line up form and what are you looking forward to?
Carlin: I was looking for a summer show and began talking to Jim Daeng Ostrander  from Texas Mist. I asked him if wanted me to recruit some bands to fill out the bill and he suggested a couple of his favorites: Chasing After Alice and Darkness; Ending.

I’ve known Brandon Gibbs for a long time and I knew Darkness; Ending pretty well; we’ve even played shows together before. Wild TInderbox I’d seen once before and I was really impressed by them and I thought our bands would work well together on a bill.

I was looking for a headliner and Jim told me his #1 band right now was Chasing After Alice who are pretty incredible. I’d seen and gotten to know them through Stonekracker and Ear Splitting Media. I put the word out and they agreed.

Now, Dharma Kings was another happy accident. I had the line-up all set and a few weeks later I started the promotion. I posted the show on the Texas Mist Facebook page and David Komie made a comment that the show needed one more band. I said if you want to take the late late spot, it’s yours and they signed up.

We are looking forward to a night of amazing rock and roll. Every band on this bill kick serious ass and we are going to throw down. Rumor has it there may be a place to cool down if it gets too hot so bring your swim trunks.

Claes: Legend has it that you have a pair of leather pants that was bought in 2001 while you were in BAG. What is the story behind them and are we going to see them Saturday?  
Carlin: Ah, the famous leather pants...we had a music publisher that was interested in sponsoring us and trying to get us out there so she helped us out with a PA system, a photo shoot and a clothing budget of $100 each so we’d look better for our photos and for stage wear. I had a number of great shirts but was lacking in the trouser department. I’d always wanted some leather jeans for motorcycle riding and I thought they’d be great rock star pants as well.

They’ve now become part of my “Sasha Fierce” legend. And yes, you will see them Saturday! I don’t care if it’s 10 degrees or 100 degrees, there will be leather!

Check out Space Cushion online at You can also download or stream their music for free at and sign up for alerts of when they’re playing near at

Also, Space Cushion was on the CobraCast Podcast earlier this month. Here's a link to their interview: link

And.. of course, we'll see you 7/29 at Texas Mist. As Carlin himself said: "We love and appreciate all the support we’ve gotten but I also want people to remember that there is no better support in the world than coming out to a live show so get out there."

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. This is week 29 in his "52 Weeks of Austin Musician Interview" series. See the others here: 52 Week Project

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