Carissa Johnson & the Cure-Alls spread their rock wings on ‘After All’



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In one of our many posts about Carissa Johnson over the years, we always felt that her music reflected a certain sense of movement, a cool rebelliousness that wasn’t tethered to any one certain place or inspiration, a feeling of pride and power, but also one of flight and restlessness that knew something better was possibly just over the horizon. We knew that movement would take her places. It’s kept her on tour, hustling a DIY ethos across the country, and, for the moment, landing in Los Angeles.

In Carissa Johnson & the Cure-Alls’ new single “After All,” featured on this year’s Talk Talk Talk LP, the songwriter touches on these themes; it’s an ode to following one’s heart and defeating the odds that are inevitably stacked against the ambitious. With such a strong voice in the song’s lyrics, the video eases up a bit, showing off what the band does best: Rocking out, having fun, and rolling around the streets of Cambridge and Boston.

“This one was more laid back than the others as far as the story-line goes, but ultimately we wanted to show that our ‘heart’ in the lyrics is ourselves and where we’re from,” Johnson tells Vanyaland. “When I wrote the song I was feeling really cast out and confused. I didn’t really feel like I had anything to rely on besides myself and the music. When I pitched it to the band I found out we were all somewhat feeling that way and the song represented more than just how I felt, but what we were all going through collectively.”

A few months after Johnson won the 2017 Rock And Roll Rumble, she decided to relocate to Los Angeles while Cure-Alls drummer Nick Hall went to Washington. They made the move rather quietly, as the Cure-Alls’ tour schedule proved they were out on the road most of the year, anyway. It was time for new adventures, to connect with the horizon.

“Boston’s always been my home and it felt like such a risk to leave it all behind in a sense and start from scratch,” she says. “This song in a way pushed me to go do what I’ve been wanting to and not wait around for someone to give me the ‘Ok.’ I’ve been on the road touring for most of 2017 and the start of 2018, and in a way felt very removed from stuff back home, because I literally removed myself from it all. This whole new album Talk Talk Talk is pretty much a documentation of that feeling — wanting to run, but wanting to stay, and kind of doing both at the same time. This song in particular to me is the most spot-on regarding that feeling. The band is still Boston-based but we have since relocated individually, and we decided not to make a big announcement about it since we’ll still be coming back to play shows as we’ve been doing and we’re not stopping anytime soon!”

The first of those shows is an August 3 gig at The Middle East Upstairs with The Life Electric, Psychic Dog, and The Appleyards. “There’s something really special about coming home after being away for so long, even if it’s just a couple of months,” Johnson says. “We want to make all of our shows in Boston really special, because our friends and fans here have really made it special for us.”