Smile Politely

Decadents celebrate a decade in Champaign with new album and release party

Black and white photo of 3 members of Decadents performing onstage. Two are standing at microphones and playing guitars. The third is seated at a drum set behind them.
Decadents on Facebook

What happens when three guys armed with a smattering of musical know-how, a shared passion for rock, and a determination to make some noise get together? In the case of local indie band Decadents, the result is a decade-long journey that has produced five albums, each more refined and reflective than the last.

The Decadents, originally formed in 2010 by Mike Carpenter, is a testament to the resilience of our local music scene. Beginning as a casual jam between college friends, the band has weathered member changes, scheduling conflicts, and the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to create a sound that is uniquely their own.

As the band gears up for the release of their new album, Lost in Translation, Carpenter reflects on the road that led them here. From emulating their early influences to finding their own unique sound, the band’s evolution mirrors the journey of many artists and is a testament to the power of passion, persistence, and a good old jam session with friends.

The journey of Decadents began around 2013, with the addition of Ben to the drum set, a change that brought a new dynamic to the group. Like any great indie rock story, their breakthrough moment happened on a local stage, Cowboy Monkey (yes, they used to have music!), a place they considered their home venue. Carpenter fondly remembers a post-gig conversation where he discovered that band members were doing things their way, finding the groove naturally. It was a moment of revelation for him, one that marked the band truly clicking and gelling together.

Now comprised of Carpenter, Mike Solomon (who replaced the bass player in 2011), and drummer Ben Donald (who joined in 2012), the Decadents is a robust threesome with a tight, streamlined approach to music-making. As Carpenter puts it, “We’re just finding it easier to have the time to get together and practice and get the time together to gig and we’re focusing on local gigs.”

This is a photo of a person working on a large computer or server. The person’s face is blurred for privacy. They are wearing a light blue shirt and gray pants, and are kneeling on the floor while working on the computer with their hands. The computer is large and has many wires and cables coming out of it. The background is a blue-green color, and there are other computer or server racks visible in the background. At the bottom of the image, the text “DECADENTS Lost in Translation” is written in white.
Decadents – Lost in Translation

One of the standout elements of the Decadents’ journey is the authenticity and camaraderie that exists within the band. Even as their sound has evolved and their influences have diversified, the band remains committed to equality and balance among its members. “We are three equal partners,” Carpenter notes, emphasizing the mutual respect and collaboration at the heart of their process.

The Decadents’ music has evolved from its original live-and-raw ethos to a more layered, textured sonic landscape that mirrors the maturity of its members. The band’s newest album is their fifth and is a finely-honed balance between a well-produced studio sound and the lively, vibrant energy of their live performances. The evolution of the Decadents’ sound has been driven not only by the group’s maturation but also by the influences of the band’s members. Carpenter recalls Zeppelin as a major inspiration, alongside the gritty energy of bands like Queens of the Stone Age. Despite these influences, Decadents’ sound is definitively their own. Carpenter describes their latest release as an exciting blend of “layered studio track versus live where it’s just the three of us and no embellishments.”

With the upcoming album, the band has managed to encapsulate their evolution in sound. They’ve experimented with the idea of creating space between notes, bringing an unexpected depth and dynamism to their tracks. From the first track, “Lost in Translation”, to the last, “Just Another Miscommunication”, the album plays with rhythm and space, resulting in a captivating collection of tracks. Carpenter points out that the real power of music lies in those moments of silence, of breath, which allow the melody to stand out even more vibrantly. They’ve maintained this philosophy throughout the album, crafting a sound that’s unmistakably theirs. The band’s collaborative songwriting process, primarily helmed by Carpenter, allows each band member to contribute their individual flair. The result? An album that’s not only an accurate reflection of their shared musical journey, but also a testament to their unique individual inputs.


The album isn’t a concept album, but a common thread runs through it: the conundrum of communication in the modern world. Carpenter articulates how in a time where communication methods have multiplied, our ability to convey meaning and feeling has paradoxically diminished. Add to this the universal experience of playing different roles in life and constantly adapting to an overstimulating environment, and you have the thematic core of the album.

Lost in Translation (available this Friday on all streaming platforms including Bandcamp) promises an exciting collection of tracks that illustrate the band’s evolution and their commitment to creating a cohesive musical experience for their audience. “If there was an amalgamation of all the things that were maybe cornerstones of our sound. I think they show up somewhere in this album,” says Carpenter. “It feels really cohesive in a way that I don’t think we pulled off since Elegantly Wasted.” This notion of ‘cohesion’ extends beyond the album’s sonic qualities. Carpenter details a deliberate structuring and pacing of the album, intending it to be a seamless journey that can loop back to the beginning without losing its essence. It’s clear that a lot of thought went into this album, and it’s not just a collection of songs, but a complete musical narrative.

Carpenter has an infectious reverence for the music world. I mentioned bands and music that have been profoundly significant to me, and that kicked off a walk down memory lane. We touched on everything from reminiscing about seeing The Struts play live (we both have) to the excitement of a fresh release from The Hives. One of the most captivating parts of our conversation was a wild anecdote from Carpenter’s past, a moment I was there to witness and record before I even knew who Decadents were. Picture this: Carpenter is at a packed Foo Fighters concert in 2017 at State Farm Center. The band calls him up on stage for knowing the lyrics to “Tom Sawyer” and guess what. Carpenter ends up on stage, living a dream by belting out the song to a frenzied crowd with Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters as his backing band!

Decadents are vibrant contributors to the Champaign-Urbana music scene. Their story is deeply entwined with our community. Carpenter himself is a townie. He’s been attending shows here, sharing moments with fellow music fans, and contributing to our unique vibe with his passion and talent. I asked Carpenter about his thoughts on the music scene here in C-U. He praises venues like the Rose Bowl Tavern for treating artists with respect and providing a comfortable environment for performances, a key ingredient to the success of the local music scene. In his view, the local scene needs more venues that champion varied lineups and treat musicians well. Carpenter was around when this area was buzzing with live performances from varied artists, and he believes it will return to its pre-Covid glory someday soon. 

The release show for Decadents’ new album is set to take place at the same Rose Bowl Tavern. Don’t miss the chance to support local music and perhaps grab a physical copy of the new album, intriguingly distributed on cassette-shaped USB drives. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Decadents or just looking to explore the local indie rock scene, this album promises a robust rock experience, and the show this Saturday will be a reminder of the significance of rock music to the music culture of our hometown.

Decadents Album Release Party
Rose Bowl Tavern
106 N Race St
F, August 11th, 8:30 p.m.
$15 suggested donation in the bucket

Music Editor

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