Currents, an Interview Series with Brian Alan Ellis (Episode 60: Tobias Carroll)

Tobias Carroll

TOBIAS CARROLL is the author of Political Sign (Bloomsbury, 2020), Transitory (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016), and Reel (Rare Bird, 2016). He is the managing editor of Vol.1 Brooklyn, and writes Words Without Borders’ Watchlist column. His writing has been published by Tin House, Rolling Stone, Hazlitt, The Scofield, Bookforum, and more. He has taught writing courses for LitReactor and Catapult.

My current favorite thing to read is: “weird fiction.” I’ve been thinking a lot about Gary Budden’s concept of “landscape punk,” which I think might most accurately describe what I’ve been writing, especially for the last few years… Something I’ve tried to get better at is changing up what I read; trying to read, say, two very dense books in a row can make my brain freeze up, while heading into pulpier territory between the two can make the whole experience a lot more enjoyable.

My current favorite things to watch are: movies. Which is an odd thing to say, but: I feel like with the advent of streaming, it’s gotten a lot easier to binge-watch different series. Trouble is, I am very prone to binge-watching and “oh, just one more episode,” which can sometimes make it difficult to get work done. I don’t quite know when I got out of the habit of watching movies en masse, though I suspect it was probably around the time the excellent video store down the block from me closed a few years ago. But I’ve been finding it a lot more rewarding to sit down, watch something complete in and of itself, and move on to the next thing. And, for anyone who’s curious, I have a Letterboxd account.

My current favorite thing to listen to is: …I started driving a lot more during the pandemic, which means I’m listening to a lot more metal records. The new Liturgy album is fantastic, in my humble opinion, and I’ve also been delving into Baroness’s back catalog. And I’ve also been getting very into the UK label On-U Sound, which abounds with weird and compelling dub and postpunk, which—not coincidentally—is also terrific writing music.

My current state of mind is: a mess. Still processing the pandemic and the evolution of the pandemic. That processing has led to a lot of depression, which has made it harder to get creative work done. A lot of my coping and productivity mechanisms aren’t too feasible right now, which is especially frustrating.

My current chemical romance involves: caffeine, more than anything else. I was taking medication for a foot issue for the first half of 2019 on which I couldn’t drink alcohol, and I think that may have prevented me from reacting to the onset of the pandemic by drinking far too much during 2019. Which is not to say that I haven’t drunk during the pandemic; it’s more that moderation has been involved. (Yay, moderation.) Though to qualify that, I have been trying out a lot of Irish whiskeys lately. The Sexton is a particular favorite.

My current words of wisdom are: “Don’t be a dick.” I used to play in a street hockey league where that was the number one rule, and it seems like a pretty solid way of moving through life.

My current mode of transportation involves: my feet, public transit, and a Honda Fit.

My current favorite fast food item is: [a] Chipotle sofritas bowl. When Duncan Barlow and I toured in 2017, he got me into sofritas, and I’ve been a fan ever since. I like it with hot sauce, sour cream, and cheese.

My current workout routine consists of: …normally it would involve a treadmill, a stationary bike, and resistance bands, but I’m recuperating from hernia surgery as I write this and so I haven’t been doing much of anything while I heal up. There is an open wound on my stomach. It’s weird, and very Cronenberg.

My current regrettable decision involves: a fateful purchase of “indulgent” trail mix at a big box store in Nebraska in the summer of 2019. There were repercussions, oh yes.

My current hopes and dreams are: [to] finish a draft of this novel in progress and find a home for it. And maybe find a home for my weird Destroyer-inspired novella as well. 

My current hobbies include: obsessively refreshing Tottenham Hotspur Twitter and maybe learning German.


Tobias Carroll is online at

Brian Alan Ellis runs House of Vlad Press, and is the author of several books, including Sad Laughter (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2018). His writing has appeared at Juked, Hobart, Fanzine, Monkeybicycle, Electric Literature, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Funhouse, Heavy Feather Review, and Yes Poetry, among other places. He lives in Florida.

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