INTERVIEW: Casey (11/06/2017)

Since their inception back in 2014, the rise of Welsh melodic hardcore troupe Casey has been quite staggering and exceptional. In the space of those three years, the band have managed to self-release two short EPs, their debut full-length ‘Love Is Not Enough’ last year, and have recently been nominated for Best Breakthrough Band for the Heavy Music Awards.

Recently, the band have performed sets at this year’s Slam Dunk and Download festivals, and are also part of the Reading/Leeds Festival bill this August. With all this going on, and the anniversary of their album’s initial UK release fast approaching, we spoke with frontman Tom Weaver about the band’s humble beginnings, their album ‘Love Is Not Enough’, their recent festival appearances, his thoughts on love and modern day dating, and more.

DP!: Good day. How’s everything going in the Casey camp today?
T: Today the Casey camp is incredibly relieved; we played Download Festival yesterday, which we were all pretty apprehensive about, so to have surmounted that successfully has been a weight off of us.

DP!: In the grand scheme of things, you guys are still an incredibly new band. So, for all the newcomers out there, let’s start with a basic question. Why the name Casey for the band?
T: So, Casey comes from two places, personal to Liam and I respectively, as we were the first two members of the band. My reason is an ode to the album ‘Casey’, by the band The Rise of Science. It’s been one of my favourite albums for years, and it’s criminally underrated. Liam’s reason is a tribute to the late Hawthorne Heights guitarist, Casey Calvert. HH are one of Liam’s favourite bands, and it was just a fitting coincidence that we had the name in common.

DP!: You self-released two short EPs, ‘Haze’ and ‘Fade’, both back in 2015. Do you feel they helped you to understand how you wanted to build and portray the band that Casey would become and is today?
T: Pretty much everything we’ve produced as a band has been an organic progression. We didn’t set out with any particular sound in mind, and still don’t really have a concrete idea of how we’d like our music to progress. What they did help us understand though is how important our own investment and authenticity was; the feedback we received from the first two EPs was utterly overwhelming, and we determined almost immediately that anything below total commitment would be a disservice unto ourselves.

DP!: You then moved on to sign up with Hassle Records. How did the signing become to be? What made you want to settle with Hassle and feel that they were the right move for you over any other label interest you may have received?
T: After our tour with Capsize and ’68, we were approached by a number of labels; some that we held in high regard and others that we wrote off almost straight away. Hassle were actually one of the last to get in touch. We didn’t start speaking to them until we were already in the studio recording ‘Love Is Not Enough’, but they were the label who seemed to share our ethos and perspective. They were incredibly easy to deal with, and from the word go they were very enthusiastic about the band and wanted to be a part of what we were creating.

DP!: You dropped your debut album, ‘Love Is Not Enough’, back in September. Now that you’ve had a few months to reflect back on it, and time to see how its been received, are you proud to that record and what it has achieved for you?
T: Oh, absolutely! During its inception, its creation, and right through to the release, we always maintained that the album was created solely as a personal endeavour amongst ourselves. All we were really interested in was creating an album that the five of us were proud of; and we achieved that with ‘Love Is Not Enough’. Of course, we’re all thrilled with the reception that it’s had, from getting us featured in some of our favourite magazines right through to the Heavy Music Award nomination we’ve just picked up, but the primary goal was to be happy and comfortable in ourselves.

DP!: It’s managed to help you guys garner and build the foundation for a pretty die-hard (dare I say borderline) cult following over the past few months. How’ve you been finding the reception? Have you noticed a notable growth in your fanbase as a result?
T: The great thing about the release for us is that it’s been so staggered, which was by no means intentional, but it’s meant that at consistent intervals the album has been released to huge new demographics, which in turn has meant that we’ve been getting regular fresh feedback on it from all over the world. We’ve definitely noticed an increase in interaction on our socials, and we’ve been fortunate enough to pick up praise from some people in the industry that we really respect too. So, yeah, we definitely think the record has helped there.

DP!: What made you settle on ‘Love Is Not Enough’ for the title? Do you feel it encompasses the style and intent of the record appropriately and vividly?
T: It wasn’t a title that we went into the album with. When I was writing the lyrics to the song ‘Ceremony’ it was just a phrase that stuck with me. Then, as the writing for the rest of the album came together, it became more appropriate as the overarching theme of love became engrained in the album.

DP!: Thematically and lyrically across the record, and indeed your EPs, you focus heavily on solipsism, and topics like depression, and the idea of love and failed relationships. Were these difficult ideas to tap into when putting pen to paper?
T: Not particularly to be honest. I’ve tried a lot of traditional methods of dealing with depression; I’ve been prescribed various anti-depressants over the years and been in and out of CBT, but I found that the more honest I was in my lyricism, the more therapeutic it became. The most difficult bit was being comfortable in sharing that with the world, and I decided when Casey started that, providing it didn’t put anyone else’s reputation in jeopardy, I would be as honest as possible.

DP!: You base a lot of the songs and their respective subject matter largely on personal experience, helping to portray the sincerity and authenticity of the message. Does performing those song live and bringing those memories and feelings to the forefront take its toll?
T: There are good days and bad days with it I guess. For the most part, my perspective on past events has changed since writing the songs about them, but then there are shows where hindsight will take its toll and before or after the performance I’ll find myself in my head a lot more. It’s something that I’m learning to handle as we progress, everything is just a learning curve for us.

DP!: It goes without saying that the subject of love is one that is done time and time again within music and with lyrics. What would you say is the key factor in covering such a commonly approached subject without sounding like you’re rehashing sentiments and views?
T: I think being honest about your understanding of the subject matter is incredibly important. If I hadn’t been through a particularly rough relationship, or cultivated an unconventional idea of love through my relationship with my parents and immediate family, then I wouldn’t bother trying to write about it, because it would just play off as being insincere and probably naïve. Most of the lyricists that I respect the most either write very honestly about personal experiences that they’ve had, or are very good at using characters to demonstrate an interesting perspective that they wish to convey.

DP!: On the subject of love today and modern dating, there’s a lot of criticism – this generation is deemed as the most connected thanks to technology, but ironically the least connected when it comes to making real connections; everyone wants the best and they want it fast, and they’re sunk more into what’s on their phone screens and not what/who is in front of them. What’s your opinion on all of this?
T: Oddly enough I’ve recently removed myself largely from social media as I felt it served no real purpose, and because I just felt counterproductive staring at my phone all the time. I wasn’t using it as a tool to connect with friends or acquaintances, I was just talking aloud about myself to an audience of strangers, which if you remove the internet from the situation would be considered concerning. Intimacy aside, I definitely believe it breeds an incredibly self-critical image in young people; it’s easy to appear happy on the internet, but the level of perceived competition and disparity is a real issue.

As for dating, I’ve tried dating apps in the past and a few of the more popular websites too, and for me it produced nothing. Everything becomes a competition; you only choose your best selfies, you write about yourself in a good light and hope that the other person doesn’t mind that much when they find out that you’re perhaps not as perfect as you make out. It’s all incredibly calculated and deceptive. At the same time, between spending so long in a toxic relationship, and then being immersed into this predominantly digital world, I do find it difficult to express myself in a more traditional sense, and I have no idea how to talk to women, haha. So, I don’t really have much luck.

DP!: One of the tracks on the record, ‘Haze’, originally featured on your first EP of the same name, which you then re-worked and re-recorded for the full-length. What made you want to revive and reinvigorate this track in particular? Was the other track on the same EP, ‘Ghost’, ever considered?
T: ‘Haze’ was never actually released as a Casey track. We recorded and released it under the name Well Wisher, before that ended up falling by the wayside due to some other personal commitments I had, and a band in Manchester trying to hack our gmail for “stealing” their name. We decided to re-record it as we felt it deserved a more receptive audience; when we initially released it we were a brand new band, and it fell on deaf ears for the most part. We’ve toyed around with the idea of re-recording ‘Ghost’, but at the moment it’s not really fitting with the direction that we feel Casey is moving. We may eventually end up re-working it somehow, but for the time being it’s staying put.

DP!: You also had Michael McGough (Being As An Ocean/ex-The Elijah) make a feature on the song ‘Ceremony’. How did he become involved in the release?
T: Michael was involved with Casey before the band even got announced. At the time he was starting a management company, and he’d heard the songs we’d released under the name Well Wisher, so he got in touch and asked what we had planned for the band. From then on we developed a very close working relationship, and coincidentally as the band developed his personal circumstances took a turn which meant he became very emotionally invested too. We asked Michael to feature on the record because we knew his performance would be authentic, the content held a lot of meaning for him, and he was invested in the album.

DP!: You’ve recently appeared at this year’s Slam Dunk Festivals and Download, and you have Reading & Leeds Festival to look forward to at the end of the Summer. Any of these that you were or are most excited to be a part of?
T: I think each of them represent a different type of milestone, or appeal to us in a slightly different sense than the others. For Slam Dunk, it’s the rising star of UK festivals, and perhaps the most alternatively diverse of them. It’s a festival that we’d all been to prior to playing, so we kind of knew what to expect, but still had that “oh god, what if no one shows up to watch us” anxiety because there’s always so much going on. You’re competing with six other bands at any one time to get a crowd.

Download was a huge one because growing up, particularly for Liam and I in such an isolated community. Download was one of the pinnacles of achievement in alternative music. It’s an accolade that, as a teenager, I could only dream of achieving. The same uncertainty with crowd attendance is always at the back of your mind with such a large and diverse festival, but thankfully our first visit to Donington was pleasant.

Announcing Reading & Leeds was the first time that my parents really paid attention to what the band was doing; as they described, it’s a festival for “real bands”. We’re in good company on our stage, so I think it’ll be a really good show. It’ll be the biggest UK performance that we’ve ever done, but I think the last few months have prepared us well for it.

DP!: Despite ‘Love Is Not Enough’ being just a few months old, has any work started yet on any new material?
T: We haven’t sat ourselves down and decided to focus on a new record or new material really, but at the same time almost everything on ‘Love Is Not Enough’ was just the product of improvising in the practice room, and that happens every time that we’re together, so there are a few ideas floating around that we may decide to develop further down the line.

DP!: Other than the aforementioned, what else is in the pipeline for the moment for Casey for the remainder of 2017?
T: We have some more touring to do after festival season which is yet to be announced, and then it’s just planning and preparing for 2018 I guess.

DP!: Any final words at all?
T: If you’ve made it this far through my essay responses then I salute your perseverance. Thank you for reading, and thank you for the continued support and appreciation that Casey receives.

The band’s debut full-length album, ‘Love Is Not Enough’, is out now through Hassle Records.

You can order it online now via the band’s website (here), iTunes (here), Amazon (here), and Google Play (here).

You can keep up-to-date with the band online by following them on Facebook (here), Twitter (here), and Instagram (here).

Interview by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)

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