Friday, October 21, 2011

Interview with Cassino

Cassino is a Nashville folk rock band that was formed in 2005. Cassino has released two great albums in Sounds of Salvation and Kingprince. Cassino amazes listeners with their lyrical imagery, unbelievable instrumentation, and their ability to completely change their sound on just about any given song. Nick from Cassino was kind of enough to discuss the bands progression, change in sound, songwriting, and the bands next LP.

I've noticed that one of your musical tags is Nashville. Can you describe what the city means to you and how it has influenced your music?

I moved to Nashville about 5 years ago, mainly because it was the shortest route to "somewhere" that wasn't where I was (Huntsville,AL). I had friends here so it was logical. I had nowhere else to go. I happened to stumble upon a lot of really talented people and some ended up on our record. The main influence I guess was just the access and the addition of certain instruments on the recordings...instruments that I cannot play. We were very fortunate that they were gracious enough to play with us, even though we didn't really have a lot of money to pay them.

The base sound of Kingprince was dueling finger-picked acoustic folk. On the recent EP The Weight of Bother electric guitars seemed like they were the base of your sound and this of course created more of a rocking atmosphere. What direction will the next record go? Are you planning on expanding your sound for the next album?

Yeah I think there will be more electric. Ed (we wrote a lot of Kingprince together) has a unique and simple style when it comes to electric, so it would be fun to see what happens if we put down the acoustics. Although honestly I don't know...I don't really think ahead as to what an "album" is going to sound like. We just play whatever....not really concerned about if it fits the "album" concept. Besides, apparently thats boring and primitive. Although I DO miss playing an electric guitar. Total power loss.

One of the things that stuck out about Kingprince and Sounds of Salvation was how much imagery and storytelling was used in the lyrics, specifically the names of people and places. What is your general process when it comes to writing songs? How have you grown as a songwriter since the formation of Cassino? Are these lyrics autobiographical?

The process is basically play your instrument until something comes out that strikes you as personally awesome. Its a unique feeling, and if you play music then you know what I'm talking about. And if you don't,then you are obviously doing something wrong. And then you build on that idea until you have enough parts to form a longer coherent idea. Then it sits for a while until I can extract a melody from its brain, and then I sit down and write the words. Some of the songs are auto-biographical...but some of the lyrics aren't ABOUT someone/something , but more INSPIRED by someone/something. Thats how it usually leans. Its good to let your imagination go.... I don't know if I've "grown" as a songwriter. I can definitely play the guitar better. It's just a matter of what you are going for. I can still write "hook"-y songs like I did when I was 22, or a 10 minute song with no chorus. It just depends on how much time you want to spend on an idea. But I really like songs you can remember, so thats also how it leans.

As your music has progressed the structure of your songs also seems to be changing. On Kingprince the songs seem to be more about creating an atmosphere than following a formula to creating a catchy rock song. Was there more spontaneity in the recording process or just a desire to try something different?

There was definitely spontaneity in the recording. The song "Djom" basically came out of nowhere with some effects. I would say we just focused on writing good songs that we like to play and want to listen to. Songs that other people would want to play and would like to listen to (not that they do either). I think it just came out that way because it's what we felt like doing at the time. There wasn't a lot of thought. I definitely was tired of repeating a chorus though, so I tried different things lyrically.

Another thing that is interesting about your work is that you often re-release different versions of songs. On Kingprince you gave us three different version of old songs and on The Weight of Bother you gave us five different versions of old songs. What makes you want to tinker with "old" material? Is it a desire to improve the songs or a desire to experiment?

Definitely a desire to experiment. Sometimes you get writers block and you want to be creative still. Sometimes its just figuring out a way to play it live that works better, and realizing you should record it, because...why the hell not? We have had some complaints about this though. Like we "owe" them something NEW ALL THE TIME. Sometimes it just doesnt work that way.... because I basically have little to no responsibility as an artist. I have no record label, and this is not my job. I made it that way. It's easy...My only responsibility is to record it and put it out there.

What versions of these songs are you planning on playing live? Do you remake the songs to make them sound more like a live version of the song?

Well, we tend to use the more recent versions, although there is a possibility of playing the others if we feel like it and practiced it. I dunno...maybe there is a way to blend both versions into one super-version.

Can you give us an update on your progress on the next album? Will you guys be touring again?

I have got lyrics to about 7 songs (that means they are about 75 percent done). We have working ideas for about 11. Some are even full band, rock songs! We plan on recording it (hopefully this winter) with my friend John Hefley (who mixed Kingprince). He's got a set up out in the boonies, and is even investing in a tape rig! As far as touring goes, I don't foresee any full band, full U.S. tours. I would like to do some weekends starting this winter. We'll see...

Check out Cassino's music here:

1 comment:

  1. good interview, great questions! I love me some cassino!