Interview with Caspian
Through out the past three years, I’ve steadily interviewed both the bands that are splashed across your television screens on MTV to the best in the local music scene but one band that has stood out for me is the post rock instrumental project known as Caspian. While being a Boston main stay, the band has had their fair share of international touring which was shared a bit in our interview and have recently finished the fourth record that is discussed as well.
I recently had the chance to sit down with front man Phil and was in for a treat that night at the show as I saw a captivated audience truly fall in love with every measure of the set. Caspian is a huge treat to see live and I thoroughly encourage all of my readers to take the opportunity if it comes to them!
Title: Live At Old South Church
Release date: 01/10/12
Label: Mylene Sheath
Buy at: Amazon
A little soft one to start! Obviously you are a band that’s played a lot of countries not just the US but overseas. What are three things you must have while on the road to survive?
You need an iPhone with lots of batteries so that you can play games and stuff like that. You need to have lots of water. You need to have a comfortable seat to sit on and something to eat! Dinner is always nice. In America, that doesn’t happen as much but over in Europe, they bring out like the old grandmother who makes food for you like on the clock. We’re spoiled over there like that.
And you’re about to go over again in the beginning of the new year.
Are you guys headlining that run?
Yeah, yeah! It’s seven shows. Really short by our standards. We’re doing a festival in Denmark with a bunch of other post rock bands, instrumental bands. Yeah, it’s just us! We’re not packaging with any other bands so it will be local support but it’s just us.
So just bands from each city?
Then obviously it’s (Caspian) a little bit something different in the Boston surrounding area music scene. How did you guys get started really? How did Caspian get together?
It was in 2003. We were all in other bands at the time and the bands that we were in were pretty standard rock and roll bands that we liked. We all went to the same college but we didn’t know each other in college. I graduated, met Cal who’s the blond guitarist and he started showing me a bunch of records that sort of blew my mind. Some that I had never heard before like The Appleseed Cast and Mogwai. You know The Appleseed Cast?
I’ve interviewed them. We were actually like in this same booth me and Aaron. It was in April!
Wow! No kidding! Cal showed me ‘Lole Owl’ and to me, I had never heard a record like that before and I found it was a really powerful experience. Sort of locked myself away for two weeks and just listened to nothing but that record and so he and I just started something up. He knew the drummer, Owen, and the bass player Chris and we just started jamming. When we got together, we didn’t have the urge to tour and play shows or record. It was more to just screw around in a room and that made us feel satisfied. So yeah Appleseed Cast pretty much started it off. Then from there, it was just kind of slowly getting into other bands of similar ilk and that’s cool you like them, though. Did they play here or something?
Yeah! They played the same room that you guys are playing tonight with A Great Big Pile of Leaves this new-ish band from New York.
Good, good show?
Oh, it was killer!
First time you had seen them?
Yeah first time I had ever seen them.
Then you’re signed to Mylene Sheath. How did that come about? I mean it’s like Herra Terra is on that label.
Herra Terra, yeah a Boston band. Constants was on it for a while. Junius. We put out our first record with a label called Dopamine who was a Boston label I don’t know if you’ve heard of them. They put out our first record in 2005. That sort of made its way around the post rock circuit for people who were into this kind of music and Mylene Sheath heard it and they liked it and they put out our next record ‘The Four Trees’ on vinyl about a year after the first one and we started a relationship with them. They’re just incredibly sweet people. They’re a pleasure to work with. They have the best work ethic. They treat their bands just amazingly well. So it’s an honor to work with them definitely.
And then I know you’re working on your fourth? Is that even something you’re recording, something that you’re writing musically?
We have difficulty writing between tours. It’s really hard. Once we get done with tour, we want to come home and just go to sleep so we had to get off the road then we spent all summer pretty much finishing it up and it’s funny you ask that because in a few days, we’re going to record it in Somerville for eighteen days and it’s going to be done.
You’re about to do it like not in February but early and now?
No, like January 2nd! In three days. So pretty much three days from now we’re going to be recording. It kind of feels like we’re getting ready for a wedding. It’s like we’ve been planning this huge wedding. We’re like bridezillas. Just stressing every little detail. Think we just want to get in, let it rip and see what happens.
Do you think sonically it’s going to be different then the past three?
We want it to be! We want to try some new things. There’s a song that has vocals. We’re going to do that one tonight but it’s through a pedal that makes my voice sound like a robot. So it’s not really real vocals.
It’s not you like singing?
It’s more of a texturing. Not crooning or anything because then everybody would leave like immediately.
They’d all just go!
We’ve always tried to write material that works live. Just melts face. Just totally shredding and we’ve done that for three records so this time we wanted to try something that was more conducive to an album experience. Something that fits more moods then just ‘epic’. Something that mimics life a little bit more because real life isn’t always epic and bananas and something that’s a little bit more of how we feel.
And then obviously you don’t have the lyric element writing words to your songs. How do you guys go about maybe the songwriting musically?
Like song titles?
Like when you’re writing these songs. They’re longer like ten minutes, nine minutes. How do you go about it? Like how long would you say maybe it takes to make one Caspian song? Like maybe how long did it to make the longest one?
It varies. We spent five months writing a song on our last record. That wasn’t like every day for five months but every time we got together, so we spent a lot of time on one of these songs. The last song that we wrote, we wrote it together in like three days. It varies. Always different!
Do you all do it together? Write their own parts?
Yeah! Most of the time. I sort of write like the skeleton or a foundation and I bring it to the rest of the guys and they sort of do what they do. They pick it apart and bring their stuff to it so it’s a really democratic process.
And do you think that record will be awhile into 2012 to be released considering you’re making it in January?
We’re hoping early fall or late summer. It’s going to get mixed in April so it won’t be done officially till then and then at that point, we’re looking for the best way to put it out. That usually takes six or seven months. Probably September which will be the next time in Boston which I just realized.
Yeah because you don’t play in Boston that often.
We used to play twice a month because no one is doing this music around here. So when it started, everybody was like I want to go see this instrumental thing. We played constantly! We played TT’s like once a month for a year like back in 2006 but at this point, we want to space out each show. Like make each show a little more special. So I think the record release show in September will probably be the next time.
Well, you tour! It’s not like you only play in Boston and like Connecticut. You tour consistently. It makes sense. Then maybe a little softer one to end it off. What was the first cassette you ever remember buying as a kid and then the first concert?
First CD or cassette? The first CD I bought was right down the street at what was Tower Records. Remember when Tower was on Newbury Street? I bought ‘Physical Graffiti’ by Zepplin and it changed my fucking life. The first cassette I ever bought was Naughty By Nature. What’s the song that’s like the big party hit? Or “Belle Biv Devoe” that kind of stuff. Maybe it was Mariah Carey I don’t even know.
I know what songs you mean though.
Yeah! The first show I ever saw was Jimmy Page and Robert Plant at the Boston Garden when I was five. Like the old Garden.
That must have been crazy that’s insane.
It was unbelievable! Still the best show I’ve ever seen.
Well then obviously do you think those influenced you at all? Maybe you personally or Caspian?
Yeah, absolutely! I grew up being obsessed with music and the process of buying albums and unwrapping them and spending time with them. Oh yeah, absolutely! Hundred percent. Formative stages definitely.
Then obviously like you said you’re going in to record the record in three days. That must be insane, I’d be scared if I were you. Honestly, if it was that close!
We’ve been preparing for so long. A little nervous. We’re working with a producer for the first time. We’ve always just done it ourselves.
So there’s going to be someone calling the shots. So that will be interesting.
This is your first time ever working with a producer?
First time with a producer. We’re really excited. We just kind of want to get started. Get to work on it and get it done because it’s been brewing so long and if it sits any longer, it will be too long you know what I mean. Yeah three days, holy crap! You’re getting freaked out now I’m getting scared.
I’m like getting worried for you. I’m like ‘no!’ It’s scary when you go in!
Yeah do you play music?
No I don’t but I do this so much that I understand or I’ve interviewed a band a bunch of times while they’ll be going through a record process and they always are like ‘this happened and then this happened’ and it’s like all these scary things and like how they couldn’t release it for so long once it’s done. I’ve been doing it for a few years so I’ve seen great stories and horror stories.
We’ve always had good stories but maybe we’re up for a horror story!
It will be good and then because obviously this is like a lull time in touring, like this next month or two, so are you going to be touring in the new year a lot? You’ll be back in Boston in September but do you think it’s going to be pretty soon?
We’re going to go back to the UK for a week in February but we’re also going to play on this island..have you heard of Sardinia? Like Corsaca and Sardinia?
Well I think we’re playing on a beach at sunset with this giant PA system.
That’s going to go over really well!
You think? I think so too.
Considering where it is too.
That’s June but up until the album comes out, we’re really going to take some time away from all things Caspian because we’ve been deep in it for the last year just constantly so I think we kind of need a breather to regroup and then the album!
"Live At Old South Church" by Caspian - release date: 01/10/12..