Casey are something truly special.
This young but advanced U.K. quintet features all the hallmarks of a solid melodic hardcore band, but they do it better than most of their contemporaries. This all comes down to their potent songwriting, stronger musical deliveries than many of their peers, the truly palpable emotion that cries forth from Tom Weaver’s voice and lyrics, and making great film clips. With their solid 2016 debut ‘Love Is Not Enough’ getting a “proper” Australian release just last week, Weaver spoke with me about their recent tour woes in Europe supporting Thy Art Is Murder, as well as taking me behind-the-scenes of their consistently interesting music videos and the creative intent and engagement behind them.
With the recent Thy Art Is Murder tour and the status you made about it, what exact issues with transport did you guys have exactly and how are you all feeling post-tour?
So, on our way to one of the Impericon shows in Belgium, I woke up at like 7am and I could just hear cars flying past tour bus. I figured we were close to the road and I wondered what was going on. So I crawled out of bed, went down the bus, and looked out the window and saw we were just parked on the side of a busy motorway. I found our driver and he was on the phone to some German company. As he came off the phone, I asked him what was going on. He said I could just go back to bed and not worry but he I said I’d rather know what was happening. He told me that the two of our tires had burst or torn and that it happened like two or so hours ago. Like, cool, I could have just died in my sleep and never known what was going on. [Laughs].
The problem was this on Easter Sunday, so nothing was open and we couldn’t get any new tyres. We ended up renting a smaller vehicle instead and we missed the actual Belgium show that day as we had to drive to the Netherlands to get this van then drive back to Manchester to play the next Impericon Festival. And then loop back around to Belgium to get the van fixed. So it was a nightmare.
Hectic driving schedule right there, man, hectic. Was that all of the band’s tour troubles?
No! A bit later in the tour when we were in Poland, our bassist Adam came and shook me awake first thing in the morning. I say “I need my sleep, what’s going on, man?” and he says “Tom, you’ve gotta get up, the bus is on fire!” There was smoke everywhere, I rolled out of bed, got dressed as quick as I could, looked further down the bus and there was smoke billowing out of the driver’s area. I was like “Man, I’m gonna die on the border of Poland with no phone reception. This is the worst thing ever.”
It actually looked and sounded a lot worse than it actually was; a bunch of wires had just got caught fire. Which is bad, but it was just a short circuit while the bus was moving and it had melted a bunch of plastic and there wasn’t that much fire.
We went into Poland and didn’t have to cancel that show. But then the show after in Budapest, there was some smoke coming out again and our driver pulled over and said, “If we do this drive, we risk the likelihood of something wrong happening increasing and as we go further East into Europe, the less chance of us getting it fixed if something does go wrong.” He said we should cancel the show, get to Germany, get it fixed properly, and then continue on with the tour. And that’s what we ended up doing.
That’s mental, Tom. I am very glad you didn’t die on the border of Poland, though!
[Laughs] I was talking with CJ from Thy Art Is Murder the next day about it, as we were super apologetic about it and it’s [not making the show] the last thing we wanted to do. But he said it was fine and that it happens; that they had been on tours where they’ve massive issues and you just have to put yourselves first. He’s like “It sucks cancelling shows, but we’d all rather you make it to the end of the tour in one piece than risking a crazy drive for one show.”
So true! No show is worth dying over. On less crazy topics, with the Australian release of ‘Love Is Not Enough’, have you personally ever been to Australia?
I have, actually. I went there for my 25th birthday. I’m not sure what Casey’s whole thing about knowing Aussie bands really well is, but we’re good friends with Make Them Suffer. So I ended up staying with their now former guitarist, Monty. He took me around Australia in Melbourne and Sydney and took me up The Great Ocean Road and did all this East Coast stuff. I love Australia. I love the friends out there and I love the bands out there.
Man, I haven’t seen Monty in ages! He also played in Earth Caller as well, but I wasn’t aware he was out of Make Them Suffer…
Yeah, Earth Caller are writing again which is good. I know that he’s stepped away from Make Them Suffer now. The last time the band were in Europe I hung out with them and he definitely wasn’t there. He runs The Black Rabbit in Melbourne now and does more PR stuff, as he’s stepped away from playing now.
Yeah, that’s much more his thing now. Nothing wrong with that, of course! Now, when KYS did the ‘Little Bird’ music video premiere over here in Australia, I actually hadn’t seen the video until the actual night of the clip coming out, but I’d already said yes to it. Yet I was so confident in it being good, as Casey has such a solid track record for music videos, both in how their shot and composed and also in the actual content of the clip. And I was right!
Oh, thank you, man! I’m not old just yet but in band guy terms, I’m getting old. Same with our guitarist, Liam, he and I are the same age and we’ve said that Casey is our last shot at doing music properly to any professional degree. We decided early on that if we’d put content out there, we’d want to be 100% happy with it nor settle for general stereotypes that hang around this kind of hardcore. We didn’t want to shoot a video of us playing in a warehouse or have a video of a girl wondering around in the snow for no particular reason.
So we’ve always wanted to compose music videos, that while they may not have the exact same message as the song, was at least more interesting to watch; so that people can draw their own conclusions for. We just want to try and think outside the box, and we always use the same guy – Chris Porter – and that’s always super helpful, as he’s very creative.
That’s exactly right – better to try something new visually than the same old film clip clichés. Like, your ‘Teeth’ music video, where you yourself sign language the song’s lyrics for the camera, for the entire clip. It was very cool. I hadn’t seen a band do that before then nor since then.
Funnily enough, that clip was helped through my police admin work. We got to the point where we wanted to do a lyric video but we all hated the general typography used. Because when a band releases a clip with static text, I’d never watch the video. So we thought about how’d we do a lyric video that would get people engaged and watching. There are a few artists that have done similar things, but they’re more in the larger, pop worlds but no band like us had done it. I ended up contacting the sign language expert in my office and told her about my band and this video and if we could transpose the song down into sign language. She was completely on board with it. She produced a couple tutorial videos for me too, and I just broke it all down at home for hours and hours. Shooting it was frustrating but very fun [laughs].
I can imagine! I think what works best is that you continually collaborate with Chris for the music videos. Another band who I think has a great music video collection is Canada’s PUP, who work with the same director and editor each time – Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux. So you know, don’t stop working with Chris, please.
Yeah! Well, we try and work out long-term relationships with the people we collaborate. With Chris, he shot our first music video, ‘Hell’ [shown above]. The original idea for that was that we would do a lot of very short takes and stitch them all together to make it look a single take. When we got to the location, Chris turned to me and said, “Why not we do it as one take and you guys just rehearse get your equipment around?” So, we did that and it took something like… 44 attempts to get it done. The music video is actually the first time we successfully got the whole way through the song and is the only successful attempt we had.
After the shoot, Chris came up to me and said it would turn out really good but that he wasn’t going to more music videos with us unless they were this interesting; unless they were of this calibre or higher. That put the pressure on me to come with good ideas. With the ‘Darling’ clip, I messaged him over Facebook at like 2am saying “I want to set a car on fire!”. He said, “Okay, that sounds like a cool start to the clip. Where do you see it going from there”? and I just said, “No, I want to be in the car at the time that it’s on fire!”. Chris was so nervous on the day of the shoot, so much more than I was – I was thinking what’s the worst that could happen? [Laughs].
Well, the video looked the sick in the end! Also, I love how almost nonchalant you are about that clip and your own personal safety.
[Laughs] and what’s funny is that at the start of the clip before the fire, it’s being towed by Chris’s car. But the car had been drained of all its fluids, so as to be safe. So all the smoke that you see in the car is actually from these white smoke pellets, they’re used for landing helicopters and such. They came in this big tub that had in big red letters written on it – “DO NOT INHALE FUMES”. So I’m being towed through the woods in a car with all the doors and windows closed with these pellets being lit on the back seat. It goes from zero to a hundred real quick with those things. We’re going along, I’m miming along to the song then all of a sudden the car is filled up to my eyeballs with smoke. I’m wheezing and coughing and Chris is leaning across the car’s bonnet as we’re filming yelling, “Keep going! We’re almost done, just five more seconds of footage.” Every time we’d end a take, I’d bail out of the car and cough my lungs out on the grass thinking “I’m going to die shooting this video…and we’re not even up to the good part yet”.
[Laughs] Damn dude. Have you had any adverse health issues since filming the ‘Darling’ clip?
Nah, I think I was all right. These last two music videos – ‘Darling’ and ‘Little Bird’ have been a little bit more morbid as I’ve almost died in both of them. But when we were done, I went and got five with some fresh air and I was okay. At the time, my chest would get super tight and my lungs were burning. I don’t smoke so I wasn’t at all used to it.
Well, obviously, I’m glad you’re all right! Also, it’s funny, on Casey’s Facebook bio it says, “music is a labour of love” and I guess that that was your labour.
That’s what Chris said to me during the shooting of the ‘Little Bird’ video when I’m laying under the water in the tub. I’d burst out of the water, gasping for air and he’d ask me to “act” as I was coming out of the water. It was really difficult, as I was actually quite close to drowning. Seriously, as I was keeping myself under as long as possible! Chris and I were having a chat on set and he said that I wasn’t afraid to push myself to the limits, and it’s because in so many videos, the “performance” videos, they’ll be staring right down at their fretboards to play the parts correctly. But it’s like, everybody knows that you’re miming! There’s no reason in playing your own song technically perfect in this clip because if I want to see you do that I’ll come see you live. I’d rather see you go mental in a music video to encourage me to come to your shows. If I see a band’s music video and the guitarist is staring at their guitar and the drummer is not doing a great deal and the singer is prowling across the front line, then that’s all I’ll expect from you live. And it’s not a great deal. But if I see a video of Dillinger, for example, and they’re just going ham, then I’m going to go see them live and that’s what I will see.
Bands fall into this trap of making a performance video of making it look authentic or…soulful but it comes off as being very plastic and flimsy. So we try to move away from that and make something more creatively inclined.
I feel the exact same way, Tom. At that point, bands should just make a proper play through or live session videos you know? It looks like a waste of money to me. And that’s why I love the music videos your band and Chris produce together, as I also remember the actual songs more when the music video is really good.
Aw, thank you, man!
No worries Tom, and with that, that music video rant will close this interview nicely. What’s on for the rest of your day?
Cool! I’ll actually be going to bed right after this. A lot of my interviews were scheduled for this morning, but with me getting back to work right after the Heaven and Hell tour, I couldn’t fit it into my office hours.
Oh sounds good dude. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to do this then. Until Casey tour’s Australia, I’ll talk to you another time.
Definitely mate, thank you very much for your time!