Casey Jack is a chameleon of sorts. Springfield, Missouri is where he lays his head, but his sound palette is insanely vast and littered with the speckled influences of decades ago. Listening to his self titled debut on Rough Beast Records is like a who’s who of remarkable reference points; from Blur and Oasis to The Replacements with stops everywhere between. His ear is tuned to melody and noise, and that careful duality is what sets his music apart from the countless heaps of recordings I skim through on a weekly basis. Here, Casey and I discuss the pains of being a one man band, escapism in Chicago, and his desire to hit the road.
Shiny Glass Houses: Thanks for taking the time to chat. What have you been up to since the release of your debut?
Casey Jack: I’ve been playing some shows in my hometown where I’m currently living (Springfield, MO), while writing new material and spending time with friends and family.
SGH: You wrote the songs for the record in Chicago, then went home to Springfield to record. Why the change of scenery? Did Chicago put you in a certain necessary head space to create?
CJ: Moving to and living in Chicago was a real turning point for me, it helped to humble me in a lot of ways and I was surrounded by very inspirational, beautiful people I was lucky to get to know. So yeah most definitely. Those years spent living there had a profound effect both personally and musically.
SGH: Your sound is polished but you’re clearly straddling the line between “force and precision”. I hear garage. I hear punk. I hear Britpop. I hear a carefully blended mix bag…how do you define your work?
CJ: Thank you. It’s always hard for me to try to explain, even though it really shouldn’t be. I want to say its just rock and roll and then have the freedom to play with everything that entails. There are way too many genres and I’m hoping I won’t get stuck in one in particular. Growing up was a mixture of Britpop, punk, and a handful of other genres that set up and influenced my style most definitely.
SGH: You perform as a trio, but with the exception of drums, you recorded all the parts for the record yourself. Walk me through that process. It must be a real test of patience.
CJ: It was an experience (laughs). I had never attempted anything like that before, but thanks to the drummer John Saad, producer/engineers Jim Wirt and the late Lou Whitney everything went smoothly. I love the way a lot of bands from the late 70’s and early 80’s had a very direct sound and performance. Nothing too flashy, nothing too grandiose.
In the beginning I had all these huge ideas of how big the record could be and all these instruments we could have and layers of effects, different arrangements of the tunes you know..but we realized they needed to be recorded and presented in their most natural state. So that hurried, sort of minimalist approach you hear was basically born from that, being that it was only me. I didn’t have anyone else to bounce too many ideas off of and since it was only going to be a 3-piece kind of deal it only made sense for me to keep a level head about it all.
SGH: As a lifelong music fan I’ve experienced the big venue spectacles, the dive bar pits, and everything in between. What’s an ideal show for you?
CJ: My favorite shows are the smaller, mid-level venues packed out with folks going nuts. Especially if there was traveling involved it always adds an adventure aspect. I’m not a big fan of the festival thing personally, they can be kind of stressful.
SGH: How has it been working with Rough Beast? I love how they’re building a roster of blue collar, badass rock and roll bands.
CJ: It’s been great. If it wasn’t for Rough Beast my record wouldn’t physically exist and I would never, on my own, been able to do what they’ve been able to so far. The other bands rule too, and the goal is to make our little family better known throughout this little world. Hopefully we can make that happen!
SGH: Do you have plans to tour? Come play upstate NY, we’ll set you up.
CJ: I have aspirations of touring, but no real plans set in stone. Unfortunately, there have been talks and offers that fell through. We’ll see. Hell…it’s all I want to do, but yeah I’m trying. I’d love to play there. I’d love to play anywhere (laughs).
SGH: If you had the opportunity to lean in and share the mic, Mick and Keith style, with any musician living or dead, who are you harmonizing with?
CJ: I’d probably go Wayne’s World fanboy if I somehow was able to sing with Sir Paul McCartney for sure. Also Elvis Costello… or Prince!
SGH: Lastly, and customary around these parts, what’s your drink of choice?
CJ: Scotch on the rocks. J&B or Dewar’s usually, also a fan of dark beers and red wine. Cheers!
—-Thanks so much to Casey and RJ at Rough Beast for sharing some time. You can check out the Rough Beast store for releases and merch. Follow Casey and the label on twitter and IG @CaseyJackBand and @RoughBeastRecs.