Caspian • Interview
Wout | On 14, Aug 2015
In the weeks before #dnk15 we were able to ask a few questions to Caspian regarding their live reputation and touring. This interview was published in the first issue of The Stargazer Magazine and is available in The Stargazer Store.
- October 18th is officially Caspian Day in Beverly! I can imagine such a recognition by your home city was a great gift for your 10th anniversary?
It really was nothing short of an astounding honor for us, a hard one to put into words. We are very loyal to our local community and have always considered it a major influence on our creative process. To be recognized in that way really was a huge moment for the band.
- Being a band for 10 years now, is it getting easier to figure things out the longer you play? Or is it the other way around?
It’s a little bit of both. We always want to make sure we are getting better and not remaining too comfortable or complacent with our albums and live show. Chasing that down requires a lot of experimentation and vulnerability, some of which can be a little difficult at first. If things start feeling easier, it can mean that we are getting lazy or too comfortable and that’s something we always try to fight against. In terms of the day-to-day stuff like traveling, finding back lines, finding bands to tour with, how to function on the road or in a recording studio without going insane, etc., I’d say all of that has started to get a little easier and that’s something we welcome.
- Once you said that touring in Europe is so different from touring in the USA. Can you explain that?
For bands like us that aren’t massively popular, there can sometimes be a noticable difference in hospitality between US and European promoters. You’ll get a lot more of the red carpet treatment overseas, just in terms of where you sleep, what you eat, what kind of backstage you have, and a general enthusiasm when it comes to people who are making sacrifices to support their art. There seems to be a level of respect for artistry in Europe that can sometimes be lacking in the United States in general, and the only conclusion I’ve come to over the years is that since Europe is a much older place, people are more familiar with those behind the creative process and there aren’t the same stigmas applied to it. Sometimes it seems like the majority of Americans think that if you’re in a rock-and-roll band, you’re there for the sole purpose to get blasted on drugs every night and are a non-contributing member of society. I’m sure there are a lot of people in Europe who also feel that way but it seems to be a little less in general, just in terms of the way you get treated and judged from a distance. When it comes to actual fans of music and the people who go out to the shows, we’ve found that there are amazingly passionate people all over the world and it’s not limited to just one area.
- What does it take to add that extra magic to a show? What makes the difference between a great show and an excellent one?
That’s a good question and I’m not sure there’s one definitive answer, it seems to always be evolving. As someone who has played close to 1,000 shows and has seen what feels like that many, there does seem to be a level of sincerity that a performer is aspiring for, and I think an audience can tell if it’s rooted in authenticity or not pretty easily. In that regard I think it’s hard to fool people. Beyond that, there’s a level of musicianship and control over your instrument rooted in confidence (not cockiness) that goes a long way as well up there.
- It is said that in digital ages live performance and experience gain more importance over recorded music. Do you think the same way? Or is live performance key to the post-rock genre?
I started out on this journey feeling that exact way, but over the course of this I personally have grown more attached to the process of recording and the potential that lies therein more than anything else. An album really is an opportunity to explore sonic subtleties and intricacies that you simply can’t explore in a live setting, since the live setting is ephemeral and the recorded experience is permanent and is a document that cannot be changed or altered over time. It forces you to find sounds and write songs that can stand up over a longer period of time than the 60 or so minutes of stage time that are more direct and immediate. Both have their merits but I think it’s important for people to really take recording their albums seriously and not just rely on the live experience, even amidst a time in which people stream music and take less attention and urgency into the album listening experience.
- Mono honored the generation of their parents with the album For My Parents. (Interview in The Stargazer Magazine #1). Who is the greatest generation in Hymn for the Greatest Generation?
In the United States, the “Greatest Generation” refers to the generation of people that our Grandparents fall under, those who lived and fought through the 2nd World War. Around the time of writing that piece of music, a few of our Grandparents passed away and it felt like that generation was slowly disappearing, as generations always do. The song felt like an appropriate tribute to them and structurally tries to follow the story of their lives, from first to last breath.
- You played at dunk!festival2011. Is there anything particular you remember of that show?
Many, many fond memories from dunk! 2011. From the great backstage sandwiches and delicious beer to the beautiful stage lighting and powerful sound system. Not to mention an amazingly supportive, respectful and attentive mass of people from all over the world in the audience. Some of the best vibes ever.
- Your show at #dnk15 will be an exclusive one where you will be world premiering some new songs. What can we expect from the new songs?
It looks like we are going to try out 2 of these new songs, both of which reflect the heavier, more direct, atmospheric elements of the new record. One of them is a full fledged, uncompromising 8 minute rock song that never slows down and has a lot of riffs, meter changes etc., the other song being a little more beat driven and percussive, with some interesting new dynamic elements. We don’t consider either of them traditional post-rock, but hopefully there’s something interesting enough to keep people’s attention. They’re both intense and though we are a little nervous to not mess them up, there’s nowhere else we’d rather debut them and hope people enjoy them.
- Since you’re not on tour you can hang around at the festival. What bands are you looking forward to?
One of the things we are looking forward to most is being at the entire festival and just hanging out and watching all the bands. If you see us standing around please don’t be shy — come up and say hello and have a chat. Looking forward to seeing our friends from Lehnen as always and it’s been such a long time since I’ve seen MONO and I’m also really looking forward to that. Most of all just looking forward to being surprised by someone we’ve never heard.
- Thank you for this interview and we’re looking forward to have you back in Zottegem!
Thank YOU for having us! I can’t express how excited and honored we are to return to Belgium once again for this amazing festival.