Cased - and the heart that rocks

Every once in a blue moon (it used to happen a lot more often that that), you turn the radio dial or flip channels on your TV set or click onto some song link on the web and find yourself saying "whoa, yes, this is it." Usually the best rock music unfolds after several listens, but every once in awhile, you hear it upon the first time a song hits your ears, just something extra that only the rarest bands have.

Remember when Smells Like Teen Spirit came out, that was kind of a pivotal point in rock culture I think. Anyway that's kind of how I felt when I heard Cased. I was listening to the song "Come" and it sort of kicked in late in the song. Then I clicked on Poker and that has that same glow from the getgo, even more so ! Cased is just an extraordinary rock band, hits all my spots, and I'm just amazed that I didn't hear this band on MTV or blaring loudly as the featured new release at Tower records, but rather, languishing in relative obscurity on the internet though they do have a substantial following for their live shows in the Chicago area. Anyway, in a very short time, Cased already has 2 #1s on the Kayak Big 50, the first and only band so far who has done that. Recently I had a chance to talk to John from Cased about this enigmatic band whose songs run thru my head day and night..


Scott: Well, I recently found time to read your website and it said that Cased ended as a band in May of 2004. This kind of saddened me cause you're one of, if not =the= best indie band I've ever heard. The music lives on forever though, whether you like it or not. heh  Anyway then I read another site and it says you went on, with a female singer. So what's the latest on the band ?

cased: cased started as a unit roughly, around 1997. i was playing in a couple of bands and having some touring good fun with it. one day, some friends of mine were in my practice space drinking and fucking around with our instruments and we just started working on new material. it went off like a bomb. we wrote most of the last album in about two weeks. there was a good spark. anyway, we made the first album with help of jerry brown (catherine) producing us and basically hit the road and took it around town. the thing is we really didn’t start pushing the music and such until 2000. we were lazy. five people just kind of being lazy about it. LAAAZY. don’t get me wrong, we played some awesome shows and met some sweet people, but i think we didn’t have any illusions about getting signed so we took it all with a grain of salt. i mean, we really only made the album for ourselves.

what happened is simple....people moved, got jobs...etc. and there was part of the band still in chicago and we still wanted to play. so, we got ourselves a new singer and up until a year ago we played our asses off. i mean, we really pushed it, just so we could see what would happen. what happened? gigs out the pooper, UNTIL, the female singer got lazy and poof, the web page looks like it does now.

that brief history being said, people have moved BACK to chicago in the past 8 months. so, the web page history isn’t entirely accurate.

we are making album no. 2. we are working with matt talbott (hum) at great western studios in tolono, il and look forward to getting this thing out in five months (we hope). same genre of shoe gazer, less fuss.

Scott: guess this is the obvious question, we'll get this out of the way. Why are you called Cased ?

cased: i was in a band called basket case (hardcore punk band) and the natural progression was cased. it just fit. it was unique, it didn’t start with "the" like "the nixons" or "the smiths". we find that pretty lame.

Scott: Your song Poker runs thru my head like a curse. ha ha It starts with the lyrics Here's the poker, here's the shit. Care to say anything cryptic that might help your fans to understand less what you're talking about there ? :)

cased: all of cased songs are bad love songs. seriously. BAD love songs and really sappy, "until i can see, i cant move until i can see, if i close my eyes i'd be dreaming, the last thing i want is to see it again...."

it is all metaphor for the love song. we are saps like that. if you wanted to get all college paper on this, use poker as a metaphor for being poked with a stick, and that stick being "love" or a "person" or something like that. they are all that cryptic. we were going more for mood than anything.

Scott: I notice you're from Chicago. 2 other great acts on our site, Blue Union and Reactavox are from there as well. Strange cause one doesn't tend to think of Chicago as a rock mecca. Is it some kind of great unknown bed of talent, or something else ? heh

cased: chicago sucks. lol. yes, i said it, and i said it out loud. we have much better shows OUT OF TOWN. lol, nashville is fricking awesome. columbus, sweet places to play. hell, madison and milwaukee are better for crowd reactions than the greater chicago area. shit, TERRE HAUTE INDIANA IS MORE FUN.

chicago is the very reason we don’t take our music all that seriously. the SAME, yes, THE SAME bands play on a rotating basis monthly from one venue to the next. it absolutely bites. to be honest, we REFUSE to kiss ass for a show, REFUSE, so what happens is we play out of town more than we play at home. so, here is a typical conversation with any of a number of booking people in this vast metropolis:

"yo, dude, john from cased, can we get a show?" john says.

"dude, what have you been doing?" booking dork replies.

"just played three days on the road to say 175-200 per venue on thursday-saturday road trip. had a blast," john says.

"huh, that’s great, hey, i got a TUESDAY for you," booking dork replies.

and then the NEXT week we see in the paper, the same dozen bands filling slots we think they don’t deserve. of course, deserve is all relative, I am sure there are people in this town who would think we suck completely. do care? no.

and its not like we don’t think there is some great talent in chicago. there are some great bands here (here is my SHORT list: pelican, centaur, duenow) you just will never see them on stages here, you will see them on the road in other towns.

having talked to other bands we play with on the road we have noticed that a lot of cities are like chicago. maybe it is just a big bad plague.

Scott: A lot of your sound is based on drastic dynamic shifts. Are you self-produced , how does it work for Cased in the studio ?

cased: you know, we WERE going to do it ourselves, but we had a great in with jerry and we knew some people in some GREAT studio spaces here to help us. we ended up in Chicago Recording Company (CRC).

you know, the songs were really well planned out. there wasn’t much room for improv. there wasn’t any real formula either. again, we try and go for a FEEL more than anything else.

Scott: Let me be blunt, does it piss you off at all that you've recorded these phenomenal songs and nationwide, Clear Channel just wants to play Pearl Creed clone music ?

cased: gawd, we hate the radio. it's formula. record companies just don’t want to really develop artists and take chances. the huge wave of terrible pop bands out there have just drove me and the band to look for all those "indie" bands out there who need to be heard. so, yeah, it kind of pisses us off. our not expecting to get the big contract keeps us in perspective with the big picture of the music industry. we get more enjoyment playing in front of a crowd who appreciates good music. yes, those crowds seem to have morphed into lame audiences sometimes, but it is better than not having an audience at all.

Scott: I know it took me listening to Poker and Come one time to know Cased was exceptional, but when did it hit you that music might be something you excel at ?

cased: i think we are all really lucky. i know that the people in cased are really talented. being able to play with these people has made our "role" in music seem really special. there wasn’t really an moment per se which we just knew we were meant to make the music we have. we will admit that there have been moments which have guided us to the feel of the music we make. there have been losses, heart breaks and life situations which have pushed us here, and we have no regrets about them. they are a part of life and we embrace all the experiences which we have endured. as for excelling at music? well, we have to admit, we have made some great catchy music. we are really proud of it. the songs and the reaction they have brought have really surprised us. it's really cool getting emails from people asking for copies of the first album. shit, it was REALLY cool. when YOUR station contacted us. we were actually really flattered that people were listening. we live in a great time for music. the internet and the advancement of technology have made it really easy for great musicians to be heard. we are just lucky to be a part of that.

Scott: Do you believe in UFOs, had any strange experiences in that realm ?

cased: yes, there are aliens. oh yeah, you better fucking believe it. we believe in science. we believe there is more to life than this rock we are destroying. there has GOT to be more to our existence than this. heck, george w. has to be the biggest alien of them all. now, we could have a HUGE discussion about the conspiracy going on but that would take days. so, let us just say, GO ALIENS GO!!