Hailing from Southern Sydney, Castles have been making some loud noise in the local hardcore scene in recent months. With their debut EP having just been released, guitarist Deklan Van De Straat took some time out to chat to killyourstereo.com about the release and what’s coming up in the next few months for the band.
Hey Deklan, how are you doing this morning?
Yeah, I’m doing pretty good, bro. Pretty good.
Do you want to describe Castles’ music for anyone that’s not familiar with it in five words?
Five words…heavy-ish. Melodic. Fun. That’s three…
High energy. That counts as two right? (laughs)
How did Castles came together and what you guys have done so far as a band?
Shaun, Daniel and Justin were all in a band before this, and they were having what I guess you could call some ‘band issues,’ so they sent me a message one night asking if I wanted to be involved in a kind of fun, heavyish band with them, and I just thought, that’d be sick!
So we had a few practices, and we got together with a bass player, and the whole aim was just to make some music and play some sick shows. The bass player we had eventually left us, so we got a fill-in for a while, and then Tom came along and he’s our current bass player.
So far we’ve released our first single, released our first EP. Hopefully we’ll be getting some merch done up soon, and hopefully we’ll have a sneaky little video along the way.
Like you said, you guys have just recently released your debut EP – Tell us a bit about that?
It’s just a four track EP, lots of fun. All of the tracks are somewhat similar, and yet different as well. The first track, ‘Nosebleed,’ we put up on YouTube. It’s a high energy, killer song. In some ways, it’s a bit of a cliche hardcore song, but it’s good because it does the job.
The second song is called ‘Rakija,’ which is about some moonshine that our singer’s grandfather makes that’s 90% alcohol that we always have a good time with (laughs).
Next is ‘Like Father, Like Son,’ which is this minute and a half to two minute song, which is just the type of song that punches you straight in the face, especially when you hear it live.
The last song is called ‘A Separation,’ which is a bit more chilled out, but it has a huge build-up from the start right up until the very end with this huge outro.
How have you guys found the response to the EP so far?
It’s been pretty good! We released ‘Nosebleed’ a while ago, and we got a pretty good response for that, but then we released ‘A Separation,’ and it had a way better response. People on Twitter and Facebook were really digging it. It’s got something of a unique sound to it, so everyone’s trying to kind of figure it out, and that was really cool.
The other two songs, since they’re only available on the CD, they’re a bit more ‘in the background,’ but hopefully with this video coming out we’ll be able to fix that!
What was it that made you want to release ‘Nosebleed’ as the first single?
It’s the first song that we play in our set at the moment, and it starts really full. The other tracks start softer and take a while to get into it, but ‘Nosebleed’ has that sick drum intro, and then everyone comes in. It starts big, and it engages people. If we were to release another song that started a bit slower as our first track, people might lose interest before they’ve even listened to it. First impressions count a lot in music.
Run me through how you’ve gone about the recording of the EP?
We recorded all the drums and guitars and bass, and all of those little synth-y things you hear in the background with our drummer, Shaun. So we did all those tracks with him before we did the vocals, and then he did a bit of tweaking and mixing. Then we sent it to this dude in Melbourne, Declan White who’s done work for bands like Thy Art Is Murder and I think maybe Hand of Mercy, then he mastered it and sent it back to us, and after a bit of back and forth with him, we ended up with what we’ve got now.
Every band seems to have their own method for writing songs – What do you guys do?
It takes us a while. We’re not a very functional band, I don’t think. This EP, our other guitarist wrote all the guitar parts, so it was just a matter of the two of us learning all the guitar parts together. The two parts are pretty different, but they interact really well. We would then get together with our bassist and write some bass stuff. Me and Justin, since we both do vocals, we would write some lyrics between us, and work out what fit. We would have a lot of band practices where things just wouldn’t fit and there was a lot of trial and error.
A lot of it happened in recording, because we would lay down some vocal tracks and realise that something just really wasn’t working with a song when we listened back to the recording, rather than just at band practice, which was really cool.
Do you think there are any key influences on the sound of the EP?
The whole idea from the beginning was to kind of channel this band from the UK called Crooks. We wanted to go for this whole melodic hardcore ‘Crooks’ feel, and from there, we just kind of put our own thing on it.
If you had the chance to go over and re-make the EP from scratch, what would you do differently?
I don’t know, hey? I would re-do the clean vocals. Personally, there are some parts where I know I can do better. Overall, we’re pretty happy with though. We might tweak a few guitar parts to make them more interesting, but other than that, we’re pretty happy.
You guys mentioned on Facebook that you were working on a video clip. How’s progress going on that?
Progress is good. We got someone to come out to our show at We Come Out At Night, and he filmed a song, then we got together and got some footage of us hanging out, skating, whatever. It’s coming together really nice. I think it’s going to the song Rakija, but progress is going really good. We can’t wait to put it out in the next couple of weeks.
I’m noticing that there are a lot of people in Sydney who seem to have their doubts about the strength of the hardcore scene these days. What’s your take on that?
I think people feel like its not strong because it’s not as ‘mainstream’ as it was. The local Sydney scene isn’t the best it’s ever been, but at the same time, it’s certainly not the worst. It’s definitely a healthy scene to be in. There’s gigs on every second week, and people are willing to go to them as well! It’s a good scene to be a part of.
You guys have been doing a fair few shows around Sydney and a couple of regional areas of New South Wales – What have been your favourite shows and venues to play at?
We played a show a few weeks ago at the Cage in Picton. We walked in, and it was just this netball area that they’d put a little stage up for drums, and everything else was on the ground. Anyway, it was in Picton, so we were expecting that there wouldn’t really be anyone there, but as the show went on, there were heaps of people there and there was such a crazy energy there! That was a really killer show.
Another great one we’ve done is at Yours and Owls in Wollongong, which was for one of Hearts Like Wolves final shows. Everyone was heaps pumped and ready to send them off, and it made for a killer show.
We’ll finish up with an easy one! If you could choose any band in the country to play a show with, who would it be?
In Australia? I reckon I’d say In Hearts Wake, ‘cause they’re absolutely killing it at the moment!