Some wild weather and five and a half feet of snowfall in the U.K. has meant that Tom Weaver’s day job of working at a home insurance company has become a rather stressful time. On top of all that though, his band Casey have just released their phenomenal second record, ‘Where I Go When I Am Sleeping’, quite simply one of the most moving and engrossing melodic hardcore albums of recent memory. So it’s a very busy time for the frontman right now. With this new release hot from the stove sitting in the ears and hands of fans around the world, the soft but well-spoken Weaver talked with me about the literal and metaphorical references within their latest melancholic audible experience, how he approaches lyrics and song-writing, this release’s creation process, what he doesn’t like about their debut LP, and an Australian tour happening one-day. (Fingers double crossed for that last one).
One thing that struck me about Casey’s new record is that just when I thought that your music couldn’t get any more personal or any more emotional, you go and write a record like ‘Where I Go When I Am Sleeping’. It’s just even more extreme in that sense.
And with your own personal honesty here, and with a lot of your mental and physical medical issues that drive this record, was that difficult for you to open up about?
It was something I really faced up against when writing our first record. I just came to the conscious conclusion that if I was to write about myself, then I had to be as authentic and as open with myself as I ever was. It is something I grew accustomed to on our first album and was a mentality I brought with me for this new record. So it wasn’t particularly difficult as pretty much everything I write is all-retrospective. I never write about something as it’s currently happening; it’s about things that have happened and I’ve had time to process them and give them creative reflection. I just use the band as a sort of open book to vent into.
Yeah, for sure, and that’s quite clear about how you use Casey as a vehicle for your own emotions. And that’s why I think so many people latch onto the band’s music; it’s just so honest and relatable.
Yeah, thank you man. It’s something we’ve been aware of since we first started this band, that we’ve had a noticeable size of our fan demographic is incredibly invested in the music and lyrics. And I would like to believe that our fanbase is a little more invested than the average band.
I would agree with that too, just from seeing the larger response to your new stuff – people seem to really love it! One thing I do want to ask about the new record is your vocals. They’re way heavier, way harsher but also far warmer and natural too. Is that down to how this record was mixed and recorded or if it was actually down to the medical issues you’ve had that impacted the sound of the vocals?
No, the physical stuff didn’t impact them. It was more so that I very rarely write much of my vocals until I’m at the studio. I probably wrote 75% of the album as were recording it. Which is good in the sense that it regularly leads to there just being massively recurring themes throughout the record and more of a constant narrative than it all being… patch-worked. But the problem is that it doesn’t allow me to practice the parts a lot [laughs].
There’s also much more clean vocals on this record. There’s a lot more range in my vocals now and before Casey started I never did cleans. This time around, we wanted to make sure things were correct, which left me less time to record the heavier vocals, so I had to find a range and a style I could do consistently. With that last album, we recorded it so quickly that there’s a lot of inconsistencies that irk me now when I listen back to it now. That was one of the things that I really highlighted to Brad [Wood, engineer/producer] on the new album – I wanted it to sound consistently like a properly produced album. While recording my heavier vocals we found the best use of my harsher vocals, what I was comfortable with, how they’d fit with the rest of the songs and the mix he was going to do later on.
It all actually sounds higher on the record then when we recorded it, which is strange…
Oh. Do you reckon that he did some “mix-magic” there or that the way you interpret your vocals is different from the way it sounds recorded?
Um… I’m not sure, to be honest. Maybe it was because we were listening to it back off these really nice, these really big studio speakers that have more frequency range as opposed to my headphones at home. Some parts of the record sounded like Misery Signals when we tracked it but it doesn’t sound like that now.
[Laughs] no, it definitely doesn’t sound like Misery Signals! That being said, the care and time you took with this record really shows in the final product. It also sounds like what I’d imagine Casey would sound live too.
Yep! It’s always something that we keep in mind when we write. We don’t write it first in front of a computer, we’ll do it all in an analogue setting. That’s the way we did this album too with a pre-production day, going through everything we did live and see what it sounded like. When we got to the studio, Brad sat in the room with us and found out what tempos we naturally played these songs to and worked off of that. Which is great, because we would not have considered that if we had done this one by ourselves.
We’re always cautious of the bands that do all of that studio magic stuff and you see them live and 70% of their show is on a backing track. Or it sounds really thin or frail versus how complete the record sounded.
That word you just used there – ‘complete’ – that’s how I’d actually describe ‘Where I Go When I Am Sleeping’. Speaking of, this album’s title, obviously, there’s a metaphor at work here, but where do you actually “go”: is it your dreams, is it wishful thinking, is it negativity, or is it nothing at all?
So, there are two sides to it. I’ve always used sleeping or sleep-related themes as both literal and metaphorical references in my writing.
For a lot of the record, in terms of my physical and mental health aspects and treatment aspects, sleeping is a natural and medically induced detachment from your own circumstances. Something that I encountered with a lot of anti-depressant medication, which makes your life feel like a dream. That’s the reference to this record about the experiences I had when I was under the influence of those drugs. Then there’s the more literal definition of it. These are the issues that my brain encounters and tries to resolve while I’m sleeping; whether they be past romantic relationships or emotional turmoil’s.
I love the thematic duality there. And do these medical things and feelings of detachment apply to you now in any way? As you said that these lyrics and ideas come about only in retrospect.
No, not really. The anti-depression side of it doesn’t apply to me anymore as I’ve stopped taking them. It also refers to an incident last January when I was hospitalized where I had a really bad flare up of my ulcerate colitis and was in the hospital for a number of weeks. They had to move around my medications and increase my dosages and it left me with a similar sense of detachment to my surroundings. I just felt like a vegetable. The only times I left the hospital bed was to go to the bathroom and it didn’t’ feel real at a point. As I said, I don’t like to write things at the moment, as my perspective on them will change over time as I think about them in more concrete ways.
I think that’s the best way as if you wrote about it in-the-moment, you’d have that knee-jerk reaction to it. Which again, just adds to the quality of Casey’s music and lyrics.
It becomes a creative exercise more than an emotional exercise; trying to understand the concept and be confident in it via exploring every mental facet of it all to find the right words to express it.
Yeah, well said! Makes it more meaningful and gives it more depth I think.
Now, the last question I wanted to ask about Casey and surrounding this new record is… will we finally see you guys in Australia? Because you toured overseas with Thy Art Is Murder last year and are touring with Endless Heights soon over there, so you’re touring with all of these great Australian bands but are just not coming out here. It’s like the ultimate tease!
[Laughs] Yeah, we’re just making all these friends so when we come over we can just crash with them and not book hotels. But yes, potentially! We have some things in the works for Australia soon in a few months. It sucks that Europe is in the middle of the touring world and if you need to leave it, it costs a million pounds to get anywhere.
Oh it’s rough but I really do hope that it comes to fruition in 2018 – I’ve been waiting out for a Casey Australian tour for years now. And on that note, we’ll leave it there Tom. Thank you so much for your time today, mate.
No worries, it’s been so lovely to speak with you man!