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Casey Didn’t Conform To “Classic” Sound On ‘How To Disappear’

Casey Winter 2024
[Photo by: Martyna Bannister]

When Casey announced their split at the tail-end of 2018, there was an expectation that we would never hear from them again. Putting to bed an emotional whirlwind of a five-year career, their music captured a particular intensity that many bands never even get close to achieving. Though following their instincts and allowing themselves to reconvene, 2022 signaled a new chapter for the five-piece.

That started as a handful of shows at the beginning of 2023, alongside a pair of tracks in “Great Grief” and “Atone,” summing up the feelings of getting to know each other again. It has now materialized into a whole new full-length in the form of How To Disappear. A carefully constructed and cathartically intimate experience, the band sums up existence, in both the light and dark, gorgeously. There are layers of stark sadness to be unraveled here, but there are also glimmers of sunlight through the clouds. It is a record that comes to terms with what being in the void of nothingness can represent and that there is beauty to be found in resting there for a while.

Now, with the album out in the world and the band about to embark on a tour of the U.S. in support of Holding Absence, idobi Radio caught up with vocalist Tom Weaver, guitarist Liam Torrance, and drummer Max Nicolai to analyze the path that brought us here…

How To Disappear has arrived almost exactly a year from when you played your first shows back and released “Great Grief” and “Atone.” Where did the conversation about a new full-length start to happen within settling back into things?

Liam Torrance: We always knew we would do an album. We came back with those two tracks to accompany that tour, but we always knew there needed to be more. When we were back, we were as productive as ever. We all had individual ideas of what we wanted to create, and with the number of ideas that ended up being, a single EP would never be enough. We had to write an album. And we had a clear vision of what we wanted to do and have been fortunate enough to bring it to life.

So what did each of you want, and how did it feel to share that with each other? There’s a big difference between getting back into space and practicing songs representing a different time in your lives and getting into that space as the people you are now…

Tom Weaver: From a personal and potentially selfish standpoint, we wanted to write in a different way. When we first started working with each other and revisiting old spaces and determining what they meant to us, it made me realize how unnecessarily flamboyant I could have been at times. Forcing the idea of a narrative, not that any of the things I was writing about were falsified in any regard. At the time, it felt like they became less believable if I didn’t write about them melodramatically. As a way of signifying confidence in myself and confidence in the band, I didn’t feel the need to do that within the authenticity this time around. I wanted to be more mature, and part of that comes from not feeling like I have to throw the thesaurus at it.

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That bled into the musical side of things, too. I know there are a lot of people who still absolutely adore Love Is Not Enough, and we are incredibly thankful for that. But so little of that record resonates with me on a musical level that I wanted to ensure we were departing from that. That’s why we were able to dive into themes that we haven’t been able to before whilst obviously trying to keep a foot in that world so it doesn’t sound completely alien. I wanted it to be a breath of fresh air, and we accomplished that.

Max Nicolai: Also, the integrity is not there if you come back and simply write an album you know everybody will like. Part of the reason that we stopped doing the band was because some of us didn’t feel emotionally connected to what we were doing anymore. If we are going to write this time, we aren’t going to limit ourselves. We just wanted it to be an album we could listen to and be totally happy with. There are songs where previously we would have thought, ‘We can’t write like that,’ but this time around, we said, ‘Yeah, we can.’

Writing more generally about existence rather than particular moments along the way has helped to make these songs mean more. The melancholy is rooted in the everyday. Writing about the cycle of just being, there must be clarity and comfort in expressing that…

LT: This album is precisely what it is because of that. As someone who writes music and then plays that music live, I have to live up to these themes. We have to carry over these big, sweeping topics. That’s where I could find more freedom in these songs because there weren’t those constraints. We didn’t have to conform to what anybody wanted to hear from us. This is what Casey is now, and that’s it. Having that clean slate, musically and emotionally, meant that there were no barriers. We didn’t have to make it sound sad or anything if we didn’t want to. We tried to escape those stereotypes and write an album for us.

A lot of that must come from being able to separate yourselves from what the band has been for you over the years. Living away from Casey, be that family life or other work, has meant that when you have returned to it, your emotions are different and possibly even more potent…

LT: That’s hitting the nail on the head. There is life outside of this. In 2017 and 2018, we were touring so much that doing anything outside of this was impossible. The band needed to be our 100%. But then, as we have grown as individuals, we have led separate lives for four years. We have an understanding of each other’s extracurricular activities. I have two kids, and Max has two kids. Tom and I both work management jobs in our spare time. This can’t be our everything, but that comes with strong communication. We are treating this band so much better than how we did before.

TW: The feeling of living those separate lives and driting apart over those four years, when we got back together, and we felt the same about working with each other and coming at it with a new maturity. There was empathy for each other’s lives, and we ensured that everybody was okay first and foremost, as much as we cared for the band. It just solidified that this is what we wanted to be doing and that we had to be more mindful about it. It made it all worthwhile.

The result is an album that feels like the brightest Casey record but also one that exists within the grey more than any other. It’s a record that reminds you that it’s okay to thrive within that shade and that it’s okay to just exist within the nothingness as much as it is to respond to it…

LT: That touches on the authenticity of things. Subconsciously, there were moments when I was writing for the people who wanted to hear “Classic Casey.” But this is an album that has 12 very different soundtracks. I didn’t need to think like that and that we shouldn’t sacrifice anything to please that.

MN: When we were making Where I Go When I Am Sleeping at the backend of 2017, I don’t think we really appreciated where we were. We took for granted what was happening around us. When we went to record that album, we barely had an album. We must have written most of it in the studio. I didn’t realize what we had at the time. Now, we realize what we have and appreciate it. We put so much more into it because of that.

To also be launching this era by playing these songs in the U.S. That’s the sort of opportunity that solidifies that sentiment. Not taking for granted getting to be this band on the other side of the world to where home is…

LT: We have definitely taken a big risk on ourselves with this tour. We’re playing with Holding Absence, and many of that crowd will be looking to hear our old stuff. We’ve taken an even bigger risk in playing the Impericon Festivals in March, which are essentially German metal/hardcore events. We’re taking a plunge off the diving board playing these new songs in those places, but we are just going for it. It’s exciting, and the more people we can play to that have yet to see or hear of us, the better. There will be expectations of blood and breakdowns, and we will be playing some nice soft songs.

So what does it mean to have Casey, in the form that it is now, be such a part of your lives again?

LT: Looking back on 2015-2019, so much of what we had done so far felt rushed. I was not mature enough to understand the opportunities that we had been given. The fact is that only a few people get to do this at all. I wish I had been more in the moment when I was doing it. Now that we are as busy as we are, we live within it. I can enjoy the opportunities more now than I could have back then. And to do it with these guys is everything. When we got back together, it felt like we had never left. I want to make the most of it.

MN: I speak for everyone when I say we have had more fun on these tours than any that we did back before. We enjoyed each other’s company more and appreciated what we were doing more. It’s so much fun now. We almost had to have the break to get the kick up the arse to enjoy what we have in the right way.

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