Casey, from South Wales, are a perfect example of how vulnerability can lead to artistic greatness. Singer Tom Weaver has faced many obstacles, but he uses those experiences to create, alongside his bandmates, some of the most powerfully cathartic music we’ve heard in a long time. In this interview he talks about his life, discusses the band’s new album Where I Go When I Am Sleeping and reveals plans for the future.
Your new album Where I Go When I Am Sleeping retains the intensity and anger of your debut but at the same time sounds more melodic and atmospheric. Was the goal all along to create a diverse yet incredibly cathartic record or did things evolve naturally?
We’ve never really lead ourselves in a particular direction with any discernible level of intention. The only goal we’ve ever had is to produce content that the five of us are enamoured by. What we create is just a matter of organic development.
How did you come up with the title?
As with the debut, I ended up writing a lot of this record in the studio. I don’t like trying to craft lyrics around a piece of music until it’s absolutely finished, and we always end up amending and developing songs as we record them. Initially as I was writing I wanted to call the record “This Routine Is Hell”, because it was entirely about my health and well being and the sense of futility when an attempt to seek help fails you. Then, as the days went on and I began diversifying the nature of the topics on the record, that title became less fitting and I had to start thinking outside of it. “Sleeping” or the idea of sleep is a metaphor that I come back to quite often throughout the record; it’s intended to describe a sense of detachment from your identity, the feeling that what you’re experiencing isn’t real and so you have no personal investment in it. It’s also intended in a more literal sense for some of the songs regarding issues that I do often encounter in my sleep while dreaming.
One thing I particularly enjoyed was the inclusion of two interludes. I believe it gives the album a unique cinematic vibe and makes the whole thing feel like a huge journey. Was this what you had in mind when the decision to put them on the record was made?
We’ve always tried to draw a distinction between an album and a record. I think of an album like, well, a photo album, where not all of the images are connected, and it’s just a collection of content produced by the same creator(s). Whereas I’d say a record is an intentional body of work, something coherently put together to be enjoyed as a single continuous piece. When we were piecing the record together we were very deliberate about trying to make it flow well from start to finish. The instrumental tracks definitely contributed to that.
You worked with producer Brad Wood (Placebo, Smashing Pumpkins, Touché Amoré) this time around. How involved was he in shaping the new record, so to speak?
Brad was wonderful to work with, and while I wouldn’t say he made a huge contribution to the structure of the record, the atmosphere he cultivates in the studio definitely made this album what it is. Considering how much we’d left to improvisation and complacency when entering the studio, he was completely confident in letting us do our own thing and develop the record as we worked through it. At no point did we feel under pressure or influenced to move away from our own ideas. Brad’s biggest influence sonically was with layers, he suggested instruments and ideas that we certainly wouldn’t have explored without his input. He also brought some gnarly fuzz and synth engine pedals with him from California that we loved playing around with.
How would you describe your music at the moment? People often call you a post-hardcore band, but your sound has evolved so much… I find a lot of emo elements when I listen to your work, for example.
This is something I’ve always wrestled with, because if you take 20 second snapshots throughout the record we could just as easily be Comeback Kid as we could Sigur Rós. I think in the internet age the concept of genre is becoming less and less relevant. People are fusing soundscapes in such diverse and dramatic ways that trying to pigeonhole an artist is becoming more difficult than it’s ever been. We just make music that we love, if people listen to it and it resonates with them, then the genre is of no consequence.
Your life hasn’t exactly been easy: you were diagnosed with brittle bones disease at birth, ulcerative colitis when you were 15 and manic depression at the age of 20. You’ve also had a heart attack, a stroke and were involved in a car accident. Is it safe to say music was your salvation, your way of coping with all these tragedies?
I’d definitely say that it was a contributing factor, but certainly not the entire solution. Almost everything I write is a retrospective description of an experience that I’ve already processed. The community that I’ve become involved with through music has been far more beneficial to me than the actual performance element. Even since high school when I was first introduced to alternative music, it’s the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had as part of it that have made it so comforting and supportive.
On “Fluorescents” you wrote “Does it help if I say that I’m sorry? I know the burning in my blood has made you worry a lot”. Was feeling like a burden sometimes as unbearable as the actual pain caused by your illnesses?
I suppose the two are difficult to compare because one is physical and the other is emotional. However, even without having to compare it to any other experience in my life, the personal strain of combating illness and feeling like I had to justify it to loved ones is something that at times has been incredibly difficult. Fortunately, I’ve almost always been surrounded by incredibly patient and supportive peers, so despite my own feelings of guilt I’ve had the reassurance in place to handle my turbulence.
Last year I saw Touché Amoré live and what impressed me most was watching their lead singer, Jeremy Bolm, sing deeply personal lyrics about his mother’s death and realizing he had to wrestle with those demons night after night on stage. Since your songs are also rooted in pain and sadness, how do you deal with those feelings without going crazy?
For the most part, the therapeutic element of music is finished when a record is complete, because by then I’ve already performed and listened back to the sentiments countless times in the recording process. And aside from that, as I mentioned, it’s very rare that I will write about an experience as I’m going through it; more often I will write about something retrospectively once I’ve had time to process it, which means I can dwell on it more and make sure that I’m describing it in words that are creatively fulfilling. Obviously there are some nights where the lyrics will hit home harder for me than others, depending on what’s happening in my life away from the stage, but for the most part I don’t find it too difficult to handle.
Do you hope your lyrics can help other people?
It would be stupid of me to say that I don’t hope they help people, but I’ll be honest and say that it’s never been a motivating factor in creating music. Lyricism has always been a very personal and I’d even go as far as to say selfish pursuit. I write about myself because that’s the topic in which I am most confident. One lesson I’ve learned and tried my best to apply in songwriting is to dilute my own experiences far enough that they become accessible to others but still retain a sense of individuality – something that’s personal to me.
Musically speaking, what differences, if any, do you think your music would have if you hadn’t gone through all this?
I suppose that’s impossible to answer, because Casey’s music is the product of the five individuals that create it, and is also at all times a reflection of each of us as people. I would imagine there would definitely be some changes, but without knowing who I’d be instead of who I am right now, I wouldn’t be able to say what Casey would be.
You have announced tour dates in the UK and Europe with Endless Heights and Rarity as support acts. What’s next? How long do you plan on being on the road?
As long as we can be. [laughs] We’ve got some plans in place for the summer and we’re just finalising things for the fall and winter.