…well, I think I do.
I was having problems getting started on a piece about a band I like. I have heaps of material, video footage of sound check, audio of a little interview and footage of the live show. But, I just couldn’t decide what to write about: the gig, the band or just transcribe the interview?
Lightning struck, and I will tell you about:
My Date With Cassette.
It all started last year when I discovered Cassette ( @Myspace) via Fur Patrol ( @Myspace). Thomas Watson was looking after Julia’s guitars during their show and providing some backing vocals and percussion.
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Next thing I knew I was watching Thomas, Craig Terris (aka Cassette) and Andrew Bain (Fur Patrol) supporting Luke Buda ( @Myspace) at his CD release show. And was very much impressed: it was patently obvious that they all enjoyed playing together on stage and performing each others’ songs.
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After that show I kept hounding Thomas to keep me updated on any Cassette gigs coming up in Wellington. And soon an opportunity presented itself: they were going to play at the San Francisco Bath House (SFBH) as part of their album release tour for their new CD, The Jingle King, and they had agreed to let me film the sound check, the live show and answer a few questions!
On said afternoon I trekked to the venue with my gear in tow, bumping into them as they were lugging their amps up the stairs. My backpack suddenly felt a lot lighter. Once in, and setting up my camera it was interesting to observe the haphazardness of their setting up: musicians suddenly disappearing, various other bands coming and going, instruments being fixed, tuned and/or changed. And in the end it “just” all comes together for a run down of a couple of songs. They even managed to play one song three times for the benefit of a TV camera crew! As everything and everyone seemed to be running behind a bit, we agreed to have our chat in the evening, before the show, to give everyone a chance to get sorted and fed.
The evening approached and with recharged batteries I headed back to the venue. Despite being early, the place was humming with anticipation and I finally sat down with Thomas and a glass of wine.
Tom is one of those musicians who creates music for the love of it, and not the elusive fame and fortune that some others manage to acquire. It would be nice for once to more than break even, rather than pay out of their pockets for their tours, but it doesn’t stop or deter him and his fellow musicians doing what they love best: putting their lives and experiences into sounds and words, and share them with a select appreciative audience. And not just to bring out an album, and hope it’ll sell, but also tour the length and width of the country to experience the music with others in an intimate environment.
Cassette has been going now for a decade, with stints in Australia and overseas, and even though their albums have reached acclaim thoughout the South Pacific, the commercial success hadn’t followed. In the end they decided to head back home to whanau and friends and focus on the positive: music is fun, and making it should be too.
They might have accepted that “they’re not the hottest new thing coming out of NZ anymore”, but the enthusiasm and dedication of long time friends and new fans seems to make it worth their while to continue. Asked why, Tom reckoned that because they are not writing for a target audience, marketing is a lot harder, and therefore commercial success a lot harder to attain. His assumption that if their typical listener wasn’t here tonight to view the gig, or listen to the CD at home, they’d be more than likely to be reading a book to their kids, I think is bang-on! Which, as far as I’m concerned, is too nice to be labeled “cute” or “homely” and marketed!
Anyway, time was flying, the place filling up and the opening gigs starting, so I let him go and focused on filming the show.
The opening acts were Broadsword (aka The Sneaks @Myspace), and Lawrence Arabia ( @Myspace, support band: Broadsword) which proved to be real eye openers. All have very distinctly different styles, starting with right-out head banging punk with fancy dress (Broadsword) moving on to Pop/Rock/Psychedelic by Lawrence Arabia, who was releasing his new album, Chant Darling.
And as seems to be common among this particular family of musicians, by the end of the Lawrence Arabia set, all the other band members had joined him on stage and supported him with various vocal,percussion and trumpet interludes.
As soon as Cassette started the crowd settled into a comfortable groove in front of the stage and the bar. Which meant no close-up filming for me from the mosh pit! But, I had a good view from the back, and was able to get up close from the sides.
As a live gig is all about the interaction between audience and band, I try to interfere or obstruct as little as possible, which sometimes means just not being in the perfect place for EVERY shot. Mind you, I have had gigs, where the crowd/fans literally shove me in front of the stage, support me and the camera, and try to shepherd the musicians around the stage!
At this gig Cassette was supported by Luke Buda on gat/vox/keys and Andrew Bain on bass. And as seems to be traditional they played a few songs of Luke’s recent release, Vesuvius.
Cassette’s songs filled the place with thoughtful tunes, catchy rhythms, and despite being a break-up album, displayed your classic kiwi wry humour and showed the funny side of things: my favourite part: ‘Shadow’: “ I can’t stand it, ‘cause she’s singing all the time, …” And you’d have to listen to the whole song to get the full irony of course!
Well, again time was flying way too fast, and before we really knew it, DJ Samuel Flynn Scott ( @Myspace)was throwing out some nice songs to keep the people dancing and everyone had retired to the back. As they all were still high on adrenaline and exhausted from the long day, I bade my farewell, thanking them for this excellent opportunity to observe them at such close quarters, congratulating them on a great night and quietly packed up my gear.
The last thing to do now, is make the accompanying video, but as my editing skills are still developing, that might take a while.