WR836: Death Cassette

Episode 836 October 14, 2023 00:40:49
WR836: Death Cassette
Witchpolice Radio
WR836: Death Cassette

Oct 14 2023 | 00:40:49

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Hosted By

Sam Thompson

Show Notes

This year has already seen its share of excellent local releases, but I’m particularly excited about the deadly new EP by grunge punks Death Cassette, which drops next month! 

Stay tuned for a conversation about making the record, translating their raw, live sound to the studio, simplifying songwriting, their Nov. 17 EP release show, and much more.

PLUS: Hear the brand new Death Cassette single, 'Reflector' on this episode, as well as an exclusive sneak peek at some more tracks from the absolutely deadly new release! Hot dang!

Need more Death Cassette in your life? Check out episode #431 (Oct. 2019)

This episode brought to you by our pals at Devine Shirt Company and by 'Drips and Drops', a new art exhibit by Matthew Powers of Midnight Review Presents, showing now at the Millennium Library's Blankstein Gallery!

Huge thanks to everyone who supports the podcast on Patreon! You can help out for as little as a couple bucks a month if you like the show and want to throw some change in the guitar case!

As always, if you like the podcast, please tell a friend or 20! Rate and review on your podcast player of choice! Word of mouth is still the main way Witchpolice Radio reaches new ears. Thanks for listening.

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

WITCHPOLICE RADIO: All right. Welcome to wish...Witchpolice Radio. I'm here with, I just stumbled the name of my own show. I say welcome to Wishpolish Radio, but you know what it is. You're listening to this. You probably presumably know the name of the podcast. I'm here with a band that's been on the show before. I was looking at when the last appearance was, and it was back in 2019. So obviously a lot has changed in the time since. Not most importantly, a massive global pandemic that I'm sure affected you guys the same way it's affected everyone I've talked to over the past few years. But at the time we spoke earlier, Death Cassette was about to put out your first full length, and we're talking again now. You have another one coming, which is very exciting, and I do have a lot of questions about that. I want to hear all about the record, but before we get into that, if the three of you who are here want to just introduce yourselves and what you do in the band so listeners can put a name to the voice. MANDY: I'll go first. I'm Mandy. I play guitar and sing. LINDSEY: I'm Lindsey. I play guitar. Do a little yelling if I can. CHUCK: And I'm Chuck. I play bass. WR: Okay, so like I said last time you were on the show. It was the same three members, I think, last time as well. So that's kind of cool for continuity's sake. But you were about to put out the first record, which was a really I really love that album. It's one of my favorite local albums of that year, for sure. And I'm excited about this new one because I got sent some of the early chance to listen to it. Well, anyway, we'll get into it. But what has sort of happened over the past few years with this band? I mean, again, last time we talked, you were about to put out that record. It, I assume, did well for you in the sense that people seem to dig it and you had a lot of shows sort of happening pre-pandemic and now again, post-pandemic. But what's the state of the band? Is it the same band members? Are you still kind of doing the same thing, rolling along? MANDY: Yeah, same exact band members just trying to write a lot more trying to write more different things from the other record and just kind of jam out and see how that goes. We released our album the day before the lockdown and everything, so that was really awkward. But since then we've had some good opportunities to play with some touring bands, so that was really great. WR: Yeah. You've been on some big shows, I've noticed, seeing the name popping up in unexpected places, I think so. I guess just before we get into the new record, I mean, releasing it the day before the lockdown happened, as a relatively new band, releasing your first record, what was that like for you? Because it changed everything for everyone. But when you're trying to get your name out there and get people to hear this album that just came out, what was that experience like? Sort of realizing that nothing you had planned was going to happen for a while. MANDY: It was almost like, hard to be excited about it because the future was kind of uncertain. And even that night, a lot of people that said they were going to be there were kind of scared to, and rightfully so. And the people that were there were all like, distance and it was just a really bizarre vibe for a show. CHUCK: But we had a band drop out. MANDY: We had a band dropout, two bands dropout. CHUCK: The Thrashers came to our rescue and we were planning to do a tour, like a little tour, and then that obviously wasn't happening. We were all in lockdown the very next day. LINDSEY: Yeah, we should say The Thrashers saved our butts on that one. And so did Ian. Ian did an acoustic set, singer of North Graffiti and Damn the Torpedoes. WR: And about 15 other bands he's in. LINDSEY: Yeah, exactly. He's awesome. So many thanks for that. I think it was interesting because we released the album, we had a little tour planned. It obviously didn't happen, but we did pretty well on college radio with that. Our single did pretty well, like the loud, you know, ranked on there or so. It was interesting. But then we had to take a bit of a break, right? Because everybody was kind of scared to get together. Mandy works or worked in a healthcare situation at the time, so it wasn't really appropriate for us to get together for A and we don't do well over text and zoom and messenger and that kind of stuff. So we're definitely an in person band. So it certainly put a hamper on it. But now we're back. WR: Yeah. And you have a new record coming out. And if I'm not mistaken, it definitely seems like this album has been a long time in the works. I mean, I remember seeing photos of you guys recording it and I was like, oh, cool, there's a new album coming out. And then months later, now it's finally happening. How long has this been sort of in the works for you guys? MANDY: Well, just like just over a year, I would say, because we recorded last summer with John Paul Peters. LINDSEY: And that was what, August? At Private Ear Studios. We did the day of the Burt Block Party. We got this crazy opportunity. So we had recording booked and we had the day booked and we're doing like the record live off the floor, all the instruments. And we went in the night before, got our tones and then that day we recorded the entire record, all the instruments and then went right to there to block party to play with like pop and Cancer Bats and Rise Against. It was a surreal day. CHUCK: We actually had to wake up at 08:00 A.m. On a Saturday to go record. We were like, what are we doing here? Because we had to get it all done by three because we had to go sound check for that block party at four. And it was crazy. And I'm pretty old and out of shape and my back was killing me. By the end of that night, I was looking around backstage for a place to lay down. WR: So this new one was it just recorded in one shot like that, like the whole album was done. That's cool. CHUCK: Not the vocals. MANDY: I went back later that week and just did vocals over top. But we recorded everything live together, otherwise. LINDSEY: For the instruments, we were really careful. John Paul was really great with us. That so we're a live band, right? And John Paul was really great. Got us in the day before and got all our tones, like, dialed. Everything was like, absolutely dialed for tones. Spent a long time getting a really good drum tone, long time getting a really good bass tone, then our guitars as well. And those songs we were really tight with, so we just played them five times through each and we just took the best take and then we did the vocals later that weekend and Manny nailed the vocals. This recording really sounds like her. MANDY: I feel like it's like the first time I actually sound like myself. And he made me feel really comfortable in there that I just was able to get it in, like one or two takes, pretty much. WR: What is it about the vocals that sounds like yourself? Because that's an interesting way of sort of referring to it because it does sound like you on previous records because I know you've been involved in a lot of other projects over the years, but what makes this more sort of youish, if that's a word? MANDY: I can't really put my finger on it, but it sounds maybe less produced and how I feel like I would sound live, I guess, because I feel like anytime that I've tried to record it's, like, maybe I'm forcing it. I feel really awkward. So I just feel like it was probably my best takes. WR: You know I've only had that chance to listen to the record once the the upcoming record, but it definitely sounds it sounds raw and has that live feel like like you're describing, which makes sense for a band, I think, to want to have that sort of vibe to it. But one of the things I noticed, and I don't know if I'm explaining this properly, but it kept coming to mind as I was listening to the album, is that it sounds like in a lot of the songs more so than the previous record. There's like a tension that builds, and it almost seems like someone best analogy I can do is like someone tightening a screw. Slowly, slowly tightening a screw. And then suddenly something the piece of wood just breaks and then it gets fixed and tightened again. It's not like the standard verse, chorus, verse, loud, quiet, soft thing, but it seems like it builds to something and then it's just like really big. Often the hooks are huge and the choruses are huge and it's just really loud. And then it goes back down and tightens back up again, if that makes sense. And I noticed that it seems a lot more like that's happening than it did in the previous record where there's like a sort of tension building throughout each song and then it just gets unleashed, I guess, if that makes sense. CHUCK: Yeah, thanks. That's a cool way to look at it. I think we've been listening to this thing for so long and been writing and working with these songs and sitting on this album that I think I look at the thing very strangely because I've heard it so much. Do I like it because I've had to listen to it for so long? Is that why? WR: Well, maybe a better way of explaining maybe a better way of explaining that thing I was trying to just explain is it almost seems like you're excited to get to the heavy parts. If that's an explanation. It seems like a lot of bands will do that thing where they're building to something louder and something heavier, but it seems like you're kind of, like, pumped to get there almost. CHUCK: Cool. Yeah. That's interesting take on it for Know. LINDSEY: The thing about John Paul, working with JP is that he makes it so you're not nervous to work with him even though he's epic. Right. And he's like, crazy projects. So he really allows you to come through whatever you're doing in there and he kind of disarms you the whole time. So I think that's part of it, and I think that the other part is the attention to tones. I think our first record is great, but I go back and like, okay, well, I made the decision for my own guitar. It's too distorted for me. Right. And then we made some decisions. I'm not critical of it. I'm not saying negative things about it, but too much on the too many layers in those vocals. Let's manage your own backups. And some of those things, it's like, no, that's not that's not real for us. This is really disarmed and just like, really and it was inexperienced with recording. Not the people who did it. I hope that they know Kyle and Marty, they'll take them talking negative about the actual sound. But it was kind of like us. Like, we weren't inexperienced. Now I think we know what we you know, even when JP came back with the first edits and there was effects on it and stuff like that, he's, like, trying things. No, no, remember, we want it to just sound like us. And he just really did that for us and really thankful for it. WR: Is that idea something that you want to have where the songs can be played sort of as they are on the record without having a bunch of extra bells and whistles? You want it to just be the same sort of experience live as on the absolutely, yeah. CHUCK: Yeah. We didn't want triggers on the drums. We wanted it to be very raw, like you said. So that's pretty much what we were going for. And JP really understood what we were trying to go for. And especially since we have no really good like, we're not smart with recording. We're not that educated about that stuff. So we probably frustrated the heck out of them because we didn't have that many notes. We were just kind of like, sounds good. Yeah, more of this. Sorry about that, JP. But it sounds awesome. WR: But that's almost like an asset for you guys just in the sense of the type of band you are, where, again, there's that live thing, right, where you know what you want it to sound like. Maybe you don't have the terminology for what buttons to push or whatever, but you're able to make sort of the sound you want to make pretty organically without having to add all the studio stuff and the effects and the extra tracks and everything. You don't have, like, a synth part in one of the songs. LINDSEY: Like I feel like there's two really big parts in our band. The drums are really big and the vocals are really big. And I feel like Chuck and I just spend our time writing simple riffs that get out of the way of those things. Definitely suits it. WR: Was that kind of hard to do at first when the band first started to figure out that you want to be sort of more in the background with the guitar and bass. MANDY: I think that was kind of the thought process the entire time. I know, like, Lindsay and I, we would jam a lot and that was kind of like his vision. So we played with it and then kind of worked out. LINDSEY: Yeah. I remember when I started kind of Mandy being like, hey, let's start a band. And I was like, Chuck, I think we should do this. And then Chuck and I found Brock, or however it happened exactly. And Brock McPherson, our drummer, he's not, you know, pouring out for him or that. I remember I was at the Windsor, and Chuck and I were in another band and we'd asked Mandy's other band to open for us. You know Mike Koop, the CDs guy? WR: "I'm into CDs." LINDSEY: He said, Somebody should start grunge band with that girl. I was like, I'm already on. Like, he's like, her voice is really good. Somebody used to do some sort of grunge thing with her. I was yeah. Yeah, I've been thinking about it. WR: Yeah. CHUCK: And because we liked Mandy's voice so much, it was easier to be like, okay, let's keep this. We don't need some complicated riffs. We wanted to kind of work it around Mandy's vocals and the drums. And that's just kind of been, I guess, our style, what we've been doing. LINDSEY: And they say I don't know who says it, but I've heard it many times is that if you can play a song on an acoustic guitar and sing it and it's still a great song, then it's probably a good song. Right? WR: And you did some of those you had some videos of was that over the pandemic of acoustic performances, or was that more recently? MANDY: Yeah, we went to his MMA gym, martial arts gym, played some songs and. LINDSEY: Made a secret black room when we weren't supposed to be meeting anybody. Yeah, so it was yeah, we were thankful to put that up, be able to put something out during that time. WR: When you do something like that, when you take those songs and strip down kind of a lot of the loudness from them just by nature of being acoustic, does that give you any kind of new insight into sort of what the song means? Not subject matter wise or anything, but just in terms of how it's constructed and how you sort of perform it, having it in that stripped down version? MANDY: Yeah, I felt that I changed the melody a little bit just to give it more of a punch, because the guitar is a bit deconstructed, you know what I mean? I don't know how to even explain myself, but I tried to play around with that a little bit more just to give it a little bit more melody and emotion just because it wasn't as loud. So. WR: I don't think with with your band, this is a problem, but is it hard to get that emotion through when you're doing something that is I mean, I don't want to call you. I want to say you're a heavy band, but you're not like a metal band or anything. You're not playing, like, death metal or whatever. But I mean, it is very loud and very in your face, and it's emotional just, I guess, in its kind of general nature of the songs and everything, because you're loud, you're yelling, you guys are. But when you take it to acoustic, you can't yell as loud, you can't sing as loud, you can't play guitar as loud. Is it difficult to kind of get that emotion out if you're so used to playing it with sort of increased volume and distortion and everything else? MANDY: I don't think it's difficult. I just had to maybe change the way I approach it so, like singing it a little bit softer instead of as yelly, you know what? LINDSEY: Yeah, yeah. I also think that Mandy has a big voice, but she doesn't sing loud. Right. So it's there. Like, she's got a lot of control of her voice, which naturally I don't know where she got that from. Right. But when you hear real pros do it, they're not forcing it. And I was like, she's got that right. She can do it at a low volume as well. Right. WR: Yeah. I guess that is the difference between screaming so you can be heard and having that sort of stylistically in your voice. I guess it's a different thing. LINDSEY: Totally. WR: You mentioned earlier that you're telling that story, Lindsey, about the Windsor and wanting to start a grunge band. Is that what you think of this band as? I mean, it's there for sure. The grunge thing is definitely there in the songs. But I'm going to ask the terrible question of how do you define the type of music you play? Because everyone hates answering that question. And the more we get into the future, the harder it gets to define things because there's so many subgenres and something core and post this and everything else. But what's the Coles Notes version of how to explain what your band does? CHUCK: Yeah, I think we started off with the idea of having a lot of grunge elements. You can hear that in the first album. WR: Totally. CHUCK: But this one, I think we've moved away from that. It feels a lot more punk to me. Less of that 90s kind of sound, less rockish kind of sounding. Yeah, I think at the beginning that was the idea, but it just kind of progressed into kind of something very different. LINDSEY: And Mandy's old school punk. CHUCK: She's been in so many punk bands. MANDY: I think when we're writing and stuff, too, we don't really have a genre in mind. We're just like, oh, I have this riff. WR: What can we do with yeah, that makes sense. LINDSEY: Yeah. The first album was certainly like there were some songs on there that were intentionally, like, a grunge punk band. Now I'd say we're a punk band with some grunge influences. WR: Okay, so it's morphing. It's slowly morphing. More in the punk direction. LINDSEY: Straight ahead punk. WR: Yeah. Which is interesting because I think that this new one, again, from just a quick listen to it, it seems like it has more hooks than the previous one did or more obvious hooks, which I guess is kind of a hallmark of a lot of punk rock, too, is having these big choruses, big kind of earwormy choruses. MANDY: I tried to write a couple of songs that's a little less words and just try to like so that someone's listening to something, they're like, oh, that song. They have, like, two lines to work with if they want to sing along or whatever. Just trying to be mindful of that and save the emotions and the lyrics for verses. LINDSEY: You remember American Flame Whip? WR: Sure. Great band. LINDSEY: That whole chorus is just Gasoline. That's the best shit ever. MANDY: It's a great song. LINDSEY: Yeah, right. You don't need, like, local reference, right. To anybody who hasn't heard of them. Might be dating myself, but yeah, they're great. One word chord. Fucking awesome. WR: Well, that's the punk rock thing. That's the punk rock thing, though, right? That's always been sort of the thing around punk rock, is three chords and the truth. You don't have to be saying anything that's like a novel, you have something you want to say and you have a basic understanding of how to make some noises that will get that message out there, right? CHUCK: Yeah, absolutely. I think we all just kind of really do our own thing and we're all into so much different music that each song is just like, okay, I have this. What do you think? Is this cool? No, it sucks. Okay, we'll try this. So we honestly really don't know where we're going with any song until it's done. And then we're like, okay, this kind of fits. We have tons of backlogs of riffs that are just like, okay, yeah, what were we thinking? And a lot of good stuff that just never panned out. WR: But yeah, maybe that brings up another question about the backlog of riffs thing. You've been working on this record for such a long time now. Do you already have a lot of newer stuff that's been written since this, or are you completely focused on these songs? Because a lot of bands I know, they'll go into the studio, they'll record, and then there's months and months or years or whatever until the album actually comes out. And by that point, they've already moved on to something else, whether the band is kind of shipped to Sonically or they have the next 35 songs ready to go. Where are you sort of in that spectrum of the album release process and the wanting to move on to new stuff? MANDY: Well, I'm just excited for people to finally hear the songs that we recorded. We've been playing them a little bit at shows but definitely want to get them out there. But we're still writing and are looking ahead to newer things, too. LINDSEY: We've got a few things and we're a little slow and to be honest, we kind of took the summer off this year. We did a few shows, but I went to Europe. Mandy went to Europe. We did know some people had some time off. So this year's been a little slow with new writing, but we're getting to it and I've got some ideas I'm going to propose to them about, let's get some writing. But yeah, we've got probably four or five songs that are they just need to be structured better. CHUCK: We get distracted easily. We don't have good time management. So we're like when all of a sudden we have a show coming up for writing, we'll just kind of slowly stop doing that and then we focus on the show. And then it's been like a month later and then the show is done and then we want to chill out for a week or so and then we get back at it. So hopefully after this one, we hopefully won't play any shows for a little while and we can focus on writing, know, get going on something new, because this one we've been sitting on for a year. So, like Mandy said, we're excited to get it out there and see what people think and kind of move on. WR: Well, and the day we're recording this, you just recently announced the album release show. So that's got to be exciting, kind of knowing that there is now a date that's out in the public and people can actually know when to expect this record. So what are the details of the show and when people can actually hear this? MANDY: We're playing the Goodwill on Friday, November 17, and we'll be playing with Mosa, How to Boil Water and Screaming at Traffic. LINDSEY: Yeah, I think it's really happy with that lineup, too. I've never seen How to Boil Water, but they're well, they're new, right? WR: They're still quite new. LINDSEY: Yeah, they're like a young band. I mean, in terms of tenure. They just started and I hear they're doing an episode with you. WR: Yeah, we're going to do one. LINDSEY: And then Mosa, obviously, they're one of the other bands of the city who have like a grunge influence and have a lot of respect for them. I really like their music. And then Screaming at Traffic are like, obviously a tenured punk rock band in the city. They've been doing it a while, they've toured, they're professionals. They're good. WR: Yeah. They occasionally have little snippets of grunge elements in there, too. I mean, they're definitely more of a punk band, but every once in a while the 90s thing kind of filters through what they're doing for sure. At this point. I mean, you know, it's a podcast. People can hear it. It comes out. Or they could hear it a year from now, at which point the record will have been out for a long time. And maybe you're touring, maybe you have new music, whatever. What's the best way to sort of hear you now? If someone's checking this out and find out, find the music you have released already and find out about upcoming shows and things like that. CHUCK: We just made a link tree, so pretty exciting. Just go to our instagram. That's probably where you'll find where we post the most and kind of keep everything updated on our Instagram, which I don't know what it is, but if. WR: I'll link to your link tree in the show notes. CHUCK: Our link tree is linked on the Instagram there, which will hopefully have everything. LINDSEY: We obviously do the streaming and that kind of thing. And this album is going to come out digitally. We've got some plans for something in the future of a hard copy, but for the release show, we're not going to sell CDs or anything like that. It's going to come out digitally. And yeah, there's some twists and turns there. It might happen. CHUCK: Maybe some tapes. WR: That's awesome. I love the tape, renaissance. It's great. I never stopped listening to them, so it's fantastic. MANDY: Whenever I see bands, I have a tape player, too. CHUCK: It's pretty reasonable to get some tapes. WR: Yeah, it's affordable and you can do it yourself and yeah, it's awesome. LINDSEY: Yeah, we got big plans to sell them for $6.66. CHUCK: And if any bands out there that we, like, want to split a vinyl with us, that would be something cool. Because this album is six songs and it's about the perfect length for one side. So we didn't want spend all this money on a vinyl just for like, three songs on each side. It'd be like, oh, man, this is kind of lame, but we'd love to split one with somebody. Hit us up. WR: Yeah, it'd be cool if you can do that. For sure. LINDSEY: That's our plan. We kind of have some plans. We wanted to see if we could find a band. If it's a really cool local band that wants to do it, great. But it'd be awesome to do a band in Europe or in the States to split it with. That way their market hears us, our market hears them. Right. It's a win win. And then we order however many hundred vinyls they order however many hundred vinyls gets the cost down. I think it'd be a great idea. We're trying for it. WR: And then you have less in your basement to try and get rid of two years down the line when gathering dust. Not that I don't think you'll sell them, but you know what I mean. MANDY: Yeah, I know what you mean. LINDSEY: So the other thing we should actually probably tell you on here, because we'll have it announced is that we're working with a record label on this one. WR: Cool. LINDSEY: Yeah. High End Denim Records. They're an Alberta label and really happy to work with them. They're helping with all the Spotify stuff because my goal with this personally when I came into was like, hey, we're releasing this. I was like, Guys, nobody hears our stuff because we play locally, we sell CDs. Right. Got a couple thousand listens on Spotify on a few songs, but let's get those numbers up so they're really helping us and get the album out there and actually heard. So that's going to be really cool. I'm really excited to work with them and see what we can do with them. And hopefully it's a win-win on both.

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