SXSW 2014: Casual Sex x Vinyl Mag

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Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a band called Casual Sex?

So, honestly, we were originally drawn to them because of the shock value of their name (weren’t you?), but then we gave them a listen, and that’s where the real love affair began.  This band is cool.  That’s really all that I can say.

Their music is a bundle of seduction, fitting somewhere between Scissor Sisters and of Montreal on my party-time playlist (and with Sam’s Bowie-esque vocals thrown into the mix, seriously where has this band been all my life?).  We caught up with them at South by Southwest this year to talk about their music, Southern hospitality, country walks, and their plans after the festival.

Vinyl Mag: So, tell me how your South By is going so far!

Sam [guitar/vocals]: It’s been very good, very great, very exciting. Very busy.

Ed [guitar]: It’s been amazing; people have been amazing, Austin locals have been so nice. We got picked up the other day by a complete random and taken to a show, ’cause we were carrying all our equipment along a long street.  So yeah – it’s been amazing. The shows have been fantastic; we’ve had a great reception everywhere we’ve played, so it’s good.

VM: How many shows are you playing through South By this year?

Ed: Six. Is it six shows this year?

Peter [bass]: Yeah, I think we play about six shows. Our last one’s tonight at 10 o’clock.

Ed: We played at the British Embassy yesterday, and it was great. So that’s going to be a hoot.

VM: Can you tell me a little bit about how the band got together and your process?

Sam: Yeah, well it kind of started…I run a studio, and we were running courses. I knew Ed anyways, a friend. And I had a lot of work together already and kind of came on board to play an old catalog of songs, and then eventually, Peter kind of muscled in. And we asked Chris to play drums. And then we all found out we worked fairly well together. So we became more of a solid, democratic unit.

VM: Your music is very…I mean, you’re Casual Sex, how did you get into the –

Ed: Well, the platform of the music was already there, and the name kind of went along with the platform. Sam had already written a body of work, and then we started writing together after our first show. We got what we had down and played a show. We got a great reception from our friends, and then we started getting serious about it and writing together.

VM: How close are the lyrics to your real life [experiences]?

Sam: It’s all 100 percent right; it’s pretty honest stuff. [Laughing] yes, I think you try and write about what you know, so there are a few illustrious experiences documented in the lyrics about sex.

VM: [Laughing] like cheating on your girlfriend?

Sam: Yeah, on the floor of a local occultist, so the press quote goes [laughing], but no it’s true, it’s true. I don’t get up to that sort of thing anymore.

VM: Now you just dress like you’re in the Matrix.

Ed: I dunno. It’s not leather. I was just trying to pull off a more of a – I dunno – a semi-British-goth vibe or something.

VM: I like it. How would you all describe your music?

Chris [drums]: Music with guitars you can dance to would be the easiest way to say it. There are too many genres in music. It’s ridiculous. It’s pointless to try and quantify it, you know.

Ed: And Peter and Chris are an unbelievably tight – almost like soul rhythm section, and we just embellish that sound with guitars. Sam’s actually an accomplished musician, and I can just play what I can play so…

Sam: The sound of tomorrow, now.

Ed: [Laughing] the sound of tomorrow, now.

Chris: I like to think that me and Pete don’t necessarily sound like two skinny white guys from Glasglow – maybe something the opposite of that, but I’m not sure.

Peter: But I think a lot of times, when Chris and I are coming up with things when we’re playing, there’s a thing of getting your guilty pleasures out and playing things you maybe couldn’t find a place to play anywhere else – sort of reggae influence or funk influence kind of things, but we have fun playing as a unit. It’s good but also fun playing as a four-piece.

Ed: We’ve been writing the songs almost live…we’ll come up with an idea and really quickly structure it, and then we’ll record it. Sam has a lot of poetry that he can just put down, and we tend to actually write a track and record it in that one session. So we really really work quite well together. Not many bands can do that. We usually do it live as well. Almost everything we’ve done has live tapes.

Sam: We track as much as we can.

VM: You guys have a really busy year. What projects are you most excited about? And what events?

Chris: I can’t wait to go back to France; we’ve been to France, and it treated us really well. I think it went down well there, and we’re going back in May for two weeks. France, and then the Netherlands, so another European tour. Touring there has been really fun.

Sam: I think we’re going Holland, Belgium, France, and I think our people been talking to Spanish promoters, so we’ll get us some nice food.

VM: What do you think about being in America?

Sam: I love it. I love being in the States. I mean, we were over here in October. And I lived here as a kid up in New Hampshire for a year, and I find something quietly reassuring about being back here with the signage. It kind of almost feels homey at times. But Austin – when you go further south – it’s got a stronger flavor; it’s very much its own identity. I think New York is kind of a bit like its own sort of thing really. I don’t really feel like going to New York is like being abroad; it’s just like being in New York.

Ed: Yeah, I’ve spent a bit of time in New York and the East Coast and California and Los Angeles, and this is the first time I’ve been in this part of the world, and there’s a complete contrast. Everyone is so nice here. And we’re not getting any fake vibes at all. Like everybody is being so nice.

Peter: It’s really quite sincere. The southern hospitality – the rumor of that, the stuff I’ve heard – is true.

Sam: It’s nice, and I love the accents. You always get, you know, the English people ‘ahh I love your accent.’ We do like southern accents. Texas accents. Amazing.

Peter: It’s really strange actually hearing people use the phrase ‘ya’ll’ in a sentence. I didn’t think that happened. ‘Ya’ll’ and people with Stetsons on.

VM: I’m a Tennessee girl, though.

Ed: Ah. Southern Belle.

VM: During your time in Austin, have you sampled any of the barbeque or tacos? It’s what they’re known for.

Sam: I’ve had the tacos. I’ve had burritos; it’s been great.

Ed: I’ve only had enchiladas, because I’ve recently turned vegetarian, so I’ve found it quite difficult. We need to have a nice vegetarian restaurant, because [laughing] I’m dying to have a steak. I’m craving a steak.

VM: So what’s next for you after South By? You’re touring Europe?

Sam: Well, we’ve got a month to finish an album, and kind of already in the process; a lot of it has been written. So just hit the studio, and then pretty much as soon as May comes around – by the third of May, we’re back out, over to Utrecht, and then all the way down to France.

Ed: Amsterdam. We’re playing the Paradiso in Amsterdam. Really looking forward to that one, and then yeah, back to Paris. We’ve got a couple of shows in Paris, and then we’re playing in and around Paris for ten days, so that’ll be great.

Chris: Hopefully we’ll have the album out…well, finished by April 16, 2014.

Sam: And then it’s the UK festival dates, they kind of start around then – in May – so when we get back, then there are various festivals. So the summer’s beginning to shape up, but it’s important for us now to get this record done, I think.

VM: Who’s the craziest member of Casual Sex?

Sam: In terms of crazy fun or crazy neurotic?

Peter: [Laughing] Crazy as in mentally ill?

VM: A little bit of each! We can have one for each. So crazy as in wild.

Sam: I go from two extremes, from being quite quiet most of the time. Occasionally, when I do go for it, I’m pretty nutty.

Ed: We’re all a bit crazy, and we all like to drink, and we all go out quite a lot. And we’re all… I’m past my crazy days now I think.

Sam: I’ve been there and done it. I quite like walking now.

VM: You’re the sheriff now.

Ed: Yes, I am the sheriff.

VM: You hold down the fort. You keep order.

Sam: I like fresh air and country walks now.

VM: Wow. Casual Sex likes fresh air and country walks.

Ed: We all like different things. I mean, we all do different things, socially. I go clubbing a lot. We drink in our local pub quite a lot. Chris, he goes to live shows all the time. I like to dance.

Sam: I like to spend most of my time in the studio. I’m usually in a cave, working. I’ve got a studio both at home, and I’ve got another studio, so I’m generally in front of machines.

Ed: I live with Sam, and he lives in a studio. He actually lives and sleeps in a mastering studio, and then he works in the studio by day. He’s living and sleeping the dream.

Sam: I love being surrounded by machines.

VM: In your cave.

Sam: Yeah, in my cave.

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