Tag Archive: “Caustic Casanova”

Caustic Casanova is a loud, heavy rock trio from Washington, DC. The CC, as they are affectionately known by their fans, has been tearing up stages and studios alike with their unique brand of eclectic, “absurdly muscled uber-psyche” (Indy Week) since their inception on the campus of The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2005.  In 2008 CC released their first ever full-length studio album, a fourteen song, seventy-two minute tour-de-force entitled Imminent Eminence. Four years later, Caustic Casanova unleashed 2012’s critically acclaimed Someday You Will Be Proven Correct, produced by J. Robbins.

After the release of Someday You Will Be Proven Correct and a 2012 SXSW tour came the departure the group’s original guitarist, and a most critical juncture for the rhythm section of the band – whether to continue as Caustic Casanova, start another project, or part ways altogether. After much deliberation, drummer/vocalist Stefanie Zaenker and bassist/lead vocalist Francis Beringer decided to honor the work they’d done over the years together by continuing Caustic Casanova.

Months of experimenting as a bass and drums two piece were followed by rounds of guitar player auditions, finally yielding the missing element to the new Caustic Casanova, longtime fan, friend and all-around six string wizard Andrew Yonki. In Andrew’s two and a half years with the band, the rejuvenated Caustic Casanova has gigged wherever and whenever possible, embarked on two lengthy national tours and several shorter ones, and has earned a much bigger following in DC.

In 2014 Caustic Casanova signed to Retro Futurist Records after opening for psych metal veterans and label owners Kylesa, and later teamed up with J. Robbins to record lots of new music and release the first in a series of 7-inch singles called Pantheon: Volume 1. Despite losing Stefanie for nearly half the year to severe wrist injuries from a life threatening accident (once again putting the very existence of the band in jeopardy) Caustic Casanova returned stronger, tighter and more motivated than ever to build sonic temples in which to worship feedback, massive riffs, delay pedals, bass fuzz, thunderous drum fills and soaring vocal melody.

The end product of these years of writing and recording through trial and tribulation was Caustic Casanova’s album and Retro Futurist debut Breaks, once again produced by J. Robbins. Breaks featured seven unconventional and melodic heavy rock songs, none quite like the other, and covers a vast sonic territory from dark, driving post-punk to psychedelic post-metal, from heavy doom blues to epic space rock and everything in between.

Ghettoblaster caught up with the band to discuss the 2016 albums that were blowing their minds. This is what they told us.

Francis’ Top Ten Albums of 2016

  1. Husbandry – Fera

I listened to a lot of albums this year, definitely more than fifty. Fera clearly stood apart from all the rest as my numero uno. This is a band of extremely talented musicians. Guitarist Jordan Usatch, bassist Arnau Bosc, drummer Andrew Gottlieb, and vocalist Carina Zachary can just about do anything they want – they’ve got full mastery of a bunch of different styles and the chops and gear knowledge to make any sounds they like – they do angry math rock, noise rock, frenetic heavy metal, soaring pop, classic riffy post hardcore, even a bit of psychedelic ambience, and that’s just touching the surface. There are, however, other bands that fit this description if not Husbandry’s exact recipe. But as far as sonic innovation, technical insanity and genre-mashing, most of them (cue Jurassic Park theme) are too busy worrying about whether they could to stop to think about whether they should. Which is to say – the more technically jawdropping the metal and post hardcore music gets, the more the songwriting gets graded on a curve. Too many of these psychotic riff mongers have songs that sound like they were given to a vocalist as fully formed pieces, and he or she was asked to throw something on top as an afterthought. Who cares if the song has a hook? Nobody can play these riffs, man!  Fera is the antidote to all of this. If stripped of their ornamentation, these would still be great songs. I’d listen to these with an acoustic guitar and Carina’s voice. They are that structurally sound – they highlight the best part and best performance and can feature cascading layers and trips into dissonance because the foundation is unshakeable. Husbandry know when to go off the wall insane with frenetic abandon, and they know when to hold back and sit on a simple arpeggio, riff or vocal line and let it sink into the listener’s mind. The only band I can think of that has the ability to cram this many hooks and delightful, memorable instrumental passages into a record is Mastodon – but oh Mastodon does not have Carina Zachary, one of the best vocalists in the entire heavy scene, and does not have a bassist comfortable quoting funk and blending it with progressive death metal in a single bass part, which may very well make Husbandry the better band on the whole. Detailing the sonic glories of each track’s twists and turns into a maelstrom of surreal jagged chaos swirling with pop sensibilities would make this review go on forever, so I won’t. It’s nine brilliant songs. Jordan’s Usatch puts the guitar performance of the year into this one. It has by far the best collection of riffs of any album I’ve heard this year. Favorite song: With Codeine

  1. Big Business – Command Your Weather

Big Biz’s return to the two piece bass and drums format had me initially skeptical, since they’ve done so much great work as a trio. But these lean bass and drum songs (with occasional keyboard accompaniment) do not suffer from a lack of creativity. Big Business is pushing forward, making innovative heavy rock and roll just as they have for a decade. On Command Your Weather, they’ve brought another LP full of vocal melodies and massive choruses that should embarrass most other bands. As far as combining dazzling, ascendant vocal hooks and sludgy, heavy grooves, this band has no equal. Coady Willis remains one of the most frenetic, innovative drummers of his generation and he puts in another mindblowing performance on this record, this time adding blossom bells to his kit and using them to fill out space gracefully. Bassist/lead vocalist Jared Warren has a warmer bass tone than ever before that really gives the record a live, 70’s rock feel. If you’re not familiar with this band, expect a sound that has no peer – a bassist who a total mastery of tone, weaned on the riffs of the Melvins, a singer with Lennon/McCartney-esque skill for vocal melodies, a drummer who could hold his own with the likes of Keith Moon and Neil Peart, and a brilliant lyricist with a gift for evoking the likes of Queen with some theatrical and truly haunting and spacious arrangements. All this from a bass-drum duo, trafficking in what is on the surface some twisted carnival version of sludgy, noisy heavy metal. Another incredible record from one of the best bands on earth. Favorite song: Father’s Day

  1. Deftones – Gore

Few would have predicted it listening to their nu-metal tinged debut record, but over 20 years into their career, Deftones have evolved into one of the most important (and best known) art-metal bands on earth. They make a romantic, visceral, sexy heavy music that is completely unique to them. The brew they’ve been concocting since the mid-2000’s – luminous post-rock, atmospheric goth rock, sinewy post-hardcore, and aggressive as hell drop tuned heavy metal with riffs and tones that can suggest Meshuggah, Crowbar and Helmet all in the same passage – is all on display here. And the band has never sounded more confident in the potency of its supremely diverse delivery. Textural swells, Stephen Carpenter’s classic chugging riffs, and powerful rhythm section performances stake out meaningful space in nearly every song (this time with a few nods to thrash and groove metal!). Above it all, vocalist Chino drops his best performance on a Deftones album to date. Gone is the breathy, whiny, slightly out of tune Morrissey meets Robert Smith impersonation that was Chino’s go-to 15 years ago (and which still occasionally appeared in recent releases). In its place is Chino at his most fully realized after two decades at the mic – mature and emotive, powerful and vulnerable in a way that makes him a singular heavy rock artist, and in total command of each part, dropping ear worm vocal hooks into each section in which he can place a melody. Gore’s experimental trappings and its plethora of mid tempo, moody tunes make it a little less immediate than predecessors Diamond Eyes and Koi No Yokan, but it is surely their equal, and together these three records represent in my opinion what is unquestionably the greatest period in Deftones’ career. Bonus points for the beautiful and unexpected Jerry Cantrell guest guitar solo in stand out track “Phantom Bride.” Favorite song: Doomed User

  1. Neurosis – Fires Within Fires

One of the great heavy bands of all time, the inventors and elder statesmen of the post metal genre, Neurosis return for yet another breathtaking LP. This time, it’s oddly short for them, which makes it seem like an EP simply because it’s forty and not eighty minutes in length. But the shorter record seemed to have focused them – all five songs are gems. It’s the usual Neurosis brilliance – quiet passages that explode into metallic rage and overwhelming atmosphere and emotion. One place where Neurosis has shown substantial progress on this record is in the vocal department. The best Neurosis songs over the decades usually featured a particular visceral rhythmic barking or a subtle, simple yet evocative vocal melody. The less effective ones often seemed to have vocals that were jammed into spaces where they did not necessarily fit, featuring awkward phrasing and distracting deliveries. This is the first Neurosis record that, to my ears, only features the best of Neurosis, vocally speaking. Every vocal part from Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till is a perfect Neurosis part. And as far as the heavy repetitive riff, that which Neurosis does better than just about any band that ever existed? There’s plenty of top notch doom and sludge riffs in all 5 songs, and they’re all gorgeously beat into the ground with that soothing insistent groove that only these metal gods can deliver. This is one of the best albums of their storied career. Favorite song: Broken Ground

  1. Rhin – Passenger

Every time I play this record, when the full band kicks in for the first time on the massive opening riff to “Uncle Tuck” a big smile comes across my face. I know I’m in for an overdose of noise rock pleasure for the entire running time of Passenger, which at this point has become exceedingly familiar to me due to its role as my late night stay awake and drive album of 2016. This West Virginia trio delivers no-frills, aggressive punk rock right to the gut on every track, but they never lose sight of the importance of hooks amid all the raw anger and fuzz overload. Who cares if every new “Helmet” album seems designed to intentionally make fans of this kind of music upset? Rhin is here and now – and this record is as powerful and devastating as anything Helmet ever did in their heyday. Two departures from the full karate chop to the throat riff and snare drum devastation Rhin normally delivers are just as good – if not better – than anything else on the album. On “Snivlem” (spell in backwards) the boys drop the best Melvins song of 2016 in a year when the Melvins released two albums. On album closer “Bad Timing” they start with a bit of funk rock, then blast into space with a sunnier, more epic, more purely rock and roll version of Rhin. Just as distorted and overloaded with rich bass and guitar tone, but first and foremost anthemic and catchy – something like later era Fugazi meets Torche. This band can do wrong in my eyes, and this is my favorite thing they’ve done. Favorite song: Snivlem

  1. Child Bite – Negative Noise

This is the first band I’ve heard that takes obvious cues from the Dead Kennedys and Black Flag and turns them into something wholly original, at times harnessing utter punk rock chaos and at times bursting with guitar melody in an uncommon way. Perhaps it’s because this band is comprised of absolutely top notch musicians who seem to have no limits on instrumental dexterity? Their take on 80’s hardcore careens in wacky directions I’ve never heard before seemingly by sheer force of Child Bite’s obvious ambition. The end result has not only touches of Jello Biafra and Greg Ginn but also a healthy dose of surf rock, weirdo post hardcore a la The Jesus Lizard, and heart stopping, neck snapping math rock in the vein of Don Caballero. Negative Noise is one of the most innovative albums of the year. Favorite song: Apex of Anxiety

  1. King Buffalo – Orion

This is a beautiful record of psychedelic swirls, huge vocal hooks, endlessly hypnotic blues drones, hazy atmosphere, bubbling fuzzed out bass lines and old fashioned heavy rock riffs. There are touches of Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and Wino’s myriad bands all over this monster LP. I really like that certain vocal and guitar themes appear throughout the record, which gives it a cohesive framework. This is not a collection of a songs but a journey unto itself, and really needs to be experienced as an album, played as loud as possible. These guys know how to jam and absolutely deploy their talent in that regard on this lush and fluid space rock record, but there’s not a stray note on the whole thing, which is unique in this genre to the point of almost being bizarre. Expert arrangement and free wheeling psychedelia do not hand in hand typically go, but this power trio has tremendous talent for both. Add more expert level talent for songwriting (especially in the vocal department!), dynamic push and pull among all three instrumentalists, pacing (this album is put together with such care, down to the track listing!) and you’ve got a world-class LP and a band that I hope will be huge someday. Favorite song: Kerosene

  1. Tone – Antares

In a year where two of the giants of instrumental post rock, Mono and Explosions in the Sky, released albums, I think it’s fitting that Washington, DC’s Tone released the best one. This band has never received the credit it richly deserves for being one of the genre’s innovators and hopefully this brilliant record will help to remedy that. Each song is expertly crafted by masters of pacing and scope in heavy guitar music. A special note must go to Gregg Hudson’s drumming, because I can’t remember the last time I was this shaken and moved by a percussionists’s performance on a post-rock record. His bombastic pulse drives this beautiful guitar music in ways almost any other drummer could learn from. Antares could be the soundtrack to your saddest memories or your most vibrant daydreams. Favorite song: Weapon of Moonlight (which also might very well be my favorite song of the year – it’s certainly my favorite instrumental of the year).

  1. Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas – Mariner

I’ll admit to being quite late to the party on Cult of Luna – this was my first exposure to the band, though I’d seen the name and heard good things for years. Julie Christmas, on the other hand, is a vocalist for whom I have utmost reverence – her work in Made Out of Babies, Battle of Mice and Spylacopa makes her an underground legend in my book. This collaboration album has brought out a new level of devastating emotion for this heavy rock heroine. She gets a new kind of canvas on which to paint another vocal and lyrical journey – this time it’s cinematic heavy metal of the highest order – ethereal, eerie, low and slow. In a year where 80’s synth horror soundtracks became a part of the culture again due to the popularity of Stranger Things, this record puts a lot of those vibes into a heavy metal context via carefully deployed synth lines and other haunting keyboard and guitar textures. The allure of Julie’s vocals – and what makes her such a singular talent – is her ability to deploy different vocal moods at will. It’s almost as if within her head she has a pedalboard of voices, and like a master guitarist/pedalboard geek she knows precisely the right times to use each effect. Cult of Luna’s brooding, atmospheric post metal acts as the perfect backdrop for its lead character to perform an emotionally harrowing one woman schizophrenic play. She screeches, soars, and bellows, whispers with timidity and weakness and then angrily slashes across the vocal field with the confidence, strength and genius of a hundred lesser vocalists combined. There is no singer on earth like Julie Christmas and this collaboration is unlike any record I’ve ever heard. Props to Cult of Luna for having the wisdom to have her join the band for one record. Here’s hoping there will be more. Favorite song: The Wreck Of The S.S. Needle

  1. Whores. – Gold.

This is actually Whores. debut LP, even though their first two EPs were so well received that the band seems almost like the kings of their scene at this point. Their scuzzy, four on the floor brand of noise sludge is on full display here. There is an unlimited amount of powerful fuzzy riffage, clever lyrical indictments of self and society howled and barked with utmost urgency and tortured inner pain, generous and highly skilled use of amplifier feedback and a relentless bass and drum stomp reminiscent of the best to have ever done it – Unsane, Helmet, Melvins, The Jesus Lizard, Eyehategod and Rage Against the Machine. This is 35 minutes of unfiltered, visceral audio assault, a noise rock beating with an unstoppable groove that comes from the pelvis, not the head. Start to finish, this is probably the pure headbanging album of the year. This is also one of the best produced, best sounding records of the year. Every instrument is clear in the mix, but the effect of all the clarity never messes with the record’s intent – to bash in your skull with no subtlety whatsoever. Favorite song: Bloody Like The Day You Were Born

Honorable Mentions: Mars Red Sky – Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), Stone Machine Electric – Sollicitus Es Veritatum, Every Time I Die – Low Teens, Conan –  Revengeance, Helms Alee – Stillicide

EPs of the Year: 1. Voivod – Post Society, 2. Sierra – 72, 3. Virginia Creep (S/T)

Stefanie’s Top Ten Records of 2016

1.Kvelertak – Nattesferd

Nothing even comes close to this record for me this year. Kvelertak nailed it with 2016’s Nattesferd, topping their excellent 2013 sophomore release, Meir. This record overflows with raw, loud, punk rock testosterone and equally delivers with technical proficiency and impeccable arrangements. Three guitar players and an extremely competent rhythm section create beautiful, shimmering layers and thick, unbreakable chords which manifest into propulsive songs that break and release the tension at just the right moment. Pulling (sometimes heavily!) from Van Halen, Thin Lizzy, black metal, and pure rock ‘n roll frenzy a’ la Motorhead, they just make me believe. They make me want to head bang until my neck is sore and my ears bleed. I can’t even understand what singer Erlend Hjelvik is screaming because it’s all in Norwegian – but I believe nonetheless! Listen to this on your next road trip with all four windows rolled down while barreling down the highway at full speed, and you’ll believe too.

2.Every Time I Die – Low Teens

I’ve been a big fan of these guys ever since I discovered them right after The Big Dirty came out in 2007. It was my favorite ETID record until now. Buckley’s vocals are always intelligent, clever, urgently delivered, and easy to understand, something unparalleled in heavy music. He does a fair amount of clean singing on this record and it really stands out. It’s tuneful and convincing, and he reminds me a lot of Cave-In’s Steve Brodsky (one of my favorite vocalists). ETID deals in controlled chaos and all the signature moves are here, but what makes this a standout record is that the entire record is peppered with influences from classic rock to post punk and even 90’s alt rock. ‘It Remembers’ has a definite Pink Floyd ‘Money’ vibe, and ‘Awful Lot’ has angular, slinky, discordant guitar lines that remind me of Jawbox or their more contemporary acolytes, DC’s Two Inch Astronaut. The musicianship and songwriting on this record is astounding, and Keith Buckley matches that with an impressive vocal performance. It even has guest vocals from Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie – and despite what you might think of Panic! it further shows that ETID is delving deeper into other genres, something they’ve proven to be quite competent at.

3.TONE – Antares

TONE is a Washington, DC instrumental post rock band, and have quickly become my favorite local band. Having once been on Neurosis-founded Neurot Recordings they have been around for a while (in one incarnation or another), and have influenced bands like Pelican and Mono, among other post rock luminaries. When it comes to crafting beautiful, melancholic, and apocalyptic songs they are unbeatable. That’s lofty praise you might say, but their emotional and arresting live shows will back it up. They are masters of building tension, using shimmering delay-soaked guitars, dynamics, and propulsive drumming to bring the listener to a blissful aural climax, only to expertly release it at the exact moment you’re begging for it. I listened to ‘Weapon of Moonlight’, the first single they released, about five times in a row the first time I heard it. These songs are beautiful, unsettling, and full of little sonic treats with every new listen. I can’t wait for their next release.

4.Mars Red Sky – Apex III (Praise For The Burning Soul)

I wasn’t too familiar with Mars Red Sky before I listened to Apex III, and I’ll admit that the Coheed and Cambria-sounding album title didn’t inspire much confidence. But boy was I glad I gave them a shot. I can’t think of any other bands that sound quite like them. They truly have a vision – a singular and unique take on fuzzed-out psychedelic doom. The delay and reverb-soaked vocals mirror the guitar perfectly. This album has visceral and astral qualities to it that I can’t place yet – it makes me think about my purpose on this earth. Maybe somewhere in there I’ll find the answer, but until then I’ll sip on a fine whisky and slowly head bang the night into oblivion.

5.Moon Tooth – Chromaparagon

This was one of the first 2016 releases I heard and I haven’t stopped listening to it since. I play it in my car, at the gym, on the bus, and everywhere in between. The musicianship is unsurpassable and their live show is one of the best I’ve ever seen. The first time I saw them the lead singer got on the drummer’s shoulders and they did a double drumming solo in the middle of a song. They made it look easy. And fun. The song arrangements on Chromaparagon are unique, interesting, and obviously crafted with care. Guitarist Nick Lee is clearly a master of technique and tone, using pedals with discretion just when they’ll add the perfect flourish. Their influences range from Mastodon, Queens of the Stone Age, Intronaut, and My Bloody Valentine to James Brown and Stevie Wonder. They’ve made big strides this year and I expect more are coming.

6.Big Business – Command Your Weather

This record produced my favorite one-two punch of 2016, eighth track ‘Diagnostic Front’ followed by album closer ‘Horses’. Where to begin with Big Business? They are a truly unique band much like Mars Red Sky mentioned above. Jared Warren has the best and most recognizable bass tone in modern heavy music, and Coady’s drumming is the perfect compliment; frenetic at times, innovative, and always tasteful. Command Your Weather is their most cohesive record to date. It has the signature low end attack and pop-driven vocal hooks and unmistakable vocal bellows. What it adds is a more focused galloping energy and a luscious, full sound (despite only being a two piece) that lasts throughout the entire record. Big Business is capable of grandiose, broadway-worthy music (like one of my favorite songs ‘Theme From Big Business II’ on 2009’s Mind The Drift), but this record sticks the landing with every song, start to finish.

7.Husbandry – Fera

This album grows on me more and more with every listen, and much like Whores., seeing them live a few times sealed the deal. Vocalist Carina Zachary tastefully snakes in and out of their frantic and devilishly slinky riffs with sonorous precision. Lines like “your pulse is calling to me like a war drum, as my skeleton climbs up the stairs, remember how it used to make me crazy” make my hairs stand up. Guitarist Jordan Usatch knows exactly when to step on what pedal. The bass sneaks in and out of the guitar and drums with impeccable technique and ideas that add more to the songs than just holding down the rhythm section, aided by solid and metronomic drumming. They know exactly when a riff is good enough to be repeated over and over, and when to tease the listener with an interesting filler. This record is brimming with unique ideas, intensity, and catchy hooks, and I often find myself listening to it twice in a row. Need I say more?

8.WHORES. – Gold

Seeing Whores. live a couple weeks ago was one of my favorite show experiences of 2016. They know how to f*cking bring it. Their passion is palpable, and the stage energy is raw and completely genuine. I feel their anger and sincerity when listening to Gold, but live I understand it and I become it. The intensity of these songs take my breath away and pummel me right in the gut. Loud drums, tastefully fuzzed out distortion, scathing and well articulated vocals, and surprisingly concise arrangements make this a record that seems much more thought out than the average noise rock offering.

9. Netherlands – Audubon

Netherlands is the fourth band from New York on this small list of ten (fifth if you count Goes Cube in the honorable mentions). Good things going on in The Empire State, it seems. I had never seen nor heard of Netherlands the first time I saw them live in DC at the Velvet Lounge. I was electrified for weeks after the show. Vocalist/guitarist Timo has a way with soulful, catchy hooks, much like Jared Warren from Big Business. These two are the best in the biz in my opinion. Netherlands is its own beast – confusing, sexual, deceptively catchy, and impossibly heavy. I don’t expect to ever hear anything quite like this again. This album is paradoxical in nature – the songs are chaotically cohesive and make me feel like I’m experiencing my personal reality inside of a video game, or at least the slightly-more-plausible Matrix. Audubon’s first single ‘Bottom of the Ocean’ is one of my favorite songs of 2016. They also made music videos for at least half of the record – something that will always keep me coming back for more.

10. Helms Alee – Stillicide

Helms Alee is one of modern rock’s more interesting bands. They use female/male three part harmonies frequently, and this album showcases their best and most ambitious vocal performance to date. The songs often feel like they’re caving in on themselves – repeating slightly varying guitar lines in odd time signatures – and then rebuilding themselves when different band members chime in with overlapping vocals. There are moments of black metal, hip hop, math rock, post rock, noise rock, and almost anything else you can think of. These are my favorite kinds of bands, especially when the common thread running through all of it is heavy and catchy. Their songs take me on journeys, and it’s not uncommon for me to forget where I am while listening to them.

Honorable mentions: Deftones – Gore, Goblin Cock – Necronomidonkeykongimicon, Goes Cube – Shadows Swallowed The Flood, Goat – Requiem, Julie Christmas and Cult of Luna – Mariner

(Visit Caustic Casanova here: http://causticcasanova.com/.)

Caustic Casanova is a loud, heavy rock trio from Washington, DC. They’ve been tearing up stages and studios alike with their unique brand of eclectic, “absurdly muscled uber-psyche” since their inception in 2005. In 2008, CC released their first full-length studio album, a seventy-two minute tour-de-force entitled Imminent Eminence. Four years later, they unleashed 2012’s critically acclaimed Someday You Will Be Proven Correct, produced by J. Robbins.

Caustic Casanova’s new album and Retro Futurist Records debut, Breaks, is once again produced by J. Robbins and features seven unconventional and melodic heavy rock songs, none quite like the other. It covers a vast sonic territory from dark, driving post-punk to psychedelic post-metal, from heavy doom blues to epic space rock and everything in between.

FALL HEADLINING TOUR DATES

Oct 10th – Pawtucket, RI @ The News Café

Oct 11th – Burlington, VT @ Finnigan’s Pub

Oct 12th – Portland, ME @ Flask Lounge

Oct 14th – Akron, OH @ Annabell’s

Oct 15th – Cleveland, OH @ Pats in the Flats

Oct 16th – Waterloo, ON @ Chainsaw

Oct 17th – Columbus, OH @ The Tree Bar

Oct 18th – Indianapolis, IN @ 5th Quarter Lounge

Oct 19th – Milwaukee, MI @ Frank’s Power Plant

Oct 20th – Chicago, IL @ Reggies

Oct 21st – Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge

Oct 22nd – Littleton, CO @ Toads Tavern

Oct 24th – Eugene, OR @ Black Forest

Oct 25th – Seattle, WA @ Victory Lounge

Oct 26th – Portland, OR @ Twilight

Oct 27th – Vancouver, BC @ TBA

Oct 28th – Spokane, WA @ The Pin

Oct 31st – Los Osos, CA @ Sweet Springs Saloon

Nov 1st – Santa Cruz, CA @ Streetlight Records

Nov 2nd – San Francisco, CA @ Elbo Room

Nov 3rd – Glendale, CA @ Complex

Nov 4th – Tempe, AZ @ FiftyOne West

Nov 5th – Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress

Nov 6th – Albuquerque, NM @ Duke City Sound

Nov 7th – El Paso, TX @ Bourbon ‘n Brews

Nov 9th – Denton, TX @ J&J’s Pizza

Nov 10th – Austin, TX @ Beerland

Nov 11th – Houston, TX @ Super Happy Fun Land

Nov 13th – Miami, FL @ The Cave

Nov 14th – Tallahassee, FL @ TBA

Nov 15th – Tampa, FL @ New World Brewery

Nov 16th – Gainesville, FL @ 8-Bit Bar

Nov 17th – Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits

Nov 18th – Athens, GA @ Caledonia Lounge

Nov 19th – Asheville, NC @ The Odditorium

Nov 21st – Raleigh, NC @ The Maywood

Nov 28th – Frederick, MD @ Guidos

Nov 29th – Allston, MA @ O’Briens

Nov 30th – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie

Dec 5th – Brooklyn, NY @ The Acheron

Dec 11th – Savannah, GA @ The Jinx

Dec 12th – Greenville, SC @ WPBR Radio Room

Caustic Casanova announced U.S. tour in support of Breaks.

Caustic Casanova is a loud, heavy rock trio from Washington, DC. They’ve been tearing up stages and studios alike with their unique brand of eclectic, “absurdly muscled uber-psyche” since their inception in 2005. In 2008, CC released their first ever full-length studio album, a seventy-two minute tour-de-force entitled Imminent Eminence. Four years later, they unleashed 2012’s critically acclaimed Someday You Will Be Proven Correct, produced by J. Robbins.

Caustic Casanova’s new album and Retro Futurist Records debut, Breaks, is once again produced by J. Robbins and features seven unconventional and melodic heavy rock songs, none quite like the other. It covers a vast sonic territory from dark, driving post-punk to psychedelic post-metal, from heavy doom blues to epic space rock and everything in between.

Oct 10th – Pawtucket, RI @ The News Cafe

Oct 11th – Burlington, VT @ Finnigan’s Pub

Oct 12th – Portland, ME @ Flask Lounge

Oct 14th – Akron, OH @ Annabell’s

Oct 15th – Cleveland, OH @ Pats in the Flats

Oct 16th – Ontario, CANADA @ Chainsaw

Oct 17th – Columbus, OH @ The Tree Bar

Oct 18th – Indianapolis, IN @ 5th Quarter Lounge

Oct 19th – Milwaukee, MI @ Frank’s Power Plant

Oct 20th – Chicago, IL @ Reggies

Oct 21st – Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge

Oct 22nd – Littleton, CO @ Toads Tavern

Oct 24th – Eugene, OR @ Black Forest

Oct 25th – Seattle, WA @ Victory Lounge

Oct 26th – Portland, OR @ Twilight

Oct 27th – Vancouver, BC @ The Astoria

Oct 31st – San Luis Obispo, CA @ Sweet Springs Saloon

Nov 1st – Santa Cruz, CA @ Streetlight Records

Nov 2nd – San Francisco, CA @ Elbo Room

Nov 3rd – Los Angeles, CA @ Complex

Nov 4th – Tempe, AZ @ FiftyOne West

Nov 6th – Albuquerque, NM @ Duke City Sound

Nov 7th – El Paso, TX @ Bourbon ‘n Brews

Nov 9th – Denton, TX @ J&J’s Pizza

Nov 10th – Austin, TX @ Beerland

Nov 13th – Miami, FL @ The Cave

Nov 16th – Gainesville, FL @ 8-Bit Bar

Nov 17th – Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits

Nov 18th – Athens, GA @ Caledonia Lounge

Caustic Casanova
Caustic Casanova

Caustic Casanova is a loud, heavy rock trio from Washington, DC. The CC, as they are affectionately known by their fans, has been tearing up stages and studios alike with their unique brand of eclectic, “absurdly muscled uber-psyche” (Indy Week) since their inception on the campus of The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2005.  In 2008 CC released their first ever full-length studio album, a fourteen song, seventy-two minute tour-de-force entitled Imminent Eminence. Four years later, Caustic Casanova unleashed 2012’s critically acclaimed Someday You Will Be Proven Correct, produced by J. Robbins.

After the release of Someday You Will Be Proven Correct and a 2012 SXSW tour came the departure the group’s original guitarist, and a most critical juncture for the rhythm section of the band – whether to continue as Caustic Casanova, start another project, or part ways altogether. After much deliberation, drummer/vocalist Stefanie Zaenker and bassist/lead vocalist Francis Beringer decided to honor the work they’d done over the years together by continuing Caustic Casanova.

Months of experimenting as a bass and drums two piece were followed by rounds of guitar player auditions, finally yielding the missing element to the new Caustic Casanova, longtime fan, friend and all-around six string wizard Andrew Yonki. In Andrew’s two and a half years with the band, the rejuvenated Caustic Casanova has gigged wherever and whenever possible, embarked on two lengthy national tours and several shorter ones, and has earned a much bigger following in DC.

In 2014 Caustic Casanova signed to Retro Futurist Records after opening for psych metal veterans and label owners Kylesa, and later teamed up with J. Robbins to record lots of new music and release the first in a series of 7-inch singles called Pantheon: Volume 1. Despite losing Stefanie for nearly half the year to severe wrist injuries from a life threatening accident (once again putting the very existence of the band in jeopardy) Caustic Casanova returned stronger, tighter and more motivated than ever to build sonic temples in which to worship feedback, massive riffs, delay pedals, bass fuzz, thunderous drum fills and soaring vocal melody. 

The end product of these years of writing and recording through trial and tribulation is Caustic Casanova’s new album and Retro Futurist debut Breaks, once again produced by J. Robbins. Breaks features seven unconventional and melodic heavy rock songs, none quite like the other, and covers a vast sonic territory from dark, driving post-punk to psychedelic post-metal, from heavy doom blues to epic space rock and everything in between. Breaks will be released on September 25, 2015. Look for Caustic Casanova on tour in the U.S. during August, October and November.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with the band to discuss DC’s musical legacy, hooking up with Kylesa and Retro Futurist, and working the J. Robbins

Are you from D.C. originally, or are you transplants?  Has the area’s musical legacy influenced the music that you make?

Andrew Yonki: I grew up in New Jersey,and came to DC in 2004 to go to American University. I was a music nerd growing up, so I was well aware that DC had such a storied musical history, and I prepared for my arrival by looking at the Dischord records website to see if any of the bands were playing at the time I’d arrive.

The musical legacy of DC is most influential in that, no matter what the sociopolitical message of the bands were, or whether they always adhered to the DIY ethos, the fact was that the bands from this city have been really fantastic, no matter the genre. So many bands from here have forged their own sonic identity, and I aspire to that. Whatever the “it” factor is about bands from this city, I’m a fan of it and I hope to have left my mark on it.

Stefanie Zaenker: I grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia. I moved to DC in 2008 right after I graduated from William and Mary. I am a big fan of the music that has come out of DC, especially the DC hardcore and go go scenes. I became aware of bands like Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Government Issue, etc in college but it wasn’t until I moved here to and got involved in the current music scene that I realized how much of an impact it had on so many bands, particularly starting the do-it-yourself model for carving out a life for yourself in music.

I’d say the raw energy of live performances and the DIY ethos of the hardcore and punk scenes has influenced us the most. Plus I’ve been playing around with some go go beats at practice so we can incorporate that into a song or two somehow.

Francis Beringer: I am from Arlington, and I went to high school in DC.  I’ve lived other places but spent most of my life in DC. The modern musical legacy of Washington is go-go and DC hardcore, and I would be lying if I said either of those two have had a huge influence on my songwriting in particular.

The legacy of Washington’s punk rock musical culture that emphasizes the importance of DIY and creating your own musical identity is certainly not lost on me or my bandmates, and certainly there’s an element of living here and being part of said culture that has kept us going for all these years, literally always doing it ourselves.

More recently, bands like Jawbox and Fugazi have become an influence in my writing, and they’ve always been an element of Andrew’s playing, so that wiry, dissonant, challenging and aggressive post hardcore guitar is now a part of our sound to some degree. Some of the things we’re working on now (for the next record) and a song that was left off Breaks (which will appear on an EP down the road) both prominently showcase a DC post hardcore influence, particularly on guitar.

You worked with J. Robbins on Someday You Will Be Proven Correct.  What was that experience like?

SZ: It was wonderful. J is just the best. As an engineer and producer he has the perfect combination of knowledge and expertise, approachability, patience, and ability to understand what we’re trying to do with a certain part or song and then make interesting new suggestions that we hadn’t thought of.

He pushes us to be our best and his attention to detail does not go unnoticed, and really makes a difference once the mix is done. He’s also a great conversationalist and is full of great tour stories.

FB: It was an extremely important part of my development as a musician, and Caustic Casanova was forever changed by that experience. We made a great record with a great record producer who is also a legendary musician and has outstanding taste – it would be difficult to create a better situation for us at that time.

J was such a joy to work with. He held our hand in areas where we were green or inexperienced, and got out of our way when we were on a roll.  Almost every instinct he has as a producer is good.

Making a great record, especially a great sounding record, is all about small choices – it’s that extra five percent that only true experts know that creates a truly special record (this is assuming the band is tight and the material is strong). It’s tiny changes in mic placement, refining a drum part down to its most accurate detail, bringing out a leslie speaker for a guitar solo and tuning drums for four hours – these little things make a massive difference when added up at the end.

Some of these changes – their purpose and what difference they’re making are often not perceivable to me while they’re happening. Only when the finished product comes out do I fully comprehend some of those choices and ideas.  That’s where J really shines – in the small places where the greatest care must be taken.

Your original lead guitarist left the band in 2012, right?  How did you regroup and recover from that?

FB: It is easy now to look at that time through rose colored glasses and forget how difficult it was. It was entirely conceivable to me at that time that Caustic Casanova was finished. A big part of me did not think replacing Michael would be possible. Michael also sang lead and wrote a lot of songs, and CC had started as our project when we were teenagers. The new band would have to be worthy of the Caustic Casanova name and musical output – otherwise, there was no point in my mind. The new guitar player was going to have enormous shoes to fill.

Stefanie’s confidence in us and her resiliency kept me going through that difficult time. She was sure we would find someone else, regroup and retool and come out successful. She was right. After a bunch of guitar player auditions, we decided on Andrew, our longtime friend. He’s been as close to perfect for the role as we could have imagined anyone being, as a musician and person. It helps a lot that the three of us are all such close friends.

What has Andrew brought to the band that has transformed it?

AY: My guitar playing style, as well as my listening habits, is very steeped in in-your-face punk rock, hardcore, and heavy metal styles. I think overall the band has gotten heavier, as me and Francis first bonded over our mutual love of stoner metal and our love of heavy music has been at the forefront of our friendship for the past six and a half years, and the first times we ever played together just involved us improvising doom metal on a Saturday night over a twelve-pack of beer.

I didn’t turn the band into a metal band, but I do think that, between my playing, songwriting influences, and the guitar tone that I use, the sound of the band has gotten thicker and heavier and darker in a lot of ways.

SZ: A lot of jokes, bird noises, and stretch breaks. And accents. Sometimes it feels like we’re a ten person band. In all seriousness though, he has brought a generally heavier and more psychedelic sound to Caustic Casanova. He has a lot of different pedals and loves experimenting with them. My favorite of them is the blue box.

He has brought great friendship and dedication, a lot of laughs, serious guitar chops, a love of pedals, and a willingness to push the boundaries of whatever anyone might think traditional heavy rock music is. He’s always willing to rework something and is constantly self editing. He’s a just a fantastic musician with an ear for a great riff.

FB: Andrew brought his own set of influences from punk and metal to our band. We are a heavier band because of him, and that’s the direction I wanted to go in anyway so it worked out perfectly. He brings a different way of looking and things and a different way of working. He’s a constant burst of guitar creativity, and he’s willing to try just about any idea I have for an arrangement, and he can usually execute exactly what I hear in my head or improve upon it. He also is a phenomenal musician, who, like me, loves an awesome riff. He can easily learn a song with 13 crazy riffs in a couple practices. He’s also a great streamliner and editor – his songwriting vision is strong. It’s really exciting having him in the band.

How did you meet Kylesa?

FB: We opened for them with a 25 minute set in October 2013 at a now defunct venue called Empire in Springfield, VA. Most of DC’s clubs do not (which I do not understand) give out many opportunities to local bands. It’s a very small club of area bands that gets to open for national acts, and we are not in that club. Never in a million years would we open for Kylesa in DC, under any circumstances. Even asking would be laughable.

When we saw they were coming to Empire, we just wanted a chance to play with one of our favorite bands, and a band that we thought might just get where we’re coming from. We betrayed our principles and sold tickets and participated in this noxious pay-to-play racket in order to have this fun opportunity. It was a great show and I’ll never forget it. Kylesa destroyed, as usual

When did they approach you about releasing your record via Retro Futurist?

SZ: We all talked to Phil or Laura that night after we opened for them and in one of those convos, I believe it was even on stage as they were breaking down gear and loading out, Phil offered to put out our next record if we didn’t already have something lined up, just based on our performance that night. They bought our most recent LP at the show and apparently really enjoyed it because we all stayed in touch in the following months and the record deal materialized from there.

Stefanie also suffered a severe wrist injury that put the existence of the band in jeopardy, right?  How did that happen and how did she recover from that?

SZ: I broke both of my wrists and tailbone on Christmas Eve in 2013. I fell from a pretty tall height, so I consider myself pretty lucky that it wasn’t worse. It all happened so fast and the first couple days in the hospital were just a blur of surgeries and pain meds that it took a few days to really sink in that I might never play drums again. That might sound a bit dramatic, but I had never broken a bone before so I really had no idea what to expect in terms of the recovery process.

After two surgeries that both went really well my doctors said if I worked my butt off in the coming months of physical therapy I’d probably get 95 percent mobility back. It was incredible hearing them say that so I just put my game face on and was a beast at outpatient and home physical therapy for a few months.

I just focused on staying positive, learning from the experience, and working as hard as I possibly could on my therapy. I was able to play drums again at the end of March 2014. It was just the most triumphant and gleeful feeling when I sat on my throne for the first time expecting to be able to play for a couple minutes and ended up finishing an entire two hour band practice.

Andrew and Fran just continued working on stuff together while I was staying with my parents in Charlottesville during recovery. I told them to operate under the assumption that I’d be back at it in a few months, and they did, so we really only ended up taking a few months off as a full band. They were incredibly supportive of me throughout the whole experience and I really couldn’t ask for better band mates or friends.

When did you begin writing Breaks and what were you hoping to accomplish with that?

FB: Our former guitar player had been living in Boston for a while and commuting once in a while to DC for gigs and the occasional practice. Without him around much, Stefanie and I grew bored and began to jam a lot as a duo. Four of the songs on the record come from those jams, which started as early as 2011.  The only thing we were trying to accomplish then, as now, was to write the best rock songs we can.

AY: Fran and Stefanie started writing the material that would become “Breaks” in I’m guessing 2010, 2011, right around the time that Michael first moved away from the DC area. They’d written enough that, in October 2012, they’d recorded a demo with four mostly-complete new songs. For me personally, I wanted to make a killer guitar rock record. I wanted big riffs, big power chords. I wanted to do really unique things on the guitar and really challenge myself on textures and atmosphere.

SZ: Musically speaking the album is heavier than 2012’s Someday You Will Be Proven Correct. We wanted to challenge ourselves by writing more complex material and make a better record than ‘Someday’ (a record we are definitely proud of, though). We all really like pushing ourselves to be better musicians and we are constantly trying to find new and creative ways to write songs, rearrange certain parts, or do something none of us have heard before. We don’t really abide by any established songwriting rules so we were just aiming for something that sounded heavy, unique, and interesting to all of us.

We also added a lot more dual lead vocals with Francis and I, and a lot more of my backing vocals, so that brought something unique into the mix that’s not often something you hear with heavy bands.

Is there a theme or idea that you were hoping to capture with the record?

SZ: Lyrically speaking there is no main theme or idea, other than our observations and musings on the current state of affairs: sometimes personal, sometimes political, sometimes social.  Fran has become a great lyricist and he’s great at conveying attitudes or beliefs the three of us hold. Hopefully our commitment to and love of making interesting music, our senses of humor, and the introspection that comes with having had a lot of life experiences will come across on “Breaks.”

AY: Big riffs, emotional catharsis, psychic journeys, rock and fucking ROLL.

You went back to J. Robbins for Breaks.  Did he bring anything to the table that surprised you this time around?

FB: I’m not sure we were surprised by anything. At this point we’re friends with a solid working relationship. Personally, I feel like I’ve grown more as a musician and thus am able to get more out of the studio. I know more of what I’m looking for when mixing. I know what exactly I’m messing up when playing bass that J is trying to get me to correct.

The record sounds so good – I had pages and pages of notes for J with audio samples for all sorts of things, and we went over all of it in great detail. With Someday, I felt like an impostor in the mixing room – consequently I didn’t speak up much. I felt totally comfortable making this record, and especially comfortable mixing it with J and picking it apart.

You’ll be touring fairly extensively in support of Breaks.  What destinations are you most excited to visit?

AY: Name a place I haven’t been and that’s the place. Also Seattle. And the Bay Area if we go back there. And San Diego. Fran owes me fish tacos and a Tecate tall boy.

SZ: This will be our longest tour to date. We’ve gone out for a little over a month before but we’re in the middle of planning a five or six week tour for October/November now, in support of Breaks. I just love touring and seeing new parts of the country. I had never seen any of the Southwest before our Summer 2013 tour and I just fell in love with the Arizona and New Mexico landscapes. I grew up on the east coast so I was used to hilly, arboraceous environs with cities pretty close together and easy to get to. The vastness, colors, and just mysterious and awe-inspiring beauty of the southwest really stood out to me so I’m excited to go back to that part of the country. I almost felt like I was on another planet. I’d love to visit Death Valley – and always any city on the coast with a good beach.

FB:  I love visiting San Diego because I used to live there. I’m really excited to see friends in Seattle. I love the American southwest, so New Mexico and Arizona are always fun for me. We really enjoyed St. Petersburg, Florida, last time around and hope to get back there. Obviously, Savannah being the home of Retro Futurist and Kylesa will make any show there memorable.

(Visit Caustic Casanova here: http://causticcasanova.com/.)