Resilient And Hungry; An Interview with Stefanie Zaenker of Caustic Casanova

Catching a show from Washington, D.C. trio Caustic Casanova requires you to be ready.  Their sets are loud, heavy, and will leave you sweating through your garments when it’s all said and done.  After forming the band in 2005 while attending the College of William and Mary, Caustic Casanova have had their share setbacks.  With a handful of lineup changes and the serious back injury drummer/vocalist Stefanie Zaenker sustained a couple of years ago, the band is now locked in musically.
On September 8th, Caustic Casanova released their second 7 inch, ‘Pantheon: Vol. 2’ via Retro Futurist Records and have been touring since October.  We thought that it would be a good time to catch up with Zaenker to discuss about the new tunes, her horrific injury, and plans for a full-length.
In the four years since Andrew has joined the group, how does everyone feel currently musically?
I think we all feel really happy with the direction our music is heading. It has definitely become heavier since Andrew joined the band, and with an added punk edge. We really enjoy the creative process of writing and arranging songs together and that has become much more collaborative recently. We are all happy with where things are at and are excited to be taking some new songs out on the road with us this fall.
The band has been touring pretty extensively over the past few years.  What has been some of the best moments to date?
We all love touring a lot. One of our favorite parts of touring (other than the obvious one being we get to play music every night) is finding cool regional cuisine! We’ve eaten at a lot of amazing restaurants and hole-in-the-walls. Killens BBQ outside of Houston stands out, as does Budare Grill in Pawtucket, RI. Budare is a Venezuelan restaurant that serves the best arepas we’ve ever had! We also always try to visit National Parks whenever we’re out west, and last time we had a few off days in Moab, Utah so we went to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. The vastness of that part of the country is almost incomprehensible. We loved everything about Moab, UT!
You suffered a pretty serious injury years ago with your back.  Did you feel that there was going to be a point where you couldn’t play music again?
At the end of 2013 I broke both of my wrists and my tailbone at the same time. Even in the hospital about to undergo my second surgery I kind of had an inkling that I’d be able to play again (at least that’s what I told myself). I think Francis and Andrew were much more worried than I was honestly, haha, it was a feeling I couldn’t explain at the time but it turned to be correct! It was extremely painful and the complete loss of independence for a couple months was honestly worse than the pain itself, but I always had a feeling it wouldn’t be that bad in the end. I just took my physical therapy extremely seriously and I was back on the kit and in band practice three months later! Physical therapy works wonders if you actually do what they tell you!

What was the inspiration behind releasing ‘Pantheon: Vol 2’?
The Pantheon 7” series is a series where we rearrange and re-record an older, original song on side A, and then cover a song from an artist we feel fits with the vibe of the old song on side B. We thought the Pantheon series would be cool because it’s fun choosing and then working on a cover, but we’ll also have these smaller releases in between our full lengths, to tide our fans over and always have new material coming out!
On ‘Pantheon: Vol 2’ is the cover of the Melvins’ classic “Cow.”  How did the decision come on recording this song?
We’re all massive Melvins fans and Bullhead is one of everyone’s favorite Melvins albums. We obviously love the song ‘Cow’ which is ultimately why we chose it, but we wanted to pick a Melvins song that people might not be expecting us to cover. We’ve never heard of anyone covering that song. We thought re-interpreting the long drum solo at the end as a sort of weird, psychedelic freak-out was a cool way that we could make the song our own. The Melvins have such a long history of doing highly creative, interpretive covers and we wanted to honor them by making one of their songs our own.
Where was the 7” recorded at?
Magpie Cage Studios in Baltimore, Maryland, with the illustrious J. Robbins at the helm!

I saw online that there’s a possibility of having an EP and another full-length already in the can.  What can you say about some the upcoming material?
We already have ‘Pantheon: Vol 3’ in the can (ready to go for after our next full length), and as I mentioned above we just recently finished recording and mixing our new full length. We recorded the album at Magpie Cage with J. Robbins, who had also previously mixed all of our records, but this time we worked with Andrew Schneider of Translator Audio in NYC on the mixing. We’ll have it mastered when we return from our fall tour, and hopefully have it out next year.  It will definitely be our heaviest and weirdest release to date and we’re all thrilled with the way it’s turning out!
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