Everything in the world of Casino Rockets happens in slow motion. No worries, because we now have their ace debut album, Reality Distortion Field with which to annoy the neighbours.
Casino Rockets started as a covers band. We’re mighty glad they had a change of heart. Reality Distortion Field is a fine piece of work. A few years in its gestation, but now it’s out, we’re hooked.
With takes on indie rock and interspersed with bits of goth, funk, psych and synth, it’s an album full of energy and invention. It needs to be played loud. And, maybe one day soon the band will have the chance to do just that.
We caught up with Tiv, Dan and Richard. The camera shy Chris, the drummer, stayed, well, camera shy. We may find out why, later.
P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?
Rick: I am at home. I’ve just put my daughter to sleep and am drinking some apple juice.
P3dro: You may wanna re-phrase that bit about your daughter!
Dan: We’re all in different parts of Halifax and we’re probably all drinking and not looking forward to work in the morning.
Rick: Speak for yourself, Dan!
Dan: Ah, you’re not looking forward to work tomorrow afternoon.
Rick: I can’t wait.
Tiv: I’m in my man cave. The kids are just going to bed, now. And, that’s it, really.
Dan: Are you drinking water?
Tiv: No, it’s white wine.
Rick: Interesting glass, that!
Tiv: It’s the new French, it’s called a stemless wine glass.
P3dro: Tell us a bit about the band. We gather you’ve been together for quite a long time.
Tiv: Well, I’ve known Rick for a long time. He used to wash up at my Mum and Dad’s pub. I grew up in the pub and these guys used to work there at some point. Richard and I started recording some music in about 2001. I had some stuff on the go and Richard was an adventurous guitar player, so we developed [music]. It didn’t go anywhere and we left it for a couple of years.
And then, I think, in about 2007 Rick brought Dan around to our house and I was mesmerised by their playing skills. I just made them a fish pie and gave them Stella whilst they played music in my flat, which was awesome, really.
Shortly after that we decided we might throw a band together. So, we did. And, we’ve been together since.
P3dro: You started off as a covers band, is that right?
Dan: Yeah, we’d been doing indie stuff and mod-rock. All the kind of thing we’d grown up with. Just playing pubs and the odd function. It was a bit of a laugh and we thought it was awesome at the time. But then at some point we decided it wasn’t fulfilling us, so we decided to start writing our own stuff.
Rick: We decided to take a plunge. We’d done a lot of gigs and a lot of covers. We’d dabbled with the idea of throwing in the odd original song, but then we decided to go in completely the opposite direction. So we got in a room once a week and started writing. That was about five years ago.
Dan: When you’re a covers band and you throw in a couple [of your own songs] it’s always really disappointing. You go from playing ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ to one of our own and then everyone just sits back down. Then you play ‘Mr Brightside’ and everyone’s back up again. So, we thought: “Let’s not do that again”.
Tiv: I always felt, in the covers band, I could never commit to being a proper front man because it wasn’t my music. I really wanted to write my own. I’m happy now because we’re doing our own stuff.
Rick: We always wanted to make our own creations and that’s why it’s so much better. It’s our thing and that’s much more interesting.
P3dro: Reality Distortion Field has been really quite a long time in the making.
Dan: It’s taken such a long time because it takes us such a long time to get anything done. We all have jobs and family, so getting together has always been a bit of a challenge. Everything in Casino Rockets world happens in slow motion.
A lot of time and effort goes into putting an album together, but we took our time over it!
Tiv: We’ve ditched our first five songs, other than ‘Black and Red’, for the album. Just because we knew we were developing, but we were taking it easy, like a hobby, but we were getting better at it. We worked out our style but always referred back to ‘Black and Red’ – a bit dark and a bit messed up. But very grand a big statement.
Rick: It’s taken a while to shape that. I think ‘Black and Red’ was always the marker, even though it was written years ago. That’s always stayed as our style.
P3dro: You seem to draw on quite a few different influences.
Dan: The reason there are so many influences in the music is because each of us listen to, and are influenced by completely different stuff. I think that’s why it’s taken us such a long time to get our sound emerging and to find that balance.
Rick: We’ve been able to get to a point where we have an idea and we can say: “Yeah, that sounds like Casino Rockets“. And that’s quite a good thing. That’s the vision, now, even though it’s taken us a while to get there.
Dan: You’re after names of bands aren’t you?
P3dro: Well, we will be later!
Rick: In all our ideas you can hear, subconsciously, the Chili Peppers, Chemical Brothers, Pink Floyd. That’s three mainstream ones, but there are underground things going on as well.
Dan: I think Radiohead are a big influence as well.
Rick: Yeah, 100%. What I like is that there are nuances of those bands, not just rip offs of their songs. There are nods to things.
P3dro: That’s part of the reason we asked the question. That’s an interesting response, because pretty much every band we’ve spoken to will say they all bring different things into a practice room. And that ends up with the band creating its own sound.
Tiv: My childhood music experiences were probably with Depeche Mode and that led me onto a 10-15 year exploration of electronic music. I’ve been a dance music DJ, collecting 12″s and playing with my best friends in clubs. And then onto trying to make music, just exploring my love for clean noises and synthesisers and the power you can get out of them. So, yeah, they were a big influence for me.
P3dro: Just going back to the gestation period of the album, how did you know it was ready? How did you know when to stop?
Tiv: That’s a very good question!
Dan: The last song, ‘Kachumber’ was from an idea about six years ago that we’d tried making into a song, but we just couldn’t do it. We kept trying, but couldn’t get anywhere with it. But eventually it did become a song. That was recorded and sounded great, even though there was still something missing. Then Tiv went off and added some crazy samples to it and that transformed the song into something else.
I guess we knew each song was done when it was given the respect it deserved. The songs were all very much complete when we went into the studio, even though we augmented them, it wasn’t like we kept adding and adding to them.
Rick: I don’t think we ever obsessed over any one track, because then there’s a big risk you just go around and around looking for a finished product. Then it just gets worse because you don’t know what to add. I think we’ve been really careful with what we wanted.
Obviously, yeah, it’s taken a hell of a long time and that can be a bad thing, but we’ve also always said we need to put everything in and get it right. But no song had more then four mixes.
Dan: The reason it’s taken a long time is because we haven’t rushed it.
P3dro: What’s the trigger for releasing the album now? How has the last 12 months been?
Tiv: We had our final recording session in January 2020 and called it a wrap at that point. Then Steve, the producer took some time to mix the thing. And then Covid happened. Because of that, we had talks about delaying the album and still tweaking some of the songs. We were going to go live with it in July or August and had planned some promotion.
But then we decided we needed a proper PR campaign. And then it looked like Covid was coming back, which it did. But we needed a video and a properly co-ordinated campaign, a date and a single release. So, all these things, these factors for a good campaign have meant its taken this long to get to this point. It’s been a culmination of different things waiting to happen.
And then the vinyl had a three or four month lead time.
P3dro: So, are there plans to gig and promote the album now its out?
Dan: We have one gig in the pipeline that’s not been announced yet, but other than that, no real plans.
Rick: Now that venues are starting to open, we can start approaching them. But I’m not a fan of booking anything before we know [we can definitely play]. You just go back and forth for no reason. But it would be nice to go and play the album live.
Dan: And, we’ve not played together for a year. So, we don’t want to book anything right now. We’ve got a lot of work to do to get gig fit.
P3dro: There’s an enigma within your band. Chris the drummer.
Tiv: We can’t talk about him.
Dan: No comment. Next question. You know The Stig? It’s not him.
Rick: You could call him a Stigma.
P3dro: Recommend a band or an album you think we should be listening to right now.
Dan: One of my all time favourite albums is Voices of Animals and Men by The Young Knives. It’s very rare, but it came out on Spotify last week. It’s a kind of geek rock and they all look like accountants. It’s awesome.
Tiv: I can’t really recall any recent albums I’ve listened to, just individual tracks, but if anybody ever asked me about Depeche Mode, then I’d tell them to go and listen to their live album 101. It’s probably the best live album I’ve ever heard. It’s just genius.
Rick: There’s a band I love called The Scoundrels from the early 2000s, which no one’s ever heard of. They’re not really an influence, but they just have an awesome sound. An under the radar, bluesy band. I just love their album.
Tiv: I’ve just thought of another one which I shouldn’t have passed on and that’s Random Access Memory by Daft Punk. That’s significant to me.