Stranded In Stereo: The Stranded Local Q&A: Cassavettes

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Stranded Local Q&A: Cassavettes

This week’s Q&A comes from Boston’s own urban cowboys, Cassavettes. Their rustic instrumentation and soulful Americana stand out in a scene typically ridden with hardcore and indie-rock. Cassavettes slip past the drudging melancholy of traditional country twang and artfully give it a new face. As the Boston Metro put it, these guys “provide an alternative to alternative-country (Alt-alt-country?).”

Strung together in 2003 by high-school friendships and tidied up by means of Craigslist, Glenn Yoder, Mike MuCullagh, Scott Jones, and Matt Snow of Cassavettes have come a long way since their first show at the All Asia. From being praised in the Boston Globe to being voted Best Local Band in the Boston Phoenix Reader’s Poll, their pop sensibilities and charming melodies have slowly seeped into the local music scene, bringing a little Texas into the Northeast.

Commemorating the band's birthday every year on July 5th, Cassavettes will be holding this year’s “quasi-narcissistic” birthday party as headliners at the Paradise Rock Club with friends/tour mates Girls, Guns & Glory, and NYC’s Teenage Prayers. Don’t let their “Texan country” labels scare you away... These guys manage to transcend the simplistic categorization of any one genre. Give them a listen.

Glenn took a few minutes to answer the five questions Stranded in Stereo always asks:

Hailing from Boston makes us better than all those non-Boston bands because

It's my personal belief that being a Boston band makes you a hell of a lot tougher than other cities. I wouldn't say it gives you any "tough" street cred -- we're not like hanging on the corner and what not -- but it certainly doesn't give you a whole lot of false hope. Boston is a tough, tough scene, but rewarding. There isn't much time for nurturing when there's so many college students, so many music schools, and so many hopeful musicians crammed into one city. So, it's very sink or swim, and bands have to learn how to do that for themselves. This isn't to say that Boston doesn't take care of their own -- quite to the contrary, it's been great to us -- it's just that you can't expect anyone to hold your hand through the process. And you have to let Boston know you love it in order to be loved back. How many other cities have that kind of relationship with the bands they produce?

Name at least three bands that are still around and touring that you’d love to be on a bill with, and think it fits well

It's funny you ask this specifically, because we just got the chance to play with one of them recently, and this very question came up in the van on the ride home. We opened for Superdrag in Philadelphia in April, one of my all-time favorite groups and with whom we're recording our next record in Knoxville, and this is the shortlist of active bands I'd like to share a bill with: Ryan Adams, Wilco, Old 97s, Neil Young, Centro-matic, Nada Surf, and Superdrag. One down. Almost 1 1/2 really, since Superdrag helped get us VIP treatment at a Nada Surf/Superdrag show in NYC the night before our Philly date to the point where it almost felt like we were on board. And take into account that three of those bands rarely use openers and one of those bands is on-and-off again, and we did pretty well in one night.

Your favorite Boston venue to perform in is
Probably the Paradise Rock Club, which we're headlining on July 5 (plug alert). No joke. For a long time, we considered the Middle East to be our home because Shred gave us our first shot when he was still booking there, and we still love it, but there's something about The Paradise. It can almost feel like a holy experience to stand on that stage sometimes.

Are there any genres that influence your music conceptually, rather than sonically? (In that you can’t hear from simply listening to the music, but from getting into the structure or mathematics of the song-writing, etc.)

When the band started in 2005, I had just come off making a string of solo EPs for fun, one of which was jazz-influenced. Not like real jazz, but more like Karate/Geoff Farina jazz. Mike and I worked some of the chords and structures into our early Cassavettes songs, and made the dubious error of listing ourselves on Myspace as country/rock/jazz, or something to that effect. I think the jazz label perhaps scared off some rock fans and worried some jazz fans when they actually heard what we sound like, which is far more rock than jazz. Nonetheless, I think there's still an element of jazz buried in the sound, even if we aren't promoting it anymore these days.

Your favorite local bar to hit up when not doing the whole band deal is

Wally's, without a doubt. Now, after my explanation of jazz in our music and telling you I love Wally's, you're probably thinking I'm some jazzbo, and honestly, I wouldn't mind the label. But if we're being truly honest, I'm by no means a jazz expert. I just used to live down the street from Wally's when I went to Northeastern, and not only was it a great place to stumble home from in the snow, but it's got the right atmosphere. It's not flashy -- just a tiny place with sparse seating, decent drinks, and awesome music. The music is their reputation, and it's why I go there, but it's also easy to have a conversation in there. Yeah, it's got it all. Plus, there's awesome pizza one door down. I still meet friends over there on Sundays, if you want to hang.



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