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By: Mark Martins
12 years, 4 albums, 3 EPs, 1 split and 1 live album. Caspian are one of the best and widely acclaimed post-rock bands out there. They’ve had a successful, diverse and also troubled career.
Nothing can stop them and Dust & Disquiet will mark their long awaited return (3 years!) after Waking Season, which had already broken boundaries and was a departure from the sound of earlier recordings such as You Are The Conductor or The Four Trees.
Mark Martins had a chance to interview Philip Jamieson about their up and coming fourth LP and tour, themselves and their career so far.
(((o))): Obviously we have to start off by speaking of the new album. Tell us more about Dust & Disquiet. How would you describe it to someone who hasn’t heard it yet?
Philip: It’s an earnest expansion of what people have become familiar with when it comes to what we do. It’s still a very dramatic, epic, emotional record though perhaps with a bit more light and shade, and sharper contrast between some of the songs. It has all of the hallmark elements of a Caspian record while not sounding much at all like any of the one’s prior, I hope, which is always important to us. We want to keep growing and challenging ourselves, while maintaining what we hope is a distinctive style that belongs to just us.
(((o))): What influenced this new album (musically and not only)?
Philip: We definitely wanted to make a heavier sounding record and strip some of the hi-fi gloss from everything to give it that feeling of sounding more worn-in. I can’t point to any specific bands or records that inspired this to be completely honest, it’s got little bits of everything we’ve been listening to over the years.
(((o))): What is your personal favorite song off the new record?
Philip: I don’t want to duck the question but it’s so difficult to say. Sonically and emotionally I feel like there is something for a lot of different moods here and they’re all communicating such different things. I have always had a soft spot for ‘Rioseco’. When I’m in a fired up mood, ‘Arcs of Command’ really hits a lot of the right spots. When I’m feeling very mellow and reflective I put ‘Equal Night’ on repeat. ‘Run Dry’ is more reflective of the music I’ve been listening to and enjoying for the past few years. They’re all so different.
(((o))): Tell us more about the recording process. Do you typically track live or part by part?
Philip: We track part by part since it allows for more attention to detail and nuance. We do bring energy to our studio performances but the name of the game really is just getting a great take.
(((o))): What moves you? What makes your blood boil? Does your own music make your blood boil?
Philip: I think like any musician who takes what they do (maybe a little too) seriously, I have massive ups and downs when it comes to my relationship with our music. Some days I enjoy it more than anything in the world and other days I can’t listen to it at all. That’s the natural manifestation of something you’re so intimately connected to, much like a relationship. There is a constant dialogue and interrogation occurring since this is what I’ve chosen to commit my life to. It’s part of the deal and I’ve learned to accept it. In terms of what moves me… I guess I’m a big picture kind of person in the end so things like the universe, our place in it, and all of those big picture questions are what get me going. Finding people out there to share the experiences with is important. I also really like just going to the beach here and bobbing up and down in the water for hours. I’d call that my ultimate happy place.
(((o))): For someone who’s never seen you live, what can one expect from a Caspian concert? What do you want people to feel?
Philip: Our shows tend to skew towards the intensely emotional end of the spectrum. It’s a dramatic outburst that hopefully comes across as heartfelt and sincere, which to all of us it very much is. It’s a physically intense show with a lot of movement and those 60-90 minutes every day are sacred to us. It’s not sustained bliss all of the time and we are working hard to make sure it sounds as good as it can, but there are at least 1-2 “moments” a night where I feel like I’m in a completely different place all together and lose track of myself and the stage and all of it… I live for those moments and they’re enough to keep me going even if it’s just for 30 seconds a night.
(((o))): You’ve toured several different countries. What do you like and dislike about touring and what were the best things you learnt about other cultures and people?
Philip: We’ve played over 650 shows now in 40+ countries now and at the end of the day it has all come back to being onstage and seeing people moved in the audience. Most of these places we’ve been to multiple times now so the novelty of being in new spots and sightseeing and such has worn off a little. It helps re-focus your energy and remind you why you’re out there to begin with and it really is about just putting on a good show. The older I get the more I find myself missing some of the domestic creature comforts of home like my kitchen and bed and shower and all that of course since my body isn’t what it used to be and I’ve done a great job at beating the crap out of it over the years, but at the same time I consider this such a massive privilege and an honor that anytime I complain about anything, I feel like a horrible, un-grateful turd and snap myself out of it. As far as people and cultures go, if I’ve learned anything it’s that people are people wherever you go. We are all different but we are also more similar than you’d imagine in the end.
(((o))): Do the members in the band have jobs or does Caspian alone solely support them?
Philip: We absolutely have day jobs, as Caspian alone doesn’t come remotely close to supporting us.
(((o))): What are your favorite up and coming bands?
Philip: I have to admit that I haven’t listened to new music in a long time. I don’t know why really… it just hasn’t been in my sphere lately. Hmm.
(((o))): What is the funniest or most embarrassing episode as a band?
Philip: I refereed a midget boxing match in Manila a year or so ago. I’m 6’7” so sit back for a moment and let that sink in.