Casual Sex play Mad Hatters prior to playing SXSW 2014, we caught with Sam Smith to talk America, new music and what he does when he is allowed out of his cupboard.
The Glasgow indie band have been described as being in the tradition of say Orange Juice or Franz Ferdinand, similarities which Chris McRory in a previous interview had argued against ” I don’t know if we’re consciously trying to ‘rip it up and start again’ but we’re certainly not revivalists by any stretch of the imagination, we don’t look back and yearn for something that’s gone.”
Whilst the Highlands have seen plenty of the band with appearances at goNORTH, Belladrum and Jocktoberfest it is without doubt a state-side performance that has earned them the most recognition.
The gig in question, a twenty minute set as part of the CMJ Music Marathon in Manhattan earned them a place on the The Ten Best Concerts of 2013 by the Wall Street Journal. They are returning to America, although this time for SXSW 2014 , but not before they squeeze in a series of dates that finish with a performance at Mad Hatters, Hootananny on the 6th of March. We managed to ask few questions of Sam before the gig.
The first question we asked was about the popularity of the band, no better evidenced than sticking “Casual Sex” into Google and actually finding a reference to the band. “Delighted to hear that, I just hope it’s the right kind of Casual Sex“, Sam responds. And then adds “I do spend most of my time in a cupboard tending to my robots however so I am fairly unaware of any dealing we have with the outside world other than when I’m pushed on stage.”
When he does come out of his cupboard, even just for live gigs, the band have received impressive praise, , perhaps none more so that on their visit to New York last year. I asked Sam about his thoughts of the trip “. But in his own style there were things that he has picked up from the experience; “However a few things I have learnt, check the abyss of craft beers and go easy on the breakfasts.”
Four days after playing Inverness they will be playing SXSW (accompanied on their trip by their peers including Prides and Withered Hand) an opportunity that he is clearly looking forward to, albeit with a sense of trepidation; “It’s very exciting and we’re looking forward to it. I still don’t really know what to expect, though I’m bracing myself for pandemonium.”
The band have substantial experience with both the performance and technical side of music, the impact on the music of Casual Sex is substantial. Sam explains “I really got into producing and engineering via frustrations as a musician of sonically not getting where I wanted (more though my own ignorance than any other reason). Using certain formats such as tape not only add certain characteristic but more importantly define how you approach making music which overall I think has a greater effect on the outcome rather than just sonic colouration.”
Talking about recording, the response to ‘The Bastard Beat’has been hugely positive, but it was the tone of The Skinny’s review that caught us in that it asks whether the EP marks the pinnacle or a launch pad for greater strong success. Sam, philosophically perhaps, comments “Either way I’m glad they liked it” then emphasising the disposable nature of music ownership “It’s good getting something back on vinyl and putting it on and think, great, yes release it, off you go out into the world. Then I can forget about it and get on with the next thing.”
And what of the next thing? “We’re busily writing away at the moment, long into the night. We plan to have an albums worth of new material prepared for March”, Sam concludes.
Casual Sex plays Mad Hatters, Inverness on the 6th of March with support from Bite Night and Lionel. Tickets £5 in advance and available via Ticket Source.