“POST-ROCK: Post-rock is a subgenre of rock music characterized by the influence and use of instruments commonly associated with rock, but using rhythms and ‘guitars as facilitators of timbre and textures’ not traditionally found in rock. Post-rock bands are often without vocals”… (source- good ol’ Wikipedia)
The beauty of defined sub-genre tags such as the one above is that it gives the uninitiated a handy reference point for finding or describing acts that we judge to fall within the parameters of the category. The difficulty with these terms is they can tend to try to compartmentalize people’s art for the convenience of the listening public, and that even within the outwardly imposed confines of these sub-genres the best artists continue to evolve and redefine the boundaries. So even as bands such as Massachusetts group Caspian are seemingly content to be described as ‘post-rock’ they are a clear example of a band who have incrementally yet exponentially evolved their sound across their journey.
At some point the tag ‘post-rock’ may actually not be adequate to describe the output of these innovative individuals. This is a group that has tackled personal and creative challenges with grace & integrity and the artistic results continue to maintain such a high standard that the band stand out from among the increasingly popular and populated ‘post-rock’ genre. They have grown and refined themselves, they are masters of deftly controlling the emotion and resonance of their music even without the benefit of vocals. The five piece manipulate the confines of song and create highly emotive and evocative soundscapes that can take the listener on a beautiful journey if they are willing to fully submit to the beauty within the delightful dissonance.
Since their beginnings in the early years of this century the band have released three studio albums, and a small cache of live, split or stand alone EPs. They have steadily forged an impressive live reputation on the back of touring extensively, particularly around their native US and across Europe. This year sees the guys head Down Under for the first time and they landed recently after completing a series of shows in Asia.
Guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Philip Jamieson took time out from his quest to catch up on sleep and put on hold his search for the perfect pizza to answer a few questions for us.
Ben: You have just begun your first tour of Australia, what are your early impressions of our country?
Philip: Very beautiful, lush and pleasant at the moment. Stylish, friendly people and great food. Seems like a cultural middle ground between home and where we were in China last week
B: You guys are in the midst of an international tour, this surely means many hours downtime on the road, what are some of the ways you entertain yourselves and/or stay stimulated?
P: Try to catch up on sleep as much as we can with all of the traveling, while trying to get out and about and soak in as much as possible from local sights. We are always open to local recommendations.
B: How is it that you came to be an instrumental act?
P: It’s what felt natural to us when we started playing together, and specifically after our first show together. We didn’t plan on being instrumental but it just felt right, and allowed us to effectively communicate what we were aiming for at the time.
B: I have heard it said that you have a relatively democratic creative process within the band, are you able to elaborate on that process and explain a little of how a Caspian song is created?
P: It’s always evolving. For our first couple records, we’d just get together and improvise and jam for hours and take bits and pieces that felt right from those improvs and start fashioning them into some kind of story musically. These days, I usually end up bringing a central idea based around a loop or a melody or a chord progression to the rest of the guys and then we start exploring it all together. I have hundreds of little seeds that the rest of the band either pours water on and we watch grow or they shrivel up and sort of fade out.
B: Do you think not having lyrics has any particularly identifiable effect on that creative process?
P: It forces you to communicate more dynamically and to communicate much more during the writing process, if only because the songs don’t follow a formulaic kind of structure or archetype. We have to always be verbally discussing where we want to take a song since the anchor of vocals and consistent narrative structure is absent.
B: Do you have any interests, passions or influences outside of making music?
P: Oh, so so many. I love film and TV drama, design work, nature and the outdoors, and I have an indescribable fascination with traditional, hand crafted Neapolitan Pizza. I guess I tend to be on the “depth not breadth” end of the spectrum – if I find something that I’m passionate about, I get extremely consumed by every little detail of it and become slightly obsessed.
B: What are the plans for the immediate future for Caspian?
P: Going to start writing a new record this summer and go back to Europe for a couple of weeks. Priority number one is to get back into the creative mindset after all of this touring and begin writing new music again.