INTERVIEW: Matt Caskitt of punk band Caskitt

INTERVIEW: Matt Caskitt of punk band Caskitt

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Photo by John Escobar
LOS ANGELES, September 7, 2016 — The band Caskitt formed three years ago in San Diego, California. Their second full-length is due out September 16 on La Escalera Records. Recently, drummer and singer Matt Caskitt took some time to speak with Wells On Music regarding his musical upbringing, the formation of Caskitt, and the new record.
Kevin Wells: Were you, Matt, born and raised in San Diego? If not, where did you begin? When did you move to San Diego? 
Matt Caskitt: I was born in Murphy, TX but lived in Dallas, Chicago, and Denver as a kid before moving to San Diego, of my own accord, in 2004.
KW: Are the rest of the guys in Caskitt from SD? 

MC: Steffen, like me, grew up all over as a kid. I believe he lived in El Centro, CA and even Italy but did spend some formative years in San Diego. And Jesse is from Riverside, CA.

KW: How old are you guys?

MC: Jesse is the youngest, Steffen is the second youngest, I’m the oldest.

KW: What bands got you into punk rock?

MC: For me, Bad Religion was a big influence. I loved how they played fast and melodic music with powerful political ideas and observations being sung over it so beautifully. When I discovered Propagandhi at 15 years old, their albums really spoke to me and were constantly out-rotating any other album. And I looked forward to each release very impatiently.

KW: What bands did you listen to before punk?
MC: Pearl Jam was the first band I listened to that wasn’t “my dad’s music”. My dad is very into music and introduced me to so many great bands and artists (Led Zeppelin, The Clash, The Police, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Heart, etc.. But being eight years old at the height of their success, Pearl Jam seemed to belong to me. My first show was Pearl Jam/Bad Religion at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado during Pearl Jam’s ‘fuck ticketmaster tour’. Changed my life for sure.

KW: Were drums your first instrument?
MC: No. I wanted to play drums ever since I can remember, but the elementary school concert band director insisted I play trumpet. I’m actually glad I didn’t start with drums because learning how to read and write music for trumpet is much easier than drums/percussion. I may have given up drums, had they been my first intsrument. I begged my mom for a drumset at 11 years old. She bought me a snare drum and stand and said if I played that every day, without collecting dust, she’d consider buying me a drum kit the next year. Needless to say I beat the hell out of that thing and held her to her promise.

KW: What made you want to learn?
MC: At first, music seemed like a chore. An after school class I had to attend at the insistence of my mom, to keep me from getting into trouble. So I couldn’t care less about progressing or learning. But music was always there for me when I seemed to need an escape from personal chaos. When I first started playing in bands, around 14 years old, I think we did it as something to do when we were too tired to skateboard any more. It was a way to burn off excess energy and express ourselves as fast and loud as possible. Then one day, playing in bands, touring and going to shows became my lifestyle. The friends and relationships I’ve made because of it, have defined me as a person and given my life purpose. Without music, I wouldn’t be here. I’m an old chestnut but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
KW: How did Caskitt form?

MC: Steffen and I were playing in this metal band that wasn’t super serious. Just a fun way to escape from jobs and grown-up life; like most bands, right? I played drums and Steffen was the lead vocalist for this 6 piece band. When I found out he was a much better guitar player than metal singer (lol) I talked to him about starting a punk band. He agreed and we started hammering out some ideas I had and put together a six song EP. Then it just progressed from there. Three  years later, we’re about to release our 2nd full length.

KW: Had you guys been in bands prior?

MC: I’ve played for so many bands and artists but none that anyone would recognize or really worth mentioning. Steffen played for some local bands in El Centro and San Diego but I forget all their names. Jesse actively plays in two other amazing bands, New Way On and Old Rivals. His cousin, Jacque Mendez of New Way On, sang back ups on the song “Short Shorts” on our new album. And one of Jesse’s other cousins, Adrian Mendez also of New Way On, helped with group vocals on the new album.

KW: You live in LA now, does that hinder things or slow things down at all with Caskitt?

MC: To be honest, yeah it does. I’m in West Hollywood, Steffen is in Oceanside, and Jesse is in Ontario, CA. So scheduling practice isn’t the easiest and far from spontaneous, but since there’s only three of us in the band, we have much less trouble scheduling than say a ska band. As far as touring, it helps we all don’t see each other on a regular basis because we’re all super excited to get in the van; despite what the other two say.

KW: How does the writing process generally work with the band and is that the same process used for the songs on this new record? 
MC: Usually, I come in with a skeleton of words, melody, and a sketchy composition. I can’t play guitar any better than I can juggle knives on a unicycle, so Steffen and Jesse color it in by figuring out the best key and chordal structure. Then we fine tune it over time by critiquing each other without reservation. Other times, we just cover AFI and Propagandhi.
KW: How did the recording process go?
MC: Very Smooth. We spent a lot of time on writing and making sure we weren’t holding anything back on this record. We wanted to record it as quick as possible, so as to not tinker too much in the studio, and we wanted a live feel to it. We searched for the right engineer for two months until Jesse recommended Nick Mac. He had worked with Jesse before and loved his playing style. Nick and I met and ate lunch and discussed what Caskitt wanted and our meager budget, and to see if he’d be willing to work with us. We hit it off immediately and we knew we had found the right engineer. He captured and delivered our sound better than anyone I’ve ever worked with. Total pro. We recorded the entire album in four days.
KW: What kind of touring are you planning for this record? 

MC: Without promising or announcing things that aren’t confirmed. I can confidently say West Coast tour in November. And Europe next year. We plan on touring as much as possible on this new record and won’t record another album until we’ve logged another 50,000 miles on the van.

KW: Anything else you want people to know about you, the band, or anything else you’re working on? 

MC: I’d really just like to say thanks to anyone and everyone who has supported and believed in Caskitt in any way. Without all y’all, we’re nothing! Oh, and “Old Fires New Frontier” is out September 16th on La Escalera Records.
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