As they prepare to play their first shows in nearly four years, this is the story of how Casey came back together and what it means to have the band back in their lives.
Over the last year weeks, Casey have been slowly plotting out their return, nearly four years on from when they previously called it a day.
From a few well-placed teases to the big reveal, swiftly followed by a duo of new songs in ‘Great Grief’ and ‘Atone’, it has all been leading up to a handful of shows in the UK and Germany starting next week. And the reaction has been wonderfully heartening, showing what a huge effect the band has had on all who let them into their lives previously and also in their absence.
To talk through how all this came to be and what it means to have the band back in their life, we had a lovely chat with vocalist Tom Weaver…
How do you best sum up the reaction to your return? It’s been pretty special, to say the least…
“Yeah, the past few weeks have been incredibly surreal. Even as far back as just before the announcement, we had no real read on how it was going to go or how it would be received. We had no idea if we were still relevant or not. We could have said, ‘Oh, we’re going to play some more shows’ and people could have been like, ‘Why?’. That was genuinely something that could have happened and was where our heads were at. It’s been a bit of a balancing act between being conservative about the comeback and making it viable for us to be doing stuff again. But it has ended up blowing all of our expectations out of the water. It’s been humbling and heartwarming to return to such a warm welcome.”
So when was the first conversation about stepping back into this? Casey came to an end for a reason back in 2019, so what was the moment when you felt up to approaching it again?
“The other guys had been playing with some ideas for a while. The original idea that became ‘Great Grief’ was a piece that Toby and Liam had written 12 months ago. But the first time that I was looped back into the conversation, it was quite evident that there had been an awful lot of me becoming detached in the original ending of the band. I think it came time for everyone else to start doing things together again, I think they were a bit hesitant about reaching out and asking me. I think my decision had been pretty finite when I had made it, and it’s something that I had expressed publicly as well.
“It was a conversation that started around July. Liam was the one who reached out with no expectations at all. He just said, ‘Hey man, me and the guys have been doing some bits and pieces again. We’ve written this bit of music, demoed it, and wanted to send it over and see if it was something you wanted to be involved in. If not, totally fine, but it wouldn’t feel right to commit without running it by you first’. I picked it up and listened to it, and it was the first time between ourselves that we had demoed a full song in such a way. But my reaction immediately was, ‘Oh my God, this is a Casey song’. It sounded exactly like I would have expected the progression from the previous record to sound like. I went back and basically said, ‘I’m not sure this is something I really want to rush back into. I need to have a think and chat with you guys about it as well’. I wanted to ensure that we were starting from a clean slate and we were all in the right place and doing this for the right reasons.
“So there were a couple of weeks when we were chatting about what we had all been up to. We had lost touch with each other socially quite a lot. So we saw where we all were in our lives, what we wanted to achieve from returning to music, and our expectations and goals. Then it was a case that once we had done that for a while and we did miss this, and if we wanted to return, we wanted to do it as Casey. That ended up being the end of August. Then September and October, we first started getting into a practice room and finishing writing what would become ‘Great Grief’ and ‘Atone’. It really hasn’t been a long time coming or planned for a long time. It was very spontaneous and organic. But that was very similar to how Casey used to be as well.”
You can see how that organic way of doing things has always been a part of the band, mainly in how the subject matter of each of your records was written whilst you were still in the middle of feeling those things. But now, you have to consider if you are comfortable returning to those feelings, especially when working with that clean slate…
“It was a weird one because that was one of the conversations that we were initially having. I think that the other guys were pretty trepidatious about doing three or four shows and then burning out. They didn’t want to make a comeback, then get three months in and realise how emotionally draining this was and not want to do it again. So we wanted to ensure we were doing it healthily and sustainably so that it wasn’t just a one-off. There was a lot of potential for this all to be viewed as a cash grab. Some bands pop up in a cycle every two years, play three shows, disappear again, say that was their last show ever, and then do it all over again. That’s not what we wanted at all.
“So that’s when we had the conversation about actually playing these songs again. How do we feel about them? Has our opinion on them changed? What do they mean to us? There have been experiences with the band, and the things I wrote about are much better now from where I am standing compared to when I wrote them. I deal with things in a different way to how I did previously. I’ll be transparent in that there will be a level of discomfort to it all, but it’s a far diminished level to the one that it was at previously. There’s a trade-off to be had between my own personal discomfort and the collective joy or catharsis that we can find in it. But the whole middle 8 of ‘Great Grief’ sums up the idea that balance is to be had within all of this. I am happy to have that level of discomfort if it means that I will be rewarded with all of the positives from making that music and touring it with my friends. Because of the passage of time and how my life has changed, I can now take it on more than I could have previously.”
The first time around, you were all going 100mph at all times, which is very different to taking it at your own pace…
“I had a really interesting conversation with Lucas from Holding Absence about how if you voluntarily enter into this sort of lifestyle, you almost forfeit the right to complain about it. That’s the other side of all of this. He was talking about how busy he had been and how hard it had been. If you go online and say, ‘I enjoy this, but I’m having a tough time’, you open yourself up to criticism because it allows people to say that you’re living someone’s dream. That’s true, but at the same time, it doesn’t mean that you’re at deity status and free from all ailments and difficulties and traumas. It’s a strange place to be but something you must be aware of.”
Alongside ‘Great Grief’, you also have ‘Atone’ out in the world now, showing off the different sides of Casey. In terms of its sentiment, what does ‘Atone’ represent compared to ‘Great Grief’?
“So I finished writing ‘Atone’ first. I was in a relationship for most of the pandemic, which ended up dissolving earlier this year. I came away from it much differently from how I had from previous relationships. Before now, it has always been a, ‘I’d rather burn out than fade away’ feeling for me. Many of my relationships have been intense and passionate, breaking away and falling apart quickly. This one felt like a much more civilised descent. The song became me reflecting on the difference between my level of emotional maturity, I suppose, more than how that huge bust-up feeling would have fueled our old music. There was a lot of intense passion in those old songs and the trauma that can come from that breaking. This time it was the nuances and the little things that were changing over a longer period of time that led you to the understanding that the situation probably wasn’t correct for you. It covers the conversations that go missing, the things that go unsaid. In hindsight, we probably could have spoken more and resolved this problem, or if we had been a bit more open about when we were feeling hurt, we could not have ended up in this situation. But before you know it, in many cases, you’re more comfortable being uncomfortable after things that have happened have diminished you, and you would rather stay within yourself. I don’t think that sort of thing will be a mainstay in Casey’s music moving forward, but it was definitely how I felt at the time and something I wanted to document. It evidences how my perception of relationships and romanticism has changed over time.”
It’s things like this that sum up why you’re able to approach the band again. And why once you have played this first set of shows, you can process the future better and approach it with a different sense of clarity rather than worrying that you have to be giving it all of your attention all of the time again…
“Another part of the conversation we all had was whether we just wanted this to be a repetition of something we have already done or did we want it to be validated as its own chapter and thing in its own right. The latter is the decision we came to and thought was best, and that’s how we started writing. But that was also an anxiety that we thought we would announce, and people would go, ‘Wow, I love ‘Hell” but not be bothered about the new stuff and think it’s shit. We have always had a transparent relationship with our community, and we have done our best to maintain that, even if it might break industry norms. Setting realistic expectations so that we aren’t disappointing anyone and things aren’t overhyped. We just want people to be working alongside us and being an active part of the next chapter of our story.”
Ultimately, what does it mean to have Casey back in your life in the way it is?
“There was a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety in the run-up to coming back, and almost all of that was gone the moment we lifted the cloth. There were so many people who were excited and complimentary that it almost felt like we had never left. I think a major difference, and something that we all described, is that when the band ended, everything fell away very rapidly. That’s the moment when we realised just how big a part of our individual personalities the band had become. I started a new job, and in nearly every conversation I had, regardless of what it was about, I was bringing it back to the fact I was previously doing things in a band. ‘I went to this great coffee shop there whilst on tour’ sort of thing. We went through this weird adjustment asking ourselves who we were. We were a part of this collective entity that engrossed our lives. And now we are coming back to it. We have all gone through our own personal growth. We feel now like we have an identity outside of the band, and being back in it is an extension of who we are as people rather than being who we are as people as a whole. It’s a great feeling and takes a lot of the pressure off. This now feels like the best hobby in the world, and a hobby that loads of people have in common. There are a few things that we are working on, but we certainly are going to be doing it differently than we were before. But that makes the moments that we are together as five best friends and playing these songs as special as possible. The actions we are taking are making these moments the most impactful they can be.”
Casey will be touring the UK and Germany this month. Here are the dates:
12 – BRISTOL The Fleece
13 – MANCHESTER Club Academy
14 – LONDON The Garage
15 – LONDON The Garage London
18 – OBERHAUSEN Kulttempel
19 – OBERHAUSEN Kulttempel
20 – LEIPZIG Conne Island