We constantly feature new & notable indie artists that drive innovation in all aspects of songwriting, production & performance. Meet our latest featured artist in an exclusive interview. Introducing You To Your Next Favorite Artist: Casinos.
Casinos is a pop-rock group, composed of Kier Junos, Zachary Keely, Ken Ditomaso and the unmistakable Mitchell Trainor. They have been playing shows since 2012 in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada.
Comments from the Curators
Review by Josh S. Pineda, Founder & Curating-Editor
There’s great contrast in the latest single by Canadian band (Abbotsford, British Columbia to be exact), Casinos. Their guttural guitar riffs, grounding bass groove, and accessible warm vocals in “Sean,” combine to form a gravelly, power sound reminiscent of The Strokes, Julian Casablancas, and The Darkness. There’s a captivating effect as to how such polite sounding vocals deliver the line “Fuck Right Off,” immediately before shredding and weaving into an instrumental development that parallels the tension in the lyrics. The track interestingly fuses elements of mid-2000s alt rock with the more textural and arpeggiated aspects of classic rock, simultaneously biting and empathetic as both types of rock also do. The lyrics tell a great story, painting a picture of a toxic friendship, sounding as if the speaker here is venting to us with impulsive honesty after hanging up from a frustrating phone call, as if we the listener are a more trusted friend ready to tell Sean to fuck off as well. That’s the best quality about this song, Casinos makes music that feels familiar, trusting, and already a part of your collection, music you can go back to when you just need time to unwind. Honestly we’d probably wouldn’t take Sean’s calls either, but if Casinos calls up with new music, we would certainly not send them to voicemail.
What are your top 3 favorite albums that inspired you to get into music?
City of Evil – Avenged Sevenfold (we were 12); Is This It – The Strokes; Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – Arctic Monkeys.
What are your fondest musical memories?
Zack saw Damon Albarn live at SXSW, and as his surprise, Snoop Dogg came out at the end of the set to rap over Clint Eastwood by the Gorillaz. Kier looks fondly upon Casinos’ initial performance at Jam in Jubilee music festival in Abbotsford, B.C. in 2013, when the members were 18-19 years of age. More recently, Casinos opened for U.K.-based (now LA) glam rock revival group The Struts in November 2016.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
Zack has been listening to a lot of rock and roll music from the 1950s and 60s, so artists like Buddy Guy and Bob Dylan and much, much later into the 60s, the Velvet Underground. Kier is still fascinated with the guitar-driven pop songs of UKish bands like Franz Ferdinand, The Vaccines, The Arctic Monkeys and some Birmingham UK bands like Superfood or Swim Deep. Some shoegaze. Also, strangely, greatest hits from Huey Lewis and the News.
What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process? Is there a particular message or theme central to your creative works?
For the most part, Kier comes forward with much of the main structures and lyrics and then, Zack, Mitch and Ken write and modify. If sections are fleshed out enough for a song, then it becomes a matter of tacking on fitting melodies on the guitar or interesting rhythms. Casinos tries to emulate a guitar-pop/indie rock band sound that seemed to be really in vogue from 2004 to some years not too shortly after. This mostly speaks to flavors you could taste from many UK bands and still can taste. We’ve always loved that sound. It’s fun, energetic, flexible and a sound we wish we grew up closer to as musicians.
We’re a firm believer that the cities that artists are based in helps craft their sound. How would you describe your city’s music scene? How has it inspired you into crafting your sound?
In Abbotsford, the local music scene currently seems to consist of post-punk bands and perhaps some hardcore or metal acts. Some quieter, singer song-writer projects are around, but it’s best to characterize Abbotsford today with the former, more aggressive genres. There are some indie rock groups, but none like ours. We’re often hard-pressed to find a similar band to join us on a bill — and we’re pleased with the variety our friends in the city offer — but if our music was tied to a geographical location, it certainly wouldn’t be Abbotsford. Zack suggests Birmingham. And it says a lot that the last two shows for which we were offered opening slots featured UK pop bands. That said, Abbotsford bands have an affinity for writing with tension and dissonance, and even Casinos reflects that sometimes.
How would you describe your visual aesthetic, in terms of album artwork, music videos, and artistry? How does the music you create contribute to your visuals? Does this extend to your live show experience?
As you could probably expect, we’re fond of the styles that the Vaccines tend to pull off, which many other UK rock bands seem to wear. Perhaps you could describe it as sharp but not incredibly stuffy. Though, we don’t put any hard and fast rules on that. See how non-committal but obviously defined I got there? We make time to consider our newest album artworks, and those aim to be bold. The music lends to the visuals because we’re already familiar with the looks worn by our inspirations, and that makes it easy to wear it like we grew up with it. It’s fun, and that does show up in the live show experience.
As an indie artist in the digital age, social media and streaming are essential tools for marketing and promotion. What do you think about online music sharing, both as a music fan and as a musician? How do you think social media/music streaming services impacts the rising musician?
As a listener, it’s wonderful to be able to access so much music so easily. It’s a great time to be discovering music. As a musician, streaming certainly cheapens our songs, mostly from a financial standpoint. Because the barriers to accessing music are so few, even for the songs of major label artists, that kind of forces bands and artists without much infrastructure or fanbase to set the online value of their songs to match the height of those barriers. So while some may value the experience of streaming to be much more than $0.99, many more value it to be zero.
What is your dream collaboration and why?
Zack and Kier think that doing a collab with The Vaccines would be a lot of fun, since we try to emulate some of Freddie Cowan’s guitar work and Justin Young’s charm. Musically, we look up to them.
Which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
Zack is enjoying “anything that DIIV is doing,” and Kier is enjoying “Minimal Affection” by The Vaccines, off their album English Graffiti. He didn’t think it was that great, but he liked this song. Our friends in The Sylvia Platters, a power-pop/guitar band released an album in 2015 called “Make Glad The Day” and there’s a song there called “Daphne” that’s really damn fun.
As for new and rising acts, we suggest the quickly acclaimed Abbotsford-based post-punk band Blessed, which our bassist Mitch plays in and is on tour with right now. Douse is sort of a new-wave group from New Westminister that is really great.
As for best-kept secrets? Kin. This band consists of brothers Trevor and Lukas Blaak. Trevor plays guitar and sings, Lukas drums. Their music is soft and takes heavily from jazz, r&b and soul music.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
We just released a new single called “Sean” in May 2017, which is definitely a heavier song than would have been expected from Casinos, and we’re poised to release another one very soon that is perhaps a more obvious Casinos single. Besides these, we’re planning to enter the studio before the end of the summer to track a larger-volume release.
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