We catch up with CASUALSEXCLUB to discuss what they are, and what we can excpect in the future from the mysterious “group”
POP! Dissect: There’s a lot of mystery surrounding CASUALSEXCLUB, and you’ve posted a few bits of songs on your website. Can you explain to us what CASUALSEXCLUB is and who is behind it?
Mike Twomey: CASUALSEXCLUB is essentially a musical side project I’m working on as sort of a hobby, but a little more serious. It’s basically a collaboration between me and myself, but I felt the content it’s going to touch on is better suited to stand on its own, separated from all my past work as sleepy insomniac, which isn’t much I assure you.
The music content is a little more dark, overdosed, psychological, the science of religion, etc. I like to think I have interesting perceptions of life and society… who doesn’t, right?
I don’t know exactly what genre to put it in yet because I’ve yet to complete any tracks, but in my head it’s hard to imagine what it’s going to come out like. Again, not to sound cliché, but I really am taking elements from multiple genres and seeing how I can use it all to create something fresh.
A single album, or EP, or mix-tape, or whatever, will definitely have variety and drastic ideas.
PD: With the advent of technology, and more affordable equipment available, making music is a lot easier these days, is it not?
MT: Absolutely. I think back to the first band I was in, and paying for studio time and just being completely overwhelmed by everything. My first trip into the studio with my band and I didn’t even know how to play my instrument. We had guys who I thought were pretty damn excellent at what they did on drums and guitar, but couldn’t play in a studio to save their lives. They’re used to playing off each other, not dry click noises. It was just so new, but we were 17 and 18 years old so it wasn’t that bad.
Now, you have resources available across the internet, you have guides and tutorials, and books and forums with people who are passionate about music, and they help people out with getting affordable equipment, pointing out which pieces are the best bang for your buck. Without these forums, the average musician wouldn’t realize you can have the same sound quality coming from a $300 dollar microphone and a $3,000 dollar microphone with the right setup. It’s an awesome time to be in, where everyone can potentially just record themselves and still make it enjoyable to listen to.
PD: Tell us a little about yourself, and how you’ve gotten to this point.
MT: I’ve been making music legitimately for around 3 or 4 years now, and have been involved with music for at least 8 years. I started off as a bass player for a local alternative band here on the Gulf Coast, Less than Perfect, but was basically programmed to play what I was told because I just didn’t have the capability at the time. I knew nothing about chords, theory, or progression. But, it was during that time that I really started to examine music and pick out the pieces and parts of it. Without being a part of that band, I wouldn’t have the understanding of music I had. And I definitely have to thank my friends who let me be a part of that knowing I had no instrument training whatsoever, and we’re playing live shows within weeks. I heard bass players were hard to come by, but come on.
And on top of all of that, I do try to run a graphic design business. In the end, I’ve always been more fulfilled carrying out my own creative tasks than others’. I’m probably my best customer lately since I also handle the graphic design, web design, and marketing for my music.
PD: Do you still play bass?
MT: I actually don’t, I’m a wimp and those thick strings tear up my fingers. I have picked it back up recently to experiment with sounds though and it’s kind of coming back to me. It is very cool to be able to immediately start playing though and writing new riffs with relative ease based on what I’ve learned over the past few years. Physically, my finger muscles are rusty so I can’t play for prolonged periods of time yet!
PD: When will your first album be released?
MT: I’m shooting for Summer 2012, and I have some more equipment for my home studio arriving later this week which will push things right along. I hope I can make the deadline, but I currently have about 8 songs in progress with 2 of them nearing composition completion.
PD: What’s your favorite band of all time?
MT: Something in the back of my head told me this was coming! I’m going to go ahead and give a straight answer and not give multiple answers like some would do, but I’m going to say TV on the Radio. I definitely have other favorites, but they are the most original and best atmosphere-setting band I’ve experienced, and they do it all while still remaining accessible and even a little poppy.
PD: A lot of bands are going entirely independent, including some bigger acts like Radiohead and Trent Reznor. What do you think of the recording industry and is it sustainable?
MT: Again, we can talk about the technology advances in home recording, and we’re getting to the point where we can cut out the middleman. There is still a market for the recording industry to throw millions at acts to put them in the public eye. We are still a very long way from completely independent acts getting gigs at award shows, or getting their music videos on MTV without the help from the recording industry. It’s to the point where the investment from the record labels is in the image of the musician, not the music of the musician. They have their own producers that can make anything sound decent enough, and if the music is not great, then they’ll create a glamorous image of the act to get them into that elite tier if they really want it to work.
You can’t fault them at all, and they’re not evil, they just figured out how to capitalize in a niche, which is music; but it goes beyond that. If all we heard was the music, and never knew what Katy Perry or The Jonas Brothers looked like, the independent artists and commercial artists would be on very even footing. The recording industry knows this, so they use their resources to build complete acts.
So to answer your question *breathes in*, the recording industry will remain profitable and sustainable until the point that independent artists can effectively market their image. Once, technically speaking, we get to the point where independents can consistently create great music videos or have great live shows or other captivating fan experiences, the recording industry is going to have to think of something. Just like technology allows for independent artists to have a studio in their apartment, technology will eventually allow for independent artists to broadcast to a larger audience, create more engaging live shows, and much more. I can’t say how far off we are, but it’s a certainty.
PD: How do you consume your music?
MT: I’ve become an old man lately. I used to download music like other people my age, growing up in the Napster age as a middle school student with not a lot of money. It was great, and without it I wouldn’t have the passion for music I have today.
Since then though, I’m a guy that would rather pay for convenience. I have Spotify going at all times, and in my car I have XM Radio going at all times. I’ve always just had a yearning for discovering new music, almost like a drug! You hear a song on the radio, or Pandora, or wherever, and you’re like “This feeling I’m experiencing right now listening to this song is AWESOME!” It’s so good you never think you’ll hear anything that will compare, but you eventually do. It’s an endless cycle and I love it. I’m hoping one day someone comes across the songs that we produce at CASUALSEXCLUB will eventually produce, and think the same.
PD: You refer to CASUALSEXCLUB as “we” throughout your sites and now the interview; is there something you’re not telling us?
MT: No comment! But seriously, in my head I see it as collaboration between my music side, and my written side. I love writing as much as music, and I have a lot more experience writing, but not musically yet. I grew up writing funny and scary essays that I could read aloud to the class in elementary school. I liked to entertain everyone and maybe help others realize that the papers we had to write could be fun and not boring or drab.
I also refer to CSC as “we” because I’m not opposed to having contributions from other artists. With a name like CASUALSEXCLUB, I think a name like that keeps it grounded in the underground.
I will also say Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions has always intrigued me.
PD: Any advice for other independent musicians?
MT: Figure out what it is you want to do with your music, and if you’re okay with that. Being on MTV doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve succeeded if you have severe social anxiety, you know? Do what you enjoy doing, make music you enjoy listening to. Most importantly, never get bogged down by negativity and doubt over your work. Anything new is initially met with uncertainty, but you have to keep going, and if you do, it’ll all come together and work… and that will be awesome.