Forming in Esperance in late 2017, it didn’t take long for this dynamic three piece to start making waves in the West Australian music scene. Nominated for multiple WAM awards and eventually collaborating with WAM to deliver Esperance based songwriting workshops. They’re headed up to Perth for some more epic shows this October and we had a chat to the lead singer and band manager Kyron Smithson.
It's safe to say Grand Casual have had a quick rise in the scene and already have a healthy number of followers. How do your sold out shows at home compare to something like Blues Fest or Nannup music festival?
Quick Rise, It doesn't feel like that to me, I'm the guy that writes the emails... though yes Id agree, we have established ourselves as a solid act quite hastily, we've played some super sweet shows. Home town shows like all bands have 20-30 die-hard fans who know all the lyrics which is always super nice, their overall enthusiasm is quite infectious becoming something you expect, love it, love a sold-out home town show. Getting outside of Espi to kick out the jams is honest gold, and its the unexpected that is memorable. Bridgetown and Nannup have been absolute highlights for us, after our gig in Nannup a lad who was dancing stage front grabbed us and rolled off "I didn't know what to expect but there's nothing fucking casual about you guys" which we took as a solid compliment.
2018 had the guys straight out of the gate, being added to WAMs first Esperance Goldfields touring circuit and supporting the likes of Ash Grunwald. The rest of 2018 the band performed at WAMfest for their first metro show along with Blues at Bridgetown and to top it off they were nominated WAM best regional act.
What are your main influences? Do they flow through the band or do you all bring your own influences in.
I grew up listening to Rage Against The Machine, Tool and slowly mellowed into artists like Bright Eyes, The Black Keys, Jurassic Five. I just tried to call Matt, he's flat out washing windows, I'm not quite sure of his influences, definitely stuff with guitar. Joe really only has one influence Sticky Fingers, I believe its the only band he listens to. How do our varied influences flow through the band, I guess occasionally one of us will draw a song further towards our style only for a moment, then the other two take it spinning in another direction. The last three tracks we recorded we used The Southern River Band as a sonic reference for one, Timothy Nelson for another and MGMT for the third, take what you want from that I guess. As the band manager, I regularly think fuck do we need to reign our music in so it targets a certain demographic, the answer is evident as soon as I ask myself that question, that variation is just a part of what makes Grand Casual tick. If any band truly influenced us it would be the New Zealand act Swamp Thing made up of Michael Barker and Grant Haua, we played a coupla sets with them in the early days. From those guys Joe picked up the Ovation Bass station (Joe plays the drums one-handed and the bass synth with the other, he is a freak) we also took the way there sets maintain high energy from start to finish, seamless high energy live performance, that is something we've worked on a great deal. Matt just messaged me and said his influences are Clapton, John Mayer Johnny Lang, Queen, like I said stuff with guitar.
Tell us a little bit more about your songwriting workshops and how people can be involved, are they open to all types of musicians?
Em Burrows at WAM approached us about running some Esperance based Workshops, the three of us were super keen from the get-go recognising it as a brilliant opportunity to engage with local musos keen to head down the path of writing in a band. Most songwriting workshops I've attended come from the perspective of a solo writer, admittedly alot of band structures fall in that realm also with one key writer. For us its all free jamming and just finding what works. We discussed with crew our method (there is more method involved than just jamming I guess) and by the end of it those in attendance had written a track, mad rewarding. Any and all crew are welcome, we hope to run another set eary next year.
Performing at Nannup Music Festival in 2019 as well as returning to Blues at Bridgetown, the band hit Debaser Studios with Andy Lawson and released their bluesy number ‘The Sound’ which they launched to a sold out crowd in Esperance. To top off 2019 they supported The Southern River Band, were nominated for WAMs best regional act again and headlined Esperances ‘Edge of the Bay’ Festival.
What is one of your songwriting tips for people with writer's block?
Change stuff up, find someone else to jam with and feed off their energy, like an energy vampire, No seriously though collaboration. Lyric wise something I like to throw at people is to keep a diary and write it like a diary. If something cool happens write it as a diary entry then draw a song from that sucker. Workshops we've run with young crew who aren't confident with lyrics Il grab a book of the shelf and say sing these lines, like the segment on Spicks and Specks. Just allows them to recognise that melody doesn't need amazing lyrics to be good.
The bands just been given an Elephant, you can't give it away or sell it, what do you do with it and what's its name?
My missus is sitting with me as Im typing and she says flatly "you would give it to me to live out the back and it would be called Gerald if a guy and Mixi if a girl". Dont think im sold.
When can we expect to hear these new tracks straight out of Debaser studios?
Mixing is complete and we're about to move onto the mastering stage. When we first got back from recording, grand ideas about video clips and artwork and space suits etc filled our thoughts, brakes have been pumped a little. Joe does have the band bank card and is looking at video clip costumes, which is a little distressing, though sometimes you gotta let the loopy member loose on an idea. Let's say don't be surprised if you see a single out in December, kinda like a vaccine though for your emotions, every band can dream.
Try and catch Grand Casual at one of their dates below and keep an eye out for some new music coming soon!
Rodneys Bait and Tackle
A Sunday Trip
Indian Ocean Hotel
Car Park Social, Bag Of Bones, The Washing Line Economy
Saturday Night Jive
(The Floors, Car Park Social and Little Lord Street Band)
Six Degrees Albany