Mike: Is that the answer to my first question?
Casey: It depends. Should it be? What’s the first question?
Mike: Let’s see, what can I come up with here? Do you enjoy molesting small children?
Casey: No, that is most definitely not the answer to your first question.
Mike: (Laughs) Okay for real now. Can you please introduce yourself and say what you do in The Dear Hunter?
Casey: My name is Casey Crescenzo and I, so far, have done everything except drums in The Dear Hunter. And now I’m going to be playing mostly lead guitar and lead vocals in The Dear Hunter.
Mike: Let’s start off with some history: The Dear Hunter is a fairly new project. How did the band get started and how has it progressed to this day?
Casey: The Dear Hunter got started two Christmases ago I think, when I got back home from recording the Between the Heart and the Synapse record. And I just started writing more, and I wrote stuff that didn’t really sound like the band I was in. And I started writing a story to go along with it. The name of the main character was The Dear Hunter and it just worked out that way. It just started as me doing it for fun, and I gave four CDs out with eleven demos on them that are the Ms. Leading demos now. I gave them to the guys in the band and a couple of friends, and didn’t think anything of it. Eventually they started to circulate and certain demos got out. People started burning the CD and I never really had a problem with it. And then I decided to continue the story and to embellish on it. I started writing the EP, and then I realized the entire story and decided it’s going to be an EP, then a few LPs, and that’s how it has kind of progressed.
Mike: Many people must be wondering what happened with The Receiving End of Sirens. Could you shed some light as to how you stopped playing with them?
Casey: There were a lot of contributing factors to the state of mind that I was in. But basically for a year straight I had not been really in a good place, and I was kind of letting that flow over into everything else in my life. Instead of going out of my way to let everyone know that it was just me, and not anyone else, it started to affect everyone. And eventually I think it just got too much to handle for them, and I tried to let them know before it got to that point. But I just needed to get well, and I was physically very sick. I think it just became a matter of them weighing out whether or not they could handle it. I think the cons outweighed the pros for them, and they just let me know that they thought that it would be best for everybody if they went on without me. And at first I was pretty freaked out and taken aback and shocked, but afterwards I could understand where they were coming from. I think the equation of me plus them was amounting to a lot of discomfort and unhappiness for everyone, including myself. Looking back on it now I respect their decision, as much as I disagree with it, or have personal disagreements with how it was done, or whatever petty thing that I feel about it; I definitely think it was the best for everyone. And I’m just trying to make the best of what I can, given the situation.
Mike: Besides you, who is in the current lineup of The Dear Hunter, and what instruments do they play?
Casey: There is Luke Dent, who plays keyboard, and eventually auxiliary guitar and background vocals. There is Erick Serna who’s the lead guitarist. And yeah, they’re both pretty amazing at their instruments so it’s awesome.
Mike: I recognize Luke Dent as being a member of Faraway before they broke up. Are there any other ex-members of bands or are they all pretty much new additions?
Casey: Pretty much all new additions. Luke was the only one and it was basically because I’ve been friends with him for so long and I was looking for a piano player, and somewhere in conversation between us I remember him saying something about piano, and I always just knew he was a good musician, and it just kind of dawned on me. And I just asked him one day, “Do you play piano well?” and he was like, “Yeah, I can play piano.” And I was like, “Do you want to be in the band?” and he was like, “Yeah sure.” So it worked out. Otherwise, everyone else, Erick is a friend for a long time, so all basically new people.
Mike: Your debut EP, Act I: The Lake South, The River North, comes out September 26th. Was this recorded alone as a solo project or did you have your band play their parts?
Casey: A lot of it was recorded when I was still in The Receiving End of Sirens, so it was just recorded as a side project would be. But my brother played drums on it, my dad played some organ, and my mom sang background vocals and a friend of mine, Tom Neeson, played trumpet on it. But that’s it. And actually, the two guys who play horns for Monty Are I played all of the horns on the second track of the CD. So it’s pretty awesome.
Mike: Can you tell us a little about the theme of the album?
Casey: The theme of the album follows along the basic plotline of the entire story, which is either three or four parts. I haven’t decided whether or not the fourth is strong enough. But the first part is the EP and the theme is basically: there’s this character and it’s following him and his mother, who’s raising him on her own, and just the things that she has to go through to raise a child on her own in light of the times, because it’s kind of based around the time period of 1900 or thereabouts. So it’s really just about that and it’s kind of starting the story. That’s why it’s an EP too. There’s not enough there to constitute a full-length for me. It’s just that there are a lot of things that are embedded in the story of the EP that come up much later on, that it will make a lot more sense if you have the EP to refer to as the original story than if you just try and make sense of it on its own. Because originally I just asked the label, “Can I do an EP?” and it’s not really even a contracted thing; they just said, “Yeah, we’ll do it for you.” So it worked out really well.
Mike: A demo of the song “Red Hands” has been up on your purevolume for a while now and is the most-listened-to song of yours on Last.fm. I’ve read the lyrics, but can you give us the official meaning of this song and how it relates to the boy’s story?
Casey: “Red Hands” is actually going to be on the full-length, which is the second act, which is Ms. Leading. And that part of the story is right as the character has this realization about the love that he’s kept for the last period of his life, and he finds that it’s all been kind of fake, and it’s all been kind of a ruse and an illusion. So that’s kind of the idea behind it, and I think you can kind of figure by the lyrics what he’s figured out, you know what I mean? Are you asking is it personal or anything like that? No, just basically what it is? That’s basically what it is (laughs).
Mike: You were having a difficult time finding someone who would finish the album artwork. Have you found anyone yet to design the CD?
Casey: Yeah, actually it’s Jealous Republic. Originally it was the drummer of then-named Monty, now Monty Are I. He was doing the artwork and he was doing a really good job, and then his band kind of took off, and I kind of didn’t (laughs). So I couldn’t really fund his time. And then for a week I found this one other dude, who was really amazing, and then I haven’t seen him online since. He sent me one sketch Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢â‚¬ I haven’t seen him anywhere. And then, I just talked to the people at Jealous Republic, who did a lot of TREOS merchandise, and I’ve known that Zach Nicodemo… it’s Zach and the other guy is Brian, but I forget his name [Bartholomew], and that makes me a bad person, but… Zach and Brian… and I knew from seeing sketches that Zach had done that he was a good artist. But when the whole thing happened with TREOS I was kind of hesitant to talk to anyone that was connected in that whole world, because I didn’t know what they had thought of me or if they would be uncomfortable around me or anything like that. And then when I finally started to talk to everyone it was really comfortable, and I told him what the idea was and that I wanted his help, and he was really excited. And they immediately started working, and money wasn’t an issue, none of that, and it was awesome. And they just finished the EP artwork, and they did these two shirts, and next is starting on the full-length art and the book, which is going to be pretty hefty. So they are The Dear Hunter art people, because it does revolve around both music and art, so they are in charge of art.
Mike: What major influences went into the songwriting of The Dear Hunter?
Casey: Well, it was weird, and I definitely am inspired by a lot of different music, but for The Dear Hunter it got to the point where, after being on the road every day and hearing five different bands a day, and then being on tours where there were twenty bands a day, I kind of stopped listening to music in general. And at the same time my dad had been writing a lot of music, which you know, he does anyways. But he had been writing a lot more than he usually did and sending it to me, and it all had a really classy vibe. And I started listening to his older songs and stuff like that. And it was really inspiring. Mostly his stuff. Really, because it had this whole R&B-but-jazz and fusion-but-rock flavor to it that I just really loved. And if you listened to it and listen to my music you would either say, “Wow that’s really similar” or you would say, “Wow that’s nothing alike.” But mostly my dad’s music and music that my dad used to play in the car Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢â‚¬ bands like Weather Report and Return to Forever and older fusion bands, because I don’t know… I don’t dislike contemporary music but I can’t really get inspired by it. Because I don’t just want to end up sounding like them, even though I might. You think I do? Is that you’re saying, huh? Answer me! I’m asking the questions now, Mike!
Mike: (Laughs) Yeah, The Dear Hunter sounds like every other band out there, really (sarcastic). In one word (and only one) describe what we can expect from your debut EP.
Casey: What the hell kind of question is that Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢â‚¬ in one and only one word? Um… (thinks) “heart?” I’d say that Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢â‚¬ yeah. Either “heart” or… (thinks) I’m just trying to think of the word, because I know how to describe it; I’m trying to think of one word that does sums it up. Um, alright okay Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢â‚¬ “honesty.” That’s a word, and that’s only one word. It’s a good thing you didn’t say one syllable (laughs).