Casey Walker of Cavo
With their first single “Champagne” off of their debut major label album “Bright Nights * Dark Days” Cavo has experienced some quick success, but getting to this point wasn’t an overnight affair for these guys. The band, together almost nine years, was rocking the St. Louis music scene long before hitting the airwaves with ‘Champagne.” None of it is taken for granted though, the band is relishing the moment and savoring each new opportunity that comes their way to share their music with the world.
The band went through a bit of a rebirth a few years ago when they lost one guitar player and bassist Brian Smith joined the band. The loss of one member allowed guitarist Chris Hobbs to take the lead role and really shine and the addition of Smith took the band’s sound to a whole new level. He gave them a shot of pure energy, a bit of new found aggression, and helped steer the band towards a more collaborative writing process where everyone is involved.
Currently rocking the second stage on the Crue Fest 2 tour the band jumped at the opportunity to get out there and reach out to new fans. Once Crue Fest 2 wraps up Cavo will be hooking up with Sick Puppies and Shinedown on the road and then on to an arena tour with Daughtry.
Lead singer Casey Walker recently took some time to talk to TWRY about their debut album, how he’s been inspired by Eddie Vedder as a musician, and the band’s next single!
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | August 2009
Have to start off with congratulating you on the album, I’m a fan! I think that every band dreams about their first single becoming a huge success but with you it actually happened with “Champagne” – can you tell us how the success of that song has impacted the band?
When you’re a kid and you’re dreaming of being a musician everything comes down to the moment that your album comes out, that’s the realization of your dreams. You’re always hoping that you were right the whole time and that people are going to love it so when Champagne started seeing this success and it reached number one it was just surreal. It’s hard to even explain it, I feel so blessed that we’re here.
I think that the fact that the song went to number one is not only a statement about the band but also a clear showing of how much music fans really appreciate great rock music and are hungry for it, do you feel like you can be a part of bringing back rock music to the forefront?
I hope so, I really do. I think the main thing with attaining staying power in the industry whether its rock or pop, or any type of music is writing good songs that people can relate to. I’ve always thought that to be a good song you have to start from an honest place. You have to be honest so that when people hear it they believe that you actually feel that way. I think good music is just a way to win over fans and keep fans and we hope to God that we have the staying power to stick around for awhile and help get rock back on its feet again.
So let’s talk about the album. You worked with producer David Bendeth who was interested in working with you regardless of whether you had a record deal or not. That had to be pretty rewarding knowing that a producer was seeking you out to work with, how did he enhance your recording process?
Bendeth was the guy that was there from the start. From day one he wanted to work with us and he didn’t care if we signed a deal or not and said he’d help us make a record one way or the other. Right off the bat we had close ties with David, we knew we wanted to work with him. Lo’ and behold he was exactly what Cavo needed at that time. We were kind of green to the whole recording process, we have a recording studio back home but this was a major label album and he kind of broke us down to a point where he could build us back up again. The coolest part about it is that he’s a teacher, so when you’re done, you understand why and where you came from and why you’re better and why you should do the things he’s suggesting. All of that carries through to our live show and hopefully our next album.
You worked with Zac Malloy (formerly of The Nixons) to write the song Ghost. Having been a fan of his, what was writing a song with him like for you?
It was funny because right when I saw him I pretty much said, we have to get this out of the way, “I’m a huge fan, I love your band and everything about you guys” and then it was out of the way. He’s just a great down to earth guy. He writes incredibly. We write as a four piece so it was different for us to sit down with somebody and have them help us craft a song but he was really good about being patient and he was very focused on the end goal.
You’ve said that when Brian joined the band on bass, he added a little more edge, a little more aggressiveness to the music, how did the rest of you adapt to that and how do you think it changed the band as a whole?
I think Brian joining was a catalyst for us to take the bull by the horns so to speak and step up into a new game. We basically were writing acoustically and trying to translate acoustic songs into a rock and roll tone which can be heard on our first album “The Painful Art Of Letting Go”. I stand by that album but when Brian joined we started to write as a four piece at practice with distortion playing and music heavier. On top of that, we had just lost a guitar player so Chris has to step up and become the only guitar player in the band. So with Brian’s addition and his aggressive playing it made Chad play drums a little more aggressively, which in turn made me sing more aggressive and the coolest thing about it in my opinion is the fact that Chris really blossomed and became the lead guitar player.
The band has been together for quite awhile, so are there any songs on this album that were written a long time ago that got a major facelift or is it all new material that came from your last EP or written for this album?
It’s basically all new stuff. We had an EP that we had released in full hopes of shopping it to get signed so the EP contains Champagne, Cry Wolf, and Useless. As far as older songs, everything on the album was written with Brian in the band. The very first song that we ever wrote together was Useless, that sort of gave us our direction for writing.
Your long time followers would be quick to tell people that you’ve been making great music for many years now, so I’m sure that getting signed to a label was a huge goal that you’ve been able to achieve. Now that you’ve reached that point, what do you guys have your sights set on now as far as what you’d like to see the band accomplish over the next year?
I think over the next year we’re really looking to create a solid following and have just a solid showing of the album. I want all the singles to reach top charts, I want people everywhere at the end of the year to know about Cavo. I think that’s what everyone’s dream is. I want to make this a career, to be able to do this for the rest of my life because whether we’re signed to a label or not I’ll be somewhere playing music for the rest of my life so it makes it a little bit easier when you’re actually getting paid for it.
I read that your path to music was really inspired by Eddie Vedder, can you tell us about that and how he influenced you?
I always loved music and words but when Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam came along I remember watching him and I was just mesmerized by how important he was. He wasn’t jumping around onstage or being flamboyant in any way but he just had great words and great stage presence and I could really relate to his songs and it just meant a lot to me. I remember watching him and hoping that someday people might look at me the same way and care that much about what I had to say and sing about.|
So did he influence your lyric writing as far as keeping them honest and relatable?
Absolutely. When people ask me about what a song is about I usually refer to a quote I heard Eddie Vedder once say and it’s not word for word but I always tell people that I don’t like to explain what my lyrics directly mean because I think you take that away from the audience, it’s something that they can take and apply their own meaning to according to what’s relevant in their life. He definitely helped me shape the way I write lyrics. I think Eddie is painfully honest with his lyrics, the reason he’s so intense on stage is because his songs are about him and about his friends and family and things that are important to him so singing the songs are just as important to him and that’s what influenced me.
So the band is from St. Louis which most people wouldn’t think of right away as a music city, is there a music scene there that allowed you to thrive and how did being a band in St. Louis benefit you or work against you?
St. Louis is primarily known as a sports town but I’ve got to be honest there are a lot of great bands that are coming out of St. Louis. We don’t get a lot of label reps driving in to see bands play but I think that’s almost a mistake. There’s a lot of great bands out there, the rock scene is really solid, bands like Autovein and Brookroyal, they’re packing clubs and they’re amazing bands. In the Midwest airplay is the main way that you gain interest.
A lot of people will identify a band with their lead singer. So I wanted to take a moment for you to tell us something about each member of the band? Maybe about their personality or something they like a lot to help us get to know them better.
Let’s start with Chris. Chris is our residential perfectionist but there’s a reason for it, it’s great that we have him. He’s eccentric in music. He’s a wonderful player, he reminds me of The Edge. He’s constantly coming up with cool little sounding parts. The funniest thing about Chris is that he’s the most quiet guy in the band but when he says something it’s the funniest thing you’ve ever heard in your entire life.
Brian is our nice guy, he loves everybody and everything and he savors every moment of every day. He’s a hoss at playing, he’s so good on the bass. Just a great guy.
Chad is our rock star. He’s the flamboyant rocker but he’s still grounded. I think one of the things that bonds us all is that we all genuinely love being on stage and being in a basement writing songs.
What about you? Anything we should know.
I’m pretty much an open book. There’s no place I’d rather be right now than out on tour.
Has there been any discussion yet on what the next single might be and is there a song that the band is leaning towards?
It’s funny you asked that because we had been talking about it because we’ve been tossing around ideas and I actually just received the official email that Crash is going to be our next single. I think that’s a good rock song to follow up Champagne.
So let’s talk about Cruefest because you’ve been on the tour all summer and we want to encourage people to head on out and check out the second stage bands, what kind of experience has that been for the band, do you think you’re reaching out to new fans each day?
It’s been amazing. It’s been really hot too! Cruefest is the premiere rock tour of the summer and it keeps getting bigger. The side stage is amazing, Rev Theory is headlining and their on point every night and you’ve got Shram and 16 Second Stare who are great as well. It’s an all rock crowd coming out to the shows so it’s great. We’re always out there getting face time with the fans too, that’s the fun part, meeting everyone.
After Cruefest you’re hopping on a few other cool tours, want to tell us about that?
This year so far has turned into a huge success for us. We’ve got Crue Fest then right after that we’re going out with Shinedown, Sick Puppies and Adelitas Way which is a huge tour for us. Then we end the year with Daughtry and Theory of a Deadman. We’re going to end the year playing in arenas, I’m giddy about it.
For more info on Cavo please visit their official website