There’s a bit of a stigma when it comes to young bands. Besides the crippling jealousy people like me feel seeing people of a much younger age doing cool shit, there’s also generally a focus on age ahead of the music. Remember that band The Strypes? Your Dad was well into ’em, mate. They made a bit of a splash for playing great rock and roll standards at a really young age. But now the lads have grown their hair out, have five o’clock shadows and your Dad has moved on.
This was something I was cautious about prior to meeting Cassels. Initial hype for the duo pointed out their age and tarred them with the baby-faced brush, and looking them up online, it’d be hard not to see that at first. But these lads are not The Strypes…
“We’ve never had anyone be like – what the fuck is this? Why are these children jumping around?” Explains big brother Jim Beck, guitarist and vocalist in Cassels. We’re stood outside the O2 Academy 2 in Leicester for the wonderful Handmade Festival, an hour or two after the duo left their mark in the Scholar Bar. Whilst younger brother Loz skins up, Jim continues with a laugh “…Baby Faced – I quite like that, in a way, because people get lulled into a false sense of security, then we whack ‘em in the gullet with a bit of a riffage!”
Riffage is the right word for it – their debut EP ‘Hating Is Easy’ is chock full of them. Snapped up quick sharp by Southern label Big Scary Monsters for its release, it all came about relatively quick for the pair, amounting to a “Great little story” according to Jim. “They say with the music industry you need these lucky breaks. A lot of the time when you end up somewhere, you can kind of trace it back to one point.”
It was following a show in Brighton with Vincent Vocoder Voice (“…who are fucking amazing – check them out” – Jim) in which Matt Parker, of Tall Ships fame, put in a good word for them. “A year later, Kev checked us out – it took him a whole year to listen to us” laughs Jim.
Initially heard on a BSM compilation, the boys then got their official release in the form of Hating Is Easy, through Big Scary Monsters and Idiot King Recordings. Though Loz and Jim are very self effacing about the whole deal. “...he’s still got loads of CDs sat in his garage.” Smiles Jim.
Certainly not named after a German department store (“…I tried searching in case anybody had tagged us in a photo or something. It’s just loads of people in beige clothes” – Jim), a quick google search randomly came across some website for a wedding venue in New Zealand, with a tagline that I felt suits the Cassels boys down the the ground:
From ceremony to the last dance, we create the most perfect day of your lives
On pitching the idea to the Beck brothers, they’re both slightly dumbstruck. “We normally depress people” laughs Loz, Jim nodding in agreement “It’s not our vibe”
The camaraderie between the two is notable from the instant we meet, with the pair joking throughout the interview and making each other laugh. I was keen to learn how that actually works out in an environment where they have to pitch ideas and write with each other, as well as sharing a stage.
“It’s alright innit? Can’t complain.” Sneers Jim. “I don’t really know how other siblings are, but we get on alright. There came a point, when Loz was like 15-16 and I was 18-odd, that you reach the same kind of level. Up until that point, when I’m 14 and he’s 10…”
“Bit of a difference” nods Loz.
During their formative years, Jim and Loz were still living together in the family home, playing in their bedroom and the odd Village fete here and there. But the less said about their previous name, the better….
“We were at one point called ‘That’s what she said’” Beams jim. “Try googling that and see what comes up!”
The pair hide it relatively well, but as we get into the nitty gritty of the interview, it comes out that Jim and Loz hail from Chipping Norton – home to some right rotten apples. An area likely of derision from most, mainly for its inhabitants. “Very well heeled” confirms Jim, going on further to discuss the notorious ‘Chipping Norton Set’. “It’s like a set of playing cards – the most horrible, shitty playing cards you’ve ever seen…There’s Rebekah Brooks, Clarkson, Cameron, a few other arseholes – and we live there.”
It’s no wonder then that Jim now lives in London, away from Jeremy, David and all the rest. Whilst surely beneficial for personal happiness, it slightly strains the writing process between the two brothers. “We don’t live anywhere near each other, so we have to do it over t’internet a lot of the time.” Says Jim with a slight pang of annoyance. “We never get together in a room to just jam some shit out, ‘cus we don’t have enough money to practice – or time to practice. So we literally have to pick our practices very carefully when we’ve got a bit of income. If we’ve got a new song, that’s a reason to practice, so we can try and work it out. It doesn’t take us long usually”
Its this method that one could imagine being hellish with their own siblings, but something the Beck brothers just get on with. “I basically spend ages working on something, then Loz is like Caesar with the hand.” Explains Jim with a smile “I spend fucking months and I’m like – this is really good! I’ll do a scrappy demo at home, send it to Loz and he’ll be like ‘nah it’s shit’”
“I don’t always say it’s shit!” Laughs Loz. “I like that bit, but the other bits are shit. Then you improve those bits that are shit and then you make a song. That’s basically the way it works. At the moment anyway.”
For Loz to get up to London to play a gig or even just to rehearse, the trip would take around 4 to 5 hours and involve taking two buses. But as of September, he’s off to Uni in Hertfordshire which he hopes will make things easier. “We can actually practice every week and not be shit like we were today!”
Cassels have actually been in the studio recently, putting together whatever spare cash the pair have toward recording – and bus travel. There’s currently two EPs worth of material to work with, which almost came out of surprising circumstances. Hilariously, their manager was able to blag free time at Metropolis Studios with a producer who’d won a Grammy for a Rihanna album! Slightly closer to home, the producer had also worked with Cheryl Cole and the Military Wives’ Choir…”The holy trinity, pretty much. It sounded like cack” Adds Jim, as the pair burst into laughter. He continues “After four months of pissing about with it, we were like – actually, it’s not very good.”
From there Cassels kept it a bit more local, opting instead for a basement in Dalston where they recorded eight tracks over a three day period. The release of new material is set to coincide with festival season, with the duo lined up for a number of festivals over the summer including Truck Festival, Y Not Festival? and Ulltra Festival in Hull next week. Loz also comments that they will potentially get the second EP out toward the end of the year.
“We just wanna get some more music out, really.” Adds Jim. “Hopefully, when we’re playing these festivals, people might know some more songs”
As Loz nears the end of his fag, I reach the end of my pint and the piece of paper with interview questions gets folded neatly into my pocket, Jim smiles and comments on what else Cassels have in store for this year “This is the stage where bands are like – I don’t know how much I can say” he laughs. “We’ve been given a plan; who knows if that will come to fruition. There should be a string of dates later in the year, potentially with people who I cannot name…”
A request as to who this could be is fruitless, the pair laughing as Jim continues. “No we’re not dishing! We’ve basically been put forward for a few things, which we won’t get. I’m not gonna make myself look like a dickhead…If we do get chosen, you heard it here first. This is the scoop you’ve just got. Well done. Good journalism.”