I stumbled across Casket Salesmen on myspace, a random friend request and a few
emails later, I now count myself a fan of the guys. Phil Pirrone, Nathan Liderman and Ryan Knights make up Casket Salesmen; having all been involved in previous musical ventures, they decided to leave behind the more traditional route of securing a major record deal and have opted to self-release their records instead. We catch up with Phil Pirrone and Ryan Knights for an interesting chat:
R13: First and foremost. How are you? How’s Life?
Phil Pirrone: Life is good. Drunk, sitting back with friends and enjoying it.
Ryan Knights: Just working...writing music with friends...trying to enjoy the ride...
R13: You are recording the New Album. How’s it going? Is the new album going to differ much to “Sleeping Giant” or are you keeping the same style?
PP: We haven’t started recording yet...We have started working on new songs and its going really really well. I am really excited about the new stuff. So far the two new songs we are working on are the heaviest pieces of music we’ve ever written in our career, in this band or otherwise...
RK: So far writing with these two studs has been awesome...We’re going to push each other past new boundaries, and the new album is going to be levels past the last...
R13: Do you still receive support from A Static Lullaby fans or have you found a new wave of support?
PP: For the most part ASL fans don’t pay attention to Casket Salesmen, but to be totally honest with you, I could be wrong about that...I’m only basing that off of what I’ve seen at shows on tour...It’s possible that ASL fans buy our records...But I’ve only seen about 10 ASL fans TOTAL, throughout the whole US, come out to Casket Salesmen shows...We have a different kind of fan base...We have more eclectic types of people coming to our shows now...fans of Mars Volta, Frank Zappa, older folks...college kids...its a bit different.
RK: These are my friends, I’m happy they accomplished what they did in their former group, I am also happy to be a member of this new project...I hope fans of their former band can enjoy the music we offer.
R13: What sort of audience does Casket Salesmen aim to please? Would you say that your music is largely accessible, or are your listeners required to bring something with them to your music?
PP: I don’t really know how to answer that because we don’t really think about who is going to attach to the music we make...But, in regards to our music being accessible or not, I think our music is linear enough to appeal to the normal everyday person, but jammy and experimental enough to appeal to more psychedelic minded types of folks...
RK: As far as being largely accessible its something you might dig or you might not, but its definitely groovier than what you would hear on your normal everyday FM Broadcast...
R13: What do you hope your listeners will take away from your music?
PP: I hope that when they come to see us play they can forget about their everyday bullshit and just have fun and sing and dance and feel the music. I hope that they learn something about themselves from listening to our music...I know that’s what I have taken from my idols...
RK: Whatever they can. We all take something from the music we love.
R13: You have mentioned the teenagers are messed up these days (I personally really do have to agree)what advice would you give to them? What do you think could actually help the youth of today, if anything?
PP: I always tell my sister that she has the rest of her life ahead of her (she is 17)...She, like the rest of her generation, have grown up faster than any generation before them. 6th graders these days are trying hard drugs and Middle School students are having sex. 17 year olds being pregnant isn’t really that odd anymore....It’s kinda crazy...I don’t really know what to tell the youth of today because I am so young, myself...But, I guess the best thing to know is that you have plenty of time to experience it all, there’s a time and place for everything, and doing shit doesn’t make you cool. Sometimes being level headed and a good friend is much cooler.
R13: It seems that Casket Salesman is the reality of a dream that you have been working for quite some time now. How does the reality compare to the dream?
PP: Well, Nate and I have always gotten along and have always felt the same way about music, pop culture, pretty much everything. When we were in ASL, I know that at least I always felt like, “Damn, this is going good, but it’s not what I would do if I was at the creative helm”.... Now that it’s up to Nate, Ryan, and myself to create the sounds on the records we make, it’s a lot more fun for me than it was when I was in ASL. The dream of this project was cool to think about but living it is much more fun. Running the record label [Longhair Illuminati] is a full time job, but I enjoy it because I love the bands on the label. I love living and breathing for music. It’s a rush and it’s what life is all about. Being completely devoted to your craft is something I’ve always dreamt of...Now that I am doing it full time, I feel alive. Although, it’s very tough sometimes...The amount of stress that comes along with it has caused me to have many breakdowns in the last year or so I’ve been pushed to my emotional and mental brink...I have learned a lot and I am becoming stronger and becoming more able to carry the weight.
R13: You have known the rest of the guys in Casket Salesmen for a long time now, how does the business side of the band affect friendships, and visa versa?
PP: Business and money always affects friendships, but we have a pretty good group here at Longhair Illuminati. Every member of every band is pretty ego-less....We all love each other and care about each other and are open with our communication...But, don’t get me wrong...we have our problems, we fight...we end up having lots of talks...Lots of sit downs...Everyone expressing what’s on their minds...It takes a while to get everyone on the same page, but we eventually get there. At the moment it seems like we’re getting to the point where we can finally become happy and function and work as a team...But its taken us two years working as a label and as bands, together, to feel this way. Even though we’ve all known each other for years, this is a big step in all of our lives...And there’s definitely been some growing pains, but we’re all pretty happy and getting along well at the moment. Things are getting more organized. We have people making sure every I is dotted and T is crossed.
R13: In interviews you seem to be asked a lot of the same questions; what question would you like to never have to answer again, and what question would you loved to be asked in an interview?
PP: I would love to never ever be asked about ASL ever again, I would also like to never ever be asked about Drive Thru Records ever again. I’m sorry...I’m too drunk, I have no idea what question I would love to be asked...Ryan?
RK: I dunno...
PP: I got it...“Where do I send the case of makers mark?”
RK: At least you didn’t say Black Velvet...
R13: You have been very honest about your experiences with Drive Thru Records, ASL, Columbia Records and what you want to bring people with Casket Salesmen- Has this honesty ever backfired?
R13: You seem to be a very positive person, what contributes to it and is it hard to maintain?
PP: Sometimes I’m not so positive. But I enjoy everything more when I am...Hell yes, it’s hard to be positive when you run a label and have no funding and it’s all up to you to make shit happen...it’s hard, but I do it...I’m positive. What the fuck...why not?
RK: Studying music and playing music has always been a passion. I am happy to have fallen into this web of musicians that I can grow with and expand with.
R13: Is it daunting releasing music without the security of a long time established record label?
PP: Nah, because people are pretty receptive to the music we’re putting out and I’m pretty positive that even though we’re the smallest fish in the sea, it’s going to grow slowly but surely and everything will be fine. I feel like we’re creating our own scene...and I hope I don’t come off as arrogant in saying that...It just feels that way...
R13: Having started Longhair Illuminati as a record label, how is it going? What approach do you take to the bands that are now signed to you?
PP: It’s going well. I have signed bands that I believe in. I hope that I can be a stepping stone for them in their career. That’s about it...We’re really drunk right now.
R13: Having the freedom of releasing albums on your own label- Do you feel that you are able to reach people the way that you would like to or are there still restraints?
PP: There are no restraints; we get to do what we wanna do. Actually keep an eye out for the new Casket Salesmen record, there’s going to be some silly ass shit on there that would never fly at a major label...NEVER.
RK: These people say blah blah blah, and you can’t do da da da...But we get to do whatever the fuck we want...
PP: You’re retarded...
PP: Seriously, Ryan just fell over. Seriously...You can’t make that shit up. He really just fell off his seat right now...
R13: What’s in the future for you guys- both with Casket Salesmen and the label Longhair Illuminati?
PP: Were making a new album. We’re releasing all these albums from all these bands. I want it all to be something positive in these dark times.
RK: If Phil doesn’t roll a spliff right now I’m gonna cut off one of his toes, so this interview is over.
I stumbled across Casket Salesmen on myspace, a random friend request and a few