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Casting Shadows Interview

By:  Nina McCarthy, Senior Music Journalist

Boston Rock Radio


It has definitely been fun getting to the know the guys of New London, CT’s hard rock/metal band Casting Shadows.  I've seen them a few times in a short couple months. Keep your ears open for these guys!



BRR:  Could you introduce yourselves and your position in the band?


Dan: My name is a Dan Jackson.  I play bass.


Anthony:  I'm Anthony McLaughlin and I'm the drummer.


Chris:  Chris Ornberg, lead guitarist.


Matt:. How ya doing?  My name is Matt Barnes.  I am the lead vocalist.  The other guitarist, Rob, is sick today and he is not here.


BRR:  Can you give me a brief history of how Casting Shadows formed?


Dan:  Chris and I I were in a band together previously and that band didn't end up working out and Chris and I went off seeking out other bands for about a year.  In the process, we wrote a lot of our own music.  We ended up meeting Anthony in one of those bands.  That band didn't end up working out but Anthony did, so he joined the two-some and made it a three-some.  We discovered our old guitarist at an open mic night in New London, CT and shortly thereafter we asked Matt if he'd come check out our music and tell us what he thought.


Matt:  I was invited to see how our old guitarist was singing.  Then I just started singing and they stopped playing and looked at me like, “Dude, you want in?”. I was like, “That's cool. I'd love to!”


BRR:  And you were instantly in the band.  Where did the band name originate?


Chris:  That was half me.  We were trying to figure out names and I came out with Within The Shadows, thinking to cast a shadow could be taken good or bad, positive vibe, negative vibe... depends on how you want to look at it.


Dan:  Basically the name represents that we all have our moments where we project, whether it be good or bad, the light in our lives and the dark in our lives; ultimately you're casting a shadow on everything you touch.  That's where it comes from and you ultimately have the choice as to which direction it's going to go.


BRR:  What or who inspired you each to get into music?


Dan:  I was young and very intrigued by metal music at like 12 or 13.  I used to be big into Korn and I went and saw them live and they demanded so much energy from their crowd and I saw that and I just wanted a piece of that.  I wanted to feel that energy come back at me instead of just presenting it to the band I was going to watch.  I wanted to be on the other end of that.  My step brother, at the time, played bass and I was a skater and I taught him how to skateboard and he taught me how to play bass.  He let it go and I kept going with the bass.


Anthony:  I started listening to metal maybe at 13 or 14 but I mainly listened to old school stuff like Megadeth and Slayer, so I have that nice thrash background.  That's what I love the most, so I decided to take up drums and here I am 9 years later beating away, beating off at the heads.


Matt:  Too be honest, I didn't even listen to metal.  I grew up listening to Q105 (local Top 40 station).


BRR:  So didn't I!


Matt:.  A lot of Billy Joel and things like that.  I didn't get into the vocal end of it until Bush’s Sixteen Stone  and Silverchair’s Frogstop. I listened to them sing and I wanted that rasp so I just kept playing it over and over and over and tried to imitate it.


Chris:  The reason I started playing was because of my dad.  He always used to play when I was really little.  Maybe at 5 or 6 he got me a beginner acoustic.  I fooled around with it but nothing serious because it was a cheap little one that never stayed in tune.  One Christmas he got me real electric guitar and started teaching me.  The first song I ever learned was Metallica's “Fade To Black” and that's the music I grew up with, 80s hair metal.  I've been listening to that shit since I've been born pretty much...Megadeth, Iron Maiden, all the big bands of the era, Def Leppard and even some softer stuff.  I just kept going with it.  My biggest influence now and probably always will be is Avenged Sevenfold.  They got me through a lot of things.  I've been playing for 13 years and it took a lot of practice to get to where I am, but I'm very glad I did.  I love the energy we throw onstage and the energy we get from the crowds.  It's just amazing to be performing onstage in front of people.  It's a feeling like no other.


BRR:  Tell me about your instrument and do you have a brand loyalty?


Dan:  Again, being a big fan of Korn, I always use Soundgear and Ibanez bass and Ampeg amps.


Anthony:  I have to pick 3 brands.  My cymbal brands would be Meinl, always.  For my hardware, just normal BPs.  For my pedals, I want DWs but I'm settling for Pearls right now. They're fine.  For my shells, I'm rocking Sound Percussion maple mix oak and it sounds really, really good.  Drumsticks, it doesn't really matter.


Chris:  As far as guitars,  I can't stray away from Schechter.  I've played so many different types of guitars and so many models, BC Rich, Jackson, Hammers, Ibanez, some offbeat brands and nothing plays as smooth and nice as a Schechter.  It's US made, you can't go wrong with US made.  The sound is phenomenal.  They're all active pickup, 81, 85s.  I use D'addario NYXL strings.  They are excellent and rarely go out of tune.  They stay sharp forever.  They slide fucking awesome.  I use Dunlop Tortex picks.  That's the only thing I can keep grip with.  They don't wear out as fast as most of the other ones I use and they have a big enough selection of thicknesses and in between sizes to find that perfect size.  As far as an amp goes, I only play through a Line 6.  I've played through Marshall's and tried all sorts of amps.  Line 6 is the only thing that I've found sold state that I've enjoyed playing and I'm not a big fan of tubes.  I don't really use any floor pedals. I use standard Line 6 four button floor pedal, nothing special, preset all my settings and that's about it.  Dimarzio clip strap, you can't go wrong with those.  They lock right onto your guitar and there's no accidents.  I could flip that around and never have an issue.  The next step is a wireless set.


BRR:  In your own words, describe your band's sound.


Dan:  That's probably one of the hardest questions.  We’re definitely metal, but I think instrumentally more so.  Matt brings out a rock side of things.  It's a nice balance.  A lot of bands we play with, whether they be metalcore or just rock they tend to say we're the blend.  We're the band that helps transition at shows.  Everybody feels comfortable playing with us.


Chris:  I call it a melodic metal, or progressive rock/metal.  


BRR:  Enlighten me on the writing and recording of your recent self titled album.


Matt:  With the writing, Chris will have some riffs and I have to wait, honestly, until he's got everything done.


Chris:  Dan writes a good amount of the parts too.  Rob, our newest member, has also been writing parts.


Dan:  A lot of the time we'll write the instrumental stuff and the Matt will come in with the lyrical stuff, even the melody, and we all sit down and kind of get a feel for what the song should be about.


Matt:  I like to know how whoever wrote the song was feeling at that point and what was going through their head and then from there I get the gist of where I'm going to write from.


BRR:  Who created the cover art and what is significance?


Dan:  That was me.  The significance is an eye opening experience.  It's an awakening of the moment.  It's an ultimate realization of a time for change because of everything you have going on in your world.  I definitely think the eye on the front with the underlying “CS” in it is representation of that this is just the beginning of things to come for us.



BRR:  What is each of your favorite songs?


Dan:  I love “Known Universe” just because it's fun to play, but I have a soft spot for “Irony” because that's the one we get the most crowd energy off of.


Chris:   I don't have a single favorite.  “Falter” is probably one of my greatest creations that I've ever written on a guitar.  It happened to be my first solo I had written.  The second one I had written was “Rise to Rest,” ever.  I had never written a solo before.  I've played other people's solos but it just doesn't feel right.  Improvising to me is better.  Definitely “Falter.” I cried when I wrote that song because it was just fucking awesome.  To me, that was the greatest thing in the world.  I bought a brand new guitar, my first Schechter, and wrote that song that day.  It was awesome.


Anthony:  My favorite would probably be “Known Universe” because it has some evil touch in the beginning, then it has feel, then it turns to thrash, then some more evil, then some more feel.  There's some nice combination of everything you could ask for in a single song...and it's like an 8½ minute long.


Dan:  The interesting part about “Known Universe” too is that the timing actually changes.  


Chris:  It's 3/4 to 4/4 timing.  It switches back and forth and is pretty intricate to pull off.  Being our first album it's definitely fucking awesome.


BRR:  That's actually my favorite song on the CD.  So, which famous musicians do you admire and why?


Dan:  Over the years I would default to the ones I grew up listening to but now as up and coming musicians it's changed.  Now I admire musicians that stand by their fans and want to interact and reach out and be part of what's going on in the music scene.  Bobby Amaro, the drummer of  Orgy, has been a huge support of Casting Shadows, all those guys in the band, Creighton, they're all great. We find that the more bands that we play with, it's almost like they crave that connection with the beginning stages of music and it makes us never want to forget where we came from and the people that supported us.  Those are the people I admire, myself.


Matt:  I always looked up to Gavin Rossdale and Daniel Johns (Silverchair).  I heard their voices and thought I wanted to sound like that.  Recently, the whole band of Hell or Highwater and Shaman's Harvest guys.  They were just so down to earth.  They listened to our music, loved it.  It was surreal.  Right when Hell or Highwater got to Webster Theater, from the get go were talking to us and it was a big deal.  They were changing their guitar strings, telling us good ideas on how to do your strings.  They were just so cool.  Awesome guys.


Chris:  I definitely have to say Synyster Gates from Avenged Sevenfold.  He's incredible and if you hear him outside of his music, he touches on every basis of music there is...blues, jazz, combining stuff to make new sounds and music.   What he does with music is amazing and he lives in the music itself which I have learned to do, just get lost in the sound. It's incredible the things that man can play.


Anthony:  My favorite musician would probably be Chris Adler from Lamb of God.  He was my inspiration for drumming.  I feel my style is just like him.  He's just so good at what he does for years, just the whole style of that thrash and blastability that they have.


BRR:  If you could change places with one of your fellow bandmates, who would it be and why?


Dan:  I would change places with anybody because I'd get to fucking rock out on stage with the guys in my band.  These guys are fucking great and I couldn't picture sharing a stage with anybody else.


Matt:  I personally always wanted to shred and Chris can shred like no one's business.  I am shocked he has never been in a band before.  I am privileged to be in your first band with you, hopefully the only band.


Anthony:  Me? Shit!


Dan:  It's me.  He loves me and idolizes me.  It has to be me.


Anthony:  I don't even know.


Chris:  He likes beating his drum too much.


BRR:  You guys come from an area in CT where live rock and metal kind of died out.  It's definitely on a comeback as I saw last recently at some local shows.  Tell me about this rejuvenation and what is being done to bring it back alive.  There are some killer CT bands I didn't realize were so close to me.


Chris:  There are a few groups, the main one being SCENE Productions, that's really brought a lot of the scene back.  Dwayne (Eldridge) has done everything in his power to start bringing the scene back and he's done one hell of a job with bringing new venues in, repairing old venues even.


Dan:  And Dalton (Metcalf).


Chris:  They try to through shows as often as they can, sometimes every weekend if they can.  It's nice.


Matt:  It's great. When I was in the scene back in the day there was punk, metal, rock and then joining with these guys it was weird because there was nothing.  It was dead.  In Connecticut it was only us, Kill The Straggler, and Holding Onto Nothing, at least in our area.


Dan:  There was only a handful of bands and all of a sudden there was a spark in eastern Connecticut again and all these great bands started popping up again.  Now you've got Eden Will Burn, Awaken The Madness, and a new band called Banth.  We're watching our scene grow every day.  Even more importantly is watching other parts of the state recognize that our scene in eastern Connecticut is growing.  That's why we're sitting here tonight at Fete rocking out with In The Red.  We're just some band from eastern Connecticut but we made enough of an impact that now we share a stage with them more than once a decade.


BRR:  What are the future goals for you as a band?


Chris:  We all know that one!


Dan:  Touring and getting to meet the people that have shown us support since the beginning but haven't gotten to actually be there in person to enjoy that live experience.


Matt:  Having people all over the world listen and take something from what we play.  I love sitting down with people after we play and they say, “I felt this way…for this song or that song.”


Dan:  We want to touch people... inappropriately, everywhere. (All laugh)


Chris:  We want to inspire people the way they inspire us.


Anthony:  We actually inspired some other people out in some other states.


Dan:  We got a lot of great support across the country.  It's great talking to other up and coming musicians, the younger kids that want to have a band.  It wasn't that long ago that we were the same people, so to have people ask us for advice or send their music to us to try to get feedback is cool.  I actually take the time to listen to it and give them feedback and I'm not a dick about it.  I'll point out the stuff I really like and give criticism when I can, but in a positive way, constructive criticism.


BRR:  What would you like to say to those who haven't checked out your music or live show yet?


All:  Hurry up!


Chris:  You really don't know what you're missing.  Live, it's amazing.  


Dan:  It's amazing for us being on the other end of it as well.


Matt:  Interacting with people is awesome; seeing people sing my lyrics back and at the top of their lungs, going nuts. It's a rush. I love it!


BRR:  Anything else you'd like to say?


Dan:  Nina is the fucking best so make sure you listen to Boston Rock Radio, check out the site for her interviews, and request some Casting Shadows on there.









Catch Casting Shadows at The Providence Tattoo & Music Fest 4



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