- Article by: Krystal Wallace | Photo Credits: Cameron Sterling & Nicole Polec
- Posted: 06/05/2012
In order to avoid being cast as just another coffee shop cliché, singer/songwriters have to perform a delicate balancing act between being relevant and being earnest. Casey Shea, with his classic American rock bravado and subtly catchy hooks, has avoided the fate of acoustic guitar-wielding obscurity. He has achieved notoriety through song placements on television shows like “One Tree Hill” and “The Gates,” as well as having two singles featured in the documentary “Mr. Rogers and Me.” This, coupled with extensive touring and a traditional “hands on” approach to his music, has ensured Shea a solid fan following. Currently promoting his 2011 full-length release, In Your Head (11/1/11, Family Records), Shea called us from the road to answer our questions about life on tour, the creative process, and just where Tom Petty stands in all of this.
Brite Revolution: From reading your blog, it seems like you're really personally involved with it--the podcasts, updates, etc. Is that kind of creative control important to you?
Casey: Yeah, I go back and forth with the social media thing. I mean, I think it's totally weird in general. But I do think the whole point of it is to be yourself. I know a lot of artists who seem to have everyone do everything for them, and that seems to be kind of pointless to me. The whole point is to connect and be who you are. It's important to have everything you want to say coming directly from you.
BR: What do you like most about being on tour, and is it any different now that you're a solo artist?
Casey: The thing I like about touring is just getting out of New York and introducing the music to new people ... The difference between touring with a band versus doing it solo is “this is completely solo.” I mean, I don't even have a merch person with me. All this driving has been just me in a car, and that can be a little wearing on your body and mind--having nobody to talk to and trying to stay awake.
BR: So what do you listen to while you’re doing all that driving?
Casey: I have been listening to audiobooks. (Laughs) It really is the thing that's kept me going, I think. Like I was saying, you don't have anyone to talk to and music gets boring after a while, you know? (Laughs) The best music I hear is people I meet or share a bill with, so at least you hear something new. But, going through my iPod I'm just like, 'I've heard all this stuff before.' I do have a handful of CD’s of people I've met along the way, but probably 90 percent of this trip has been listening to audiobooks ... I'm currently listening to “A Confederacy of Dunces,” which, actually, the sound guy in Nashville told me about.
BR: Sounds like you end up spending a lot of time in your head. Speaking of which, how would you describe the overall feel of In Your Head?
Casey: It's a pretty classic rock album. I'm really influenced by all the classic rock artists--you know, 60’s and 70’s rock. And just being a person in the modern age I'd say it has a bit of a modern edge just from the music I listen to ... I came from a real songwriting background, so it's always been about the songs and then trying to build around that to get the right sort of vibe. I try and write different sorts of songs, so a lot of times I feel like it’s a bit scattered. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing; I'm still trying to figure that out. (Laughs) It always keeps it interesting for me as an artist. I wanna do everything. I wanna write a rock song, I wanna write a country song, I wanna write a ballad, I wanna write a dance song.
BR: When do you write your best lyrics?
Casey: (Laughs) Have I ever written my best lyrics? I mean, it really comes in crazy sort of spurts. I don't think that's there's any one way that I've ever found that works. Half the time I'm on the road and I'll just be thinking of a song, and you might see a sign, or you might see something in the newspaper, or hear a song and you might have an idea from that. Sometimes I'm just sitting trying to write something and lyrics just pour out of me. Sometimes someone says a phrase and I think I could write a song about [them] saying that phrase. I don't think there's any one way. I mean, you just kind of go through life and try to be as open as possible to any inspiration that could swing by.
BR: What musicians inspire you?
Casey: I'm a massive Beatles fan--like, crazed Beatles fan since I was really young. Really all the classic stuff is the stuff I truly love: The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Elton John...Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd is one of my favorite bands in the whole world. And then modern stuff. Well, I don't know if I like anything modern. (Laughs)
BR: One last question, on your blog I was reading--
Casey: Oh, Tom Petty! He was definitely there when I was making this last album. In fact, when you were saying the “windows down rock” , that's how I always felt listening to Tom Petty on road trips. Roll your windows down and just drive. So, you can't forget Tom Petty.
Casey Shea - "In Your Head"