For a band who’ve had just one song on Spotify, Cast Down have achieved a LOT. As well as appearing on the Download Festival line-up, they’ve also earned support spots on some impressive shows, such as with Harms Way, Stick To Your Guns, Deez Nuts, and soon to be No Zodiac, Xile, and Wraith. Suddenly we’re not only hearing a new song (“Thread My Lips”) from the Melbourne band, but they’ve also been signed to EVP Recordings! Cast Down also have an EP coming in ‘early 2019’.
With a synthy retro sounding introduction, “Thread My Lips” soon reveals how layered it is. Having seen Cast Down live several times, it’s no surprise to me to hear these drum machine samples pulled into the new single. I’m a fan of the patchwork of sounds and samples that pull together to share the track’s story, coming across like a creatively experimental and industrial flavour of hardcore. Each piece is stitched to the next flawlessly and it makes for a really moreish single as much as a collision of sounds could come off as haphazard on paper.
“Thread my lips
Before I cut the weight, break the bones and end the flood”
I reached out to vocalist Jack McDonald with some curiosities about the single, songwriting, the EVP Recordings signing, and more. In response to my questions about the inspiration or influences behind their music, Jack shared he felt ‘kind of unqualified’ on the topic. It is Cast Down’s guitarist Pat Kearney who writes instrumentals for the band, and according to Jack, his listening is ‘incredibly diverse’ which explained the multigenre blend.
Jack was able to expand lyrically though, sharing how his teenage years listening to nu-metal or post-hardcore have led to him taking influence from these acts. “More ‘wordy’ lyricists like Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw and Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley have always appealed to me so I try and bring that kind of flavour into my lyrics when I’m writing and I noticed myself drawing into the darker, more grim side of lyrics from vocalists like Marilyn Manson and Slipknot’s Corey Taylor while I was writing our EP.
Going forward, Jack says that he’d love to write more story-based things, using the Triptych trilogy of Marilyn Manson‘s records as an example, wanting to expand as a writer and also to try and piece together a real cohesive piece of music with an overarching theme. Elaborating on how this perspective of lyrics comes into the band, Jack says “Not to speak ill of heavy music but to me it seems like a lot of bands lyrics come as an afterthought and the main point of focus is the instrumentals. That’s obviously perfectly fine but I’ve never really envisioned Cast Down as a mosh band and all of my main influences are bands that are incredibly vocally driven.”
“You’ll find no solace in the sermon of whispering
You’ll find a crux, a vice, a dead notion withering”
As Jack had already shared previously when we spoke about his musical influences in a previous interview, vocabulary and thoughtful word use is a big deal to him. “Our vocabularies have the potential to be unbelievably huge so I’m always trying to use words that I don’t use in every day conversation when I’m writing. It really bugs me to use ‘key words’ twice in a release so I make a subconscious effort to constantly use different words so that I don’t feel like I’m repeat myself but there have been plenty that have either just snuck through the cracks or have just felt right to me and I’ve left them there. That’s something else I’m looking forward to challenging myself more on as I write music going forward.”
I’d listened to “Thread My Lips” and understood it as a ‘save me from myself’ request, from a state of anxiousness about coping alone. Jack responded in saying that though this is completely different to what was intended, he can see why this was the case. “It’s an incredibly complicated backstory, but to put the overall idea of the song simply just imagine that your mouth was sealed shut via needle and thread. You have something to say that feels ‘right’ but is it worth the pain of tearing your lips apart? At that point in time and in that situation the answer for me was no. I could’ve said something and helped myself but I didn’t believe it would be worth the pain it would cause.”
“I felt everything in that piece of time
Fragmented sentences and cyclic silent cries”
On the signing to EVP Recordings, Jack expressed gratitude for it eventuating in response to sending the band’s upcoming EP to multiple places, and feeling that EVP was right for Cast Down. “Our main priority as a band was to find a label that really cared about us and understood what we were trying to accomplish musically and believed they could help us achieve and exceed those goals and we’ve absolutely found that in EVP. They’ve helped us a lot in such a short amount of time and I’m very excited to see what we’ll achieve together in the future. It’s also fantastic to be able to be on the same label as Australian bands that I’m super into like King Parrot and Pagan and even amazing internationals like Behemoth.”
The signing came about after Bigsound in 2018. “We started to elevate talks and ended up finding that we were both on the same page, and it’s been a great experience since then. Considering the fact we did only have one song on streaming services for almost two years we managed to achieve a lot and continuously play shows which we are incredibly thankful for. We got some great shows like the aforementioned Bigsound and Download Festival last year that were amazing experiences that helped build our profile and keep things ticking for us. Since we put out “Leatherman”, about 60% of our setlist has comprised of unreleased tracks and we’re very glad people have liked what we’re doing and continued to support us even though we’ve had virtually no music for people to listen to.”
Cast Down are Jack McDonald, Pat Kearney, Jared King, and Todd Tombleson. Check out “Thread My Lips” via the fittingly futuristic and dark music video: