Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bands in the Neighborhood: Caustic Casanova

It's that time again, the New Columbia Heights Bands in the Neighborhood series, where we talk to local bands. This edition is Caustic Casanova, a hard rock three-piece. All three members responded, so here's their answers! Look for them playing Nov. 13 at Asylum. Check out their Twitter and website for more info.

How did the band form?
Stefanie (drums) - We all went to the College of William and Mary. Michael (guitar, vocals) and Francis (bass, vocals) both graduated two years before me. They found me on (gasp!) Facebook when I was a freshman because my interests included ‘drumming’. We started putting songs together that Spring, and kept at it, recording original songs and playing gigs at William and Mary until they graduated two years later, at which point we took a two year hiatus so I could finish school. But now we’re back at it since all three of us live in the District; touring, working on new material, kicking ass and taking names.

Michael - ...We have been playing together since 2005.

How many members live in Columbia Heights? Whereabouts?
Stefanie - I’m the only one that lives in CoHeights, in a charming DC row house on Taylor Street. This is approximately two blocks from the awesome bar, The Red Derby.

Do you practice in CH? How about play any gigs in the neighborhood?
Stefanie - We practice at The Igloo in Arlington. We have not, as of yet, played any gigs in the neighborhood but are obviously open to it! Maybe we’ll hit up Wonderland soon.

Michael - No, we do not practice in the area, but we would certainly love to play a gig in The CH, so if there is anyone out there reading this who is in The Know, please feel free to go ahead and give us the hook up. You will not regret it.

What are your band's influences?
Stefanie - We have many, many diverse influences. Some of my biggest influences as a drummer include Tucker Rule from Thursday, Ziggy Modeliste from the Meters, and Max Weinberg, circa the E Street days. Beringer and Wollitz have particularly interesting takes on our influences…

Michael - If Robert Johnson was the second guitarist in My Bloody Valentine, and Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher ceded their singing duties to Black Francis and Morrissey, well then you would have something close to us. Not exact, of course, but these things are hard to pin down, after all.

Francis - If Josh Homme started jamming out some blues riffs with John Paul Jones, and then they invited Dave Grohl to pound the skins, that would sound EXACTLY like Caustic Casanova. That, or if Neil Fallon presided as minister over the gay marriage of Buzz Osborne and Johnny Marr, with Explosions in the Sky playing Beatles songs as the entertainment at the reception, then that's a pretty good idea of what the CC sounds like.

Do you have any records out?
Stefanie - We have two records out; Dichotomies and Imminent Eminence. IE is our most recent album, a 70+ minute monster, released on Mad Love Records in April 2008. You can buy it on our website, iTunes, and other places online. We’re currently working on some new material for 2010.

Gone on any tours? Any crazy or terrible tour stories?
Stefanie - We go on mini-tours up and down the Northeast corridor. We’ve played shows in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Northampton, MA, Philly, and Baltimore so far. Stories? Just the one time Zombies ate all of our equipment right before the show and we beat boxed a whole 2-hour set, including a 17-minute Bonham drum solo while covering Moby Dick. That was pretty cool.

Michael - ...Our worst story thus far is probably simply the time it took us 10 hours to drive up to a show in Brooklyn. The only issue was traffic....traffic was that bad on that particular day. Our craziest story interestingly enough also involves Brooklyn. No one saw the potential for humor in our changing the inscription on a local street mural from "Live. Breathe. Create." to "Live. Breathe. Creationism," and it took a good hour of emergency curbside sweet talking before we barely made it safely onto 278 West.

Francis - This is the crazy tour story that comes to mind. [Michael] Wollitz gets a little stir crazy in the van. A few too many Doc Pep's in him and he starts to get agitated, to look for an outlet for his creative energy on those long drives - so he turns to practical jokes and pranks. He took it a little too far at a gas station in western Massachusetts in the middle of the night. He stopped, supposedly to go the bathroom and pick up a snack. He seemed to take an awfully long time, but it was late and Stef and I were half asleep. About 20 minutes later, while on the road, he saw that I woke up and offered me some gummy worms. I accepted. He had filled the bag with actual worms, he dug them up from the dirt I guess behind the gas station. I ate one without realizing what it was. He was laughing so hard he nearly drove off the road. Obviously, not a pleasant memory. Wollitz went too far that night. He's a disgusting, disgusting man.

What’s your take on the local music scene, Columbia Heights and DC?
Stefanie – The music scene in DC is cool, in that it doesn’t pigeonhole itself into one ‘scene’, like it was in the 80’s. That’s good for us as a band with myriad musical influences. Hopefully this will translate into a broad spectrum of fans from many demographics. We’ve been playing lots of shows in DC now for over one year and we’re still discovering new and fun venues to rock out in, so that speaks volumes about the District’s efforts to keep music and art alive and well. About Columbia Heights? Well, that’s easy – it’s one of the best neighborhoods to live in in DC. Maybe I’m biased, but it really has a solid sense of neighborhood solidarity that I haven’t seen in other neighborhoods I’ve spent time in.

Francis - The music scene in DC is like any major city - a fair number of really bad bands, and some really great, truly exciting ones. There's enough good local music not being made by Caustic Casanova in this area to keep me consistently interested in going to see local bands live. The city lacks a particular "scene" identity - like it once did in the 80's with punk music - but I like that. It serves us well as a band with an extremely diverse style. It gives us opportunities to play different places with different kinds of bands. We enjoy playing with anyone, metal bands, psych bands, pop bands, and everything in between.

And if you had to rename your band for something in Columbia Heights, what would it be?
Cardozo Casanova.

Thanks! Got a band in the neighborhood? Email me -- newcolumbiaheights(at)

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