Not so long ago we witnessed one of the truly great musical events of the year. ATP Vs The Fans Strike Back 2.0 was unique in the sense that the fans (that's you by the way) picked half of the line-up in a royal rumble against those know-it-all's at camp ATP.
One of the bands that grabbed our attention before, during and after this iconic, booze down-your-trousers weekend bash was the charming and enigmatic Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. Having recently released his fifth album, much of which was premièred down at Minehead, we penned some questions for Owen Ashworth aka, Casiotone.... to get the scoop on his upcoming plans.
SG: You've recently been touring new songs from Vs. Children around Europe, would you say that the crowds have warmed well to your new material?
Owen: The new songs have had a warm response. Playing with a really great touring band was a huge help. Tyson, Nick, and Gordon worked hard to make all of the new material sound extra great, and a lot of the European audiences were very sweet and enthusiastic. I felt pretty good about the whole thing. I'm sure there will always be those who prefer the older stuff, and that's okay, too.
SG: Were you surprised to be invited to this years ATP festival? Do you think you felt more obliged to play the festival because 'the fans' chose the line up?
Owen: I was surprised that we were asked, yeah. I guess I don't really think of Casiotone as a festival kind of band, but I was totally honoured by the invitation. It meant a lot that our invitation was the result of a fan vote. How could I have said no to that?
SG: Could you see yourself attending the festival if you were not playing? Are there any other festivals that you particularly like?
Owen: I don't attend many festivals generally. I tend to get overwhelmed by so much music in one day. I've been to a few of the Pitchfork Music festivals in Chicago, and I was really impressed by how friendly and well-organized they were. After two or three bands, though, I usually need to take a break and walk around for a while so my brain doesn't explode. I think ATP is an amazing festival, though, and I was really glad for the opportunity to experience it. The line-up was great, the chalets were classy and I appreciated that there were plenty of shady lawns to relax on. It was like summer camp, except with booze. Lots and lots of booze.
SG: What did you most enjoy about this years ATP festival?
Owen: I really enjoyed Grouper's set. I'd never seen Liz play before, and I thought she sounded fantastic. I would have loved to have seen Sleep and Harvey Milk, but we had to leave early Saturday morning to get to our next show.
SG: We understand that you've got a fixed support band for this tour, have you played with them a lot before? Has it been hard to adapt to each others styles over the tour?
Owen: The support act who played before Casiotone on most of the tour was Concern, who is my brother Gordon, who also played lap steel and piano in the touring band. Gordon and I have played lots of shows together and we've even collaborated on some projects. His music is very different from mine and I love it. It has been really inspiring to be able to hear him play every night. Our parents think it's pretty cute that we're touring together.
SG: At ATP you started your set alone and slowly introduced more of the band, was there a particular reason for this?
Owen: I think it would have been a bit anti-climactic to try to do it the other way around. It just felt right to start the concert a bit more intimately and take some requests before opening it up to the full band material.
SG: You've produced a vast discography of material over the years, how do you think your sound has changed since the beginning?
Owen: I started recording music with only a very vague idea about how sound recording works, and my production technique has gotten progressively less caveman-ish over time. I would say that ever since I found out about "compression" and "reverb," my music has moved a little closer to middle-of-the-road, singer/songwriter, adult contemporary-lite pop as each year passes. I expect there will be lots of Spanish guitar and soulful tenor saxophone solos on the next album. I'm hoping to get Aaron Neville to duet with me on a couple of the softer jams.
SG: Were you involved with the recording and production of any of your videos? Which is your favourite?
Owen: I've pretty much left the video makers alone to do what they want. My involvement has basically just been asking an artist I really liked to please make something, or saying yes when an interesting artist was kind enough to approach me. I really like the idea using animation instead of live action, because it somehow feels like a more accurate representation of my songs. It would weird me out to see actual people playing the characters in the lyrics. My favourite Casiotone video would probably be David Enos and Paul Stepahin's video for "The Subway Home." David is a good friend and one of my very favourite artists. I played a ship captain in a silent film he made some years ago. I'd love to make more stuff with him.
SG: Where does the name Casiotone For The Painfully Alone come from? It sounds quite intriguing.
Owen: Oh man. I've been dragging that dopey rhyme around for going on twelve years. I don't know what to tell you other than that it seemed like a good idea at the time.
SG: What are your plans for the rest of the year? Any remixes, videos, new material, festivals etc...?
Owen: There will be a whole lot more touring this year, and I'll try to get some new songs recorded in between. I'm playing at the What The Heck Festival in Anacortes, Washington in July and the Off Festival in Poland in August. I don't think I'll make it back to the UK this year, though.