Q&A: Casey Crescenzo of The Dear Hunter

Music blogger Zachary Burton got the chance to interview Casey Crescenzo, the singer of The Deer Hunter, who is on tour with Naive Thieves. The Dear Hunter’s newest album, “Migrant,” comes out tomorrow.

Zachary Burton: You’re touring in support of the new album. Are there any themes in this album like there were in your previous works? What’s behind the name?

Casey Crescenzo: As far as there being themes in the same way the acts use themes, there aren’t. There’s no plot. It meant to be a really from-the-heart record, and — but as far as the name — I think for me when I came up with the name, it felt very natural because that’s kind of the life that we lead in this band — most people in bands anyways, when you think of just the fact of traveling just for the sake of business for work. But also, I think we all feel a little bit like we are kind of constant transience, physically and emotionally, never really being able to feel at home.

ZB: You started a new label recently: Cave and Canary Goods. How is that going?

CC: Essentially. It’s more that I started a logo. It will end up hopefully involving into a legitimate label. I don’t necessarily want a traditional label where you put out bands and records, quantity over quality. I’m a big fan of lots of art beyond records. I’d like for it to be more of a company that promotes artists across different mediums but also artists who have realistic mindsets and goals and the right mindsets and goals.

ZB: So what is the right mindset to you?

CC: Not expecting that you’re going to go sell 100,000 records the second you’re on the label. I think the right mindset to me is the opposite of what was presented to me when I started because when we started, no one was really willing to be realistic, and no one was willing to tell me the reality of it. So my goals were always creative goals but in the back of my mind, I had this thought, and if you have that unrealistic thought or expectation — and it’s good to have that as a wish — but you have to be real with yourself. You can’t use that as a goal as the “make it or break it” because it shouldn’t be your relative idea of success. If that’s what you’re using as your benchmark, you will absolutely let yourself down. So people that are in it to be creative, not “I want to be touring 10 months out of the year; we want to sell hundreds of thousands of records.” I just want to find creative people and an audience who likes creative things.

ZB: Considering the tour you just finished and this one you just started, how has touring been going as of late?

CC: It’s going well, generally. This is the best thing by far. It’ll be the biggest crowds, but it’s the best thing by far. We brought our friends Naive Thieves with us. They’re a band I want to make music for. We hand pick the bands that come with us on tours like this. We’re finishing up a record of their’s. We don’t get opportunities like this often, let alone whenever we’re opening for bands, so when you get a chance like this, you kind of overcompensate like: “I just want to tour with my friends.” The shows have been so surprising. We were excited we were doing our first two headlining shows in Phoenix and in Dallas because we thought they’d be small so we could test out our new material, but they were both really amazing turnouts and really amazing feedback. So what we thought were going to be warm up shows were two of our best shows.

ZB: Really? So the new stuff is going over well?

CC: Well yeah, it’s a two-and-a-half-hour set. We’re playing stuff from every record; we try to play things every wants to hear. There’s a good amount of everything.

ZB: Do you write all the music?

CC: As far as the songs go, I write them all. Songs are just chords, a melody and lyrics. I am at no necessarily loss of the ability to play guitar on a record. Not that it’s shreddy, but I don’t need anybody to come play guitar, so if anyone else is going to play guitar, it’s because I want them to be on what I do. On this record, the main reason I brought in Rob Parr and Connor O’Doyle is because I’ve always been so happy with the way they play together live, and they approach their instruments so much differently than the way I do that their addition to the recording has made this one of my favorite records because of the palate and timbre and differences in the way they play guitar. This is the happiest I’ve been with the way my band has sounded and played and interacted. The egos get removed. Nobody cares who’s playing the single note line or who’s harmonizing. We all just love the way each other plays so much, and that it’s all so different from each other.

ZB: When you recorded this record was there anything you did intentionally differently?

CC: Yeah I sang a lot softer. There are a lot of songs of me screaming, yelling really loud. There’s enough of it. I think I can take a break and try a lot of different subtle (things). It was hard to take a step back. It’s like finding a new place in your vocal chords. It’s any muscle. You know what I mean? If you’re used to sprinting constantly for short distances, it’s hard to run a marathon. For me, it was that kind of difference, that middle ground. For me, that lower dynamic range was so small, it now expanded it. So now it feels more comfortable to sing low, to sing in the middle.

ZB: Are you self-taught?

CC: Yeah, I just sing. My mom’s a singer; I would sing with her in the car. No legitimate training. The approach to the actual recording (also). I didn’t want to have any edits. Everything is extremely raw. There are comps — like you can hear a vocal that isn’t one take through the entire time — but there are no syllables taken from one word to the next. There isn’t any pitch correction. I wanted that to be completely out. Drum samples? I didn’t want to mess around with that. Even the synthesizer — nothing was quantized.

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