SUNDAY CLASSIC GTC, A TRIBUTE: NEAL CASAL, Keeps On Truckin’ [interview]
Neal Casal solo works can be found @ Apple Music.
by C. Price
The first time I listened to one of Neal Casal’s solo records, I believe it was “The Sun Rises Here”, I thought I’d discovered an unknown treasure and let me just quickly say this, man, was I wrong.
It’s almost embarrassing. He had been making music his whole life. His first studio album “Fade Away Diamond Time” was released in 1995. From there on you can find an album almost every year.
Neal Casal was one-third of Hazy Malaze and also joined Ryan Adams & The Cardinals in 2005. Mr. Casal contributes his guitar work on a bunch of other records like Tift Merrit’s “Tambourine” or Mark Olson’s “Many Colored Kite”. His most recent work collaboration is with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood that has already released “Big Moon Ritual” and “The Magic Door” in 2012.
I had the great opportunity to steal some of Neal Casal’s precious time. Here is what we’ve talked about.
[9. October 2013]
What project(s) are you currently working on?
I’m working on a new Chris Robinson Brotherhood record that we’re all really excited about. We’ve grown tremendously as a band in the few years we’ve been together and this new record really shows it. It will be released in the spring of 2014, and we’ll do a long tour to support it.
I’ve also made a record with Todd Snider and Dave Schools called The Hard Working Americans which will be released early next year. It’s a record of cover songs, recorded at Bob Weir’s studio in northern California. Another project I’m really excited about sounds great. I got to tour playing guitar for Iris Dement earlier this year, and I’ve also worked a lot with Phil Lesh at his new club in California.
The list of artists and musicians you have played with is very impressive. Who would you be proud of adding to it and why?
I’d really like to produce a record for my friend Lauren Barth. She’s an excellent songwriter from California who really needs more recognition. I’m hoping that can happen this winter.
You have successfully released solo records, you’ve worked with bands…which of the two suits you better?
I really love doing both. It’s all part of the same process for me. I just want to be involved with good music whether it’s mine or someone else’s.
Ideally, I’d like to erase the line between my solo work and the bands I’m in. I just want it to feel like one long, really good song, and that we’re in one, big, awesome band.
Would you consider yourself a perfectionist?
I don’t think in terms of perfection, I’m not sure if it’s is even possible for me. I just try to do my very best and keep my standards as high as possible every time I pick up an instrument. Whatever the result is beyond that is up to someone else, I’m not even capable of judging it. I think that perfection can only be evaluated many years after a piece of work has been finished. I think history decides what’s perfect and what isn’t. It’s not up to us in the moment of creation.
Musically spoken, after everything you have done up until this point, have you achieved your goals or was there ever one?
The only goal I’ve ever had was to create a life that was centered in music. I’m amazed that I’ve been able to do that for so many years. As for the records I’ve made and songs I’ve written, I’ve definitely not achieved any kind of goal.
Actually, the longer I go into music, the further the goalposts seem to move from me. I still have a very long way to go before I can even consider the concept of satisfaction. I have my doubts that will ever happen, but it’s probably better that way. Just gotta keep on truckin’ and not look back.
How is your relationship to social media? Is it a necessity?
Social media isn’t a necessity, but it’s certainly a reality. I don’t think there’s any way to avoid it at this point in our lives. If we use it for useful things, it’s fine. My relationship with it is a very easy one. I only post items when I feel they have some real value. I don’t listen to what others tell me i “should be doing”, or what i “need to do”, in regards to gaining more fans. I just do what feels right for my energy level. I let people know about my shows and what I’m up to. But I don’t sit on Instagram and post photos of every sandwich I eat and try to make it look exciting. I’m just not cut out for that kind of thing.
So, I keep my relationship with social media very simple. I’m sure that I move too slow for most people, and the social media experts would insist that I’m doing it all wrong. But I don’t care about all of that. I like social media though, I’m really glad it came along, I think it was inevitable that this kind of thing would happen. There is such an overwhelming amount of information in the world at this point, there had to be a new way of moving it all around.
The internet fuckin’ rules dude!
You always talk about photography of just being a hobby. Is it still after you’ve published “A View Of Other Windows”?
Photography isn’t a hobby for me. I actually take it quite seriously and pursue it almost every day of my life. It’s just that it’s not my main mode of making a living, so I’m not really a “professional” photographer in that sense. I don’t pursue it monetarily, but artistically, it’s just as important as music to me. I post my new photos on my blog almost every week, I’m totally into it. I finally bought a digital camera and have been enjoying it so much. I’m taking more photos than ever right now, and I’ve found that working with digital hasn’t changed my work one bit. In fact, it’s made it even better. My compositional sense remains the same whether I’m working with film or digital. I was pleased to discover this. It’s not about the tools, it’s about how you see the world.
When do we get a chance again to see you live over here?
Not really sure right now. Would love to come back to Europe, it’s been a long time since I’ve toured there. I miss the friends I made there over the years.
What music are you currently listening to?
Little Wings – ‘Last’
Blank Tapes – ‘Vacation’
Chris Cohen – ‘Overgrown Path’
Val Mccallum – ‘At The End Of The Day’
Debashish Bhattacharya – ‘Live In Calcutta’
Tangerine Dream – ‘Phaedra’
Bob Dylan – ‘Another Self Portrait’
Crystal Syphon – ‘Family Evil’
Dolphins Into The Future – ‘On Seafaring Isolation’
Lenny Breau – ‘The Hallmark Sessions’
Strawbs – ‘Dragonfly’
Name 3 things on your bucket list.
Buy New Socks, Try DMT & Get barreled.
Name 3 songs that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Farmer Dave Scher – ‘Surf Out Sunset’
Bob Martin – ‘Three Mill Town’
Roy Harper – ‘When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease’
The worst venue you’ve ever played in.
This place in northern Holland around 1998, i forgot the name but remember the smell.
Name 1 nasty habit you can’t live without.
Who’s better: Nick Cave or Lyle Lovett
Artist photo via Facebook
Editors Note: Contemporaries and fans alike have known about Neal Casal’s remarkable musicianship and his kindness. A kindness that played a pivotal role as this website tried to find its footing back in 2013. Neal was an early champion and gave his time to have a chat with us and in many ways, got us on our way. Forever grateful isn’t enough, but its a truth we’ll never waver from. Much love.
Jam in peace Neal… – Walter W. Price
1968 – 2019
“After our music community lost Neal last year, a team of his close friends dug into the archive of music and photography he left behind to create items raising awareness and funds for the newly formed Neal Casal Music Foundation (NCMF), a 501c3 charity organization. The initial focus of the 501c3 non-profit is to provide music instruments and lessons to students in New Jersey and New York state schools where Casal was born and raised.” – Neal Casal Music Foundation