GRAND CASUAL The X-Press Interview

Esperance trio Grand Casual are set to release their new single Western Border on Thursday, April 16. It adds to a growing list of achievements and accolades for one the coastal town’s most popular live acts, who have co-headlined the Goldfields-Esperance touring circuit, performed at Blues at Bridgetown, WAMFest, Nannup Music Festival and have been nominated for a WAM Regional Award. BRAYDEN EDWARDS spoke to frontman Kyron Smithson about how their adventurous new sound was born out of a unique music scene and was a celebration of residing on the “western edge.”

If Grand Casual were a movie, what would it be and why?

Joe (Franzone, drummer) and I regularly go on movie dates. (Guitarist, Matt) Cooper gets kind of jealous though, he is one of those people that will wait to watch a movie at home, so I guess this question is pretty well aimed at us. Our relationship is like any dysfunctional family. We each have our strengths and weaknesses. Joe is brilliant, although he is in a constant crisis of identity, which is kind of like our music. Cooper is consistent and at times dry, kind of like our music, and I’m organised and frantic, kinda like our music.

Joe felt Tropic Thunder may represent Grand Casual well; as far as the characters I think he’s right. Robert Downey Jr for his brilliant identity crisis, Ben Stiller is consistent and dry, while Jay Baruchel is organised and frantic. If I were to sum up our sound in a movie, personally I’d choose Kung Fu Hustle. Grand Casual is high energy, full of heart, difficult to understand and with an interesting twist at the end. Sounds pretty close to a humorous, underground, foreign martial arts film to me.

What’s the story behind your new single Western Border 

Western Border is a rollercoaster of a song, which is exactly how it felt when we were piecing it together. The track features two distinct parts, moving from alternative rock to a hip hop influenced bop. Lyrically it replicates that momentum; the first half talking about stress and fear of burn out, the second half touching on the need for catharsis and release in the simple pleasures.

Western Australia is a brilliant place to live, our isolation being a strength and a weakness. Musicians feel this, and no doubt all artists feel this as well. We all reside on the western edge and this song celebrates that. Western Border is a band and fan favourite to play live, and we’re absolutely wrapt to get the recorded version out and about in the digital realm.

We mostly know Esperance for its white beaches, lead pollution and of course the mighty Cyclops… but what’s something else about the town we might not know about?

It’s true we have some mint beaches. We also have some serious sharks which kind of cancel out the beaches. (Esperance) Stonehenge is a local oddity, though quite great. Realistically we have everything if you enjoy swimming and ritual sacrifice.

What’s the music scene like in Esperance? Is there anything in particular that makes the music there unique and any other bands there we should check out?

Small regional towns have this phenomena where musicians aren’t brought together due to a love of specific genres or styles, they are brought together because they are musicians. It’s a game of finding the people who are actually keen on writing, recording and touring, as opposed to what type of music you actually want to write.

Unique in the realm of sound, does that even exist? Unique to Esperance is a strong support of original music no matter the style, giving rise to a quality live scene. Musicians supporting musicians, audiences supporting musicians for the music. Other Esperance acts you should check out are Car Park Social, Dr Tasty, Bodes and Perth’s own The Washing Line Economy fronted by Esperance lad Robin Bottrell.

And what are you listening to now that might shape the music you write next? Got any isolation playlists on the go?

Just got that shit on shuffle, kind of like life at the moment so I guess we wait and see.

What’s next for Grand Casual, any more new music we can look forward to in the future?

At this point in time we’re booked in with Andy Lawson at Debaser Studio for the first week of August. Our plan was to record six tracks and release an EP. Whether that will happen now depends on the state of emergency. We have another completed track up our sleeve, which will help tide us over on the releases and content front for a few months.

We are desperate to get back into the live realm, just prior to lock down we had an eight-date WA tour set with Perth dates included. Looking forward to rescheduling that sucker. Hibernation for now, and hopefully tomorrow we can get back in the jam room.

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