In its most simple terms, Bell’s palsy is a paralysis or weakness of the muscles on one side of the face. It’s harmless, but if not treated – by a course of steroids – then it can leave a permanent droop on the affected half of your face. Tom Weaver, vocalist of Casey, is hoping to avoid said droop, having finished his treatment the day of this interview.
“I went down to Sunday dinner at my parents’ house,” he remembers, “and I was laughing at something. My mum asked me if I was alright and I said ‘What do you mean?’ and she told me ‘Only half your face is moving!’ So I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and the left half of my face just wasn’t doing anything. I was like ‘Oh my God! What is going on?!’ It’s been a really intense couple of weeks.”
As a result, the post-hardcore five-piece from South Wales – completed by guitarists Liam Torrance and Toby Evans, drummer Max Nicolai and bassist Adam Smith – had to cancel a number of gigs.
“We were meant to be playing the main stage of Destruction Derby festival in Germany today,” says Weaver with a slight hint of regret in his voice, “but we didn’t want to risk it. I had an acute cerebral aneurysm recently and was told not to do anything strenuous for a few weeks. We’ve always been the band that had to absolutely everything all the time, but it was just like, ‘I’m just going to make myself ill, so let’s be sensible about this.’”
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Despite the setback, Casey still have a great deal to celebrate, most notably the release of their debut album, Love Is Not Enough, which is released at the end of September. It comes less than two years after the band formed at the end of 2014, and is an incredible tour de force of experimental post-hardcore that veers between atmospheric and ominous spoken word to throat-tearing explosions of angst and self-loathing, as well as multiple expositions of love gone wrong. There’s also a companion book to the album, which contains lyrics and annotations of all the songs plus other work by Weaver that didn’t make it onto the record. Suffice to say, Love Is Not Enough has been a self-proclaimed labour of love – and love lost – for the vocalist.
“It was a very, very personal thing for me to write,” he admits. “I’ve been in bands before, but never really had the opportunity to invest myself completely into the project. With Casey, we’ve always said we want it to be as sincere and visceral and real as possible. These songs are completely literal interpretations of the way I felt when I was writing them. That might now ring true today while I’m sitting in Five Guys using the unlimited drinks machine, but tomorrow I might wake up and it might be how I feel again. Like, with the relationship stuff, at the time of writing, that’s exactly how I felt about that person and my experience of my time with them. Now, that might not ring as true for me, but other people can invest themselves into the ideas and images I’m painting with it.”
Those cerebral and visceral images and ideas permeate and haunt this record’s song’s with incisive clarity, helping to shape the songs as much as the words are brought to life by the music, all it coalescing together with violent beauty. The result is a wholly cathartic, heart-spilling-from-chest experience that’s as literary as it is musical, and which has given Weaver a platform of expression he’d never previously had.
“I’ve always written lyrics from a very selfish, therapeutic place,” he says. “In previous bands I was a guitarist and other bits and pieces and never felt truly comfortable. I can’t express myself with a guitar. Some people can, which is wonderful, but I was just headbanging. Which was great at the time, but I’ve had a bit more life experience since then – I can’t write about the breakdown of an eight year relationship in drop A, unfortunately, so I picked up a thesaurus and started shouting about it instead.”
Casey’s album Love Is Not Enough is out on September 23 through Hassle.