PH: I had the pleasure of reviewing Castle Black for the first post on my website. For those who are just now discovering you, can you introduce yourselves and tell everyone your position in the band?
CB: We're totally honored to be the first post on your website! Thank you. We really enjoyed your review of our single "Broken Bright Star." It means a lot when people take the time to listen and write thoughtful reviews.
I'm Leigh, and I'm the singer, guitarist and primary songwriter.
PH: As a fan, what is the best way to support your music, and where is the best place to buy your music?
CB: There are so many different ways someone can support our music, but I think the most impactful is to share our music with anyone you think might like it too. It's a really important way to get new listeners, who can then go on to be supportive in other ways. Interacting with us on social media, coming to shows and buying the music/merch are of course other great ways to show support.
If you are going to buy our music, I drive everyone to Bandcamp or CD Baby, because they are really fair in terms of what percentage the musician makes off of a sale, compared to other sites. It's important to us to support companies that care about being fair.
PH: What is the writing process for you guys?
CB: I generally will bring a song to the band once it's a song, and I can play it sounding like a song on guitar and with vocals. Then the drums and bass will be worked out. We'll continue to work on the song at practices, revising things if needed after listening to how everything sounds together.
I tend to write a song from a lyrical/melodic perspective. An idea will often just pop into my head, generally with full lyrics and a vocal melody. I then work the guitar around that. There are a few times when I've worked the other way, writing something on guitar first, but it has generally been the other way around.
PH: What inspires your lyrics?
CB: I'd probably say what doesn't inspire my lyrics ... I wrote a lot of poetry and short stories as a kid, so writing lyrics just felt natural to me when I started. All of my lyrics come from a very personal place, and are inspired by my life and experience and feelings ... I tend to mix themes within songs, for example, I bring in a lot of imagery from relationships, and then those images also start to represent some greater social idea. It happens quite often, and I think that's what makes the music relatable, because it's highly interpretable. In many cases, I write about one thing, and the idea develops into another, or I listen months later and realize I was bringing in some other idea that I wasn't even aware of at the time. So I'd say that it's just life and everything that I take in that leads to lyrical inspiration.
PH: How did the band form? What was the first song you wrote as a band, and does it differ in style compared to your newer stuff?
CB: This version of the band formed in 2015. The first song I wrote, "The Old Town," I had written maybe a year before that. It's off our first EP from 2015 Find You There.
I essentially wrote that song on a plane back to NYC from LA, after spending time with someone I knew I shouldn't spend any more time with. The song is largely about addiction in all its many shapeshifting forms. I think we can still play that song in a set, and have it fit in. However, our music has of course changed a bit, in that I think I have changed a bit. I wasn't really very experienced with writing songs when "The Old Town" was written and I feel like now I can craft something in a way that is more impactful, if that makes sense.
PH: What got you guys into performing music, and how long have you been playing/performing music?
CB: I wanted to play the drums when I was like 6, but my parents weren't into supporting that, so I ended up dancing for most of my childhood / teenage years. Through dance, I of course fell in love with music and rhythm. Body movement became really important to me as a way to express ideas within songs. Everything became about expressing what a song was conveying through movement, which I later brought into my song-writing and performance, this idea of a song being the ultimate expression of emotion. When I stopped dancing, I felt this creative void and for a few years I went through various creative endeavors, largely unhappy with anything that I tried. I then just had this strong pull to learn guitar, and wanted to write music, and it all went from there, countless hours to actually become decent. When I started writing songs and had my own band, it all made sense to me, it had everything that made me happy - writing, performing and music. As a side note, I did start playing drums a few years ago.
PH: You guys are going on tour here in a few days, “the gods that adored you” tour. Can you tell me about the tour and a few of the places fans can see you at?
CB: The gods that adored you tour is to promote our just released album, "the gods that adored you." We're really excited about it. It's largely a midwestern tour, with stops in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Philadelphia on the way home. There are some other dates coming up this summer in Maryland, New Jersey and Connecticut. And of course, the planning is now starting for the fall tour!
PH: You guys have played quite a few big festivals, including Mondo Fest, Northside Fest, NJ Shore Fest, as well as the Staten Island PrideFest, and opened for Richard Lloyd as well. What was your first big show, and what stood out most about the show?
CB: Well I'd say that we haven't had our first big show yet. It's interesting because we opened for Richard Lloyd of Television in 2017, and that was probably the most people up to that point that we had played for, and it was a great show because of that. It was interesting interacting with someone as popular and well known as Richard Lloyd. However, we played for an equal number of people at a basement house show in Buffalo just this year, so it's hard to say really what makes a show a big show.
PH: Your new EP, “the gods that adored you”, is dropping on June 29th. Can you tell me about the album, and different messages within the songs?
CB: The title comes from a line within the 4th song on the album, "A Cigarette, Saved." The actual line is "fucked over the gods that adored you." When I wrote that line within the song, it was specifically dealing with the idea of someone just being kind of horrible to a person who really cared about them. However, this line became more than that when considered in the context of the song title. It just kind of sums up the album, and also allowed for this really dramatic split of the EP into two parts. Part A "Fucked" consists of the first two songs and Part B "Adored" consists of the remaining three. The parts explore the ideas respectively of what it means to be fucked or adored, or to be doing the fucking or adoring, and those parts then support the entire whole of the album.
PH: To close, what are some of the weirdest or funniest tour/show stories that you have?
CB: How long do you have?! There was the drunk guy in Albany who insisted on standing on stage while I set up, incessantly demanding lyrics to the songs so that he could sing with me. He ended up being thrown out of the venue by management during the set, as he apparently was invading people's space in the crowd.
I once booked a really cheap Air B and B, with some obvious red flags, that we had to flee from because we just didn't feel that our gear would be safe. There were some drug deals being made from the house, there was no lock on the apartment and it wasn't a great neighborhood to leave gear in the car. We ended up staying with someone I know about an hour away after the gig that night. Our gear was definitely safe there, but he was into his own drug use. He ended up assaulting my bassist in the middle of the night, so we kind of moved from one problematic situation into the next.
We also witnessed some kind of fight on the side of a highway when we went south earlier this year. I was driving and all of a sudden I had to swerve because of a truck stopped in the right lane of a two lane highway. Turns out, there was another car stopped on the shoulder of the road, and the guy from the truck was hitting the driver of the car on the shoulder. We called 911, and as we were making the call, the same two cars came zooming by us again in a high speed chase.
PH: Thank you guys so much for the interview, and congrats on the new EP!
CB: hank you so much! We really appreciate your support.