[Photo credit: Josh Olson]
Days before the release of Reflection‘s sophomore effort, Exi(s)t, I got to hit up guitarist Charles Caswell and chat about touring, writing, piracy and McDonald’s of all things. Check it out below!
When it comes to writing, especially when it came to writing Exi(s)t, what are your main influences musically?
Umm… My main influences… Since there was such a time period between some of the songs in Exi(s)t, it varied a lot. Like, there’d be months where I’d be into Danza, and I’d be super into that, I’d be listening to After The Burial, or The Discovery from Born of Osiris… Even Your Memorial has a really big influence on one of the songs for me. And, always Pantera. What else… Pretty much a lot of that style… Veil of Maya. I love that band haha. A lot of the music came from kind of everywhere. I would write a lot of it, and then I’d send it to the guys and they would like it, add stuff, change it up here and there and vice versa. We had a decent amount of the music and we didn’t have an idea of what we would call it or what it would be about and it kind of just unfolded and revealed itself throughout the process [when it came to] what we should name it, what the theme is and kind of what it’s really about as a whole. It was kind of cool. We were kind of lost and then we’re just writing and it just clicked into place and we kind of just knew exactly what we were doing.
That’s awesome. I haven’t heard it yet, but I heard it leaked. Speaking of which, how do you feel about album leaks and just internet piracy in general?
I actually just got an email saying that, ‘hey dude, here’s a link. Your album leaked and we’re trying to get this shut down.’ But, I don’t know. It’s better than it leaking, like, a month ago or something. There’s a lot of people that still have it preordered, and they probably already have the album, but there’s a lot of people that said they got the leak and they’re still gonna buy the album, so that’s really cool. But, I think that it sucks when people can just get stuff like that for free, but I understand that nobody really has any money anymore. It’s only music, it doesn’t really cost anything to make it. It obviously does to record it. But it’s all expression when it comes to music. As far as programs or stuff that costs a lot to make, that’s a different story. I think it would be nice if people bought the artists’ album just for the artist’s sake, so they can keep making albums, but, not everyone’s gonna wanna do that. But if people do have money to spare, they should at least try to help the artist out. If they take the album, at least like, buy a shirt or something to help support the artist in any way.
Definitely; I completely agree. I’m not a fan of leaks at all. I understand that they happen, and I understand that lots of people who do get the leak buy the record anyway, but, artists don’t make a lot of money. It’s a really rough industry, and it’s your intellectual property. It’s a shame that these things happen.
Yeah. It confuses me as to how it does happen. Because, I personally have not shown or given anybody any of our tracks. Like, I’ve shown obviously my wife and my immediate family what we’re doing, but I haven’t allowed anyone to personally take it and do what they want with it. It’s really important to us. The release date is there so people can anticipate the album, and when somebody leaks it, it really spoils it. I’m not disappointed because we’re not gonna get money or anything, but for the fact that it takes away a lot of the hype and a lot of the momentum to the album release.
Oh absolutely. Well, like you said: at least it leaked four days before, as opposed to like, a month or two before. So at least you can take some sort of comfort in that haha. I’m glad that you’re taking it in stride, and you’re still hyped and whatnot.
Oh yeah, I can’t wait. At least the people who do have it are saying it’s good, or are trying to get other people into it, and that’s cool. But, it still sucks haha.
So, what do you think sets Reflections apart from other metalcore and progressive bands out there?
I don’t know. I think we have a little bit more, musically, to offer. I think that we put in a little more extra, like with ambient parts for instance… I don’t know. I don’t want to say anything negative about any bands because it’s just music, but a lot of the bands I’m not into due to the fact that all of their songs sound similar to eachother, and there’s nothing special about it. Like, they might have this one really cool trick they do in all their songs, but, eventually three albums down the road that trick isn’t gonna be a trick anymore. I’m not saying that we’re super fresh or any of that stuff, but we really do try to experiment and we do try to mess with different songs, and we try to add as much to the music to make it as interesting as possible. So you can keep hitting play every time and keep listening to it. I don’t know. I like a lot of bands, but I can only listen to like, one song. And to be completely honest, I don’t really listen to a lot of bands in our genre because of that reason. I definitely respect them all as musicians. They’re out there touring, and it’s not easy playing this kind of music. It’s not like pop music where you’re playing huge venues every night and everything’s chill. But, it’s still really cool. I love the people. The fans are some of the most unique people I’ve ever met. It’s still really cool.
Speaking of touring, how do you guys prepare for tours, and what has the whole touring experience been like for you?
Preparing for tours is stressful. I’ve got the van and I keep it in a spot for storage. When we get ready for tours, I’ve gotta get it detailed, get all the maintenance done, and get a trailer booked if we don’t have a trailer at the time for the amount of time we’re gonna be out on tour. It’s just a lot of routine stuff; getting the vehicle [and] trailer ready, get details for the tour dates, and find out where exactly we’re going and for how long, so we have an idea of what we’re dealing with. Things like the weather, and also like, jamming too. I’ve been rehearsing like, over and over again here at my apartment, with everybody for at least an hour to two hours a day, and like, just trying to get as tight as I can, with the new music so I don’t have to start out sloppy and eventually play better and better. That’s how a lot of people do it, and that’s how we did it with The Fantasy Effect. We weren’t super tight, but we wanna play shows so eventually we got good at it. But this time we’ve had enough time, we’ve worked on all of the songs and hopefully we can come out [perfect] every night.
Nah, I’m sure you will. A buddy of mine is going to come see you guys when you hit his area in December, and he’s pretty stoked, so I’m sure you guys will be great.
Awesome! Is that with Sworn In and Within The Ruins?
I think so, yeah!
Cool. That’s actually gonna be really fun.
What is your definition of success, and do you think that Reflections has met that definition? Do you think that Reflections is successful?
I think we’re getting there. My life was pretty made after going on tour with After The Burial for the first time. The place we’re at right now, the label we’re under, and everything that’s happening has just really been a blessing, and we’re really fortunate to have it all happen. My definition of a successful band is that you’ve reached out to a lot of people, and they don’t just like your music, but they’re passionate about your music. They really feel every song and what you’re doing. So, when you can reach out to people like that and really touch their hearts like that I think that’s a successful musician. As far as financial… If you don’t have to kill yourself working full-time and performing on top of it, and you can just focus on writing that music and perfecting it I think that’s success right there. You don’t have to be rich, but if you can get by just doing music, then that’s a huge accomplishment by itself.
So how did you guys get the opportunity to sign with EOne?
Well we have a promoter and close friend here. His name is Bobby Olson. He helped us from the very beginning basically. We were playing basement shows and then eventually he got us on a show with Oceano and Danza. Obviously it wasn’t for free, we had to sell tickets and we had to get people in the door, but, he’s kind of the one who gave us a solid guideline of what it really takes to try to be in the industry, and how to be professional. He hooked us up with our current manager, and our booking agent, and it was either our manager or Bobby or a combination of both that got us in touch with EOne. They really liked our music. I heard several things like a re-release of The Fantasy Effect, or if they just wanted a new record, I don’t know. It was all kind of a blur at that point, and then suddenly we saw a contract with their logo and it was real at that point.
Damn, that’s incredible. So I know you have to run to do your guitar lesson, so as is Heavy Blog tradition I’m gonna ask you this one last question: How do you like your eggs?
Actually, over-easy. Sometimes scrambled. But uhh, egg sandwiches are the best… Which reminds me: I’m getting McDonald’s breakfast tomorrow morning.
I’m actually sitting in a McDonald’s right now.
No way! Really?
Yeah! Because I had to run over to a coffee shop to do an interview there, and I’m like, ‘oh shit my phone’s gonna die and I have to do this interview… Oh wait McDonald’s has outlets, let’s go there and eat some food.’
Wow. It seems like both of us were pretty much screwed today.
Yeah pretty much haha.
Well, I’m glad it worked out, and I apologise about the thing with Jake, his phone is just a pile.
Oh, that was no problem at all. Have a great one, eh?
Be sure to pick up Exi(s)t, which dropped back on the 22nd, and check out Reflections on their upcoming tour with Erra and Within The Ruins!