A while back I did a FaceTime interview with Casey Bolles. It started off with me asking to see his dog Frankie (an adorable one by the way), and eventually, we got around to the questions.
First off, who are you and what genre of music do you make?
I am Casey Bolles, and I make, I don’t know, singer-songwriter? Alternative rock? It’s hard because to other people it might be different than what you think. Like, my friend Trevor is in this band called Sundress and I’ve always considered them power-pop, but then one day I asked about what he considered the genre to be and he was like, “Dude, I don’t know. I just make what I feel like making”, and that’s pretty true. I only have one release out now really, it’s called Freshman, but I put it out like a year or two ago through Pure Noise, and the stuff that I’ve been making since then is a lot different sounding than just a pure acoustic record.
If you had to describe your music with a color, what would it be?
The released stuff I’m gonna go blue, new stuff I’m gonna go red.
What’s the biggest struggle you have when it comes to creating?
Lyrics, lyrics, lyrics. I write so many guitar parts and so many songs all the time, but I don’t ever have full songs written because organizing it all together and putting together a demo is just like, I never wanna sit down and think about arrangements and stuff. When I do, it’s fun, but lyrics. You can force it, you can just come up with random shit, but there’s a really high probability of sounding stupid. Any time I come up with lyrics I feel like they’re not good enough and compare it to a really fantastic lyricist like Elliott Smith or Conor Oberst or something. It’s like, man, I’ll never be able to write as good as them.
If you could play any show in the world, what would it be?
You know how they did that hologram thing for Tupac a while back? Once they make one of those for Kurt Cobain, I’d play the Nirvana Unplugged show. That’d be my dream show. In reality, to share a stage with some of my current live idols, I’d say Have Mercy as a headliner with A Will Away and Head North as direct support with me and WATERMEDOWN opening up. I think that’s like, we all used to be good friends and the years have pulled us apart but I think it would be really fun to get everyone together like that.
I actually did an interview with WATERMEDOWN last week.
Really? J BONES!! J BONES!!!! Good boy. I told him I liked his new record and he goes, “Thanks! I hope you liked all my tricks!” and I thought it was the best thing ever because he meant all of the cool stuff he did on guitar.
What do you consider your biggest musical success?
Just getting signed to a label and making it a real thing. I used to play local shows in Buffalo and the scene used to boo me and yell horrible shit at me, but then I wrote Freshman and people started to respect me a little more and I started touring. Then I met Brian Swindle from Have Mercy and he helped me out a lot. I guess my biggest success is one day I was sitting in my linear algebra class in college and I got an email from Peanut, an agent who handles a lot of artists in the scene, he was asking to talk to me and I got a couple emails from labels all in that one day. After class, I immediately got up and bought myself a pizza.
What inspired you to start making music?
Girls. Girls, girls, girls. It started with one girl, which was my older sister. She took guitar lessons and I wanted to take guitar lessons too, so instead of paying for separate lessons, my parents just stuck me in the room with my sister and her teacher and I just watched my sister have guitar lessons. Eventually, she quit and I kept going with it. Then I started wanting to write music because I was learning about the scene. There was a girl in my class in high school who was really into NeverShoutNever, so I looked it up and started learning all these NeverShoutNever songs because I was like, “this girl’s gonna love me if I’m as cool as this dude.” We never ended up getting married, but we’re friends now I think. I don’t remember why I first wanted to play shows, but I was doing open mics and bars and it was a crowd of old people, but then this douchebag in my class actually told me about a company called After Dark in Buffalo and I played my first show for them. I thought I was a hotshot and wore a little shirt and a tie and it was adorable. I had CDs of my demo that I was handing out, and then I eventually kept playing shows with that promoter. Then my friend Brent from Head North explained the concept of going on tour, so I graduated high school a month early so I could do merch on their tour and it sucked. It was horrible. Then he booked a tour for me and WATERMEDOWN. Johnny and I did the tour together, and that’s how it started.
If you could hear any person living or dead sing to you, who would it be?
I’m gonna go with Abraham Lincoln. I heard that dude’s voice was wicked high and you would not expect it. I think that’s odd. Also, Donald Trump singing to me, it would be a pretty stark contrast seeing as he and Abraham Lincoln are like, opposites as presidents and probably opposites as people, so I wonder how opposite their voices are.
Who, aside from any band or musician, is your biggest influence?
Creatively or general life?
Either. Just, who’s impacted you the most.
I’m gonna go with mom and pop. Or, I would say an author but I would probably sound stupid. I’d either say one that’s too obvious and sound like an idiot or one that’s too obscure and I’ll sound like a douchebag. So yeah, I’ll go with parents for that one.
What’s your favorite book?
AH, SHIT. I was trying to avoid this. Eh, I’ll say Welcome To The Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s a collection of short stories, but it’s really good. He’s such a good author Although, Kurt Vonnegut said that Bob Dylan sucks, basically. He said that his lyrics didn’t make sense. So one thing he’s wrong about is Bob Dylan, for sure.
What do you like to do other than music?
Apple picking. Um, I like to do my homework and play with my dog. When I’m at my parent’s house I’m literally always playing with my dog, and when I’m at New York I just hang out with people and get shit done.
Who is your favorite musical artist?
Can I do album for this one? I’m gonna put that instead because it’s a good stand-in. My favorite album is an album called The End of History by Fionn Regan. Actually, Bon Iver did a sample from it and used it very not-tastefully. I can’t say he’s my favorite artist, but the album really fucked me up as a kid and still fucks me up. Favorite artist, I’d have to go Elliott Smith or something. But probably not Elliott Smith. I don’t know, it’s tough.
What’s one piece of advice you have for young musicians?
Quit while you’re ahead. Uh, don’t sink any more money into it or time. Stop now before it eats your soul. You’re never gonna be famous. I’d say, don’t spend any money on anything if you can. My first record that I ever put out by myself I spent so much money on the album artwork and recording, but not that many people are gonna listen to a first release anyway. So don’t spend any money and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you focus too hard on it, it’ll ruin your whole mental thing. If you spend too much energy on it. You have to have balance and be okay with not succeeding at everything you do and as a person you’re multi-faceted and you can succeed in multiple different areas and that success isn’t always such a clear definition of success all the time. Nobody knows who the hell I am, and I still feel successful as a musician. I guess, don’t be too hard on yourself, don’t spend too much money, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. That’s three pieces of advice. That’s for the musicians who need the advice.
Lastly, what’s your lucky number?
Dude, has everyone just said 3 or 7? My lucky number is 7. When I was growing up, at the bowling alley by my house I used to always pick the bowling ball with the number 7 on it. That’s the only time I’ve ever relied on a lucky number for anything. But I was pretty bad at bowling so it might be my unlucky number, but I’m gonna go with seven.
Well, that concludes the interview, thank you for participating.
Party. Tell your mom I said hi, tell your website I hi, tell Johnny Mays from WATERMEDOWN I said hi. Thank you so much.
You can check out Casey Bolles on Spotify and iTunes, and follow him on Instagram at @caseybolles.