This past Saturday I had the absolute pleasure of getting to know frontman Matt Caskitt. He's the glue that holds together the rad and oh so talented band, Caskitt! I'm here to tell you that you need to listen to these guys RIGHT NOW - you will not regret it, I promise. Caskitt is a remarkable three man powerhouse that busts out punk rock jams to fill your heart and soul. What really made them rememberable for me is after I saw them
perform live. You know how concert goers always talk about that "high" you get from attending a live performance? I haven't felt that since my first rock show a decade ago but Caskitt totally reignited that feeling you're supposed to get from seeing somebody live! The energy Matt emits on stage is really indescribable. The best I can put it into words is a positive, radiating energy that makes you feel so connected to the trio as they bust out their tracks. I'm so glad I got to sit down with Matt and ask him some questions!
*After me saying "Like" probably 20 times introducing myself and my backstory....*
Let's just start it off with a brief introduction of who you are for those reading who are unaware of the awesomeness of Caskitt.
I'm Matt and I've been playing drums for a really long time...since I was twelve. I played drums for a lot of bands - no one really super important or anything, nothing like name dropping wise. But I've played drums for a lot of bands and always was just "the drummer" and I would write a lot of stuff in my spare time and document stuff. I would get maybe a little hook in my head but never really brought it to any of the bands because I never felt that any of them were deserving of some of my ideas. I didn't want to take this cool idea I had and then give it to them and have them run with it doing it their own way. I wanted to be in control. Not that they weren't great people or anything like that - most of them were great - but yeah. I played in a lot of bands, moved to San Diego when I was 21 from Colorado (Denver), before that went to high school out there, and lived in the midwest/Chicago/ Dallas area. Music has always been a huge part of my life, something I've always been working on. Then in the winter of 2012, almost three years ago, I started getting a lot of ideas and I had kind of come into a dark place. Things weren't going the way I thought they would so all of these ideas started coming out of me for songs and I really wasn't playing with anybody serious at the time, and I've never started a band before so I wanted to do that.
So Caskitt is like, "it"? It's like the dream then?
Caskitt is what I've always wanted to do and I have control over it. Whereas, the other bands I've played for would be like, "Oh, we need to go on this tour" and I'd be thinking, "I don't really know if I can..." but then I'd have to make it work. But now it's more like if I want to go do something, I can go do it. I've learned a lot in all the bands I've played in, over all the years. I was ready to do something that I truly believed in, in a weird way.
Are you devoting all of your time to Caskitt right now? Or do you also have a day job in the meantime?
I do have a day job. I work for a headphone company. It was a startup, we've actually done really good. I didn't start it - they pay me hourly. There's only about six or seven of us, it's called "MrSpeakers". I do some of the manufacturing there and work with 3D printers - that's my day job. That job has helped Caskitt in a way because I was in food service for a really long time and to be able to go do that; it's kind of a Monday thru Friday type deal, 9-6, and I like the job. I'm not super passionate about headphones, per say, but the guy that owns it is great. He gives me time off for tours. I'm not dealing with a big corporation where I'm saying, "Here's a formal slip requesting such and such time off..." it's like if I ran into issues and Caskitt is going to come back early, can I come to work? or if we are running a couple of days late from tour, the boss is just like, "Okay." So, it kinda works. It's been very helpful to have him and the flexibility.
That's awesome, I've literally never had a job that chill.
Me either. Me either. Before that I was the manager of a Jamba Juice. My wife worked for them for seven years - she was the General Manager of one in Poway.
Are you eventually going to devote all of your time to Caskitt or are you going to balance working for MrSpeakers with it for a while?
Well if Caskitt becomes something where I can sustain myself with paying rent, food in my stomach, and the occasional vacation with Christy
then it'd be great to be able to do that. We have a lot of stuff planned for the next year. It's kinda like just taking a step at a time and seeing how that goes.
I read yesterday that you went on your first tour a year ago today.
Yeah! We only tour in like 2-3 week increments but we haven't done a lot of heavy touring, yet. It takes a while to go out there and do that unless you have the financial means to do that. Some people have parents that kind of pay for everything but none of us are like that. We all have to pay rent, put food in our stomaches. If our fridge is empty, we have to find a way to put food in there.
Do you see Caskitt eventually doing a world tour or are you guys just trying to stay local?
No, we are planning for Europe next year. It takes about a year to book just because if you're from the States and you're going to another country - it takes a year to plan and let others know. Some people say even a year and a half but it can be done in a year. I've seen people do it in six months but that would freak me out. But it'll be really cool to plan and have Caskitt go over there and play it.
That's awesome! Congratulations on that. You answered most of my questions in your opening...do you play anything else besides drums and vocals?
Vocals - I've done backup sometimes but this is the first band where I've been like, "I'm gonna play drums and sing and if it works it works, if it doesn't - screw it." It seems to be working. We have a great time doing it.
You haven't been trained vocally or anything like that?
No. Just singing in my car A LOT. I'll sing in my car. There are probably three albums that taught me how to sing. Saves the Day, "Say What You Are" - 2001/2002 that came out. What are the other two...? Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - probably any of their albums just cause they're covers of all older songs and you already kinda know some of them. The vocals are really strong though and you're able to mess around with melodies. The last one is, well I'll think of the third one.
So you just kind of started to sing out of nowhere? It just happened?
Yeah, I'd just sing in my car. Anytime I was having a bad day I'd go for a drive. I love to just drive. I delivered pizza for like three years for Pizza Hut - that was fun. But it was cool, in a weird way, because I'd just sing in my car. All the time.
I was only asking because I love your voice so much. It's very unique and when I hear your voice on my iTunes or whatever, I can pick out your voice and normally I suck at that. Everybody sounds the same to me if you don't tell me what's playing. So then I finally saw you guys live and it's crazy. I think mainly because your band is so unique with only three people delivering such a powerful sound. You guys don't even need more then three people. At the Bad Cop / Bad Cop show in Soda Bar, it sounded like there was a symphony of people with how you guys play. It's astounding.
Thank you! Steffon is incredible on guitar. He's a very studied guitar player - he's playing all of the time. That absolutely helps drives Caskitt. Jesse on bass now, he does a really full sound and plays a lot. Everybody in this band is a passionate musician. We've been doing it a lot, everybody's been playing for a really long time. We really kind of studied our instruments. I've been playing drums forever this feels like. It's been about twenty years of playing for me now. I feel old but I'm having the best time of my life right now.
I don't know how else to say it, without sounding like a broken record, but you can just tell how all of you are passionate for what you're doing. I've been to so many shows where I feel like the person is on stage just because somebody asked them to be, like they're going through the motions but you guys blow away the crowd for sure.
I'd be lying if I said that's false. We have a really good time up there when we go and play. That's important because why do it if you're not going to have fun? Ya know?
It's just the connection you have with the audience that so many bands these days lack, in my opinion. That's all I can describe it as. You're connected to the audience and it's awesome!
That's really cool to hear. You know, I don't get feedback like that.
REALLY?! (wtf people have some respect, dawg)
Well we do, but just not in that depth.
Oh. Well I went to my first rock concert when I was like...13. I felt that "high" you feel when typically going to shows but I have not felt that in forever until seeing you guys perform. .. I'll just end it at that or else I"ll keep rambling about it.
You write all of the songs for the band? Or is it more like a collaboration?
It's more like a collaboration. Lyrically, most of the songs I write. I'd say 80%-90% I do most of the writing. As far as lyrically. I don't play guitar. I can't play guitar. At all. I've tried. It doesn't make sense to me. I played a little bit of piano - but nothing like really extraordinary. I couldn't sing and play piano at the same time. It'd be cool...but I can't. At the end of the day, it's a collaboration. I'm not sitting in my room and finish a song and hand it over and tell them, "Here, now you guys play." It's like, "I have an idea", and then they'll say "I have an idea too" and we'll just sit down and work together. It's definitely different then most bands I've played for. It's a lot of fun.
Is there a really odd way you've composed a song? Something really bizarre where a song fell into place?
I keep meticulous notes on my phone. Anytime I get an idea, I write down whatever I'm thinking. Lots and lots of thoughts. Sometimes it just comes up. I'll be at a bar, or something, late at night and if I'm walking home or sitting at work - I just get an idea. I've been out with friends and stuff and I'll go to the bathroom where an idea just pops in my head so I'll write it in my notes so I don't forget it.
I think that's probably why, at least I think, you speak so much to your audience and fans. It's so real with your lyrics/tracks. They really tell a story, each one. I've listened to all your stuff on Spotify multiple times now. But everything seems to have a story unfold that you can connect with. Are all of your songs based on personal experiences then?
Yeah. If it's not completely autobiographical, then it's...well for example Midwest Summer Nights. That song is about escaping abusive childhoods and although my childhood wasn't abusive in that sense - I came up with the idea because someone posted a picture of me when I was really little. I was with my sister. I sat there and looked at this photo and I just remembered that it was raining. That song is about escaping an abusive childhood and the way that things were - thinking back. One of the lines is, "I remember the birthdays, the anniversaries, the good times" - and that song is what I choose to remember out of the bad memories.
I'd say that's why I feel such a connection with your songs. I'm all about positivity despite all of the darkness in my life and that's the way it should be. I feel like you've been through a lot but you still choose to take a positive / not emo spin from it.
Oh I get it. June Gloom is about feeling suicidal and not wanting to do anything else. Agoraphobic is about when I couldn't go outside for three or four months - not that I COULDN'T go outside but just like, I felt trapped. It wasn't anything like how people associate agoraphobia with people not wanting to leave the house. That's very severe. Another definition of it is fear of not being able to leave. I've felt it and have gotten anxious at shows. I like to know where exits are. That's why I like driving - I'm in control and can just go. Not having an exit strategy is one thing I've always struggled with. Not being able to leave. I've definitely freaked out like out in the middle of the desert in between leaving Vegas and coming back. The traffic. You're sitting there thinking, "I can't leave. I can't leave this situation." You're forced to be in this situation and that's terrifying.
So that's what makes you crazy? That one thing we all have, yours is agoraphobia?
Yeah I'd say so for sure.
A vibe I get from a lot of your songs is that you felt really trapped in...I guess Colorado then?
Yeah. Well I lived in a couple of different spots in Colorado, in the Denver area. But I kinda always felt like, that's a common theme, is leaving that thing there and looking back and wanting to be away from certain relationships. Even though Denver is a really big town - I felt trapped, and not like, "Oh I deserve something more I want to be a small fish in a big pond" but more along the lines of I felt trapped because I couldn't go certain places due to relationship stuff or bad relationships. Being like, "I can't go to that part of town..." and then running into it all. Everybody in my group of friends / people I knew were always talking about doing stuff but never actually DOING it. So, at 21 I was just like, "Alright I'm out." I packed up my car and left. I planned it to some extent but that's the gist of it.
I have a very similar story in that I grew up in Philadelphia - a huge, popular city. It's very much the San Diego of the East Coast. But I felt trapped too with all of the awful people surrounding me, personally. I felt so constricted. I mean obviously it wasn't safe for me to be there but also I was just over it too. The same people there talking about how much they hate it but still chose to stay in their part of town working crappy jobs and always complaining..I knew I had to change it. I had the opportunity to come to San Diego but I probably would have ended up out here at some point, one way or another. You seem to fit San Diego / Cali perfectly. I was going to be shocked if you said you were from CA, because you seem so happy here yet some of your songs mention leaving a small town.
Right. Well Life on Ridgeview is about actually about the street (Ridgeview) that I lived on in Texas. It's a very tiny town called Murphy, right outside of Dallas. Life on Ridgeview is me looking back and thinking, "What if I never left and just had stayed there?" and that's the whole idea of what that song is. I just put myself in a different reality where my family never left Texas and we just stayed there. Moving around as a kid really shaped who I am today. Life on Ridgeview is like, "What if we stayed there? What if we were still up in that house and I went to college? My parents were still happy and together there." I put myself in that perspective.
That's such a unique way to write a song. I have so many friends back on the East Coast who always post things like, "What if I just moved to _______?" Nobody ever does, I feel like.
Philly is a cool town, but I feel like a lot of people get that feeling where they want to go somewhere else, big city or not. If you feel that way then just go. I know it's not always easy for everyone to just pack up and leave or whatever but you can. It's possible. If it doesn't work out you can just go back. I've had family members move to California and be like, "Eh it's not for me" and then pack right back up and move back to Colorado. I have lots of friends that do that too.
Yeah. It's definitely just a mental block lots of us put on ourselves - like we can't leave because it's so crazy to even think that.
Well luck plays a good part in it too. If it wasn't for Christy I wouldn't have stayed. I don't know, for sure, but I would bet I wouldn't have stayed if it wasn't for her.
-- They are seriously so freaking cute. Side note --
Do you have any other outlets for creativity besides music? Any weird quirky things you do if you don't feel like playing drums or writing?
Not really. I ride my bike at night. It's nice to go on a ride when there's not a lot of people out and it's cooler. It's not sunny and hot. I kinda ride around at night not super far - just around this neighborhood. It's nice. I'll ride over to the bars.
That's smart so you don't have to worry about drinking and driving. Although, it is pretty hard to be intoxicated on a bike. I may or may not have experience in this.
Well I'm not one to get crazy drunk. I don't get there. But anyway I hang out with my dog a lot. Another creative outlet though? Not really. Just music.
You seem pretty busy anyway to have too many hobbies. Does artist's blood run in the family or are you kinda like a black sheep?
No. I'm a black sheep.
Really? So how does your family feel about that?
Well my mom's a teacher. Nobody in my family can draw or anything. So anytime we needed something drawn - they'd come to me because I can draw pretty well. I'd draw all the school projects for them. Drawing used to be a creative outlet but I just don't have the time and don't really put a lot effort into it anymore. Then my dad's just like a business guy.
Interesting mix. So are they supportive of what you're doing then?
It's in and out. When I was really young and started playing in bands. like 15 and 16, they were like "Oh, yeah that's cool." But then when I was older and dropped out of college to tour and play for bands, they were not too supportive. It kind of goes in and out ya know? They are supportive in the sense that they are happy that I'm happy doing this. Caskitt is probably the best thing I've done. They're supportive though, long story short, yeah. But, at times...no. But they've also changed their outlooks on life as they've gotten older too. They raised us thinking, "You're gonna have this certain life" that they kind of planned for us but none of us turned out the way they thought we would. Not in a bad way, either.
My brother's a photographer. That whole Men and Cats thing that went viral - that was my brother.
Really? Not uh! That's awesome.
Yeah, he has a book coming out in February about men and cats. He actually shot Kevin with one of his cats.
So are all of your siblings, then, going down an art path?
No. Just me and my brother. I have a brother and three sisters. Dave, my brother is a full time photographer and that's what he does. He travels and does crazy shit. My sister, Monica, just had a kid and just works like an office job. My sister Katie is a social worker. She just got her Masters and works with severely troubled kids and is a humanitarian. She's amazing. My youngest sister, Lisa, is still in college and I forget what she is majoring in. So.. I don't know.
It's really great you have such a tight knit family.
We grew up like it was just us. We weren't close to any of our family but we latched onto each other. We don't have any bad blood or anything so its really cool.
That's really fantastic though. I know so many artists that have families that do not support them whatsoever so they are all by themselves. That's really good though.
I played keyboard and guitar for 17 years or so. A really long time. But, right before I moved to California I fucked up during a performance. I feel like it was super noticeable and I freaked out. That had never happened before - not a mistake but just my reaction. I haven't been able to go back on stage since. My question for you is have you ever made a mistake on stage or forgotten something while playing a set? How do you handle it and get past it?
Every single time I play a show, always. I laugh about it and focus on the next thing. There's so much going on ya know? It's gonna happen and if you put that pressure on yourself to be that perfect at that then you're just going to end up failing. I remember getting really down on myself when I was younger. I played in like school band and marching band and all that crap and you know when you mess up - it's like a big deal right? But if you start to beat yourself up over it then it just starts to crumble down. It just gets worse. The last time I really fucked up was on our last tour in Sacramento. We were playing a song and instead of going from the verse into this other part and then the chorus - I forgot that the middle part existed and I just went straight into the chorus. My brain just somehow forgot that part. But everyone else just picked it up and went with it. But then I thought about it.. and I realized I messed up and just kept thinking about it over and over. Then I realized I just need to focus and it made it less fun. It makes it not fun to pick yourself apart over mistakes. A long time ago, an engineer told me at a recording studio, "There's no emotion in perfection." So, some of the best albums out there have fuck ups on them. A perfect album has no emotion to it. It may be amazing but there's no emotion to it.
I know, I know. It's weird because I've always been comfortable on stage. I've never cared about messing up in dance recitals or competitions but for some reason the piano mishap just really screwed my brain. I didn't bring my instruments with me to California either so maybe I'll suck it up and lock myself away one day because it is something I need to address for sure because I definitely miss it.
For me, music is always therapeutic. If I go a few weeks without playing, it leads to me stressing out. Playing music is like a release for me. I guarantee if you got behind a piano you're gonna think you're rusty but you probably won't be that rusty and you'll probably be fine. If you found a nice soundproof studio with a piano and felt comfortable, you'd just start wailing on it. I don't know, I believe in ya!
I'm just waiting for the opportunity I suppose.
To wrap it up my last questions are just weird + light - since I've been making you get all deep and shit for the past 30 minutes.
If Caskitt had a punk rock perfume or cologne, what would the scent be? I'll endorse it right now if you can think of the name.
Right now? Uhh...Sweat and the smell of burning electricity. Like electric wires, that smell. Pretty much a sweaty electrician.
So what's your go to meal after a show?
Depends on the town. San Diego - burritos. But usually pizza. You can get pizza anywhere. Even if you're in a different country, you can get pizza and it'll usually be pretty good. I had a bass player one time in a band I played in. He didn't drink, smoke or anything. He wasn't necessarily straightedge but he just chose not to do any of that. He had to have a smoothie after every show. We'd have to go to Jack in the Box or something after every show.
That's why I asked because most people I've talked to in bands have a "thing" they need after every show. Recently a guy I met HAD to have sushi after every performance.
Sushi? That's weird. I usually just have beer after anything.
Perfect that ties into my next question. Me being a typical Irish person, I'm a drinker. What's your go to drink usually?
PBR, usually. I don't normally drink hard alcohol a lot but when I do it's Jameson. I drink a lot of Guinness too. But I'm not like a beer connoisseur or anything like that. PBR and whiskey.
Hey you can never go wrong with whiskey. My last question, me being a huge nerd, is what is the nerdiest thing about yourself?
I'm not a gamer. My mom wouldn't let us sit inside all day and would make us go outside all day since there were five of us. We didn't really play video games since we were outside all of the time.
I grew up playing hockey a lot. The nerdiest thing I do.....I'm really obsessed with my dog. He's on one of our shirts. His name is Pee Wee. & I know all of the lines of The Office.
OOOOHH MY GOD. TRYING NOT TO FREAK OUT))
If you look on Facebook, me and Steffon go back and forth almost everyday with all The Office quotes.
I will probably get in on that because that is my forever favorite show. I re-watch it all of the time.
So that's probably one of my nerdiest things and I also know all of the lines to Pee Wee's Big Adventure. That's my favorite movie of all time. It has everything. Romance, mystery, thriller, drama....everything.
Holy shit though - this is awesome! New respect for your on top of your music.
Well yeah, and Christy is more of the gamer. She works for a company that converts movies from two dimensional to three dimensional. She's a huge Pokemon nerd. Her favorite game is probably Mario Party or Banjo Kazooie. She loves all of the N64 games. She doesn't play any of the new stuff because we haven't had a console but she plays all of the old stuff. I only know because I sit there while she plays them. I'll play Mario Kart sometimes but that's it.
Mario Kart is good enough for anybody in my book. Well thanks so much for sitting down with me and chatting and letting me get to know more about you. If you're all interested in Caskitt (Which you should be if you've read this far), they have a Spotify page, website..all that stuff that I'll post below. Thanks so much for reading and remember to #staynerdy!