Remember when I interviewed the front man of Caskitt, Matt? If you don’t – it’s HERE http://kennerddy.squarespace.com/kennerddy/2015/08/this-past-saturday-i-had-absolute.html (and how dare you not recall.) Last week & this week - I sat down with guitarist of the group, Stephen Long. Why two weeks in a row? Because I’m amateur AF and the first recording didn’t…record. How stupid of me, right? Yeah, well can you expect any better from me? Stephen was nice enough to come over to my pad though the second time around to answer the same questions AGAIN– what a polite guy. Anyway, Stephen – or as you may know him “Steffen” (because do you really not know how to pronounce Stephen…..) – is not only a killer guitar player but is a treasure trove of morbidity, darkness and dry humor so I clearly HAD to get to know him more. Also, he doesn’t really seem to have any friends so I felt like I was doing him a favor.
The first time around with this interview, you guys missed so much good shit:
- Steffen’s stand up routine that he could only do one time
- The miracle cure for whatever ails you at the moment physically
- An organic, not rehearsed conversation
JK: I know you really don’t need to introduce yourself since your following is so humongous – but for those unfortunate enough to NOT know who you are, please provide an introduction for those dim wits.
SL: My name is Stephen, or Steffen, Long – whatever you want to call me. I play guitar in Caskitt.
…. I don’t remember the first one I said to be honest.
JK: It’s okay – luckily you are pretty predictable and I’m fairly sure you said the same exact thing.
(Do you know how dumb it feels asking the same questions AGAIN within one week of the original questioning? – very dumb)
Besides the first time we tried to do this, is this your first interview?
SL: I believe so. Yup.
JK: I mean, it may seem like you’ve done a lot of theses since we did this same thing last week…but besides that.
SL: Wait – interviews are different then interrogations right?
JK: Of course – I’m only asking about interviews.
SL: Then yup. First time. Just wanted to clarify.
JK: Way to sound badass.
So, Caskitt has been together for about four years now, right?
SL: Coming up on four years, that’s right. I can’t remember exactly when we started…
JK: No, I need a date. Exact time too.
SL: I think it was in October. It was a warm, October afternoon in Matt’s garage.
JK: Oh, romantic, okay.
SL: That’s how we started. It was just he and I sitting in a garage and then me with my guitar. That’s it. Not even drums were included at this point.
Matt and I met through some mutual friends down in Chula Vista. We were in a band together and it was just not our scene. It wasn’t very innovative in our eyes so Matt had the idea of starting our own thing that we would be proud of. We just wanted to breakaway kind of from the “norm” of the time.
JK: Okay so did you play Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” upon this breakup?
SL: No we actually ended up playing Vitamin C’s, “Graduation” – but weirdly enough we did want to play Breakaway.
JK: Haha. Why are we the funniest people ever?
How long have you been playing guitar?
SL: Guitar? Fifteen years?
JK: Got it, so when you were like thirty?
SL: Yeah, I started when I was thirty. I’m eighty now. So, fifty years. Sorry – I misspoke.
Yeah, about fifteen years though - I started when I was around thirteen.
JK: What had you interested in playing guitar over another instrument?
SL: I started off playing bass when I was ten or eleven. I was just playing stuff like Rage Against the Machine, The Deftones, Korn…
I was playing that and then right after I started playing bass one of my neighbors actually introduced me to pop punk bands for the first time: Blink 182, Green Day, ect – he got me into that. Then, I moved to San Diego and my next door neighbor, Alden, convinced me to start playing guitar because he, too, played bass and one of us had to switch to guitars to start playing in a band so we did that.
JK: That’s traumatic – like he made you start playing guitar.
SL: Yeah he was like, “You should just….stop doing bass.” & I was like, “…Okay”
JK : Wow so you weren’t very committed to the bass. That was such a fast decision that you didn’t even need to think about.
SL: ((Laughs)) No, I was not committed at all.
JK: I remember when we first spoke (remember how I totally fucked up the original interview guys? Just wanted to remind you in case you forgot at this point in reading.) you told me that you took a break from guitar. What made you take a break?
SL: Yeah – about five years or so.
SL: It was just a break from electric guitar. I played acoustic all of those years but just getting out of high school I wasn’t really playing in any bands anymore so I just kinda lost the drive to play electric at all. I focused on acoustic and singing sad, emo songs by myself in my room.
JK: So..Indie? (I'm hip) I think almost anything can be considered that – you should have started a depressing YouTube Channel. I woulda watched it.
SL: I know, I should’ve – doing my emo covers of pop songs. But yeah, that’s really it.
JK: So you never really stopped music then?
SL: Oh, no. I’ve always been doing something musically pretty much since I was really young. As far as electric guitar goes, I stopped that for about five years. It wasn’t until I met Matt later on where I told him that I play guitar and he was the one that kind of convinced me to start a new band where I would be playing electric guitar and he sang. I was just like, “Okay…sure, why not?”
JK: Okay so again, you gave up the spotlight for someone else.
SL: ((Laughs)) Yeah, that’s kind of my thing. Just tell me to do something and I’ll just be like, “Okay.” And I’ll hold back the tears as best as I can.
JK: Is that on your dating profile? “Just tell me to do something and I’ll be like, ‘Okay' – and I’ll hold back the tears as best as I can."
SL: Haha, yeah –
JK: Oh, and no alcohol too. That has to be in your profile. You have to specify that straight up. (No pun intended.)
SL: Yeah, I don’t drink at all just because….I dunno. I just don’t. It’s not fun for me.
JK: You don’t need a longwinded reason – like tattoos. There’s no crazy backstory needed other then, “I liked it” for justification of a tattoo. Same applies to most things in life.
SL: ((Points to his many tattoos)) These all represent a deep backstory behind every person that I’ve killed.
JK: I had a feeling that’s what they meant – I recognized one. I thought I saw someone similar crossing the street before and now they vanished.
It must be hard, not drinking (and not killing everyone that you want to be dead) with the atmosphere you are typically in like bars to play a show. You’re constantly around it.
SL: I think it was when I was younger – it was a lot more difficult. I used to drink when I was younger…
JK: When you were like forty?
SL: Yeah, when I was forty- the young age of forty. I was but a boy then.
When I was around it when I was younger, I don’t remember it being difficult at all, but over time the more that you say, “No”, the easier it gets. It’s just one of those things that I don’t even think about now.
JK: You are never tempted to have a drink when someone offers? (Me being an alcoholic it’s hard to imagine easily saying, “No” to free booze)
SL: I think I’ve had enough experiences with it but now that I’m pretty dead set…
JK: Oh, thanks to AA?
SL: Yeah, the AA meetings have really helped.
JK: I saw your coin when you walked in and just knew that this was a battle for you.
SL: Exactly. My five year chip.
I think the last time I had a drink was maybe like…two years ago? Even then it was just A drink. It was more so an isolated incident where afterwards I was just like, “Meh, yeah. Still don’t like it.”
JK: I need that mindset. It’s not like I like drinking at this point. I just do it because being drunk is awesome…I only like the middle of it though. The before & after effects are not so kind to me. That’s my relationship status too. I only like middle of it. (Just kidding people, just kidding.)
SL: It helps too that I have that Asian gene that makes me really intolerant to alcohol. I get drunk really fast. I feel like it metabolizes through me really quickly too – I’ll be drunk and then instantly sober an hour later.
JK: Oh – it’s so hard being you. You get drunk fast and don’t deal with the aftermath. Tough life. Very tough life.
(( I met Kevin White - the bass player Caskitt had before when I was chatting with Western Settings this past weekend. #clarification ))
He (Kevin) seems to have more insight then the rest of you guys so what happened to him? He was hilarious and quick witted – he was cracking me up.
SL: Well in a few years from now when Caskitt dies in our airplane crash on our way to play a show in Puerto Rico, I’m sure in the VH1: Behind the Music, Kevin will be the one who does the commentary for it.
JK: I would love that. And what I mean by that is that I’d love if you guys died in a plane crash – not Kevin doing the commentary.
Also he can write a song about it and you guys will become more famous.
SL: Anyone who dies in a plane crash, musically, instantly becomes a legend.
JK: I like that you specified that only musicians become legends upon a plane crash death.
I feel like you’re gonna get a hit put on you guys now – from that one fan you don’t know exists that stalks your every move (me) since you said that. They’ll have to make it become reality since they live to serve Caskitt.
I brought up Matt earlier and meant to ask because when I interviewed him he had said he writes 80-90% of the songs lyrically for Caskitt.
SL: ((Pissed)) He said 80-90%? It’s more like 79-89%. We just need to clear that up. Wow. Come on dude.
JK: It’s like…do your statistics, Matt. Jesus.
I was asking because that’s one of the things I relate to so much with Caskitt’s music is the lyrics and shiz.
SL: That’s unfortunate.
JK: I know. I’m sorry.
SL: I try not to hear Matt’s lyrics as much as possible so I mean, like, that’s why I play guitar so loud.
JK: & That’s why you don’t contribute to that 89%, then. You just do 11%. You make sure the lyrics are grammatically correct if Matt forgets a, “The” or something. Got it. “I wanna scream, I wanna shout, I wanna get drunk AND loud.” You can’t forget those articles - that "and" was all you.
SL: Friday Night Lightweights has been such a weird song for us too because it’s one of those songs where…
JK: Hey, before you say anything, (I could hear something depressing coming after it) that song gets people pumped as fuck. When I’m drinking and listen to it, I’m just like…. “YEAH I WANNA DO ALL OF THOSE THINGS!”
SL: I think that some of the people that hear that song take it very literally. They think it’s genuine like it’s supposed to be some sort of rally song for partying but it’s almost the opposite.
JK: Oh so for Monday Day Heavyweights?
SL: ((Laughing)) No, I mean it’s for those people who Matt calls, “Weekend Warriors” – they will party on the weekends but then need to get back to their 9-5 jobs/regular life when it comes to Monday.
JK: Us regular people that can be functioning alcoholics?
SL: Yeah it’s for people who have no reason to live other then partying on the weekend basically.
JK: Oh my fucking God, this is such a passive aggressive song! I take pride in my crappy 9-5 life.
SL: ((laughing)) Yeah, well that’s my point. Partying is not cool guys – don’t do it. This song is anti-partying.
JK: Just keep studying. You know – study over everything else. Even when you graduate – keep those textbooks and reread them. Take those quizzes at the end of each chapter, memorize them and then go around asking them to everyone. If the person you ask does not know the correct answer – they’re fucking dumb and you should feel so intelligent.
SL: & then live till you’re ninety and die disappointed.
JK: Like you in ten years? (Since you’re eighty and all.)
SL: Yeah, I’m gettin’ up there. I’m Asian though so I’ll probably live until I am 150 years old. I’ll grow a long, white beard.
JK: ((pointing to scruff)) I see you’re starting the beard early – it’s just not white yet.
SL: Yeah the hair dye just isn’t working.
JK: Oh, does your body also metabolize that faster too – like your alcohol? Wow you really have a shit life. Your body hair just won’t age! That sucks.
So you’re working on a new album, correct?
SL: June 1st is when we are supposed to be finished with the tracking, that’s our deadline. We start tracking on the 21st of this month (April) We are hoping to be done on June 1st. The idea is to have our album be out sometime in July – I don’t really know. Someday it’ll be out.
JK: How would this album compare to your other albums? Is it different? Similar?
SL: In typical Caskitt fashion, basically every album that we put out is substantially worse then the last.
JK: So the bar is set really high, obviously.
SL: Yeah, gunning to make this one an absolute wreck.
The content of this album is going to be a lot darker. It’s less introspective, less a reflection on Matt and his views of himself. It’s a little more socially aware, I guess, and a little more…politically aware?
JK: Okay so I’m expecting a screamo song saying only, “FUCK TRUMP, FUCK TRUMP”
SL: ((Laughing)) Not quite. Something along those lines.
I don’t think it’s even that political. We tend to shy away from that, I think, just because of our own ignorance of anything political.
It should be interesting. Lyrically, I like a lot of the stuff Matt’s been writing for this.
JK: So what’s your 11% in this album, lyrically? The first sentence of the third song on the album?
SL: I don’t think I’ve written any of the lyrics for this album so I think it’ll be Matt, 100% this time.
JK: That should be the title of the album: Matt, 100%. And then a huge photo of his face.
SL: We are actually changing the name of our band to, “Matt and the Caskitts”.
((At this time Steffen got extreme VIP treatment. We moved out to my luxurious patio area where the regular people aren't allowed to go, he was served more water and even got to use my five star bathroom. You also missed out on our gossiping hour where we shit talked people we hate – aka everyone – aka just Matt. ))
JK: You were telling me about the album artwork of the new CD before you demanded that we switch locations.
SL: Our last album artwork was very colorful and this one is keeping with the whole opposites thing so it’ll be black and white.
JK: Sounds awesome with that perspective of being polar opposite of the last album. I’m excited to see what that entails.
I wanted to ask you what your day job is? I know you make millions from Caskitt but like feeling like the “average American” by keeping a day job.
SL: I work at the LensCrafters located at __________________ (figure it out)
JK: By the way, this whole interview is sponsored by LensCrafters.
SL: I’m a Lab Manager over there. (no big deal) Soon I will be a “Certified Optician” – whatever that means.
JK: Optician by day, guitar hero at night and witty Facebook status-er in the middle somewhere.
How long have you worked there?
SL: I’ve been with LensCrafters…
JK: Okay name drop again. This interview really brought to you by LensCrafters: WE LOVE YOUR EYES.
SL: I’ve actually only been there for about a year but I’ve been all over: Escondido, Chula Vista, Mission Valley…you know.
JK: Wooooow. (so impressed) I should just drop this interview and talk to you about your history with LensCrafters / optometry. Much more exciting.
So besides the usual circle jerk, what’s a ritual you have before going on stage?
SL: Sacrifice. Definitely.
JK: A goat, or a human? Or does it vary?
SL: No comment.
No though – I basically just remind myself to drink lot of water.
JK: So wrapping up some things with just solely Caskitt – you guys have your new album, you’re playing at La Escalara Fest on Friday at Tower Bar in San Diego – and you have a European tour booked as well. You’re doing it.
SL: The tour is in January.
JK: Oh last January, like we missed it? Thanks.
SL: Yeah, sorry. Europe sucked. (such a rockstar)
We will be there next January – 2017.
JK: So how did this tour come about? Obviously it wasn’t you who arranged it all (lazy ass) but did you just decide one day to do it?
SL: Matt pretty much planned it all and got it in motion. He was just like, “We’re going on tour” and I was just like, “Okay”.
JK: What a shocker – you just gave in as usual.
SL: Yeah I mean I originally was like, “Let’s go to Japan!” and Matt said, “No we’re doing Europe” so I just said, “Okay”
JK: And you cried yourself to sleep.
SL: That goes without saying, that’s every night. Giving up where I wanted to go on tour was like how I felt when I gave up bass.
JK: I told you that was traumatic – you’ll never be able to let go of that anger of when you were forty, playing bass and drinking.
SL: Ah to be forty again – the ripe young age that is.
JK: I remember when we first became “Facebook official friends”- I thought I was going to regret it but didn’t because you posted a video of covering, “Dearly Beloved” from Kingdom Hearts. Kingdom Hearts is like my religion so I know I made a good decision via social media when you posted it. It was astounding – most covers suck dick from Kingdom Hearts and that’s totally because I hold a very high standard and am biased since I love it so much, but I’m still complimenting you so, whatever. I was so pumped when you did. It was very good.
What really makes you interesting to me is your sense of humor. Where would you say that comes from? I don’t meet a lot of people that have the same level of humor as I do. Tell me about the traumatic experience that broke your spirits.
SL: It really comes from the void, you know, that exists within us all. I stare into the void and the void stares back at me.
It all started when I first listened to AFI in 8th grade, started shopping at Hot Topic and painting my nails black.
((Why does every conversation loop back to Hot Topic & AFI? Also we talked about Hot Topic and Spencers for…..too long to put in this interview – like literally almost ten minutes straight of loop around jokes))
JK: In order to do adequate research, I obviously had to creep through your Facebook thoroughly to find all of your deep dark secrets. Weirdly, you’re smart enough to not post those on social media but I did notice your name pronunciation was "kuh - THOO -LOO" (Cthulu) - explain that one to us.
SL: Yeah that’s H.P. Lovecraft. I actually got into it because one of my friends, Derrick, was into it and it’s one of those essential, kind of nerdy “culture” things to be into.
JK: You know what people are “into” nowadays too, now that I am thinking about it – wanting to be considered a “Crazy Cat Lady” Like – that’s not a goal you should have. Have you met an actual crazy cat lady – like Hoarders status? Probably not. They literally have like eighty cats – is that what you want? It’s not cool to be that, not even an ironic way.
SL: They don’t take care of their cats either.
JK: Exactly – for every thirty cats there are twenty dead corpses from not being fed.
((This message comes to you from your local ASPCA shelter. Adopt wisely.))
SL: They are just using cats to fill the Jesus-shaped hole in their heart. But..you can’t fill a Jesus hole with a cat.
((The end of this conversation was, no lie, jokes about cutting horizontally vs vertically. Cutting is nice to make fun of, right?))
What are you waiting for? If you read this far and have not listened to Caskitt (aka Cricket) - what are you doing with your life? They are incredible. I won't go on too much of a fangirl rant - but they give off this absolutely rare vibe during a live performance where you can feel their positive vibes in the air. That's what a lot of bands are missing these days, honestly. It's indescribable, so you have to experience it to understand. If you're in the San Diego area - they are playing at Tower Bar for La Escalara Fest this Friday (April 15) so be there. It's only like $10 or something. Do it. I had a great time doing Part II of my Caskit Trio interviews and want to thank Stephen again for agreeing to this "redo" since I'm a huge failure and lost two hours of our first interview. Shame me, internet. I don't care.
LA ESCALERA FEST TICKETS - GO!
SHOW OF THE WEEK
Fred Armisen and Bill Hader star in this new series they created (along with a few other posse members of SNL) called Documentary Now! and it is....life for me at the moment. It's kind of hard to explain while giving it justice, but if you have Netflix you should dive right in. It's only eight episodes long so far and each episode is twenty minutes. It basically is a mockumentary that parodies super well known documentaries of the past but the creators put their own twist on it while using the same style/theme of whatever the subject is. Make sense? Probably not - so watch it.
SONG OF THE WEEK
(dedicated to Steffen and all those huge RHCP fans out there)
*** No description needed *** #hatersgonnahate
INTERVIEW ON DECK
Western Settings! Yay! This was a really fun interview and my first multi-person (?) chat. I'm excited to share it with ya'll and also wanted to mention they will be at La Escalara Fest this weekend too so BUY YOUR DAMN TICKET!