Subpar Conversation with Jesse Hernandez

Did I say subpar? Sorry I totally meant RAD AF! Here it is, nerds - the final part of my Caskitt trilogy of interviews! I interviewed lead singer / drummer Matt back in August and guitarist Steffen in April.  I saved the most replaceable band member for last. Kidding, again! I'll stop. I know I'm not funny in the least bit. Jesse is the bassist for powerhouse Caskitt. He's the newest member of the group and together the three gents emit the raddest waves of energy and talent. It's indescribable, as I've said in my other two interviews, until you get to experience it at one of their shows. I'd say take my word for it but fucking go see them instead - you won't regret it! 

Jesse so kindly started this interview by asking if I'm going to have to redo it like my one with Steffen. Remember when I was super amateur and had to conduct a second mofo interview because my first one didn't record at all? And I didn't notice until the day after? Yeah, I guess I could have not even put this in here to avoid my past mistakes resurfacing but hey - I love laughing at myself so HARDY HAR HAR, Jesse. HA HA HA.

JK: For anyone totally confused by who you are, give an introduction of your choosing.

JH: I'm from Orange County - I was there until I was in kindergarten or so. I got really close with my grandparents at this time too. I moved to Riverside after that - I spent most of my life there until around high school. I'm still there now, too. It wasn't until around high school that I started hanging out with people from that area too - like bands and friends and stuff. I'm not really one to talk about myself - I don't have a lot to talk about. 

I started playing guitar when I was ten years old. It was basically brought on to me by my family - my cousins. I was always the youngest one so I would always tag along to what they did. I was very fortunate that they showed me this thing called music and pretty much, in a way, "forced" me to play. I didn't want them to beat me up, haha, if I didn't learn. 

JK: So you're a slave for music??

(***Breaking news, guys***)

JH: Yeah, I'm...I'm a slave. Forever and ever. 

Because of that, I really just clung onto it. I never really did the average things in school: going to soccer practice, baseball practice, or doing any of the typical high school events - I never did any of that shit. I was always the kid that just went home, locked myself in my room and learned songs all of the time. I never really took (music) classes either. 

JK: Never any professional training, then?

JH: *Humble laugh* No. No professional training - I'm not even qualified to be in Caskitt. Don't tell them. But, yeah, I would do that and my two cousins, Adrian and Mark, gave me a boost with teaching me things musically too. 

JK: What kind of music were you playing originally when you'd lock yourself in your room after school?

JH: Hmm, well obviously Backstreet Boys. I can't say N*SYNC because people will get mad at that. A little bit of average, nineties punk anthems too. Bad Religion, Rancid, very cliche stuff. I don't dislike it either - to this day I like those bands.

JK: Just too mainstream for a punk like you though?

JH: I wouldn't say mainstream. Like NOFX and stuff - those bands have been playing for so long, ya know? I would have to say my first song that I ever learned on guitar was probably a Millencolin one. Pennybridge Pioneers was the album that was and still is my favorite. 

I mean, guitar was the main thing I did growing up. I dabbled a bit in sports too - I wasn't any good though. By the time I started playing, I was WAY too old. 

JK: Like forty? You were trying to get on your old high school team that wouldn't let you play when you were in high school.

JH: Uh, more like 35. Not 40. 

I was probably like 13/14 and everyone else had been playing since they were really little. 

JK: What did you try to play?

JH: Baseball, at first. I played Left Field - that's where the shittiest kid plays. I was really small, too, so I was never any type of threat to any other team. I was really, really small.

JK: At least you can admit it and aren't living a lie. 

JH: Yeah - I was always the smallest kid in high school and stuff. 

***OBNOXIOUS, RUDE TRUCK PULLS UP AND STARTS BACKING INTO A SPOT TWO FEET FROM OUR NICE INTERVIEW LOCATION. TWO MINUTE BREAK**** (I really know how to not be such a n00b)

JH: So yeah, I was always the smallest kid. I played soccer as well. ALSO not very much of a threat there. 

JK: Did you enjoy any of these sports? 

JH: Oh yeah, I pretty much did it with my friends so it was fun. To this day I still follow baseball a lot. All my friends were doing it in high school, though, so I did too. (We are totally not talking about dat hash doobie bowlz) All my friends were playing soccer though so I joined. Sports weren't really for me I realized though. I started messing around with music more. Adrian and his buddies had a little band going on and I was pretty much down to play with them. Up until this point, I've never fucking played bass. I was about seventeen or eighteen and there was no bassist - just the guitarists. So - graduation came around and my mom had asked me if I wanted a High School ring and I remember asking if I can get a bass guitar instead. She said fine and got me one - so that's when I started playing.

JK: What made you want a Bass guitar all of a sudden then?

JH: It was always something that I liked. Listening to other bands - that's the instrument I always heard and liked the most. It's a very simple version of a guitar - it's for the lazy guitar player. I ended up getting the Bass though and at this point I didn't even drive. My cousin would come and pick me up, take me to practice in his garage. I finally got my license and was able to get to practice and whatnot. I was pretty much playing at bars when I was eighteen.

JK: With your cousins? 

JH: Yeah - the band that I'm in now (the other one that isn't Caskitt) New Way On. 

JK: That's a long time! You've been together for almost ever then, huh?

JH: Yeah, let's see. I graduated in 2009 and now it's 2016...So yeah at least seven years going on eight.

JK: Alright well this isn't about your other stupid band, it's about CASKITT. 

JH: But yeah, honestly, they are the main reason I was able to be exposed to playing live music. (New Way On) So that's pretty cool.

JK: Is that the only other band you've ever been in, besides Caskitt? 

JH: That was pretty much it. Growing up in a family where a lot of family members played in other bands - I have played WITH other bands but nothing super permanent like New Way On and Caskitt. They are definitely the most serious projects at this point in my life. Not everyone I went to high school with liked the same kind of music I do - so I'd end up back in my room playing Millencolin songs. 

JK: Do you write a lot of songs yourself? 

JH: I'm not a fan of writing the actual words to music, I like just the instrumental parts. I'm really shitty at lyrics. That's something I feel very lucky to be in a band with Matt because he's really good with lyrics - whatever he thinks in his brain he's able to translate it onto paper. It's also probably because that's what I admire most about bands I listen to is the "music" part. At first that's what attracted me to this whole thing, this punk rock thing, is the music. But it wasn't until later that I was wondering what they're actually saying - what do they mean by this? To this day, that's a big part of music to me is the lyrics. 

JK: So you'll never have a Jesse Hernandez CD then?

JH: Oh yeah, it's in the works right now actually. This is the part where you have to turn off your recording device. Thinking about it now, I did play some acoustic shows by myself. 

JK: Of just covers?

JH: Yeah they would be cover sets - usually short, ten songs sets. That's how much I just like playing. I haven't done that since high school, though. 

JK: But you're a liar because you said you don't like to write but you're putting out your own work......? #hypocrite

JH: I gotta play the part, ya know? 

JK: Well you're doing a great job! 

JH: But yeah, I started playing very young and got used to it. I never liked being the center of attention - like if they put me in the middle. It took a while to get comfortable on stage - more so my twenties is when I was okay with it. It's intimidating being around people much older then you. The guys I've been playing in a band with are almost six years older then me. 

JK: So like Matt & Steffen's age? *ba dum tsk* 

JH: Oh no, that's like sixTEEN years older. 

JK: You're 24, right? 

JH: Yeah, I'll be 25 soon. In August.

JK: Samesies! Well not in August but I'm 24 too.

JH: Oh so 1991? 

JK: Huzzah! 

JH: I get made fun of a lot - I've always been the smallest, youngest, whatever. Whether it's at work, school, with friends - whatever. It's always the same thing. But whatever - the joke's on them because when my good years are ahead of me, their good years will be behind them. 

That's pretty much how I started playing though - to wrap up my introduction.

JK: Okay I need to point out that you originally said you don't like talking about yourself and it's now fifteen minutes into this interview and you're just wrapping up your intro. JUST SAYIN' JESSE. 

ANYWAYYYYYYSSSSS

What's your favorite concert or show that you've ever been to?

JH: Hmmm. That's tough. I would have to say the best shows I've been to have probably be any Against Me! shows. 

( I swear this wasn't planned but this is a great time to plug to you nerds that I have an interview with Laura Jane Grace coming up. ~~Ooooh yeah~~ )

Definitely Against Me! shows have been the funnest ones I've been to. As far as concerts go - I'm glad I got to go partake in seeing The Replacements on their reunion tour in LA last year. Definitely a band before my time. Everyone I know knows who they are. I was never really into them until right before I went to go see them. It was really cool - they know how to put on a show. To me, that's a concert - not a show. There's always that fine line.

JK: I interchange those terms all the time, though. I know some people are so particular about it but....I'm not.

JH: All I know is that I feel silly when people ask when my next concert is. It's not a concert if I'm playing haha. 

JK: It is though! 

JH: It's not! I don't know - "concert" puts this.......vibe onto it that isn't true. 

JK: I think you're underrating yourself. 

JH: Ya know, I don't like the whole stage thing. Tower Bar is pretty good.

JK: Well, you're in the wrong business then. You'll always be on stage. 

JH: Aw man, why didn't anybody tell me that? 

I don't like being lifted? If that makes sense. I prefer when there's a minimal stage that's almost level to the floor. I have more fun when I'm face to face with the crowd. It relaxes me.

JK: I like being as elevated as possible so I can look down at my insubordinates. They should know I'm higher up then them. (*Joke*) 

~After this we talked about cats and dogs for a sad amount of time.~

JK: Enough about animals. You're going on tour in January - have you ever been on an international tour before? 

JH: Never left the United States before. Actually thouh, I've been to Mexico before.

JK: That doesn't count if you live in Southern California. 

JH: I love Mexico a lot. Baja is beautiful. The food is super good too. I'm a big fan of the seafood down there.

Other than that, I haven't been anywhere. 

JK: Are you super excited then?

JH: Honestly it hasn't really set in yet. I don't even have a passport yet. 
 

JK: Uhhhhh - that's coming up you know. You should get on it. It takes a little bit of time. 

JH: I like to keep things on edge and stress Matt out a lot. It's my favorite thing to do. 

It wasn't until I did the last tour with them (Caskitt) that I even went past Texas. Actually I've never been North of California. That was awesome.

JK: What?!?

JH: I'm telling you - my life is not that exciting. 

JK: Yeah this is the most boring interview ever, let's wrap it up. 

JH: I've pretty much lived in the same place I was born. 

The longer tour we did in October is when we went past Texas - I never thought I'd go there. We went to Chicago which is probably my favorite city we stopped at. I'm sure I'll be very excited when it gets closer but the most important thing right now is getting a passport. 

JK: Are you looking forward to a specific part of Europe? 

JH: I hope we visit a lot of different places - - because all of those countries are so small and so different. The architecture, buildings and the way people live is so diverse. It's a world of difference within one hundred miles of each other. I hope we see a variety of places. I don't want to spend more then a day or two in each location. 

JK: The tour is three weeks long but are you guys staying there longer to explore?

JH: Well it depends who becomes President, is what we are talking about. Maybe we will just stay there. I think Matt would miss Pee Wee too much though. How much does it cost to ship a dog overseas? 

I think out of everyone, I experience the most homesickness though. It'll hit me the worst. 

JK: So you'll be crying yourself to sleep each night?

JH: Yeah. I'll have to have Devito or Steffen put me to bed. 

JK: Isn't that like any night, though?

JH: Wellllll.....yeah. I don't like to share that with people but.....

JK: I need to get to the cold, hard fact Jesse. 

JH: Yeah - no bullshitting around. 

Not that it's extreme homesickness but sometimes I'll miss places I know. The normal routine of being home isn't what I miss either - just being home in general.

You get so much more close on tour too. When you're spending that much time with somebody. You become family. Here, we (Caskitt) don't see each other a lot. But when we are on the road in cities we don't know - where we don't know anybody - we kinda allow people to distract you and make the time go by faster. It's super easy with those guys to do that. 

JK: How sweet of you to say Jesse.

JH: Yeah, don't put that in there. Anything nice, just omit please. 

JK: I said this in Matt and Steffen's interview but I'll say it to you too - what really drew me to your music is the energy you put off on stage. It's mesmerizing and really moves a crowd of people. That's hard to do! I've heard a lot of talented bands but they just don't get the performing side of music, ya know? Caskitt is the entire package: talent and entertainment. How do you maintain that? Is it natural for you or...?

JH: Definitely I think it comes off of the songs themselves. There's energetic songs and there's not so energetic songs. We try to keep the energetic songs the ones that we perform live. Not to say more mellow songs are shitty or anything like that but when you're playing a show you want to keep it entertaining. At the end of the day, people want to hear entertaining stuff. We don't like playing the mellow stuff live - we try to keep it as minimum as possible. I think it definitely comes from the songs though. 

Something that I have been more comfortable doing is recently is just being comfortable playing the songs and being on stage. If you asked me a year ago where my energy comes from - I'd be like, "What energy?" haha. But now I'd say I'm so comfortable on stage so, yeah.

JK: So - all in all - you do nothing to help contribute to that energy I love so much?

JH: Basically, yes. My brain is never working on stage. I only play four strings so I'm bound to hit the right one - one in four chances. 

JK: I mean obviously you're the least talented person in the trio. You're the most replaceable too. 

JH: My contract is ending soon actually if you want to audition. Who knows though, they may extend it. Matt's people need to talk to me about it. 

JK: I do have to point out that you're the only person in the band with your true name. Matt's last name is a lie. Steffen's name is misspelled. But you keep it real. 

JH: Like I said - I am an accurate representation of being boring. 

JK: You celebrities needing to conceal your identity. -Sigh-

 I know Caskitt brings in millions of dollars each week but you also work a day job, right?

JH: I do. I am very fortunate to work ~retail~ It's pretty much all I've ever done. 

I work at Oakley. They sell glasses. 

JK: What's up with all of you in the glasses business? Is this a cult? How long have you been there?

JH: I've been there about two years this coming summer. 

~ * ten minutes of bitching about retail together * ~ 

JH: To go back to going on tour - one of the most exciting things for me is meeting all sorts of different people from different backgrounds and stuff. It's amazing. You get to experience lots of new things. I like learning more then anything about different cultures - like how people live in different parts of the world. Everyone has their story and it's great. 

JK: Yeah - that's why I love what I do too. Meeting new people and learning about others is the best. 

So who makes the best faces while performing?

JH: I think everyone would have the same answer for this, but obviously Matt.

JK: Who is the biggest primadonna of the group then?

JH: *no hesitation* Steffen, for sure. He's gotta have his pedal boards nice and shiny before going on. 

JK: Oh, does he make you guys do that for him?

JH: Yeah, actually. He makes me do it shirtless and he has a whip in his hand in the van. 

JK: What's really sad is how easily I can picture this happening. 

I've gotten a chance to hear your latest album, Old Fires, New Frontier. It's seriously so amazing! I can't believe how much of a new level you guys are on with this. It's so different then the previous albums - in a good way. Matt was saying he was thinking more externally then internally.

JH: Yeah, definitely. He didn't write about his viewpoints really on this. There's even some political themes sprinkled in on some songs. There's a couple songs on the topic of suicide too - knowing someone that has committed suicide. 

JK: My favorite track is definitely Empty Chairs. 

JH: That's the song that I would like to say that we did a decent job at having the music reflect the lyrics. I do like songs where they are opposite - like they are happy go lucky but the lyrics are sad. Or vice versa. I think with that particular song - both gel really well. 

JK: Do you have a favorite song of the album?

JH: It's been shifting. I think the title track is one of my favorites. Since the beginning, we knew it was going to be the title track. I was like, "Yeah this is THE song." Empty Chairs is definitely there for me and Niemöller's Regret is up there too - that one is definitely the less aggressive of all of the songs and then Empty Chairs is the most aggressive. The rest of the songs fall in between those two. 

JK: So Matt wrote everything lyrically this time around?

JH: Yeah. Well Steffen may have helped a little but I didn't write anything on this lyrically. Like I said earlier, I'm not too good with words.

JK: I'm so excited for it to come out! It's all I'm listening to right now on loop.

JH: I'm super excited too. We are 99% complete on it being done done. 

JK: You're gonna have this one on vinyl, right?

JH: Yeah! We are so lucky to have people releasing that for us with this album. We are stoked and super thankful. It's definitely something that's an accurate representation of every one of us put together. It's a little different but I'm the most excited because this is the first time I've ever recorded with a band. 

JK: What?! But you've been playing music for so long. That's crazy. 

JH: Yeah I've never recorded. These are the first songs I've written, played and recorded. It's awesome! I can't wait for it to come out and for the tour to kick off. It should be coming out in the middle of August or sometime around there. 

JK: I'll end this the way I always do. What's the nerdiest thing about yourself? 

JH: Uhhhhhh. The geekiest thing?

Oh actually I'm really into fantasy baseball. That is the geekiest thing for sure. I've never been good at sports so I like to live the fantasy. I have a roster of 25 guys who I get to alter in and out. I get to look at their stats, watch their games......it's definitely Fantasy Baseball.

JK: Fantasy Baseball tho? I was not expecting that. 

JH: I'm not a sports guy but I like baseball. I don't do any of the fandom of wearing all of the jersey's and stuff like that. You know - I don't care about that stuff. I can go to a game and you would never know I'm a Dodgers fan just by looking at me. I don't look the part at all. I won't wear my foam finger or anything like that. I don't know why I didn't think about that first. Today is the beginning of a new week too - so I'm really excited. 

JK: Well, that's EXTREMELY nerdy so thank you for sharing your dorky baseball self. 

JH: I appreciate you taking the time to do this. Anybody that gives a shit about the band or what we are doing - that's pretty cool. We do it because we like playing music and we like each other. I fucking love those guys. Two of the best bandmates I could ever have. I'm thankful that anybody cares. 

That was not impressive Jesse of Caskitt! JK - he was super nice and I appreciate him taking the time to let me pick his brain for an hour. Caskitt's newest album is going to be released soon and I'll be having a giveaway of merch to give a lucky winner when that happens! Stay tuned for that and in the meantime - check out Caskitt at other places on the dot com: 

CASKITT'S FACEBOOK

CASKITT'S INSTAGRAM

CASKITT'S WEBSITE

CASKITT'S PENSKE TOUR: 

7/30 - Berkeley, CA

7/31 - Oakland, CA

8/1 - Santa Ana, CA

8/4 - Los Angeles, CA

8/5 - San Diego, CA

8/6 - Anaheim, CA

8/7 - Las Vegas, NV

PREMIERE OF THE WEEK

Yeah......let's not talk about my nasty, guilty pleasure of loving to hate Pretty Little Liars. I won't do a recap for you spoiler Nazis but it was....what you'd expect of the show at this point: no answers, new intermittent/not useful chunks of information, and lots of soap opera-esque scenes. I eat that shit up and don't care who knows it. I'm happy it's back on so suck a big one, nerds.

EXCITING NERD NEWS OF THE WEEK

Next month Pokemon Go is supposed to be released and I'm so thrilled to get my hands on this. If you're out of the loop for some strange reason - Pokemon Go is an augmented-reality game for your iOS or Android devices. It's only $35 too! Like what? That's how much DS games cost, ya'll. It's extremely close to feeling like a true Pokemon Master without going insane and getting arrested in a field for making your two cats battle it out while trying to imprison the winner in a homemade capsule of sorts. You do that too, right?

GIVEAWAYS GALORE THIS SUMMER ON KENNERDDY!

Yes - I'm really excited to announce two really awesome giveaways I have on deck this summer on kenNERDdy! The first is a TATTOO giveaway with miss Melvin Arizmendi herself. Pictured above is some of the work she's done on me - perfection, am I right? She's only one of the best artists you can find in San Diego and dare I say it - the universe. I'll be interviewing her soon and with that will be details on how to enter. SECOND - when Caskitt's latest album comes out I'll be writing about it (obvi) but also will be giving away a merch pack of swag for one lucky winner! STAY TUNED, ya freaks and geeks! More importantly, #STAYNERDY.