Casual Curious Expands with “Lungs”

Mar 16th, 2012 | By | Category: Feature, Sounds
Lee Gunselman

Lee Gunselman of Casual Curious stands in front of a wooden bit heart inside Bit Heart Studios (Photo by Keith Warther)

A few days ago, Keith and I hung out with Lee Gunselman from Casual Curious at Bit Heart Studios. We chatted about the tour his band recently got off, their new EP, and more. Along with the interview, we also had a chance to see a stripped down performance of one of Casual Curious’ songs, “Problems.” You can find the video from that at the end of this article.

You’ve had a lot of line-up changes and you’ve recently added Julian Hinshaw to the band. What do you think he’ll bring?

Julian is an amazing musician. He’s been doing music most of his life, primarily piano, and I’ve always wanted to work with him. It’s sort of been hard since we both play piano but we’ve always had similar ideas in music. He’s been playing tuba and has ability to play horn instruments. One day we were hanging out and there was a trumpet lying around and I asked if he would play it and sit in on some performances on our EP. He picked it up right away. Since he hasn’t played since 7th grade, he’s learning and that’s cool. I’ve always wanted a brass element to the band. Woodwinds only add so much to the sound but brass makes it a little more punchy and I like that about it.

What difference does it make to have 5-6 members versus 2 members?

It makes it less stressful for me. Originally, it was me doing everything other than drums and I had to focus on making sure my sampler was in the right time and didn’t mess up. I had to play bass and the main chord progression and sing, and if anything goes wrong, it’s on me. Having more people to back you up makes it less stressful and more fun. I like musical collaboration because you have more ideas and I like playing with friends as opposed to by myself. The amount of members depends on what you’re going for – Matt [Northrup] plays bass, Patrick [Brown] helps with rhythm and melodic parts. The horns add a new element to it.

You just released “Lungs” – what was the best part of recording?

One of the cool parts was that we added Walter [Fancourt] to the band during recording. He and I had always talked about playing music together. I met him a few years ago at this thing called Music on Mendenhall. Four years later, I was like “Come play horns on this recording” and that led to him being in the band.

Favorite song off “Lungs?”

Probably “Without Your Love.” I like it the most because it’s the most interesting compositional-wise. I like the production on it. It has this house-disco vibe to it and I like it more than a lot of the songs on the record and we’re kind of thrown together when we started the new ensemble. I was working on it as we started the new band and I like how it has different feelings to different parts. It’s the strongest song on the album and I like performing it the most.

How did tour go?

It was a lot of fun. We spent ten days on the road with our friends Reptar. They’re four extremely talented guys that make exciting, fun, interesting pop music. They tend to incorporate a lot of elements of music I’m interested in. They’re great guys, we got along together well. They were the draw for our shows and we got exposure for our music on that tour. We made a lot of connections.

Best places you played on tour and why?

All the shows in the south were my favorite. I like the attitude of people who come to shows down here. Up north, especially NY, which already has an established music scene, people are more used to seeing things out there. They aren’t as excited as people down here. When we played at King’s Barcade in Raleigh, it was a packed show, and people had a lot of fun and they were really receptive. Same with Clemson and Asheville and Greensboro, which is expected. Up in NY, it was a fun show and we played well and there was a good crowd, but people just kind of stood there and looked emotionless the whole time. I play music for people to help them have fun and it is an artistic expression for me. If I just wanted to make art, I would just record all the time, but I want to make sure that I have fun and people also have fun. That makes or breaks how much I enjoy a show.

Casual Curious

Lee Gunselman of Casual Curious plays a solo version of the previously unreleased song "Problems" (Photo by Keith Warther)

Why did you decide to produce a cassette tape?

It was for my own personal amusement. When I buy music, I mostly buy records because I bought CDs a lot and they’d always get scratched up and destroyed in my car. They don’t seem to last very long around me. When I like an album or an artist a lot, I like to have something that seems more tangible and unique. That’s why I bought records. After a while, it was too much money and I couldn’t take them with me. Tapes were cheaper and I could listen to them in my car. I started working on a tape collection and I decided to make a tape. I found a cool website that lets you make cool looking tapes. I did it for a release between me and our drummer and I distributed at shows. I wanted a cool tangible form of the music so I picked tapes. They aren’t always going to sell but a lot of people do buy tapes. People are more psyched about buying tapes than CDs because of the cool factor. It’s retro and looks cool. That’s what I like about it. I like the element of breaking down albums into two different sides that you listen to straight through. We can’t print vinyl so a tape was cheaper for us to do.

Favorite Greensboro band?

I think one of the more interesting things has been Invisible because it’s based around all of these creative instruments that Mark has created. I like my friends bands and the bands affiliated with us. The Brand New Life write some of the most interesting music I’ve heard in town. And of course there’s The Bronzed ChorusJenny Besetzt, Matt Northrup, and Workday/Schoolnight

Favorite thing about playing in Greensboro?

Recently, I enjoy playing more outside of Greensboro because it’s different for me. I’ve always enjoyed Greensboro’s DIY venue scene, but unfortunately they tend to be short lived. The Blind Tiger has the best sound system in town and you are going to sound the most professional there, but there’s something to be said about the atmosphere and attitude of places like Legitimate Business that makes you feel more at home. I could also say my favorite part about playing music in Greensboro is the fact that I’m helping live music happen in Greensboro.

Casual Curious “Problems” live from Bit Heart Studios

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