INTERVIEW: Deal Casino dish on their recent tour, the band’s progress so far, and more
Last week, I set out to, surprise, surprise, one of my favorite rooms in Boston/the surrounding area the Middle East in Cambridge for a double feature of two shows. An iconic venue as I talk about a lot that has been home to many a first headlining show for an act that’s gone on to explode. Hopefully one of those bands we’ll be talking about in the future is Northern New Jersey’s Deal Casino.
While for this show, they weren’t in the headlining position, opening as main support for Arizona’s The Technicolors, their fans were definitely present in the audience. While the band is new to touring, the name they’ve developed for themselves back home in New Jersey speaks for itself. When I sat down with the “Joe’s” in the band as well as a late in the game addition of bassist Jon Rodney, the band was fresh off a Governor’s Ball performance as well as being on their first few dates of the run! We talked about everything from the tour, to a in depth look into the band’s early days to even talking about their experience/what they’ve learned from fellow NJ darlings The Front Bottoms. Find our chat below and keep your eyes peeled for sure to be much more from this talented band!
Obviously, it hasn’t been too long since the band was in Boston. You were on tour with The Wrecks last year with you and Badflower. A big tour there. So, it hasn’t been too long but these first few dates with The Technicolors, how have these shows been going? Coming back to some of these cities?
Joe Cowell (guitarist): It’s crazy, because we have fans now.
Joe Parella (lead vocals/guitarist): There’s people. It’s the first time we’ve ever played a show far away from where we live and people know us, they know our songs. So, we’re just kind of in shock, every time someone has a shirt on or is singing one lyric to a song. It’s just insane.
Joe C: So yeah, that’s been the thing. And Technicolors are awesome. They’re also probably the first tour we’ve gone on where the music is as close to our musical genre as possible. Not that that matters anymore in this day but that’s cool to talk about things in that world. A little less pop of a thing and a little more indie.
Especially after that tour where I feel like everyone was so different from each other.
Joe P: Badflower, The Wrecks and us were very, very different. But it worked!
Then you’ve been busy. You just did Governor’s Ball, must have felt really nice, playing the main stage. Did you open the main stage?
Joe C: Yes, we opened the main stage. Which was cool. It was weird in the sense that it was such a big stage and yet I never realized how far away you are from the crowd. When you watch videos of like, Tyler the Creator playing for maybe a thousand people, it looks like they’re right there. Because there’s so many people, the ratio of how big the stage is, it makes sense. We were the openers, there weren’t that many people, and everyone was so far. We were like a hundred feet in the air, so you look out and there’s just no one. You’re not seeing the two hundred-ish people.
Joe P: Yeah, probably around there. Might have been more then we thought.
Joe C: Probably more then we thought. Felt like fifteen in the sense of where we were at. But the show itself was cool but it was more important that we were on that bill and all the interviews and stuff like this that we did after. We did like five hours of this after that and we had never done that before. So it was like oh, okay, that’s new.
Must have been worth it though.
Joe C: Yeah, that was the important part.
The five hours, probably not so much fun.
Joe C: It’s not bad. After like one hour, everyone starts getting loose and loopy.
Joe P: The drinks were free, and we were outside. It was like a million degrees. They tortured us by not having water anywhere but bars everywhere. So, you’re drinking these extremely sugary rum drinks because Bacardi sponsored everything. So, it was fun. I didn’t drink but everyone else did. So, it was very funny the contrast. I’m trying to hold it together and they’re like ‘yaaah’. It was really fun.
Joe C: Especially one person in particular. Especially Chris.
Joe P: Chris let loose.
Then just from looking at it, you guys release albums so steadily. You released an album last year, an album the year before that. ‘Robin Hood’ only came out in May, the new single. So maybe can you tell us a little bit about that song? The story behind that song?
Joe C: So, me, Joe P and Jon grew up playing together in Sparta so we’ve been in bands forever. The full story is just this giant evolution from let’s try the hardcore thing, let’s try the classic rock cover thing then finally getting to the point where it’s-
Joe P: This is what we do. Without knowing it. That’s the funny thing. You try to be all these things. You try to be Radiohead, you try to be Kings of Leon, we did all of those things and now for the first time, when we write a song, when we record something, all the references kind of go away. For the most part. The Beatles are always still there because you’ve got to reference The Beatles at some point, they’re the best. But everything else kind of goes away and you don’t think, you just kind of go. And everyone in the band has an influence on each other. If it was anyone other then us four, it would be very different. But it takes a while to get to that point where one member in the band is like irreplaceable without the whole thing changing. So now that we’re kind of there, heavily relying on each other, we’re each other’s influences.
Joe C: That was nice, that’s good.
Joe P: Little nice music in there.
Joe C: I like that.
Joe P: That’s cool, that’s the new thing. When interviewers ask, what are your musical influences? Each other!
Then looking at where you grew up, New Jersey has obviously been well known for having a great music scene. Really over the last ten years or so. I know you’re playing a show with American Trappist who used to be River City Extension, he’s opening your hometown show and has obviously spent some time on the road in the states. Maybe bands that you listened to growing up, maybe bands that kids should be listening to?
Joe C: I never really listened to any New Jersey bands growing up.
Joe P: I didn’t really listen to Bruce till like four years ago.
Bruce is the only one. Then maybe more of the music scene in New Jersey? Did you go up growing to shows, did you go to New York a lot for them?
Joe P: When you grow up in North Jersey, it’s like growing up in the Midwest. I’ve realized that by touring in the Midwest, these kids have the same issues we have. Where they’re very secluded from everything and there’s not a lot of information getting in and out. So, when a band comes through, they’re just like, ‘Holy shit this is great!’ So, in North Jersey, you’re in the middle of the woods and it’s all hardcore/emo early 2000’s stuff. We didn’t even want to play that music, we just kind of had no choice. So, it was all these bands that were very heavy hardcore bands, like screaming and stuff. We were like, we can’t go that far so let’s do one notch above. Which was more emo, like a 30 Seconds to Mars, The Kill, that was what we were doing. We’re going to sing, slightly more melodic screaming. Then we went full on all the way into the hardcore thing were just like this is fun but it’s crazy. But that was it, we were secluded. We were like, we need to move at least closer to New York, not closer really, but closer to where things are really happening. So, by moving to Asbury Park, which is further away from New York, it felt like we were getting closer to that world. We can’t afford to live in New York and we’re all very scared of that. That would be way too much of a jump. So, Asbury Park, it was like we’ve always gone down to the shore, gone down to the beach, let’s just move there. There are so many venues, all these good bands are coming from there. So, we started doing that and it was more acceptable to not be screaming. And we just played every venue, every night, forever. We kind of just started touring just because we had played so many residencies. Be like, alright, every Sunday we’re going to play at this bar, every Friday we’re playing here. So, we just did a lot in New Jersey.
And we met a lot of bands that way. There were a lot of bands that were the same age as us. New Brunswick had a great basement scene, literally you’d just show up and play in a basement. So, it’s weird but as far as bands in New Jersey. The Vaughns, I really like The Vaughns. American Trappist is good. We’re friends with all of them. That’s the truth. We’re assholes. We don’t like our own music most times so there’s a high standard.
Joe C: We’re introverted in a way where we just kind of lock ourselves in a room. Write and kind of just do it like that.
Joe P: I really like The Front Bottoms. At first, I hated them, I’ll say it, but after meeting them and actually going to a show a few times, it hit me, and it clicked. It was just like, ‘I love this’. It’s just good. So Front Bottoms are probably my favorite thing that’s there right now (in Jersey), what came out of there recently.
You’ve been doing this for a long time as well. Like did you tour before The Wrecks?
Joe P: We did a tour, but it doesn’t count.
Joe C: We headlined a tour and it was the dumbest thing we could have ever done. We lost so much money.
Joe P: We lost money. It was just to say we went on tour. Because that’s what bands do, you go on tour. But if you’re not playing for anyone, you hear the stories of well you got to play for the bartender. You have to start from there, work your way up, and that’s true, but when you have a day job and you have to make money to pay for your life it’s just not realistic. When you listen to stories of bands in the sixties and seventies or the eighties, yeah you could just live on a carpet in different peoples’ houses. When rent didn’t exist and you made money from it, now you can’t do that. It’s like alright we’re not going to go do other things if we keep touring like that. So, let’s wait till we get an opening slot then slowly we’ll work our way up to a headline tour. Which even after doing all this, we’re still not ready for that. We were showing up to some places, like in Pittsburgh we showed up once and it was a place that looked like this, definitely small and there was no one there. We asked, ‘Are there any tickets sold?’, the guy said ‘No, there’s a really big football game on’ and were just like okay we’re just going to leave, and he was like ‘That’s fine!’ So, we didn’t even play that night and we just paid for an hotel. So, we were like, yeah let’s not do this anymore. It’s fun but once you do it for like five days, it’s not that much fun when no one’s there. It’s a lot of work for nothing.
I’ve been covering music a long time and I remember the first time that The Front Bottoms tried to headline, they did the same thing where they were like ‘let’s headline!’ and they played to like ten people. Did so much press, they had like five interviews because they had a big publicist.
Joe P: They were all interviewers, all ten people.
All of us on the list yeah.
Joe C: They made no money.
They did the interviews in the van and were just rotating people in and out.
Joe P: After meeting them now, since our friend Erik Romero plays bass for them, we’ve gotten to know them kind of well. Not so much Brian but Matt, he filled us in a lot on like how they do it. Their model is amazing, yes, they played for those ten people, but they kind of did the bartender, three people, ten people things. That’s so concrete, there’s nothing stronger than that. Like if you truly get fans that way, they’re going to be there forever. Especially a band like Front Bottoms, they have such a cult following. But they said, ‘Yeah dude we just like drove around for five years and played to no one and it slowly started happening’. I mean obviously look at them now.
It takes time but it’s worth it.
Joe P: There’s something about it. You should go play for those five people, but you got to go in on it if you’re going to do it but it’s tough. Enter Jon Rodney.
Joe C: Jon Rodney is here.
Jon Rodney (bassist): How’s it going? Jon Rodney here. Just made it.
Joe C: It’s nice of you to join.
Jon: It’s nice in here.
It is, a good chance to cool down. Then you talked about it a little earlier, ‘Robin Hood’ literally only came out last month but you put out albums so steadily. I’m sure you can’t say much but is it something where that is a good indication of new music on the way?
Jon: We played a new song tonight.
Joe P: Yeah, he was mad at us, Pergo, because we put out a single and we don’t play it.
Jon: He’s like, ‘Guys you have a new single out’, and you’re not playing it at any of the shows. We like playing it live, it just doesn’t work. We’re still in a winning people over phase, and it doesn’t work the way other songs do. So, we’re like, it’s going to be okay.
Joe C: You’re learning all the secrets.
Joe P: One day we’ll play it.
One day it well happen. Then this tour is a quick little run with The Technicolors, but maybe coming up in the summer, focuses or goals over these next few months? You have your hometown show, which I’m sure you’re really excited for. It’s going to be a big one in August.
Joe C: We’re working on an acoustic tour. Where we kind of send a message out to our fans to be like, ‘Hey fill out this survey’. We might come to your house. So, we’re trying to do these weird acoustic things at peoples’ houses to try it out. So, I want that to come together. That’s going to be fun.
Joe P: That’s going to be sick. I was thinking we might get into a lot of sketchy situations.
I feel like you may.
Joe P: Like, oh yeah, come to my house in Idaho. Alright! We get there, there’s no other houses around for like two miles.
Joe C: Three dogs in the audience.
Joe P: They’re like, ‘Come in this room’. Okay! Locked in forever and you never hear of us again. It’d be a good way to go out. We’d get famous just from that. Band goes missing then when they find us, in twenty years. Let’s just stage that.
Joe C: Then we’ll come back and be like we just survived. We made it out.
Joe P: We’ll come back twenty years later and be like, oh this is crazy! Play stadiums. We’ll write eighty records in that time. We’ll just go on a hiatus.
Now I know where you disappeared.
Joe C: Destroy it!