Neal Casal hat speziell in den 90ern großartige Americana-Alben aufgelegt. Er war bei den netten Menschen von ’Glitterhouse’ unter Vertrag und veröffentlichte eine kleine Folk-Perle nach der anderen. Im aktuellen Jahrzehnt ist Casal natürlich immer noch als Singer/Songwriter unterwegs, mehr Beachtung fand er allerdings als Kopf der Backing-Band von Ryan Adams, ‘The Cardinals‘. Das Cardinals-Kapitel scheint Senior Adams kürzlich beendet zu haben und “Roots & Wings“ heißt Neals brandneue, mittlerweile auf ‘Fargo‘ erscheinende, Studioplatte. Zwei Gründe den US-Amerikaner mit einigen Fragen zu löchern.
Sonic Reducer: Neal, your new album “Roots & Wings“ will be released on January 30th. It consists of 16 Songs, some more than the usual 10-12. Were there just so many songs laying around that you weren’t able to record before, or was the writing process a really healthy one and you did not want to cut too many songs?
Neal Casal: The last few years have been the most creative of my life, by far. It seems like all of the years that I dedicated to being a musician have fnally paid off and my writing is better than it’s ever been. It’s not very often that an artist has 16 good songs in his back pocket y’know? This is one of those rare times for me, so I decided to release all of my best songs, even if the record is a bit too long. Most of the songs were written very recently, but four of the songs actually date back to 1993 and 94. I’ve had these songs laying around for years and years, and they’ve fnally found their proper home on this record.
Sonic Reducer: Why did you name the record ”Roots & Wings”? Did you want to revist the spirit of older albums like ”Basement Dreams”, your roots so to speak?
Neal Casal: I wanted to evoke the spirit of my earlier records, but do a much better job this time. I feel that my earlier records were very good for the most part, but were always missing a special element that I was searching for. With this record, I feel that I’ve fnally found that missing element, and that it’s easily the best record I’ve ever made in terms of songs, performance, production, and even artwork. I named it “Roots And Wings”, because it was a return to the sound of my earlier music, but also a departure into newer and better territory for me.
Sonic Reducer: Is every new album a complete new endeavor for you, or are there certain evolutions that accompany and connect your records?
Neal Casal: Every record is usually a completely new endeavor for me, they’re always made in different places, different studios, with different producers. The only one that makes a connection is “Roots And Wings”. This is the record where I felt that I had to return to a certain place, a certain feeling, and a certain sound had to be revisited, in order for me to move on to a new endeavor. It’s not to be misunderstood though, I was not trying to sound like my earlier records. I was looking for, and found, something entirely new. It was just a vibe and feeling that I was revisiting.
Sonic Reducer: Neal Casal is having a great idea for a new song. Where does this usually happen? In your car, in the studio, walking around town, showering, sleeping, reading…?
Neal Casal: Song ideas come to me in all different places and at all different times. The songs from this record were written in Tokyo, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Belgium, New Jersey and London. When it comes to songwriting, I have no rules, anything goes, it’s all just an adventure and a new mystery every day.
Sonic Reducer: You have written many songs over the years. Isn’t it hard to fgure out a setlist for a live show? Any songs from previous records that you will probably never revisit again on stage?
Neal Casal: There are many songs that I feel are substandard, songs I’ve grown away from, that I will never revisit again.It’s very diffcult to make a setlist for each show. I usually feel that most of my songs are horrible and have to be convinced to play them.
Sonic Reducer: Ryan Adams recently announced that he would leave The Cardinals. Is this chapter closed for you now too, or do you think Ryan will change his mind?
Neal Casal: I have no idea what Ryan will do, but I’ve enjoyed my time in the Cardinals immensely. I’ve learned so much from Ryan, consider him a great friend, and the last three years with this band have been the best of my career. I don’t think of things beginning and ending, everything is alive and can always be revived at any time as long as it’s inspired.
Sonic Reducer: Did you have to get used to being a part of a backing-band, instead of being the singing and songwriting frontman/solo-artist?
Neal Casal: There is very little difference between playing for someone else, or playing my own music. As long as the songs are great and the music has integrity, it’s all the same thing to me. I just consider myself lucky to be able to do this for a living when really, it’s something that I’d just do for free. A great song is a great song, no matter who is singing it. I started out as a guitar player, not a solo artist. So it’s very easy and enjoyable for me to stand behind someone else, even though I have some great songs of my own.
Sonic Reducer: My last question: What are you listening to these days? Anything you could recommend to our readers?
Neal Casal: I love The Acorn, “Glory Hope Mountain”, it’s an absolutely beautiful record that deserves a lot of attention. I love Sera Cahoon, she’s made two great records in the last few years. Chad Van Gaalen’s “Soft Airplane” is another amazing record. The Cat Power covers record “Jukebox” is incredibly soulful. Black Keys’ “Attack And Release” really blows me away. I heard a Jack White and Alicia Keys song on the radio here in Australia today and it just knocked me out. I love listening to new and old music, all music, it’s my life.
Sonic Reducer: Thanks a lot for sitting down and taking time for our questions!