Bringing together post-rock, prog-rock, jangle-pop and indie, Carcrash Casino are a London foursome with a seriously unique style. We speak with vocalist and guitarist Jon Hunt about their debut album Nobody Knows More About Carcash Casino Than I Do, good reviews, engaging with listeners and early memories.
OSR: How did Carcrash Casino form and how did you come up with your band name?
Hunt: We’re all friends, or friends of friends, and we originally formed the band to play at a friend’s birthday party. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the gig, so we started rehearsing some of my old songs, which made me want to write some new ones. Regarding the name, one band member phoned another and got the reply “I’ll have to call you back, I’m in a casino trying to win my rent!” The other exclaimed “That sounds like a bit of a car crash”, and that was that!
OSR: What is the backstory to your debut album Nobody Knows More About Carcrash Casino Than I Do?
Hunt: Once we started gigging and learning new songs, recording the album was the next logical step. We very much wanted to have a compact album that sort of hits you in the face with no filler. I think we achieved that.
OSR: DId you have any challenges writing and recording the album?
Hunt: No challenges writing-wise, only in the final mixing/mastering stages. Getting it to sound as good as possible on all systems and platforms. It’s a cliche, but if you listen to something for too long then you drive yourself nuts. We got there in the end, but definitely something to watch for next time!
OSR: If you could change anything about the album what would it be?
Hunt: Andy’s guitar in the fourth verse of ‘Doormats’ should probably be 0.5 decibels louder ?! I’m saying that to illustrate your previous question and the madness it can cause. A serious answer would be nothing, apart from I wish we had been able to release it sooner.
OSR: What is the best review you have ever received?
Hunt: Tom Robinson from BBC 6 Music played our debut single ‘Don’t Make Me Laugh’ a few times, once on his Saturday primetime show stating it was “probably my favourite record of the week”. That gave us a huge buzz, especially coming from someone we all really respect.
OSR: What is your creative process?
Hunt: I make a demo of a song at home and send it to the band. By the time we next meet up in the studio we play through it, try some different arrangements and it suddenly starts to sound like a Carcrash Casino song – we’ve really started to develop a distinctive sound. I’m so lucky in that my bandmates seem to ‘get’ what I do song-wise, learning and arranging the songs is pretty effortless and really exciting.
For the next album, although I have plenty of songs in the locker I’m hoping to have a bit more collaboration. Our bass player Simon has written a cracking tune that we played acoustically on a live feed recently.
OSR: Covid-19 restrictions have really hit musicians ceasing shows and making recording harder. Do you think there are any ways for musicians to overcome the lack of gigs or in-person writing/recording?
Hunt: Earlier in the year we had an album launch booked in at The Water Rats in London. The gig is still available whenever we want it, obviously depending on what restrictions are in place at the time, but you also have to think about how many people will actually attend. Will it be a good, worthwhile experience for everybody?
As I said earlier, Simon and I played a few songs on a live feed which was fun, but we all live in different places. He’s up in the Midlands now and I’m still in London. Others in the band have been shielding, so we haven’t even been able to rehearse. I’ve been doing some solo acoustic live things from home to keep people interested and, hopefully, entertained and putting Carcrash songs in the sets. I just hope everything goes back to normal as we used to know it as soon as possible.
OSR: What do you believe is the best way to engage with listeners?
Hunt: It depends what type of people you have in your band really. We are not the type of people who hustle at every opportunity. I personally hate all the verbal diarrhoea that some people come up with – blowing smoke up established artists backsides, pretending you like bands and journalists you can’t stand just to try and get some sort of reward in terms of exposure. However, I do realise that this sort of thing works and the old adage “it’s not what you know but who you know” is very true with regard to the music industry. I just think it’s a question of integrity really.
I do still think one of the best things you can do really is just releasing as much music as possible and gig as much as possible. That way you’re going to pick up people, bands and promoters who genuinely like you; therefore, making genuine working relationships with people. We’re pretty screwed for this right now, obviously!
On a positive note, we are very lucky to have two people who we consider non-playing members of the band that have helped us a lot with the things we can’t do or are less good at. One of these chaps makes our videos and I think that a great video for a song is a really excellent way of engaging and seeing the personalities in the band.
OSR: Do you have any phobias?
Hunt: Adverts. I don’t watch TV that much, but when I do I just have to mute the sound and block the screen during the adverts. Firstly, they seem almost as long as the segments of the actual programme that they invade. Secondly, they’re like a window on the most dumbed-down, ignorant parts of society. Have you seen that thing with Danny Dyer’s daughter? It’s just literally glorifying being thick!
OSR: What is your earliest memory?
Hunt: Waking up next to an open window somewhere – I must have been around two – smelling the air and realising there’s a massive world out there.
OSR: Do you have any future plans?
Hunt: As soon as we can rehearse and gig, then we will. We will have a very belated album launch party, play whenever possible and start working on our second album.