Alex Caso's apartment is truly fascinating. He's an avid collector of what he calls "media." The place is blanketed with wonderful, collectable toys, records, DVDs, CDs. It's a little nerd boy's dream!
He asks if we like Kate Bush, and pops her onto the record player (figuratively, of course), later mentioning that if we do meet a lady like Ms. Bush, to pass her his way.
Caso is not just a funny man with tons of cool shit, he's also a DJ who's definitely helped you dance drunkenly one night or another in the past. And he produces memorable music with his band the Waterford Landing, which is possibly a thing of the past.
It's hard not to wonder if a collection this meticulous and extensive is something that anyone could achieve, or does it require something special. Caso tells us, "I just think it comes from how you're raised. My dad's side of the family, they're pack rats. They just keep things. I really didn't understand it back then. But my dad, when he passed away last year, I found this whole box of maps, like maps from the '70s. I didn't even know he had this collection."
"My dad and my aunt were huge book collectors. They were definitely nerds. They were smart people. Jeopardy, that was their thing. I was raised by nerds. What can I say?" But of all of these goodies, what he most values are his old shoegazer records. Because this was the music he enjoyed, not from before he was born, but when it was coming out.
Caso reveals how he got into music growing up, and why he's such amusing dude. "I was a fat kid, from junior high. Tenth grade is, like, when I started shedding the fat. You're a fat kid, guess what? You're going to hang out with the nerds, 'cause the jocks don't want the fat kid. And you know what? Fat kids are funny, and I was definitely funnier when I was fatter." He was into guitars, records, his little band, and "going to heavy metal stores to buy patches." Music was part of his identity and it still is.
In the early '90s, after DJing a show on WVUM, "A cop summarized it best once ... I got pulled over with Manny Prieres and this gothic friend of ours named Fluffy and he had, like, the chelsea haircut. The cop stops us 'cause he thinks we're, like, on drugs, 'cause it was late night, and we were actually driving to the Velvet Creme by Eighth Street."
The cops then decided to humiliate the them for speeding. "To Manny they go, 'This guy, he doesn't know if he's a brother or a rocker.' And then they go to Fluffy, 'This guy, I don't know about him. But his mannerisms are a little bit off.' And then they look at me, 'But this guy, this guy, you know what this guy is?' 'What is this guy?' 'He's like a drop of water, you can drop him anywhere, and he'll like blend.' I was like, 'Alright! I'm a ninja!'"
Caso discussed In the Heart of Zombie City, Waterford Landing's latest and possibly last album. Whether the band is only "on a break" or officially broken up, remains to be seen. The record took about three years to create due to financial and personal problems, which caused tension between the bandmates -- Caso, Ed Matus, and Richard Rippe -- and resulted in Rippe leaving the band.
"In the end, it's pretty dark," Caso says. "Much darker than the last album," which he describes as "dreamy." In the Heart of Zombie City "is a reflection of this city, in a weird way. Not that we're trying to be mean or we're insulting, 'cause we're not. But it's a reflection of how a lot people feel in this town. Where's the pulse in this town? The way the scene has become, the way the economy has turned the scene."
The album itself is really a wonderfully cinematic creation. It may be dark. But it's clearly an original work of art that sounds familiar enough you'll enjoy it at first listen.
Download In the Heart of Zombie City for free. The cover work is by artist Bert Rodriguez. Caso answered a couple of specific questions we had about the album.
Crossfade: Which song was the hardest or took the longest to make?
Alex Caso: Other than the full album, which took three to four years, I'd choose "Age Of Religion." As we mixed and recorded it on our own (in our home studio). Ed changed the drums a few times and it was a nightmare mixing the vocals with the wall of noise. Alas, it took us a few mixes until we got the balance right.
Do you have a personal favorite song on the album?
"Ritual #2," the last song Ed and I collaborated on, and "White Light," the final ambient track in the album created by Richard Rippe.
Is there a line in there that you think is brilliant?
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"Treason doesn't start/Without a heart/Broken up in pieces by a lover's betrayal" from "Blue Flames (Soft Revolution)."
Where's the best place to listen to this album? Bed? Starbucks?
We would love people to treat it like a movie ... Turn off the lights and press play.