Interview with vocalist Tom Weaver | By Nicholas Senior
There are bands who dig deep, and there are those who truly, achingly bare their souls in a visceral way. South Wales act Casey employ a moving and magnificent take on post-rock-inflected melodic hardcore with their March 16 Rise Records debut—and second LP overall—Where I Go When I Am Sleeping.
Vocalist Tom Weaver weaves painfully real tales that eschew typical emotive narrative topics. Instead, these stunning and heart-rending songs tackle the three main physical and mental afflictions that Weaver has dealt with: brittle bones, ulcerative colitis, and manic depression. Where I Go When I Am Sleeping is the next great chapter in British hardcore, even if it’s heaviest bits are often left to Weaver’s cathartic lyrics.
Weaver’s honesty is admirable and impressively relatable, and he notes that this is a conscious effort. “With [our debut record, 2016’s] Love Is Not Enough,” he says, “one of the things I learned was the process of taking a very specific, intimate moment and diluting it just enough that it becomes relatable from a third person’s perspective but retains enough personality or individuality that it remains personal to me. That’s something that, again, I was shooting for with this record.”
In part, Where I Go When I Am Sleeping’s lyrics are so raw and visceral because many of them were penned in one night, thanks to an infamous clickbait website. Weaver had to start and complete four songs while in the studio, so he was looking for inspiration.
“I pulled up a Buzzfeed article called ‘50 Interesting Words You’ve Probably Never Heard Of’ and picked my favorites and weaved them into songs,” he says, then pauses. “All those songs—I knew what I wanted to write about, I just hadn’t found the words to say yet. I tend to find that if I don’t understand a word, it leads me to investigate it, and that sparks off my own interpretation of a word.”
“‘Phosphenes’ is a good example,” he states, referring to a song that took its title from the ring or spot of light that is produced by applying pressure on the eyeball. “I had no idea that sensation had a word, because I wanted to write about my experience of losing consciousness as a result of taking [Prozac]. That sparked an interest in the idea of a coming around or waking up afterward, rather than the sensation of passing out. I could go through the album and point out a number of words I didn’t know what they meant six months ago, but my own inquisitiveness led me to discover the language that I would like to use to express my own ideas.”
Being let down by modern medicine—and the cyclical nature of drugs, side effects, more drugs—is an unfortunate theme in Weaver’s life, one that he ended up discussing throughout the record. For instance, “Fluorescents” is about a conversation he had with a friend while at the hospital being treated for colitis.
“I was in the hospital at the time for my colitis,” he confirms. “They kept coming back to me and saying, ‘We’ve been pumping you with steroids, increasing the dose, and it’s not doing anything.’ I said, ‘It is doing something—it’s making me feel like shit.’ The frustration was that I was in the hospital to get better, and the reality was that I was getting worse, and whatever they were doing wasn’t doing anything for me.”
“They said they were going to have to remove my colon. I was thinking, ‘That fucking sucks. I don’t want that to happen. I quite like my colon,’” he laughs. “The song is centered around a conversation where I said I’m giving up. No matter what I seem to do, I always seem to end up in the same state I’m in now. It’s not just the fact that I’m going through it with my colitis right now; that’s coincidental. It’s just what put me in this mindset.”
“If I think about my depression,” he continues, “whenever I take antidepressants, it kills off any desire I have to be creative or motivated in any moment; it puts me in a really odd, surreal third-person perspective of my own existence. If I continue to take antidepressants, it just detaches me from my own life, which is a horrific feeling. It’s where the sentiment of the album’s title comes from and is discussed throughout the record. It’s that feeling of detachment from your own life, medically-induced [detachment].”
However, the 12 tracks on Where I Go When I Am Sleeping are as far from detached as music can get, and the record’s vibrant musical palette is enriched by its haunting lyrical density.