There’s a good chance the Casket Girls may never play their hometown again after May 9th.
But there’s a chance they might too. It’s sort of in the air, according to the constantly-working, often-reclusive Ryan Graveface, the band’s primary composer. who along with lyricist/vocalist/sisters Phaedra and Elsa Greene forms the creative core of the band’s eerie dream pop.
It’s been over a year since they played Savannah at the now defunct Southern Pine Graveface extension. For Graveface, it’s nothing personal. He just doesn’t like playing his hometown too much.
“I don’t like playing where I live by default,” Graveface said. “I’ve lived all over the world and never played where I lived. You don’t shit where you eat. I know local musicians feel the complete opposite. I would feel very odd playing a lot locally. I think it’s more that it’s easy.
“I think the Casket Girls’ music, personally, is really fucking good. I think that we have so much material that’s never been released, we could play out a lot of material they’ve never heard and it would be cool. I don’t know. I like a challenge. To me, playing locally, you can use it as practice before launching a tour and to hone the material. I just think it’s too easy.
“I would hate to make my customers feel like they should come see us frequently because we know each other,” Graveface continued. “I just feel there’s levels of obligation when you live in a place, especially when you’re an artist. I don’t expect you to come to any of my shows, but maybe you do. My friends play shows constantly and unless it’s in my shop, I don’t go to it, because I literally work 18 hours a day. Unless it’s in front of my face, the chances of seeing anyone outside of this compound are not good. It’s not a selling point for me, by the way. I am a fucking hermit. The creepy cult guy (laughs).”
Despite loving the project, Graveface isn’t sure it will last. Casket Girls is only one of several bands Graveface contributes to, and one of many different projects the Graveface Empire has its tentacles in. There’s only so much time, although his prolific nature seems to work off a 48 hour daily clock.
The May 9 show and subsequent tour were spurred by a request for Casket Girls to join one of Graveface’s favorite bands for a couple of shows. After 22 years, Slowdive, British shoe-gaze royalty, released a brand new album, announcing a tour behind it. Graveface has been a longtime fan of the band and over the years worked on several projects with different members.
“My homies in Slowdive got in touch and said, would you be interested in opening a few shows,” Graveface said. “I said, of course! I am pretty sure we’re just going to be spending money. But, for me, it’s my favorite band of all time. If even, 30 of their fans — and I am sure more would be into us — but even if a small portion get into us it would be worth it.
“Slowdive is pretty serious and slow,” Graveface continued. “People, like myself, go to their shows to weep. I literally weep when I see them live. They played at Pitchfork a few years ago. The first time I’ve seen the band live. My buddy (Slowdive guitarist Christian Savill) got me on stage and I am crying like my mom just died. Christian was wearing a Graveface shirt.”
Here’s a video of Slowdive’s performance at the Pitchfork Music Festival. A freeze frame might reveal a weeping Graveface.
The Savannah show kicks off a May tour for Casket Girls. They play with Slowdive on May 10 at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina, and then again for a Shakey Knees Music Festival kick-off party in Atlanta on May 11. On May 12, they play the Georgia Theatre in Athens.
The label wing of the Graveface Empire has been working with several Slowdive members on different releases over the years. Graveface made guest appearances on two albums from Slowdive guitarist Christian Savill’s other project, Monster Movie, including the new album Keep the Voices Distant. Graveface Records released the last four Monster Movie albums.
For the label’s 2017 Record Store Day release, Graveface reissued Stereo Musicale from Blind Mr. Jones. The album features Slowdive singer Neil Halstead, as well as Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. Graveface Records also released two albums by The Loose Salute, a band started by Slowdive drummer Ian McCutcheon.
Casket Girls, however, might not be done with Ryan. Graveface and the sisters Greene have been working on new material. Graveface isn’t sure its financially worth putting out a follow up to 2016’s The Night Machines. He’s not just a band member, but he acts as the manager and label executive when it comes to getting the album recording and released. It’s expensive to release a record these days. According to Graveface, The Night Machines cost around $25,000 by the time it was said and done.
“The next phase of Casket Girls is very heavy,” Graveface said. “Not quite metal, because they’re not metal singers. But, it’s fucking heavy. Tons of guitars and actual riffs and stuff. There’s not even any delay or reverb. It’s really raw. The riffs sound like Queens of the Stone Age. I guess the question is, do we actually put that record out? Or do we just call it quits?”
“Every single record, for every project I do, is potentially the last record. Because it’s not cheap. If I wasn’t the label, I am sure I would view it strictly creatively. I just don’t know what the point is, that’s the point. I love the music. I think people respond to it well, but not enough people buy it to merit continuing.”
The amazing Jeff Zagers is opening this show and there are limited amount of tickets available. So swing by the Graveface store and grab one. Click here for details.