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Thursday, June 9

Interview: Finding a Connection With Cas Haley @ Hangout Beach Festival


Phish and The Dead's Kevin Long had a chance to sit down and shoot the breeze with jam-band newcomer Cas Haley. What came about after his refreshing set at Hang-Out was insight on his intriguing road to success. For he has taken an unusual path and was not timid to answer any questions about his experiences along the way. Similar to his music, Kevin found him to be genuine as they talked about everything from Phish to David Hasselhoff.

K.L.: Do you approach a festival set different than you would a personal show knowing there are many first time listeners and if so, How?

C.H.: Yea totally, we leave out the acoustic parts and just jam. Try and keep it lively.

K.L.: I just witnessed your band live for the first time and was blown away. How did you develop your unique reggae style growing up in Paris, Texas?

C.H.: You know the roots of reggae music are country and soul. I am totally bull shitting right now. (Laughs all around) but I really do think reggae is a good form of soul music. Old country songs and reggae songs mix in my opinion. I was also lucky enough to be raised by two wonderful crazy hippie parents that were both musicians that influenced me in a lot of directions musically and the way I lived my life as well. They encouraged me to explore as many different things and mind states as I could.

K.L.: What bands influenced you growing up?

C.H.: Starting off my dad was a huge influence on me. He was really into James Brown, Sam Cook and the whole Motown scene. Then once I got into the music myself I tended to like punk rock, and the ska scene type stuff - sort of the skateboard culture. Bands like No Effects and The Bosstones, that’s when I realized you can do ska and other styles of music and make it accessible to young kids. That got me on my way to coming full circle mixing the soul, reggae and a little bit of punk attitude with what we are doing.

K.L.: I first got introduced to you on the show “America’s Got Talent” and my first question about that experience is....-is David Hasselhoff as weird as he seems on T.V.?(Laughing)

C.H.: No not at all, it’s totally a TV thing, he is a show man. The second the camera turns on, so does David Hasselhoff. The second the camera turns off he is super cool, nice and laid back.

K.L.: Being on the show and way over qualified, but up to that point underexposed. Do you think it helped your career more or hurt it?

C.H.: No, it definitely helped me more. It taught me a shit ton of stuff. It taught me what I wanted and what I didn’t want. Before the show I did not know what stardom was, I did not know what came with that kind of attention. In a world where a lot of money is involved with your name and who you are, It sort of a scary world to be in. The main thing I learned is I want to be in control of my art and who I am. I got offered a giant opportunity to do a deal with Sony and realized these people will have control of my life and walked away from it. Now I am trying to rebuild the foundation that’s rooted in music versus a reality star.

K.L.: How did it come about you being on America’s got talent? I am sure you were doing the club scene and some friend said you got to try out.

C.H.: Exactly, and I was like hell no, but my friend convinced me. His brother in law booked this back door audition and he was going to be pissed if I did not go. So I woke up in the clothes I fell asleep in and walked into the Dallas Hilton and played a couple of tunes. I did not think I had a chance in the world because it was such a circus. In a couple of weeks I got a call and I was in. The whole time I was on the show I was questioning myself “Cas” do you really want to be doing this? Even my dad called and was like, Cas do you really what to be on this freak show? Then towards the end of the show they got down to business. It was a crazy, fun experience and I’m thankful I did it.

K.L.: Your debut album for Easy Star Records, Connection (See Review Here)- debuted #2 on the Billboard reggae charts. It’s must be awesome to be that high on any chart. Listening to your record and seeing your show, the music is so much more than reggae. You have been riding the jam circuit lately to great responses. Do you enjoy playing for those types of fans?

C.H.: Yea I have been digging it. The cool thing about the jam crowd is it’s all about the music and that’s what I am all about. I am about playing my music as authentically as I can and expressing myself as authentically as I can.

K.L.: I think your music comes from a genuine place and that’s why fans are connecting with you.

C.H.: Thank you, and that’s the root of music and moves people as opposed to all the hoopla.

K.L.: My favorite thing you have recorded was off Dub Like An Antelope. I love Tanya Stephens and your version of “Wolfman’s Brother”. How did that come about?

C.H.:The whole thing came to be from Henry K, the guy who produced the album. He called me and said I would love for you to sing “Wolfman’s Brother” on this Phish tribute album. He sent me the tracks and we did it in three separate locations. I did all the vocals in a studio in Dallas. Then they sent it to Tanya. It was real cool at the end of the song with all the vocal harmonies. I had a blast and was pleased how it all came together.

K.L.: Are you a Phish fan and do you ever play it live?

C.H.: I am totally a Phish fan. I think they are some of the best musicians around and cool song writers. I have not played it live yet, but I need too for sure.

K.L.: What are your favorite albums on your I-Pod now?

C.H.: I feel fortunate I got three Cds I love the shit out of right now. Gregg Allmans new album produced by T-Bone Burnett and its unbelievable, Paul Simon new album, So beautiful or So What and this unheard bad-ass reggae band from New Jersey called Kiwi. The album is called Mischief Reigns and it’s one of the best reggae albums I have. It’s got a studio one vibe and you got to check it out.

Check it out I will. If you have not seen Cas Haley do yourselves a favor and check him out!