Caustic Casanova is one of the newest additions to the list of local Frederick bands. The group has been around for nearly 15 years releasing music and touring with their unique sound. I interviewed bassist/vocalist Francis Beringer on the band’s extensive history and more.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard Caustic Casanova?
Beringer: We’re a highly eclectic heavy rock band with lots of different influences — progressive rock, noisy punk, psychedelic rock, all kinds of heavy metal — and that just scratches the surface. Our sound can be really different from song to song and we’re always incorporating something new into whatever we’re writing. To put it succinctly, we try to write really memorable, strange heavy music.
Where did the band name come from?
Beringer: Our original guitarist (Michael Wollitz) and I came up with the name basically out of a love for alliteration. I like the contrast they evoke when put together. I’m also really fascinated by the concept of a person’s last name being so associated with something that it just becomes a word in English, divorced from the person behind it. Giacomo Casanova led such an eventful, well-documented love life that his last name just became a part of western culture, so much so that his last name is now shorthand for aptitude at seduction. I think that’s wild and bizarre and really interesting. Language never ceases to intrigue me. A lot of people regret their band names if the band formed when they were young and manages to endure, but I don’t. I like it more and more as the years go by.
From the looks of it, the band started in 2005. How has the band evolved over the years and how has it managed to last so long?
Beringer: Without getting into too detailed a band history, the band has managed to stay together because of really close friendships and lots of shared musical vision — not to mention an insane amount of hard work, often for very little payoff other than the thrill of getting to write music and perform it. Andrew joining in 2013 was the biggest evolutionary step in the band’s history. He wanted to tour a lot, and so did Stefanie and I. The three of us had a great deal in common musically as well. We wanted to make loud, heavy, experimental music and liked a lot of the same bands. We were also all friends before he joined, so it was easy. Months-long DIY tours do not work without solid friendships and lots of laughter. There’s too much downtime and too much chaos and madness. Everyone in the band is passionate about and deeply dedicated to making this challenging, unusual heavy music. We practice a few times a week and write and record new music regularly. All that goes for our new fourth member, guitarist Jake Kimberley.
What prompted the band’s move to Frederick?
Beringer: Andrew moved to Frederick from D.C. to live with his girlfriend, who had been living in Frederick for years. Stefanie and I moved there simply because we had thought Frederick was really charming, and for years we’d talked about maybe one day living there. Once we started playing regular shows at Guido’s, we began really looking forward to any journey up to Frederick. We’d explore the downtown and eat at a new restaurant before every show. We just decided to go for it after our lease was up after three years living in Northeast D.C. Jake lives in Frederick now, but for most of the time we’ve known him he’s lived in Pennsylvania. All the members living in Frederick is essentially not band related at all. Andrew and Stef still work in D.C. and we still practice in Arlington, where we always had before the move.
What have been your favorite parts about Frederick so far?
Beringer: Downtown Frederick is beautiful. I love walking through the city at any time of day. I love Carroll Creek, Baker Park and all good food that’s right downtown. I’ve been all over the U.S. touring regularly for six years, and I think Frederick is one of the most picturesque medium-sized towns in the country. I also love that I can walk out of my apartment on Market Street and take a short walk to see a great show pretty much every weekend at Guido’s, and in the summer I can take a longer walk in the other direction and head to a Keys game.
You recently added a fourth member (Jake Kimberley) to the band. What do you think the four member lineup brings to your sound?
Beringer: Jake allows us to do stuff we can’t do live as a three piece — guitar harmonies, dueling solos, interweaving melodic guitar lines. It comes naturally when we write new songs or update and alter old songs to fit the new format. Two guitars also makes even more of a wall of sound. Our live show is typically one unending sonic barrage, so Jake makes that tower of riffs and noisy atmosphere even more massive. Jake also brings a new sensibility to the band and his own distinct influences. He has a style that can be really different from what we’re used to, and that in turn expands our sound in directions we haven’t headed before. But, very importantly, he understands our music enough to settle into our established sonic aesthetic quite easily when the situation requires it. He’s more Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Andrew is more King Buzzo of the Melvins. Either way, it’s great. Those are my two favorite guitar players!
What are some of your favorite/most significant moments from the history of CC? (shows, recording, etc.)
Beringer: Opening for Kylesa in 2013 in Springfield, Virginia, definitely stands out. It was the first “big” show for the then relatively new Andrew-Stefanie-Francis lineup and we’d just finished our first full U.S. tour. We got to open for some of our biggest influences and musical heroes, and they loved our set and asked if they could put out our next album on their new label Retro Futurist. Quite an evening! That one show led us to a lot of opportunities we might never have encountered otherwise. And we developed many close friendships from our time with Retro Futurist — one being the amazing North Carolina band Irata, who just left our place as I type this to continue their tour with Weedeater. Every recording session we’ve done with J. Robbins has also been a significant moment in its own way. He’s an outstanding audio engineer and a great friend and mentor. It’s pretty crazy that we’ve made numerous records with one of our musical heroes. In fact we’re heading to his studio in Baltimore this weekend to do yet more recording. In 2016 we did a ten-week tour. Playing almost every night for two and a half months was a fairly monumental undertaking. It was certainly a pivotal moment in the history of this band.
What future aspirations does CC have as a band?
Beringer: We just signed a two-album deal with one of our favorite labels, Magnetic Eye based out of Albany, New York. We aspire to do them proud by touring as much as possible and getting those records into as many people’s hands as possible. One album is done (it’ll be out in October most likely) and the other we hope to finish recording this year for a fall 2020 release.