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A Dirty Dozen with PETE STEVENS and JOEY MAMLIN from THE CRYSTAL CASINO BAND – February 2023

| 25 February 2023 | Reply

Photo credit: Cagla Akcadag

According to a recent press release: “Maryland House, The Crystal Casino Band’s most complex and varietal album to date, is a winding journey with unexpected turns that showcases their love for the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) area and pays homage to their lives as young adults throughout a 13-song indie rock-leaning experience. The new album, produced by Kyle Downes and Jay Nemeyer (Color Palatte), showcases the artistic growth TCCB has undergone since the release of their 2021 album, Not About You, and is unlike anything the four-piece has done before. Maryland House, named for the band’s favorite rest stop along I-95, is the first TCCB record featuring each member on lead vocals as well as a variety of instruments including trumpet, ukulele, mandolin, and harmonica. Formed in 2015 as a group of friends at the George Washington University, The Crystal Casino Band, originally named The Colonies, began their sonic journey heavily influenced by the likes of The Strokes and The Black Keys. Over the course of their college years and a few lineup changes, the band’s sound transformed to combine their initial influences with the vibes of early 2010s-era indie that littered Tumblr dashboards and increasingly introspective and socially-conscious lyrics. With this turn to introspection and social awareness, the independent quartet – Pete Stevens (guitar, vocals), Joey Mamlin (drums), Jarrod Hendricks (guitar), Jordan Mullaney (bass) – grew uncomfortable with their original name’s imperialist connotations and changed it to their current one in 2020.” We get Pete and Joey to discuss new music, influences, and more.

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Pete: I think one thing that’s really cool on our new album Maryland House is how the end of the album is the same noise that starts off on the record. I think a lot of people in the streaming age are probably listening to it on shuffle and will miss that!

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Pete: My uncle works in the ukulele industry and writes songbooks so music has always been a part of my life at a very young age. I probably learned how to play the ukulele by age 4! I think what really intrinsically motivated myself to start playing music was when I was around 8 years old and in music class in elementary school. There was a kid who went to the piano and played the Darth Vader Star Wars theme and I thought that was SO freaking cool. I absolutely had to learn how to do that and so I signed up for piano lessons for a few years, which led me to teaching myself guitar when I was 13 which then led me to writing songs which led us here to today.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Pete: I started teaching myself guitar around 2010 and was initially very interested in pop punk music. It wasn’t until 2011 that I heard The Black Keys’ album, El Camino, and became obsessed with indie rock. That album truly inspired me to want to make indie rock music.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Pete: Production wise, I really want to work with John Congleton. I am a huge Death Cab For Cutie fan and he just produced their most recent album and it sounds incredible. I think he adds some truly interesting sounds to songs that are uniquely his.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

Pete: I go on runs, hang out with my friends, go out to dinner with my girlfriend, etc. I would say my favorite activity though is tennis. I played tennis in HS and just love the sport. Although it’s hard to find people to play with at my same competitive level, it’s always so relaxing to be on the court.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Pete: I would say that we’re very nostalgic to 2000s indie rock but lyrically with a 2023 zillenial perspective. We also try to incorporate our love for The Beatles wherever we can in our music too. I don’t cringe at any of the comparisons because music is subjective and if that person hears that connection, they hear it! I shouldn’t judge what they think it’s similar too!

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Joey: Joey is the chef, Jarrod is the bartender, and Pete is most likely to start a singalong.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Joey: We went to a Paul McCartney concert in June, that was maybe the most starstruck I have ever been, in addition to it being the most recent.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Joey: Being able to be creative, and talking about music all day. If I (Joey) had to pursue another career it would be in the culinary world (chef).

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Joey: I am a little tired of the “describe your creative process” type questions. We have answered it a lot of times. Something I wish someone would ask…I like when people ask for our opinions on other contemporary music, or just popular culture in general. Like who is the best Beatle? (Paul) or what do you think of the state of indie music today? (Pretty good)

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Joey: Not really, I think even in situations that could be considered missteps we probably learned something. There were a few gigs in our college days that we could have done without, that probably just added work for us that was unnecessary, but even those are funny memories now.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Joey: I think the obvious answer would be the Abbey Road sessions, both because I love that record and the band dynamic was explosive at the time. A less obvious one would be Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco. Again just a classic record with some insane label drama underscoring the whole thing.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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