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A Dirty Dozen with KEVIN CASSIDY of DESPYRE – June 2019

| 11 June 2019 | Reply

 

According to a recent press release: “Long Island rock band Despyre releases Rise Up via Pavement Entertainment. Produced by Life of Agony’s Joey Zampella, the brand new album is steeped in old school heavy metal with a modern twist. Stream Rise Up worldwide and traditional CD’s are also available.” We get bassist Kevin to discuss new music, influences, and much 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 the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

The new record was a year in the making for DESPYRE, between writing recording mastering etc. A follow up to our debut EP Irritation in 2017, on Rise Up we really tried to underscore and illustrate our own sound as a group. NY music, especially NY Metal definitely has a unique and powerful effect on the listener… evident from Suffocation to Dream Theatre, Anthrax to Life of Agony and a whole lot more…. there’s an intense edge that seems to scream out from bands from our area. We hope that NY crunch and intensity comes through to our fans like a bullet!

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

Music has always been there for me. Growing up in a turbulent dysfunctional home, when I got my first bass guitar around 13, I rigged up a way to run it through my stereo so I could hear it in a set of headphones along with any cassette tape I wanted. For hours every day after school (or plenty of days I didn’t make it to school) I would escape into another realm, far away from the chaos and calamity just through my door, oblivious to anything going on outside my head. Iron maiden, Metallica, Dio, Rush… this was my therapy. Pushing rewind and play literally thousands of times until I could master a Steve Harris riff, or a Cliff Burton solo was something I lived for back then. Looking back a don’t think I’d have survived those years without it.

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

Steve Harris without a doubt. His complete mastery of the bass, and his cutting sound not withstanding… his stage presence and dominance made me see that the bass was way more than a backing section for the higher registers. The guys in my bands all through the years had to battle for position on stage with me! You can blame Mr. Harris for that habit!!

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Steve Harris, Geddy Lee, David Ellefson, Frank Bello… and surprisingly John Taylor. I won’t even try and explain, just listen to the bass on any Duran Duran record! I get ribbed about it all the time, but I don’t care. He’s freaking awesome!

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

As strange as it may sound, probably The Edge. I love U2 and The Edge has a way with sound and melody that I don’t think has been achieved since John and Paul were ruling the world. Again, I get shit over that too! Listen, I can thrash out with the best of them – Metal till I die – but I can’t deny music that calls out to my inner being. Listen to Van Diemans’s Land on Rattle & Hum… it’s a cover, but its him alone, and it tears into my Irish soul!

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?

DESPYRE gets asked this question a lot… what kid of metal, what kind of rock, what genre… blah, blah, blah. We are simply a pure metal band. Powerful, crunchy, in your face, melodic. We’ve been told by many a reviewer or critic that we really don’t fit into any one category, which for us means were doing something right. We don’t write music to fit into a box, we write what we feel based on where were at. Sound cliche, but it’s the truth. DESPYRE is all about using music to inspire and overcome your demons. That’s what it means and that’s what we hope to encourage in our fans. I cringe every time I see a review that tries to label us… thrash, alternative, hardcore… we’ve heard so many over the last 2 years. Genres are a sales tool and were not salesmen.

 

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

The pure escapism for me by far. It takes me literally to another world. Being on tour I lose all sense of politics, news, day of the week. It’s liberating to be oblivious! We can have a week of squabbling among the band members about business decisions, or shows, or artwork – everything under the sun to the point of utter frustration. Then we have a rehearsal and its like, WOW, who cares about any of that crap – I’m in the band!! I’m creating music from nothing!! It’s still a rush and never gets old.

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

We very rarely cook, but its typically Rob…even though Brad eats out 5 nights a week. We typically don’t drink till after shows, and those responsibilities are spread through all the guys save for me… my drink is coffee and lots of it! As far as acoustic sing-a-longs… if you happen to see that happen, video tape it because it will most likely be the first and last time!

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

I really don’t get star struck, I’m a bit too much of a smart ass, but I did see Courtney Love eating alone at Daniel in NYC once with my wife and thought it was pretty comical.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronomer, but then I found out it’s a lot more math then just catching a buzz staring at the stars, but if I really had to think about it I’d probably be a writer. I love to read and am always fascinated how the written word can carry you into another dimension. I love stories with tons of detail and backstory. It’s a lot like music but a bit slower and more in depth. I love being engrossed in a book you can put down, a world you can step in and out of – one where you actually look forward to opening every day.

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?

Speaking of reading, I’ve really been into the writings of Marcus Aurelius and the stoic philosophers, and as a stoic, I’m conditioned not to expend any energy or emotion on things I can’t control – especially the past. I learn from mistakes like anyone with a shred of common sense but changing the past or predicting the future is just not my thing. I was questioned once if I regretted leaving one of the world’s most distinctive death metal bands, just months before they were signed, right out of high school. Am I envious of their success, their travels, their endurance? Of course, was it the right move for me, absolutely, because it happened. Besides, if I altered my past just a nano-second, maybe just a thought, then I wouldn’t have the most precious and valuable things I could or will ever have, my 3 children and remarkable wife. 95% of the things people dwell or focus on are impossible to alter. That’s a huge waste of energy and it distorts reality.

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?

Good question – not sure I would put myself in a recording studio per se, but if were talking Magical Mystery, to be in the room with John & Paul and a piano when “Strawberry Fields” came to life. Did they look at each other? Did they know what just happened? Again, my tastes in music are extremely versatile – I listen to R & B, rap, hardcore, classical, British invasion, you name it, but there’s something about the Beatles that I don’t think will ever be repeated… but Steve Harris asking me to run a few lines on Powerslave would have been pretty cool as well!!

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Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

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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