Nicknamed “The CC” from their fans, Washington, D.C. based Caustic Casanova have been delivering a wide-ranging brand of heavy rock since 2005. Since forming on the campus of The College of William & Mary, the band has developed a rabid following around the D.C. vicinity and beyond. Trials and tribulations have constantly followed the trio, though. Such events like losing their original guitarist early on and losing drummer/vocalist Stefanie Zaenker nearly half a year to severe wrist injuries from a life threatening accident at times put the band’s future in doubt. With intense therapy, Zaenker was able to hop back on the drums three and a half months after surgery. Going strong now for three-plus years with the current lineup (Zaenker, bassist/lead vocalist Francis Beringer, guitarist Andrew Yonki), Caustic Casanova released the critically-acclaimed Breaks in September 2015. Listeners to Breaks should expect a raging blend of heavy rock that explores other territory. From post-punk to epic space rock, Breaks has a little bit of everything.
Two weeks on the road and already there’s a small issue that needs addressed with Washington, D.C. trio Caustic Casanova. A couple of minor problems with the band’s gear sprung up a couple of days prior to our phone conversation. After scrolling through the web, all hope was renewed; a shop was located in the city of the group’s next stop. “They said that they were able to get us early in the afternoon, so it ended up working out perfectly,” Zaenker says.
I saw that after the original guitarist of Caustic Casanova departed, a two-man ensemble was tried out.
Stefanie: Yeah, Francis and I kinda experimented as a bass and drum duo. We played two or three shows and were writing material around that time. We recorded a demo at a local studio, which is actually what we used when trying out new guitar players. We tried out a few people; turned out Andrew was by far and away the best person for the band sonically.
Andrew-how did you find out about the band?
Andrew: I was really good friends with the original guitar players girlfriend. When I moved back to D.C. after being away for a while, she told me to check out the band. I went to a show, loved it, wound up becoming friends with them pretty instantly. I conned Stefanie to give me a ride home and I started yammering about music. Turns out that we had similar tastes, so that cemented a friendship immediately.
Tommy: Andrew-was there any reluctance to trying out and eventually joining the band?
Andrew: I was very excited. I think in those early days of knowing the band, I also drunkenly try to con them into having me join the band (laughs). When they started the auditioning process, I worked with the demo and did what I could to come up with real interesting guitar parts. I try to expand my playing; really try to dig into using effects pedals, expanding my listening pallet.
Stefanie-The wrist surgery was a pretty serious setback for the band. Was there ever a point when you thought that you wouldn’t be able to play music again?
Stefanie: I had a feeling when I was in the hospital recovering from the surgery that wouldn’t be that bad. It was an instinct. Obviously Francis and Andrew didn’t know that and it was hard to explain why I would be able to play again. They just kept on rehearsing and writing, working on old material while I was holed up in Charlottesville. One day I decided to take a seat on the drum kit and see if I can play. We ended up having a full two hour band practice.
How did you get on-board with Retro Futurist Records? How long have you been on the label?
Francis: We played with Kylesa (psych metal veterans and label owners at one show in Springfield, Virginia. They asked us to be on the label after the show. We have been on for two and half years. They released the first 7” and mailed it out to all of their subscribers. It really helped jump start the label (mailing 7” to their subscribers).
The band is about to release different artwork for the vinyl version of Breaks. What was the reasoning behind it?
Stefanie: We just thought it would be cool, honestly. Our label said that we could do whatever we want; we could use same art that’s on the CD for the vinyl or we could it differently. We picked an artist that we really liked and we thought that he would do a really good job doing similar concept, but with different designs with each one.
What kind of direction did you give the artist about how to go about it or did you give him free reign to do whatever?
Stefanie: We give him a loose structure of concepts; the main idea revolving the Quetzal, which is Guatemala’s national bird. I’m half Guatemalan, my mom is full Guatemalan, and all three of us have spent some time there. We think it’s a really beautiful bird and it would be cool for artwork. We basically just told him to interpret the image of the quetzal as he saw it.
I saw that you are working on some new music. Is it going to be an EP or LP?
Steph: We are actually taking three new songs out on this tour; testing out the waters and getting a little tighter on them. As it stands right now, we have enough material for a full length. We are going to release a 7” when we get back, which will be the second of our series of 7” that we do one cover and one older, original song. That’s called the “Pantheon Series”. Probably early next year, we hope to record a new full-length.
Caustic Casanova will be performing at Blind Bob’s Friday night with Close The Hatch, Enkiridian, and Grey Host.
For more info on the band, click here.