A DRINKABLE RECORD?: CASEY BELISLE OF NEW BAND “BURR” – interview by Ella Rosenblatt
Casey Belisle is a familiar face for many AS220 staff members and coffee lovers — he works at both locations of Bolt Coffee here in Providence. Coffee is the inspiration and unifying force that sparked Burr, which consists of Casey and two of his Bolt co-workers Justin and Mike. I sat down with him at Bolt and chatted about slow music and Burr’s creative distribution schemes — over iced coffee of course! Burr plays AS220’s Estival Festival on Saturday, June 20th – get tickets now!
To start, can you tell me who the members of the band are and what you all do?
My name’s Casey — I play drums. There’s Justin Enis — he plays bass. Then there’s Mike Dantowitz — he plays guitar.
Burr is relatively new?
Yeah it’s pretty new. We’ve all worked together at Bolt Coffee Shop for about two or three years, and in that time we always talked about making music together. It started out with, “Hey, you like this band?” or “Aw, I love this band — do you like this sound?” “Yeah! Why don’t we make these sounds together?” I do a few musical projects aside from this one, and so does Mike. Justin, he pretty much roasts coffee full time and hasn’t had too much time to write as much music, but we’ve been pushing him to write more. It’s super fun and rewarding.
How did you choose the name Burr? Is there any significance to that?
We talk about coffee all the time. We realized coffee terms and coffee slang would make really funny song names or even band names. We were like, “I guess we should write music to all of these fake songs.” Burr is reference to a “burr” coffee grinder: a burr grinder is two different discs. We like bands that have a strong presence, like there’s this one band called “Thou.” There’s another band called “Sleep,” and they’re very heavy and loud, so we were like “Alright, one word band name”, and Burr was the one that we settled on. From that point on all these songs that we have — and will hopefully soon record — are just coffee puns. We have one song called “Touch of Cream.” We just have fun with it.
Do you think you’re gonna have coffee imagery or aesthetic references? [laughs]
Dude, we’re going hard. We’re actually gonna be recording this summer at my friends studio, Big Nice Studio in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Upon releasing it, we’ve been going back and forth, like, “Do we do a vinyl record? A CD? Download codes? A tape?” We thought it would really be funny if we actually sold a bag of coffee that Justin roasts and put a download code on it. Having merchandise like vinyl, t-shirts, stickers, CDs — they serve a great purpose of raising revenue, getting your name out there. But a CD just gets like thrown in the car, and you never think of it again. So we’re trying to think of a different way to present our music in a funny, pun-like way. Like I’ve seen people do the download codes on the back of their t-shirt, and the record’s the t-shirt. I haven’t seen a food product yet. So yes to the coffee things — maybe we should have coffee plants on stage with us like big leafs. The coffee paraphernalia is on the way, Burr themed.
Because there isn’t music that people can find online yet, how would you describe your style?
Loud, heavy, slow. Dipping our toes into metal, sometimes called “doom” or “sludge”. There’s some great bands that are originally from Providence that have done that, bands like The Body. They’re a big influence on us. Or Electric Wizard is another band that we reference. Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath or just even that distorted rock and roll, somewhere in between blues, metal, and rock and roll. Justin, our bass player, plays out of a pretty large bass cab, so it’s very rumbly, and we work hard on like dynamics of playing soft and then really trying to hit you hard with really loud chorus.
What do you like about the sound of slow music?
It’s not heard enough I think. Especially in live music. To perform it live, it’s a lot of concentration on breathing and pace. I’ve found it more of a challenge, especially growing up playing in punk bands or pop punk bands. It sounds really cool when it’s a very slow cadence, and people are rocking back and forth together. It’s kinda ominous. A good challenge. You never wanna stop challenging yourself.
What are you plans for the future, the band’s aspirations?
We’re gonna be recording in a month. Tentative coffee bag release — that’s a huge goal. If we’re gonna do any physical form of releasing the record, it might be on a cassette tape ‘cause I have a couple friends who run a cassette tape pressing program. I like that art form a lot — the size and the style of artwork that you can put on it. We’ll have a proper website, some sort of music online. Break the mold of how you can release a record — I’ve seen so many other cool ideas like amazing musicians making tote bags in their spare time and the download code is on the bag or … I wouldn’t call them voodoo dolls … but they were just almost like pin cushion dolls and that was their record!
Would they be sold in Bolt?
They might only be available at our live shows or online, but figuring that Justin runs the coffee program here, maybe we’ll just sell limited edition little Burr bags.
Like it’s just a stamp? It could be a totally underground thing! A secret record.
A secret record! Dude, that’s what I’m talking about! Justin can roast coffee any time he’s home and available, so we’ll always have a means to get you this drinkable record.