Mere weeks after the mid-July arrival of Deal Casino’s debut album, the Asbury Park, New Jersey-based band was already at work on the centerpiece of its next release.
“We were itching to get some new music out there,” says guitarist Jozii Cowell, noting that it had been “a long time” — at least seven months — since Deal Casino finished recording its self-titled debut (which had been expected to be called La La Land).
Calidus dropped Dec. 8, and the way Cowell sees it, “If you were to have the deluxe version of the LP, that’s what this EP does.”
The EP’s title track is actually a medley of Deal Casino songs, among them “My Gun” and “Red Balloon.” The goal of the medley, says singer Joe Parella, was to “force ourselves to come up with another way to play these songs by not playing them in their entirety.”
Deal Casino also decided to record the medley live on location — and capture it on film. Bassist Jon Rodney and director Anthony Yebra scouted the Jersey Shore and found a junkyard with a large building that they felt would do the trick for the August video shoot.
“We really wanted to do a rooftop thing,” Cowell says. But when everyone involved realized “how impossible it would be to actually get all the gear we needed on the roof — and the roof was slanted,” they ditched that idea on the day of the shoot and set up on the ground.
Deal Casino and the video crew began their day at the junkyard around 5 a.m.
“We thought, ‘We have plenty of time to do this and get plenty of takes,’ ” Cowell recalls. “And then 10 hours later, it became, ‘Oh my god, the sun is going to set.’ ”
Following three or four rehearsals, they completed two full takes; an attempt at a third was scrapped because they’d run out of natural light.
“I remember at the end of the first take, we were like, ‘All right, we gotta do another one,’ ” Parella says. “And at the end of the second one, it was, ‘OK, we should do another one. I messed up here.’ So really, we never got it perfect, but then we thought maybe that’s what this is all for — a very natural, one [full] take, do-the-best-you-can kind of thing.”
In the roughly nine-minute video, pieces of green foam, held in place by rubber bands, are used as microphone windscreens. An overturned shopping cart serves as a table surface for Rodney, and Cowell’s lap-steel guitar sits atop a stack of four dirty tires.
The “Calidus” medley marked the first time Cowell played lap steel, “so it was a little nerve-wracking trying to get all the parts right,” he admits. “Like Joe was saying, after the second take, I said, ‘Yeah, most of those notes were out of tune.’ You can hear that, but it works. [It fits in with] the whole junkyard, really-scrapping-it vibe.”
Also included on the Calidus EP is an acoustic version of a song in progress currently called “New Demo,” which Cowell says hints at the direction of the second Deal Casino album. Parella adds that the band has been “writing like crazy” lately, and that the next full-length effort should arrive sometime in 2018.
— By Chris M. Junior
Deal Casino in concert (schedule subject to change):
• Dec. 29: Asbury Park Yacht Club — Asbury Park, New Jersey
• Jan. 6: Asbury Park Brewery — Asbury Park, New Jersey