INDIE rockers Cast are back on the road and heading to Sunderland. Katy Wheeler speaks to frontman John Power.
“It’s a beautiful place to be” says John Power about the reformation of Cast.
Rewind to 1992 and Cast came together from two great guitar bands, The La’s and Shack.
They released four albums – the second, Mother Nature Calls, went platinum – and had ten top 10 singles before disbanding in 2001.
Music was never far away though for lead singer John Power and he went on to release solo albums, as well as playing with the reformed La’s.
A decade after they split, Cast reunited, much to their delight of their fans.
Downloading music is in the ether, what makes music real is going out there and being part of it. I always think gigs are a communion of people coming together.John Power, from Cast
Speaking of 2010’s reunion, John said: “I was playing around doing a lot of solo stuff, which had been re-kindling the creative juices.
“I was playing somewhere in the North East actually and I thought I’d drop Alright in, I hadn’t been doing those songs, I’d been doing more
“A reform was in my mind, then I began writing new material, I was doing this rhythm on the guitar and I realised it was a Cast project.
“I rang the lads out of the blue, it wasn’t like we got in the studio the next day, they were doing their own thing, but we got back together over a period of time.”
The original line-up featured at first: John Power on guitar/ vocals, Liam ‘Skin’ Tyson on lead guitar, Pete Wilkinson on bass and Keith O’Neill on drums.
But Pete recently announced he was taking this year out for personal reasons, to be replaced by Jay Lewis, former The La’s guitarist.
“There’s been changes recently, which have been publicised, but we’re in a great place at the moment,” said John about the re-invigorated band.
“We’ve all grown as musicians and what’s great is that we have a great back catalogue as well as the new stuff, it puts us in a great position.
“At the present moment it’s a very relaxed and beautiful place to be. We’ve spent a lot of time in the studio and it’s been very productive
Sunderland is no stranger to the band, especially John, who’s played here with his solo stuff.
“We’ve been doing a lot of shows in places we haven’t been to in a while and I think people respect that grass roots thing, it’s more personal,” he said.
Not only are Cast playing The Point in Sunderland this month, they’ll be returning to the region in August to play Hardwick Live in County Durham.
“I’d been going to these places with my solo stuff, we go light and jump in the car, it has that troubadour vibe. Sunderland is a bigger city, but I go to places and play these back room pubs and people say ‘what are you doing here?’, but I dig that grass roots, folk vibe.”
At their height of their career in the ‘90s, Cast were one of the giants of the Britpop era. Noel Gallagher described watching Cast play live
as “a religious experience”, and All Change became the biggest selling debut album of all time for Polydor Records. It featured four Top 20
singles, including Sandstorm and Walkaway.
“When you’re in the midst of it you don’t have time to appreciate it, but there is a fondness there. It was a movement which involved some great bands and people,” recalls John.
“It was a time when people went out and bought records and CDs. That’s all changed now. It feels like it was the last classic musical movement in Britain.
“People now have a personal jukebox on them and computers.
“At the time you try to distance yourself from clichés and cliques, it’s not like I go home and read the Britpop Times, if such a thing exists, but it was a great movement. At the time you don’t want to admit how great the other bands are.”
John says as physical record sales dwindle, live music becomes all the more important.
“All the love we get is from people coming to gigs,” he said.
“The Cast shows go down a storm and it’s a great thing to be a part of. There’s no record-buying public now, no weekly music TV shows. The only way of making a connection is to play live. Downloading music is in the ether, what makes music real is going out there and being part of it. I always think gigs are a communion of people coming together.”
Cast are juggling touring with writing new music.
“We have a lot of gigs coming in at the minute and we’re really looking forward to it,” said the charismatic frontman in his distinctive Liverpudlian lilt.
“We’ve done two or three weeks on tour, but this is the first time we’ll be gigging from June to December. In between that we’re recording ahead of releasing an album next year, it’s really kicking life and energy into the band.”
•Cast play The Point, Park Lane, Sunderland on June 26. Tickets, priced from £25, are available from www.ticketweb.co.uk.
We’ve teamed up with The Point to give away a prize to existing ticket holders.
Ten ticket holders will be invited to watch the sound check, enjoy a small personal set by Cast and have a meet and greet with the band after the show.
To be in with a chance of winning, answer this question: what
is the name of Cast’s platinum-selling album?
A) Mother Nature Calls
B) Standing on the Shoulder of Giants
Email your answer and contact details to Katy.Wheeler@jpress.co.uk.
Closing date: May 14