Kent based indie-pop quartet Castells have unveiled their debut EP, after a whirlwind 12 months. Following the successful release of single upon single, the band’s intoxicating blend of indie-rock, combined with an unerring ability to write uplifting, catchy choruses, has cemented their place as one’s to watch.
The band have built up an impressive live reputation. They have performed at Omeara, Camden Assembly, Moth Club and downstairs at The Garage, supporting bands including Luna Bay, Spinn, Youth Killed It and Only Sun. With the lockdown measures eased, Castells are looking forward to sharing their music with a live audience one again, having announced their first headline show at The Grace, Islington.
We spoke with the boys a little more in depth about the EP and more...
Introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about the band!
"Hi, we’re Castells! Formed of Connor Crooks (vocals/guitar), Robert Castelino (guitar), Matt Chittenden (bass) and Marc Smith (drums). So we have all known each other and been good mates for years now, all the way back to our early teens! In Connor and Marc’s case it even goes back as far as Nursery. We like to think that the close bond we have as friends comes across within our music too. We formed the idea of ‘Castells’ back in 2015 after Connor, Marc and Rob attended Reading Festival. Being at the festival and seeing all our favourite bands performing gave us the urge to want to do it ourselves. After all being in separate unsuccessful bands before this was the push we needed to give it another go. Shortly after we came back from the festival we invited Matt along for a jam session, safe to say the jam went well seeing as he is still a member of the band today.
After a lot of terrible songwriting and experimenting with different genres we wrote a song called ‘Do You Remember’. This was the first time we really felt excited about the music we were writing and knew that we were ready to take the next step to becoming a proper band, rather than just some mates messing around. Just weeks after writing our debut single we decided we was ready to make the band public and release Music. We had the music, we had the members but what we didn’t have was a band name. As you can imagine that is pretty important. So after weeks of discussion we ended up going for ‘Castells’, which is a play on Rob’s surname.
So after releasing our debut single in December 2017 and playing consistent shows since February 2018 we finally dropped our debut EP ‘Viola’ in May this year. The support so far on our journey has been amazing and we feel this is just the start."
You’ve just released your debut EP ‘Viola’! Tell us a little about it!
"This EP is a mix of tracks, some of which we have had sitting in the arsenal for a long time and others which we wrote very recently and had a great feeling about. The title track ‘Viola’ is one of the earliest songs written by us as a band, so to hear the early days demo versus the song that is now out in the world for everyone to hear, is a really exciting moment. It’s great for us as a group to see and hear the journey we have been on."
How did you decide on the EP name?
'Viola' was the name of the first release on our EP and with that song popping so much we wanted out first EP to do the exact same. The idea for the title track and EP both actually came from a sketch painting that Rob's mum had left out on a table, it was of some flowers with word 'Viola' written underneath. It was probably supposed to say violets but we loved Viola as a catchy name for a song and the lyrics followed so easily!"
What was the writing and recording process like?
"The writing process has absolutely no boundaries! Sometimes we’ll be chilling in rehearsals and one of us will start doing something cool that we all start enjoying. That’s always fun. Otherwise it’s a small idea brought to the table that someone is excited to develop so it then gets turned into a demo in Rob’s home studio ready for consideration in our huge back catalogue of unused songs. Some could say we’re picky! As for the recording process, we’ll take our favourite demos to our amazing producer Andy Hall Hall (the man so nice they named him twice). He’ll then get us all to track our parts to perfection, using 2 days for vocals to smash that sheen that Connors vocals have on every single track. We love it and cannot wait to get back in the studio!"
Are there any key themes, stories or inspirations that run throughout?
So all the songs on ‘Viola EP’ are from the singers POV about romantic relationships. Whether they’re the exciting happy times like in the lyrics of ‘Falling For You’ or whether they’re the heartfelt rejection times like in ‘Viola’, the events were all true. It’s never easy wearing your heart on your sleeve but hey at least you can get a good song out of it!"
Do you guys have a favourite lyric or whole track? If so, which one and why?
"We’ll let Marc our drummer answer this one! Im going to go with my own favourite lyric here so this is going to be biased, but its from a song that hasn’t come out yet - but may be soon! "Dancing with silhouettes cos you’ve made your bed with bitterness". I find this lyric really telling when it comes to the feelings we had whilst writing them, where you are so focused on someone everyone else seems like silhouettes to you, where as they have chosen to pick being alone and unhappy”.
Have you got any fun behind the scenes stories from the writing / recording process?
"I think the best story is everyone tries to guess how many hands it took on one guitar to record a perfect solo. Hint: It was more than two..."
How have you found making an EP and trying to be creative over the past year which has been really difficult for artists?
"Honestly, the hardest part about this past year and a bit has been the lack of ability to meet up to work on material together. We’re a bunch of best mates so not seeing each other really throws some barriers up. However, we’re SO thankful for Zoom sessions. We taught ourselves how to continue to write over the video conferencing method. With the ability to screen share, it made it so easy for us to continue writing and maintain that creative flow. It really was helpful! Not quite like being in person, but it did the job."
What can we expect next from Castells?
"We won’t say too much, we don’t want to ruin the surprise... However we promise that fans will have some fresh new music from us before the end of the year to look forward to, as well as our first official headline show kicking off on the 3rd September at the Grace, Islington. It’ll be Connors birthday so you better believe it’s going to be a celebration. If you see this before tickets sell out, grab some!!!!"
'Viola' is out now.
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