Joe Casey is the lead singer and songwriter in an acclaimed American rock band called Protomartyr. Formed in Detroit in 2008, Protomartyr have released three full-length albums, including their well-received breakthrough, The Agent Intellect, which came out via Hardly Art Records in October, 2015. The band has been touring almost non-stop since then, including upcoming Canadian stops in Guelph, Ottawa, Montreal, and Calgary throughout May and June. Here, Joe and I discuss being back home after a long tour, Fargo and Fargo and Bob Dylan, playing inside and outside, the state of the state of Michigan, the water crisis in Flint, and Governor Rick Snyder, his dad who worked as a construction inspector for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, water plant schemes, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his appointment of Victor Mercado to head the water department, how Michigan is mostly run by Republicans at the state level, aggressively taking advantage of poor, vulnerable, predominantly black cities, why voters trust business people more than they do politicians, how touring is living in a bubble and not really travelling, Donald Drumpf and the meaningless concept of ‘President,’ Michigan’s political spectrum, Calvinists and forgettable Democrats, when Bernie Sanders won Michigan a little while ago, Ralph Nader’s 2000 election campaign and the Detroit Farmer’s Market, local politics, a Clinton/Sanders ticket, his dad’s political philosophies and humanistic beliefs, the state of Detroit, a focus on downtown instead of the suburbs, whether or not the city actually has jobs to offer the influx of younger people moving there for the cheap rent, false individualism within gentrification, saviours of Detroit, roadie-ing for Tyvek and hearing about Detroit from people who don’t live there, laze about artists, young people, and Detroit’s tax base, how he did and didn’t engage with Detroit’s musical history, Motown, the city’s relative isolation on the tour circuit, the State Theatre and the Shelter and 8 Mile, Zoot’s Coffee House, less shows and more movies, film school, bad news, don’t worry too much, comedy within the songs of Protomartyr, the Coen Brothers and Fellini, the year Protomartyr broke, media coverage and perceptions of success, working very hard, making music to sell clothing, t-shirt sales are the new charts, his stage presence and a collision between passion and indifference, learning how to be a lead singer, being a programs director at a summer camp, becoming an artist, going to see Paris but not seeing it, becoming a public person and interacting with strangers, stock answers, the way fans know artists, Dave Thomas of Pere Ubu, meeting heroes versus contemporaries, trying to record a new song under a tight deadline, perks and road managers, saxamaphone, the wisdom in playing smaller markets like Guelph, Constantines, writing again, his notebooks, the song “Clandestine Time,” and that was it.
Related links: protomartyrband.com vishkhanna.com