“Being in an indie band is like a pasta bake,” starts Lou Cotteril of Cassia. It’s saucy, a bit cheesy, and there are many layers.
Cassia as a pasta bake; either a studio favourite spicy tuna and red pepper, or a delicious sun-dried tomato and halloumi, has three layers. These three layers are the aforementioned Lou, Jake Leff on drums and frontman Rob Ellis.
“A pasta bake is a canvas of activity, you can do anything with a pasta bake,” says Jake. Cassia cast a dewy glow over the small market town of Macclesfield, transforming even the dreariest of days into a feel good carnival that’ll have you dancing down the wet pathed streets.
Living in Zambia as a young boy, Rob, grew up under a diet of West African music. His grandfather was always flicking through his vast record collection and “conditioning him from an early age.”
The flavours of different cultures filled his heart and poured into the music that he and his band make today. Their summer jams are chockablock with big hooks so sweet that they could knock out a dentist, and grooves so strong that they could prompt an early hip replacement. “Without buttering Rob up, he’s on this really cool African guitar thing which not many people are doing,” Jake says before paying compliment to Lou’s pocket. “It’s astounding,” he breathes, “It makes us groove a lot better than we should do. It’s pretty tasty.”
Fishing his own way to a compliment, the boys can’t deny that their drummer has an ear for keeping the delicacy of nifty rhythms without compromising their juicy beats. “We like music where we can tell that people are trying to do something a bit new,” Jake says. “It’s admirable.”
Citing the likes of Glass Animals and Bombay Bicycle Club as their favourites, the boys explain; “We use very few instruments and there’s just so much you can do with them if you just try it out. There’s so much room to make something just sound different so easily, and that’s the exciting thing.”
Breaking away from the typical been-there-done-that riffs, Cassia create music that leaves an earworm wiggling to a calypso through the subconscious. In fact, their music is just as irresistible as the boys are. They’re these untameable Northerners. They’re loud yet charismatic, confident with every right to be, and cheeky in good measure. The three can’t help but tease each other, yet their comebacks (“If Lou weren’t in the band, we’d be famous!”) couldn’t be more brotherly and are finished with a hearty laugh.
“Our music comes from a want for a constant summer, it’s an escape mechanism,” Lou explains, “You don’t hear it very often, and that was a big thing for us. At the time that we formed, a lot of rock n roll was around and it was nice to be able to do something different; to be able to be on a festival bill and do something different - it felt good.”
For one summer gig, they even became a quartet. “There was one time in Munich and we were just in a big park and it had a beach and swimming pool and it was baking hot. Munich is dead fancy, really rich. We were playing outside and it was dead chilled and we all thought it was gonna be class. Then this dude came up to us and he didn’t speak English and he just came over - he was called Papi and was an African bongo player, and he played the gig with us. It was sick.”
So far, Cassia’s back catalogue is alive with songs that soar closely to the sun. Fan favourite, ‘100 Times Over’ is understated but hypnotic in its brooding rhythm. Stripped from their EP, Movers & Shapers, ‘Come & Talk’ is a quick paced guitar led number with a heavenly vocal whilst ‘Weekender’ is slinky and cool; perfect for a roadtrip to nowhere. Containing all the ingredients to become an indie fan’s go-to, ‘Sink’ was designed for a live crowd singalong; we’re talking a bouncing chorus with beer strewn riffs.
However, their latest single, ‘Get Up Tight’, could almost be their signature. A chirpy track about exploring new possibilities after a break up, intricate rhythms and gentle harmonies leave you feeling effervescentabout the future and nostalgic for a break up you haven’t had. The songs could be likened to a pina colada – there’s the softness of the vocal harmonies, the smooth textures of instrumentals, the hit of the rum that sends you giddy, and the refreshing tang of the pineapple juice.
“The initial challenge is to write a happy tune instead of a morbid one. It’s kind of hard, that.” Rob says. When writing an upbeat song, they’re always cautious of crossing the boundary and just becoming like that pasta bake. It’s a fine line yet Cassia manage to breeze it. The songs have all the politeness of English romanticism but are brightened by their overseas influence, instead making the tracks enticing and inviting. It’s quickly learned that there is a pre-meditated motive behind their happy songs.
The band have crafted summer gems in order to achieve their dreams of playing on a yacht in the Bahamas. “Nobody wants to hear miserable shit when they’re on a yacht in the Bahamas, do they? They like upbeat music on yachts.” Now we’re not talking a cruise ship either, “We’re talking a 40 mil yacht... a Bill Gates yacht.”
Luckily, even if you’re not a 65 year old millionaire with a 30 year old wife, you can still enjoy the sweet sounds of Cassia. If they make it out there, it wouldn’t be half bad for a band of blokes who never even considered getting into a band.
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Words: Tanyel Gumushan
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