If you read my Journey blog or any of the JoCo Has Talent series blogs you'll already know two things. One, I love music on a very personal and visceral level. Two, Johnston County has some amazing and talented people trying to make it in the music business. In this week's blog I'm talking to Casey Austin Allen, a Four Oaks native and one half of the duo Season & Snare. The other half being Autumn Rose Brand. If you're wondering about the name of the band, Casey plays drums and Autumn is, well, named after a season. And it's always ladies first, so Season & Snare. The duo was formed in March of 2014, and yes, they are more Karmen than HoneyHoney. Which is a musical way of saying they are a couple. Below, Casey answers my questions about Season & Snare, the music industry, Johnston County, and dating your business partner.
As it turns out, musician was not Casey's first career choice, "I was actually gonna be a Power Ranger. But, it turns out, that's not really a job." I can sympathize, seeing as my Hogwarts letter is STILL lost in the owl mail somewhere.
Like many young kids whose parents aren't quite sure what to get their children for Christmas, Casey received a drum set one year, "I didn't ask for one, but I had fun banging on it randomly for a year until an older friend of mine came over one day and tapped out a beat on it. I just had this moment of epiphany, like, you can make purposeful noise with that?!"
He got lessons at 15 and became so good that he graduated high school early in order to tour with a metal band. He did that for four and half years, which isn't as weird as it sounds Casey says, "if you want to play at a very high technical level as a drummer you either need to play metal or jazz."
He joined the band through a mutual friend and left when he realized he had a real passion for singing... not screaming. Along the way he picked up guitar, piano, and song writing. Then, in 2014 he met Autumn at a studio session in Raleigh that he had booked to play drums. They still do a lot of concerts in Raleigh, where they have ties to the music scene.
"Instead of going on a normal date we started writing music together and the connection was instant. We both have a love for pop and folk. Our sound inspiration comes from bands like the Civil Wars and Broods. We complement each other in what we bring to the music. I'm from Johnston County and so sometimes a little southern, country, rock sneaks in. Autumn is from Seattle so she sometimes tempers the songs with a soft, rainy day vibe."
I asked how their writing sessions go, "normally one of us gets an idea and then we bring it up to each other and continue together. I think the fact that we're dating makes our song writing better, it adds honesty. But, it can be difficult too. To set aside your relationship and make decisions as business partners."
Listening to Casey define their roles in the band, I get the feeling that having clearly defined tasks is what makes it work, "Autumn does a lot of the marketing and booking. She's great at it. And we've both become very savvy with social media, especially Periscope. That's where we caught our big break."
Periscope is a live-streaming service through Twitter. You jump on the app, start recording yourself, and Twitter let's people know that you're doing something cool on camera, giving your followers and other twitter members a chance to click a link and watch you. So, basically, Season & Snare can put on a concert in their living room whenever they want thanks to the internet.
"The unfortunate thing is that the music industry isn't just about talent and drive, it's about luck." But Casey says that a lot of talented and business-minded artists are turning to the rapid changes in technology and communication to gain an audience and following.
Season & Snare's big break (where talent, hard-work, internet savvy, and luck came together) took place during a Periscope session that started with 15 people logged-in to watch Autumn and Casey jam in their living room, per usual. Except that night they watched the hit count (the number of people currently watching them) jump from 15 to 100 to 1500. It turns out Aaron Paul, star of the hit TV show Breaking Bad, had stumbled upon their Periscope session and digged their music, tweeting out Season & Snare to his 2.5+ million followers.
But, wait, it gets better. Because of that one session, Season & Snare ended up being the first live feed to go "viral" on Periscope. So the company contacted Casey and Autumn, congratulating them on their success and talent, thanking them for using the platform, and inviting them to play at one of the first Periscope Summits in NYC.
I asked Casey what that feels like, "It was crazy! We're performing and speaking at the next summit in San Francisco coming up soon. Our success with Periscope has given us a bigger following on the west coast than we have in our home state. That's the power of the internet."
I asked if he thought the internet would ever make labels obsolete, "I don't think they'll ever be obsolete, having a record deal can make a lot of things easier. But social media and crowd-sharing is making it easier for independent artists to compete in the market, to make it without a label. Ideally, Season & Snare would like to be an independent band with a good distribution company."
The bigger you get as a band, the more you travel. Both nationally and internationally. I wanted to know what Casey misses most about JoCo, "the first time I went to NYC was a little shocking. Everyone walks with their heads down, not making eye contact. In Johnston County, you can be a complete stranger but we make eye contact with you, we nod, we say hello. Southern hospitality is the best. It's nice to return and feel welcome."
Speaking of returning, Season & Snare will be making Four Oaks, NC their base of operations for a while. In between recording music and touring, Casey and Autumn will be opening up a music school in their home, his grandparents old home actually. Casey was very close to his grandparents, who lived next door to him growing up. In fact, he recently released a song he wrote about their love for each other. Called To Ann, With Love. You can listen to it and learn more about it here. Be prepared to cry. The song is absolutely beautiful both musically and lyrically.
With their love and support of him, it feels right that the home his grandparents shared will be a place for making and sharing music. Johnston County doesn't have a lot of places that kids can go outside of school to learn music appreciation, especially early in life. Casey is hoping to change that, "we'll be teaching drums, guitar, piano, violin, and maybe a few more."
Best of all, Season & Snare have their very first EP debuting late this month. In conjunction with a TV show. Yes, you heard that right! On December 22, ABC News is doing a special on new social media trends, and Periscope will be a part of that. One part of the special is about how new bands are using apps like Periscope to reach new, larger audiences, and Season & Snare will be featured in the segment which will air nationally. Be on the look-out for more news regarding the EP release date on the Season & Snare Facebook page - and LIKE them while you're there.
It was an incredible experience to sit down with Casey and talk music. As it always is when I speak with one of the many talented artists that come out of Johnston County. I get to play Rolling Stone reporter for a day. Hopefully soon, you'll see Season & Snare on the cover of Rolling Stone for real. I'm certainly glad that they're chasing their dreams and that they've decided to share their music and talent with Johnston County along the way. Casey is optimistic you'll be able to see them perform in the county at some local gigs they hope to book in 2016. And, if not, there's always Season & Snare on Periscope.
UPDATE: You can now listen to snippets of Season & Snare's new EP Seek here, and follow the link to purchase on iTunes! Happy Listening!
*Blog Cover Photo Taken by Daniel Scheirer.