Five Questions with…Casey Crescenzo

October 27th, 2009
(Photo: Dan Gillan)

(Photo: Dan Gillan)

What began as a side project for singer-keyboardist Casey Crescenzo to use as an outlet for music that didn’t quite fit in with his then band, the Receiving End of Sirens, turned into a full-time gig with the more experimental and progressive group the Dear Hunter. Their second full-length studio album, Act III: Life and Death, came out in June, and they’ve been touring ever since. The Dear Hunter plays The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night, and last week The House List got Crescenzo on the phone so he could answer five questions.

Who are your inspirations outside of the music world?
Terry Gilliam, who’s a director. I grew up on Monty Python. One of my, like, favorite childhood stories is that my dad got to play chess with John Cleese. And he has an awesome joke that I forgot. But, yeah, I mean Monty Python, I loved. I love Terry Gilliam, from movies like Brazil. Brazil’s my favorite movie. Film directors like David Fincher. Who else? Chuck Palahniuk.

What’s the best part of playing New York City?
I don’t know if it’s because getting in and out is such a bitch, but when you actually get there, the audience is very happy, very responsive. The audience is the best part. But also, I think for us, all of our, like, business end of things—our booking agent, our manager, our label—are all in New York. So we get to see them and hang out with them, and that’s a rarity. And that’s also a lot of fun. So the audience, but also seeing all our friends.

What’s your favorite place in New York City to hang out? And do you ever feel like you could live here?
I don’t think I could ever live there. I have such anxiety getting in there. It’s not until we’re parked and inside a venue that I feel even close to stress free. And I walk around and I feel very much like an outsider, like everybody knows that I’m not from there, so I’m not part of the club…. But I really like the area around The Bowery Ballroom.

Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Is a song better when it really happened to you?
I don’t think you have to be depressed when you’re writing it, but if you haven’t felt depression and you’re writing a sad song, or you’ve never been in love and you’re writing a love song, you’re just estimating. And unless you’re writing about a search for love, it definitely is better when you’ve lived it because otherwise you’re sort of just a stenographer. And I think it’s pretty transparent…. When any emotion is genuine and it’s coming through in music, it’s infinitely more powerful than something contrived.

It’s 4 a.m. and last call has come and gone. What’s your next move?
Last-call drink, I guess it depends: If it’s at that point where you need something to sort of seal the deal, then you have to order some sort of bomb. But if you’re just enjoying the night and you wanna have your one last drink, for me it’s definitely gin and tonic with Bombay or Hendrick’s. But the next move for me, if I’m not already asleep, it’s probably just sleepin’. I’m a really boring guy. —R. Zizmor