Friday, February 21, 2014
The Casket Lottery Possiblies and Maybes Second Nature/Status 2003
So much to say about the Casket Lottery...much of it I should share for other albums that I sadly do not have on vinyl.
First, the band's leader, Nathan Ellis, probably champions the local KC scene more than any other national touring band. In the liner write up on this LP he gushes about Ed Rose, Kill Creek, the oft-forgotten Reflector, and the band he was a long time member for, Coalesce. He's always been that way, it's no joke, it's not a shoutout to friends, it's his genuine take on the artists that surround him in town.
Locally, the Casket Lottery is a treasure, there's support, but, ultimately, KC is not a huge town. A lot of passionate local music scensters would state they don't get the support they deserve. Maybe the band doesn't, but again, there's not a huge market for angular indie rock here or many other places. In the glory days of Shiner, Season to Risk, and Boys Life, it's not like those bands were playing arena's locally. They were packing clubs and small venues. They'd tour large venues with other acts, but not as a headliner. So, the Casket Lottery has always fitted in where they needed to fit in.
However, the point I wanted to bring out is that nationally, the band has created a passionate fanbase. Their records, like all indie bands, came out limited runs and command high dollar on the second hand market from fans. You get on social media and you'll find kids raving about the band, bragging about the original issue albums they own, the time they saw them in a basement, etc. They have a small, but amazingly devoted fanbase not just throughout the US but in Europe as well.
I've always felt that the reason is because quality has always been the band's number one concern. I have never met anyone more passionate about the entire presentation than Nathan Ellis. And when I say the entire presentation, I'm talking about everything. For example, I remember when the band's first EP, "Dot, Dot, Dash, Something or Other Dot" was in the works. Matt Rubin who was releasing stuff under his label, Paper Brigade, was initially involved and wanted to put out the EP. At a show, I remember seeing Matt have a conversation with Nathan, afterwards Matt came to me shaking his head. He explained to me that Nathan was talking to him about the packaging of the EP, how it had to have gold leaf printing or something. Matt's major concern was he wasn't going to have the money to put out the product Nathan wanted and if he did, he wouldn't break even, he'd lose money. For a fleeting moment, I was about to say to Matt I would help, but then I looked at the kid's face and realized he just wanted out, not assistance, he was scared to death of it. Ultimately, Status Recordings released the EP, I'm pretty sure Rubin never bowed out (he would've gone through with it, too nice of a kid) it was just a situation in which Status could offer the Casket Lottery more in the way of distribution and opportunity.
That's Nathan Ellis, he's passionate about it right down to the last detail. And, everything the band put out with their name on it is intricately designed and beautiful. Obviously, it goes for the music as well. This Double LP is a compilation of split EPs, compilation appearances, and a few new songs. Surprisingly, there are no throw aways or embarrassing moments. Even the early tunes that Ellis pokes fun at in his liners are above average tracks. Most compilations like this are filled with dribble and garbage, I mean, have you heard REM's Dead Letter Office or locally, the Get Up Kids Eudora, there is some crap on albums like that. This collection quality through and through. It's a testament to the band's following. If you're willing to put that much effort into every song, fans are going to react. It's a Fugazi-esque way of doing things and the reason the band carries such a devoted fanbase.
Priest Walks into a Bar