Protomartyr's Joe Casey Isn't Too Old For Indie Rock
Fresh of the release of Protomartyr's excellent new album, the band's frontman talks age, Matlock, and, uh, boner pills.
Detroit-based post-punk band Protomartyr are four years and three full-length albums into their career and have no plans to slow down anytime soon. The band's rapid release schedule and incredible evolution — with each new release improving on the last — is even more impressive when you learn that frontman Joe Casey, 38, is about a full decade older than the rest of his bandmates. Bassist Scott Davidson, guitarist Greg Ahee, and drummer Alex Leonard are 28, 29, and 29, respectively.
Once you learn that a member from Protomartyr is nine or 10 years old than the rest of the band, it's not hard to pick Casey out.
Casey bucks the stereotype of what many would think the enigmatic frontman of one indie rock's newest staples looks like. He's got short, thinning hair that's often hidden under a Detroit Tigers baseball hat and frequently dons a ruffled suit jacket over a single-colored button-up dress shirt. It's a look that music writers and concert-goers have characterized as "high school teacher" or simply "dad." These descriptions of Casey have even led to the appropriately titled Tumblr "Descriptions of Joe Casey." (A few standouts: "inverse Bono," "business casual Jeff Daniels," "my loan officer.")
What's Joe Casey's secret, and how do you start a band after 35? We emailed him to find out and, as expected, he a hilariously droll perspective on his life.
Do you ever feel like "the old man" on tour?
Joe Casey: They don't want to talk about Matlock as much as I would like. They also don't find my racist and sexist humor as amusing as my old chums did. They all died in The War, sadly.
Do you feel a responsibility to give your band members guidance in their lives because they're younger?
JC: My advice is "clean socks and jimmy hats." Just like it says on John Wayne's grave.
When looking to fill out your band, were you purposely looking for younger people?
JC: I wanted a hip band like Glen Miller. He always filled his band with the best session men in the biz. It doesn't matter what age they are as long as they don't have any goofy ideas and have nicely starched stage outfits.
Did you ever hit an age prior to starting Protomartyr where you felt you were probably too old to start a band?
JC: No one should start a band. Go get a real job at 12 and help make America great again. Rock music is for beatniks and layabouts smoking jazz cigarettes.
Do you ever feel a responsibility to make music for people "your own age?"
JC: All the hidden references to the Harding administration gets the folks from my generation smiling. I try to evoke the good old days when real men did real men stuff like shoot at bears - not pickle things and ride bikes around like a lily-livered whippersnapper with dropsy.
How would you think touring with your band would be different if you were 10 years younger?
JC: I would think the '90s were cool and therefore I would be stupid.
What are some things that make you jealous of your other band members' youth?
JC: Nice skin and healthy bowel movements.
How long do you see Protomartyr going? Does age factor into that at all?
JC: Not at all! With all the pills I'm on. (Not all for boner problems, mind you.) I can last at least through two Trump administrations.
For people out there who are your age and looking to start a band, what advice do you have?
JC: Have some young person teach you how to use a computer. You can have your grandkids email you music. It's fun! AARP offers special deals for the elderly in post-punk bands. It's a great way to squirrel away some cash for your kid's retirement.
On the other hand, what advice would you give to people who feel they're too old to start a rock band?
JC: You are correct in your assessment.