While Brad and Mike Casarin have been making music for 20 years together and apart, this year the stars aligned to bring back the band they walked away from some sixteen years ago. At the turn of the millennium, bands from Burlington like Grade and Silverstein were signing American record label deals and touring the world and Somehow Hollow would follow a similar course, releasing two albums but then fading from the scene after four years, eventually having members join Grade’s Kyle Bishop for some of that band’s last shows. This week Somehow Hollow’s Chasing Daylight is the band’s first release in 16 years and while it’s a lot more independent, the band claims they’re better than they ever were.
“I was in Burlington playing with Grade back in 1999 but my brother started the band while he was in Stratford and I liked the kind of punk or pop punk they were doing so I whittled my way into the band at the beginning,” recalls guitarist Brad Casarin. “There was a lot of cross pollination at that time, everyone was joining one band or leaving that band or starting this project. For me, I would always do labours of love and over the years I’ve been finding my own path and looking for something new and different.”
“There is a real connection and bond if you have a brother in the band and that spilled into the other band members,” adds Casarin. “We made some great music and had some good times but as brothers the good thing is that you can say what you want whenever you want but the bad thing is you can say whatever you want whenever you want. It’s a catch 22 thing that caused a lot of arguments and brawls. I can see how people outside the band were put off by our kind of relationship. We did our first big record for Victory Records that we recorded with Justin Koop in Burlington but I was kind of in transition, living in Markham and thinking about buying a house and when we went to New York to shoot the first video for the album, I had decided I was quitting the band. They continued on with another guitarist until about 2004 but the band fizzled out after that. I think that the downfall of our scene was that every band thought that they had a shot but that wasn’t the case and it diluted the scene and it imploded on itself. We’re back to where if you aren’t noted you will be forgotten quite quickly.”
Casarin’s resume includes stints with To The Lions, Malacoda, the Dirty Pioneers and more but the origins of bringing back Somehow Hollow weren’t planned and happend out of circumstances with the recording studio he made.
“I’ve been doing this corporate events band, the Dirty Pioneers, that does the top hits of the years and that’s been my money maker. I also teach at a music school and one of my students was into heavy metal and contacted me five years ago to do the guitar solos on this project being recorded by Jon Howard (Threat Signal),” says Casarin. “The drummer was Mike Harshaw (ex–member of Annihilator) and we hit it off and that’s how we developed a relationship and eventually he’d get involved. But Somehow Hollow’s original guitar, Kent Abbott died in 2013 and we got back together for a tribute show for him and that was the first time we talked about the band in years. “It was just for three shows and we walked away but in 2018 I made a home studio and I know an engineer, David Featherstone, who I work with a lot and we were working on some rock tracks and soundbites for songs or working with other artists. But I started writing some riffs that sounded like the glory days of the Southern California skate–punk scene. So we started recording these songs with me playing drums and guitar and eventually after I had enough material, I thought I’d call Mike up and see what he thought. He was immediately interested and the three of us got together casually every Wednesday night for a couple of hours. We were just making music and having fun with no time lines or goals for this music. We enjoyed the process of writing at a snail’s pace but suddenly we had these songs and listening to them, we realized this was something more than just a bunch of demos, this was something worth pursuing.
“We had no thoughts of Somehow Hollow and for me, that band was always in a rushed kind of state and I personally thought we never accomplished anything that that band was capable of doing. It never pushed all the buttons for me,” adds Casarin. “This music checked all the boxes for me and Mike and I felt we could tell the story of how this band was originally supposed to be and this was a chance to go back and correct some of the mistakes of the past. That’s when we decided to record the songs for real. All of a sudden we had this band with Dave on guitar as well and we were recording a new album.”
Recorded with Siegfried Meier at Beach Road Studios and the Cat Box in May 2019, the new EP is available through Get Party! Records on limited bubblegum pink vinyl and packs one powerful punch over four tracks losing little of its youthful zeal but accentuating the maturity of the band. Somehow Hollow comes to Hamilton for the first time in years and while everyone’s excited about the project, the future is still unwritten. Casarin believes they’ve created a set of songs that he and his brother have always wanted to create, and now in tribute to their fallen band mate and they're making the music they always should have been.
“Being more introspective at 40 years old really influenced the lyrical content,” says Casarin. “Musically, we wanted a high technicality of playing but with the speed and we’re at an age that we have the ability to make the sound that we want. We’ve been offered some shows and everyone’s open to touring but we’re doing this for fun with no goals. The Pioneers are my home base but I'm open to squeezing things in to do something with Somehow Hollow but we don't have any concrete plans.
“This is giving the band a fair shake again and everybody’s got a chance,” adds Casarin. “We see a lot of the old fans coming out but with some younger opening bands bringing out some younger fans I think the music is for whatever age into loud So–Cal pop punk like NOFX or whatever. When we play live, it’s still a very physical experience and I can’t just stand there. The way the music is presented is as important as the technicality of playing it and music has it’s power on the live stage for me. We’ve all been playing for years, we’re better players with even better songs and when we’re on stage we hope the audience is having as much fun as we are.”
Somehow Hollow plays this Friday January 17 at Mills Hardware with Frank Dux and Okayswimmer. Doors open at 7pm and tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Click on somehowhollow.bandcamp.com