Act Casual eloquently recounts the everyday struggles of overcoming a romantic rough patch.
The metro Detroit jam fusion quartet of Ryan Yoskovich (drums, vocals), Ryan Stafford (keys, sax), Will Richardson (guitar, vocals) and Danny Flynn (bass, vocals) addresses these mounting interpersonal encounters on their latest soulful, funkified single, “Livin’ a Lie.”
Throughout “Livin’ a Lie,” vivid, wah-wah electric guitars, climbing bass, fluid drums, tingly cymbals and sheeny synths engulf love-stricken listeners and provide them with bluesy-induced relief.
Act Casual reflects, “Never the one/Now it’s all done/Trying to flee with nowhere to run/I’m a livin’ a lie/A total loss/But at what cost/Thinking about all that I’ve lost/I’m livin’ a lie.”
The Stratton Setlist recently chatted with Act Casual about their first studio release in nearly four years as well as their background, previous projects and upcoming live shows.
TSS: What initially inspired “Livin’ a Lie” for you?
AC: It was an initial exercise of just trying to write a set of lyrics to a groove we had been working on. The lyrics started coming together about disagreeing and arguing with a lover; it was in hopes of showing that everyone has the same arguments and quarrels with the ones we love. No one is alone in feeling some of the emotions played out in the song.
TSS: How long did you spend writing and recording the track?
AC: We spent a few weeks writing the song itself, which also developed as we played it out live. We spent two days in the studio laying down the majority of the tracks, following up with a couple of more sessions for vocals. The track was recorded at Plymouth Rock Recording Co. with Ryan Hyland as the head engineer.
TSS: What was it like to translate “Livin’ a Lie” from the stage to the studio? Any plans to release a video for the track soon?
AC: The track didn’t take on too many alterations for the studio recording. However, we did add vocal harmonies during the recording process, which stuck with us for live performances afterward. We filmed some of the recording process and plan on releasing a music video in the fall.
TSS: You mentioned in your Dunesville Music Festival live set that “Livin’ a Lie” is also the name of your upcoming album. What work do you have left to complete on the album?
AC: We will be dropping another single entitled “Fresh (Out the Shower)” in October as well as another single in November with the full album dropping in the winter.
We will continue to work with Ryan (Hyland) at Plymouth Rock Recording Co. to finish any additional touches, and with Max Preissner, who has been helping us with the promotion and release of these songs as well as building our presence online. People can expect to hear more vocal-driven songs like “Livin’ a Lie” as well as instrumental pieces.
TSS: How did you get involved in music while growing up? What artists inspired you?
AC: Danny started off playing baritone saxophone in band through high school and eventually picked up guitar and bass around age 16. Stafford also played baritone as well as tenor saxophone in high school and eventually picked up keys in college.
Yosko started playing drums in junior high school and also picked up guitar and bass in high school while Billy started playing guitar in middle school. Some of our favorite artists included Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Randy Rhoads and Dr. Dog.
TSS: How and when did you come to form Act Casual? What does each band member help bring to your overall sound and creative vision?
AC: We had all been good friends and jammed together in various formations, eventually solidifying into a five-piece band and playing our first show as Act Casual in the summer of 2016. We have since lost a member and have been playing as a four-piece.
Stafford views the music as a painting of sorts and tries to add his own “color” based on what the musicians are doing at the moment. Yosko tries to serve the song as a whole and doesn’t stand on top of the mix; instead he tries to be a piece of the larger puzzle. Danny builds his basslines around repeating grooves and keeps the sound locked in, but also takes things outside of the established progression when the vibe calls for it. Bill, well, he shreds.
TSS: How has your rock-blues-funk fusion sound evolved since the early days together of jamming in your basement?
AC: When we started, we had Nick Small on lead vocals and guitar to give us a dual guitar sound with more covers in our typical set. As time progressed, we began experimenting with more improvisation and extended jams. Nick eventually bowed out, and we began taking over vocal duties as well as focusing on our songwriting.
TSS: What was it like to write, record and release your self-titled debut EP in 2017? How did Taylor Greenshields help shape the project’s sound? What’s your favorite track from it?
AC: We wrote our self-titled EP as a unit with Nick (Small) writing the lyrics, and the recording was actually done in Danny’s living room while Taylor brought his mobile recording setup over to the house. Our favorite song has to be “Hillbilly Disco” because the groove always gets people dancing, and the melody just seems to stick in your head.
TSS: You’re performing at the Sacred Heart Music & Art Festival on Oct. 2 and Halloween on the Mountain on Oct. 29-30. What do you have planned for these upcoming shows?
AC: We are extremely excited to share the stage with Octave Cat, Bacanno, Cheezcake and all the amazing bands at Sacred Harvest Musical Fest. We played back in 2018 and had Chris Houser of The Werks sit in, which was a real treat.