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Caspian Talks Dealing With Death of Bass Player, Bringing Post-Rock to New Audiences

Evan Tretraualt

At the end of August, when news broke that Caspian bassist Chris Friedrich had died, it was sudden and unexpected. This month, Friedrich would have celebrated his 33rd birthday.

Speaking with Diffuser.fm during a European tour with Finnish rockers HIM, co-founding Caspian guitarist Philip Jamieson discussed dealing with with the tragedy, the details of which the band and Friedrich’s family wish to keep private.

In the aftermath of Friedrich’s passing, the rising Massachusetts post-rock band is doing its best to stay busy. This month, they release ‘Hymn for the Greatest Generation,’ an EP that follows their three studio albums, and they’ll support the release by playing their uniquely pretty and engulfing music in cities from coast to coast. “We really need to be on the road right now,” Jamieson says. “It helps.”

How is the European tour with HIM going?

These shows have been hard to put into words. It’s a different experience for us. We probably couldn’t be more different than HIM if we tried. The whole thing was a massive risk for us. But we decided to step out and do something a little bit different and put that core belief that post-rock isn’t just this thing that appeals to this certain type, and that it’s for everyone.

Why take a risk?

After six or seven years of doing this, it’s a bit like preaching to the choir. We’ve been looking for something like this for a while, something where we can put that theory to the test. This was the opportunity to get in front of 2,000 people a night who haven’t heard this s—, who don’t know us. Us not singing to them is perplexing. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Have you generally had a good reaction?

A much better reaction than we could have expected. We thought they’d throw tomatoes and bananas at us. We don’t have a front man, we don’t have a guy with his foot on the monitor all night.

And you’re not wearing eyeliner.

We’re not wearing eyeliner, right. But the reaction has been really good. People see ‘Sycamore’ with the drum finale that we do, and come up to us afterwards and say, “We’ve never seen anything like that before.” We’ve done it six or seven hundred times now, but it’s making it fresh for us.

The fall U.S. tour is a co-headlining stint with Brit post rockers 65daysofstatic, who seem to be at the same level in the U.K. as you guys are in the States.

That seems about right. I think we do the same kind of venues in America as they do in Europe. We share a booking agent in North America, and he pitched the idea to us. We don’t usually like to do shows that are multiple post-rock bands. It’s just too epic, and everyone loses a bit of their luster. Our stuff seems to be a bit moodier. We’re both post-rock, and that’s where the commonality ends. Who knows what post rock is these days? That’s a whole other story.

For all these dates, you have a new bassist.

Jani was in a band called Sainthood Reps. We did a tour with them and became fast friends and got along really well. He decided he needed a change of scenery from Sainthood and he was originally going to do these two tours with us. But, obviously, considering everything that happened, he’s become a full-time member.

Had Chris already decided not to tour?

Two thousand nine was the first tour that Chris didn’t do; he was in Africa then. Then Chris came back and did all of 2010 with us. That was some extreme touring. That was the last of Chris touring, but he recorded ‘Waking Season.’ He always wanted to tour, but he wasn’t able to pull it together.

You have had lineup changes right from the get-go; members go and come back. This is different, though. There’s a member who isn’t coming back to play. How is it affecting the band?

We’re taking it one day at a time. We’ve always been circling the wagons with everyone, but I’d say now more than ever we’re reminded of the fragility of life. It’s a fleeting thing, and we all want to enable each other to reach our dreams. Everyone who was ever in this band is an active participant in that.

Next: 10 Best Post-Rock Albums

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