|All in the name of love. Thats why Jeff Caissie, one of Calgarys most adored punk rockers, packed up and moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, where he married a punk rock girl named Amanda.
Three years ago, after a steady run of playing in great local bands (Porter Hall, The Browns, Showdown 76) and hosting the popular Compos Mentis show on CJSW, Caissie left the security of being a big fish in a small pond and made a fresh start in a new city.
At first, his relocation across the border wasnt as smooth a transition as he thought it would be. He spent eight long and frustrating months waiting for his work visa. When it looked as though it was going to take a while to legally work in the States, Caissie rented an acoustic guitar from a shop down the street for $20 a month. He then began writing songs that would form the bulk of his solo debut the brilliant, and aptly titled, Im Just Trying Not to Lose My Mind.
Also during this time, Caissie formed a new band called The Fragments. The band went on to release an album last September on a small San Francisco label, but has been on an informal break since two band members moved to Milwaukee. The time off has given Caissie a chance to finish his album, released on the locally operated Meter Records. (Alongside label president Dean Rudd, Caissie is introducing Meter Records USA this year.) Lastly, hes had a great opportunity to establish himself as a solo act. ("If I put out records by myself, I dont have to worry about my band breaking up," he says, laughing.)
"When I first came up with the idea of playing shows by myself and writing songs by myself, it seemed really awkward to me," he says. "I basically just went to the studio and recorded these songs. The producer guys said to me, Are you planning on playing shows? The idea didnt even cross my mind at all. It just seemed, like, why would I do that? It seemed like a dumb idea really."
He tried it out by performing solo in coffee shops and then during regular punk shows. Even when he was playing at the end of a hardcore-thrash night, he found that the crowd stuck around to hear his quiet set. Some of them were even singing along with his songs. These days, hes joined by a backing band called The Beat Rats (Justin Perkins and Tim Schweiger from the Lookout Records band Yesterdays Kids) who he says have given his set a bit of a rockabilly feel. He says that its been fun to have friends onstage with him.
"Im not like a shy person, but at the same time theres a big difference between writing songs and playing these songs by yourself as opposed to being onstage with four other people. If you had a bad show, you can console with other people in your band. Whereas if I were to play a show and, luckily it hasnt happened yet, its hard to play a show with people booing. You never know, right? Well, what am I gonna do? Go home and talk to the cat?"
With the sound he has going now, Caissie is in no imminent danger of being booed, period. For fans back home, aside from a wealth of exciting new material, Im Just Trying Not to Lose My Mind features two songs written while Caissie was with Porter Hall. The album concludes with a secret track, a cover of The Replacements "Here Comes a Regular."
As a whole, the album is a confident solo debut and entirely worthy of all the praises itll receive from pals back home in Calgary and all of the new fans Caissie is certain to rack up. Ask any of the folks here if only Green Bay knew how lucky they were.