[band4c] When I sat down with keyboardist Ryan Balderas of The Casionauts on Friday, March 28, the first thing he said to me was, “You get to interview the band that is going to win Battle of the Bands.” He told me if he was wrong I could write what an arrogant jerk he was, but, lucky for him, he was right.
As the winner of the University Activities Board’s third annual Battle of the Bands, which boasted an audience of about 780, The Casionauts received $1,500 to spend at Elderly Music. The contest awarded a total of $3,000 to the top three bands, with second place going to the Schematic and third to El Presidente.
“People like to support local music,” UAB Films Chair Emily Money said. “[They] are competing, and students like to see their friends.”
[band4a] While winning is always a good thing, the founder of The Casionauts plays for a different reason.
“This band is my favorite thing that I’ve done,” Balderas said. “If you can make good music that people can dance to, that’s it.”
And making good music is something they do. The four-member group is comprised of Balderas, lead vocals and keyboards; Jon Cendrowski, vocals and guitar; Scott Mills, bass and Scott Warrens, drums.
The crowd at the Battle of the Bands Friday night seemed to enjoy the energetic, fast-paced beat of The Casionauts. With vocals resembling The Postal Service, the band’s music contains several drum machines and keyboards.
High off their win, the group will set out on a short tour through Michigan and Ohio. Local upcoming shows include April 6 at Mac’s Bar and April 27 at the Temple Club.
[band2c] Like any fledgling band, however, they’ve had their share of snafus. After playing a series of shows in New York and Detroit’s Magic Stick, a long-time goal of the band, the group’s trusty van quit on them on the drive through Pennsylvania, and all the equipment was abandoned when Warrens’ and Cendrowski’s girlfriends drove 12 hours to pick up the stranded musicians.
The band wasn’t upset about being stuck in another state; their comradery helped to make a tough situation into a great story. In fact, it’s these friendships Balderas says churn out even better music.
“The first time we played together, we were like, ‘this is what we want,’” Balderas said. “Our drummer just came to jam with us and it just stuck.”
[band3b] A mutual love of Neil Young also draws the guys together, but each brings his own separate musical taste to the mix, ranging from R. Kelly and Funkadelic, to Joy Electric and Talking Heads. Their musical talents combine to form what they call “spazzy-death-disco-8 bit-rock.”
However they want to describe it, fans just call it good. Mechanical engineering freshman Anthony Carlo first heard about The Casionauts at another UAB event, Open Mic Night, where Balderas was performing solo. Carlo has also listened to the group on MSU’s The Impact, but enjoyed seeing the band live.
“Their music is very catchy and very easy to groove to,” Carlo said.
[band3c1] So, just where did the group get its unique name? “The name came from a song from one of my favorite bands, The Recital,” Balderas said. “They have a song with a lyric that says ‘locked in a room of Casios and wind-up toys.’ I was sitting with a friend at Denny’s and he suggested, ‘Hey, you have all those Casios, you should call your band the Casionauts.’”
The name stuck, just like their music.
For more information about their newest release “Bailamos Murimos Juntos” or their tour schedule, check out http://thecasionauts.ohsoquickly.com.