Jared Draughon - Vocals, Guitar
Josh Moore - Vocals, Guitar
Eric Mendelson - Bass Guitar
Durijah Lang - Drums
Classic Case keep on keeping on. This four-year-old band, whose members are from North Carolina and New York City, is a study in perseverance and continuing to rock, despite surrounding circumstances. Even with its dark, tongue-in-cheek title and its stormy, moody undertones, the chunky, guitar-driven Losing At Life represents a new opportunity for a band that just wants to be heard. And after all, the best, most honest art is always born from darkness, frustration, and struggle, things Classic Case are familiar with.
Classic Case started out as a quartet, but added a second guitar to their lineup to thicken their sound. The band formed in Brooklyn, when vocalist Jared Draughon moved to the borough, eventually hooking up with drummer Durijah Lang (who originally sat behind the kit for Glassjaw) and bassist Eric Mendelson, and self-recording the EP, It's Been Business Doing Pleasure With You.
The band toured in support of the EP, despite being label-less, thus building a recognizable name and reputation in the independent rock/emo/metal/hardcore scene. Classic Case logged shows with likeminded acts like The Used, A Static Lullaby, and The Bled. They eventually moved back to North Carolina, and hired guitarist Josh Moore (who cut his teeth in the defunct Tooth And Nail band Beloved). Classic Case were gearing up for the release of Dress To Depress via Fiddler Records, when the label folded. Despite that crushing blow, the band kept its collective head up, and soldiered on, touring and eventually signing to Fearless Records.
Draughon, who taught English in Italy after high school, sums up the past few years for Classic Case, explaining how they affected Losing At Life, saying "We had such high hopes with past records, and we had been doing a lot of tours with hardcore bands, and we're heavy, but we're not hardcore. We have a lot of melodies. A lot of the darkness in the record came from our experience, and sometimes getting down about it," The album's title was born when the band was on tour - something it does often. The guys were crashing at a friend's pad. When asked what he'd been up to, the friend responded, "I've been up here, losing at life" in a casual, non-chalant tone. "I named a glum, lonely song after that conversation," Draughon says. "It's tongue-in-cheek, but it's serious, too! A lot of musicians feel that way. They work so hard, and more walls go up than come down! But you've got to put everything into your music, because you're not looking to be rich and famous, but to succeed in something you love!" The album indeed encompasses Classic Case's last 3 years of existence in the space of 11 songs.
Moore is quick to point out that Classic Case are not negative, glass-is-half-empty people, either. "The tragedy of life is not that man loses, but that he almost wins," he says. "We put that quote in the CD artwork. It's about being almost there, like purgatory being worse than hell, because you're trying to navigate the middle ground to get to the next plane."
Draughon describes Losing At Life as "driving and melodic, full of harmonies, but still intense and urgent in a rock 'n roll way, with plenty of heartfelt lyrics," and admits that his lyrics probe darker topics. "They are dark, but not in an evil sense," the singer says. "Sometimes, they're sullen and gloomy, but I don't consider myself a negative person. We're all pretty optimistic." Draughon prefers to keep his lyrics steeped in reality, because that's what fans relate to. "We're dealing with stuff that most kids are feeling on a daily basis. It's not far fetched and glamorous. It's every day stuff," he reveals.
For Losing At Life, Classic Case hired Helmet guitarist/vocalist Page Hamilton to produce, and headed to Seedy Underbelly Studios in Hollywood. Some songs were written in the studio, and of the process, Moore says, "It was very collaborative and spontaneous, and that's scary but you just have to trust your instincts." It's a move that paid off, since several of the songs on Losing At Life are hooky and hummable, and will lodge themselves into your brain for days, weeks, months at a time!
As fans of Hamilton's own music, the members of Classic Case were stoked to work with him. "He met my expectations, as a dude and musician," Draughon says. "He understood our band and helped us make a better record than we would have made on our own. He wanted things to be heartfelt and honest, and he drew that out of us. He wanted us to do our homework and think about things." Moore concurs, "We had never worked with someone who got so deep into our songs. We respected him musically, and everything he said, we took to heart."
One of the album's defining features is the back and forth vocal interplay between Draughon and Moore, which is reminiscent of bands like Hot Water Music and Jimmy Eat World. Moore calls his counterpart "vocally and melodically ambitious," and the vocal layering is a perfect complement to the feverish guitars. The album kicks off with "Into A Nightmare," which features a call and response where Draughon and Moore feed off one another. The title track a bit of a departure -albeit a welcome and successful one- for Classic Case. "It's not exactly rockin'," Draughon laughs. "It's layered with strings, and it's sad, but in a facetious way." There's a fairly political song called "Scott Free," as well. "It has to do with what are we really doing right now overseas, and how people are focusing on our country," Draughon says. He steadfastly claims the band is not political, despite this song. "Silent Treatment."
Classic Case are clearly not losing at life. They may not be the biggest band in the world, but they're just continuing to make earnest, genuine alternative rock 'n roll. They're just ordinary dudes in an extraordinary situation, who've climbed and fell, and still have no where to go but up. The songs contained on Losing At Life are well-written and rawkin' enough to ensure that they keep climbing and luring fans to their lair. -Amy Sciarretto