Casinos has been a part of Abbotsford’s music scene since 2012, and as most other bands in the Valley can attest, each member has been part of the music scene in Abbotsford in multiple capacities for many years now. Everything from members shared with other bands to their presence in crowds affirms Abbotsford’s music community as one big, growing family.
Listening to “Sean,” the band’s upcoming single, one realizes how much Casinos have grown over the years. All jangly pop-hooks and bittersweet vocal melodies, the track epitomizes the band in a manner even Junos may not have predicted as he penned its decidedly nostalgic lyrics.
Their most recent release, a self-titled EP, came out back in December of 2014. Frontman Kier Junos told me that since then, the band has been quietly busy, working on new material as well as evolving as musicians. And with evolution comes change, specifically, a lineup change.
In late 2015, Ken Ditomaso replaced Alex Vevers on drums when Vevers left to pursue a career in the financial world.
“He’s an insurance broker, making a lot of money. I don’t blame him,” Junos quipped. “Alex was a metal drummer, and when it came to Casinos, he really made us a bona-fide pop-rock band. Ken comes from a prog-rock background, he experiments a lot more. That opens up some new things for us.”
Part of the reason for Casinos’ low profile lately comes from the fact that their members have a thirst for traveling, as well as dabbling in other projects. Casinos shares bassist Mitch Trainor with Blessed, and guitarist Zack Keely with Little Wild, a band which also features Trainor on bass.
“Blessed, by virtue of doing what they do, tours a lot. It’s hard to have Mitch around,” Junos said.
Band members’ other commitments are something Junos realizes Casinos must work around.
“I hire bassists sometimes, and pay them out from the band fund. Zach was studying in Germany for a while and I even outsourced him for a bit.”
Junos said that for Casinos, patience is key.
“We have to be patient. I understand everyone else has career ideas that they want to foster, myself included. I play in Western Jaguar as well, and I’ve said in the documentary that was produced for us that sometimes you don’t have enough momentum to be brave about dropping everything else to be able to do the band thing.”
Despite their patience, Casinos is still actively adding to either their repertoire or their live performance checklist. Junos realizes that while sharing band members with other projects is limiting, Casinos is determined to make it work.
“People have a lot of different commitments, and it makes it difficult to write. We’re not playing a lot right now, [but] we have some gigs lined up for the summer.”
Of those commitments, Junos said Mitch Trainor’s bass playing in Blessed and Little Wild is one of the hurdles Casinos has managed to adapt to.
“I called him on this last tour, [and asked] ‘Mitch, do you still want to do this?’ And I was pleasantly surprised that he said ‘Yeah, I love playing in Casinos.’”
Junos noted that while it might economically make sense to bring on another bassist, Trainor’s presence is still essential Casinos.
“I don’t want to do that. Mitch has been with us for so long, I don’t think it would feel right. I want Mitch, you know what I mean?”
It’s no wonder, then, that the band is reticent to let go of Trainor, and Trainor of them. Sharing members is part of the Casinos charm. Taking the time away for other projects is what gives everyone a new outlook, and a new taste for music to bring into the band.
Casinos aren’t back — they never left. And as Junos tells me, they’re here to stay. Past the distortion, past the sometimes-theatrical stage antics of their lead singer, past even the label of being in a band, Casinos remains, despite their growth, as tight-knit as ever.
You can listen to “Sean” when it’s released later this week on Casinos’ bandcamp page.