Q&A: Cassels unload a scathing satire of capitalism in “Charlie Goes Skiing” and tell us about forthcoming album A Gut Feeling

London duo Cassels have confirmed their new album A Gut Feeling will be coming out on February 4 through God Unknown (pre-order).

Brothers Jim and Loz Beck dropped the savage “Mr. Henderson’s Cough” back in July, and today we have the pleasure of premiering their new offering “Charlie Goes Skiing” before it appears on streaming platforms tomorrow. The song is another narrative-driven ripper that tells a less than happy tale, and Jim says:

“Capitalism as organised religion: not a particularly new or original idea, but one I had fun with on this song nonetheless. I really hope people pick up on the irony in this one – it’s definitely not intended to be an endorsement of Western consumerism, in fact quite the opposite. Saying that, I imagine the people who’ll completely miss the joke are just the type of ghouls the song is satirising… Please buy the record when it comes out.”

For most bands, the opening lines “Charlie saw an advert for some beer, so he went to buy some beer” would signal a party track, but there’s no whiff of frivolity here – from the moment “Charlie Goes Skiing” leaves the blocks there is a sneer in Jim’s voice and an unforgiving sharpness to Cassels’ playing. As they unfold the story of the hapless Charlie, who goes about spending without enjoyment like a consumerist zombie, Cassels’ demonically tight interplay has us encircled and fires at will, pulling back then launching riffs with hair-trigger suddenness. “Charlie Goes Skiing” never stays in one mode for long, the brothers treating us to slaloming rhythms and sudden plunges of guitar – it’s like going on a black ski run in audio form, but it’s hell of a lot more fun than Charlie has in the song.

Check out “Charlie Goes Skiing” below then scroll beneath to read our interview with Jim about A Gut Feeling.

The two songs shared so far from the album are very involved narratively, what is it about writing in this manner that appeals to you?

I set myself the brief of writing character pieces for this album, as I felt it offered a nice way of sneaking quite personal things into the songs without them being explicitly autobiographical. I wanted to try and let the ideas and experiences come to the fore and push myself to the back a bit – I wanted to find a balance between being personal without being overtly confessional.

This felt particularly important in an age where there’s an ever-increasing pressure to broadcast every facet of our lives. My takeaway from this album is you should always pour yourself into your art, however your art doesn’t always have to be an unflinching warts-and-all reflection of you.

They are both quite scary/horrific – is that your natural proclivity or do you go in that direction because it suits the music?

I guess it’s a bit of both. Writing has always been a cathartic exercise for me, and I find the strongest emotions are often the most harrowing – anxiety, despair, indignation etc. – so these are often the ones which end up finding their way into our songs. At the same time, I’ve also written plenty of whimsical love songs which wouldn’t have felt right for this project, so our set up definitely dictates which songs we play.

Do you work on the lyrics together?

Nope. Lyrics are very much my department. Although Loz did write the lyrics and sing one of the tracks on our first album (“Motor Skills”).

How do you think the Cassels project has evolved between albums?

Given we’ve been playing together since we were young kids it’s kind of hard to get perspective on this. From a technical perspective I’d say we’ve definitely continued to improve from album to album – be that songwriting, playing, or just knowing more about equipment and sonics.

For this album we embraced repetition a lot more, and to me it feels like a much more confident body of work. The pandemic also (obviously) had a big effect as we were forced to rehearse for a lot longer than initially planned, which in turn made for a far better record. I now can’t see myself recording another album without rehearsing for at least six months to a year in advance.

What other treats/surprises can you reveal will be on the album?

The first track is essentially an eight-minute techno tune. It’s also the only song on the album written in the first person, and sets up the thematic frame for the rest of the record.

Why is the record called A Gut Feeling?

It’s taken from a line in the aforementioned opener: I want to qualify, quantify, and dissect a gut feeling / I want to strangle the intangible with insurmountable logic and meaning.

Cassels’ new album A Gut Feeling is out on February 4 through God Unknown (pre-order). You can find the band on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.