A Very Special Episode discuss their new EP, signing with Knuckle Down Records and what’s next

NYC post punk/shoegaze band A Very Special Episode recently released their sophomore EP Cut For Time.  The EP showcases the growth the band has undergone since they formed in 2016 and their shift to a more aggressive and fast-paced tempo while still maintaining some of their intimate and atmospheric roots.  Although the band has seen a number of line-up changes since forming, it has been consistently led by Kasey Heisler (vocals/bass) and Patrick Porter (guitar), both of whom write music that is heavily inspired by their love of television and pop culture.  Chayse Schutter currently plays drums for the band (although Richard Chen was the session drummer for the recording of Cut For Time).  Heisler and Porter’s blend of post punk, noise rock and alternative rock meshes well with their ethereal shoe-gaze tones and glam-pop attitude.  The band signed to Knuckle Down Records in April of 2018.  Staff writer Emily May spoke recently to Heisler and Porter via email about the new EP, signing with Knuckle Down Records and what’s next.  You can stay up-to-date with the band, as well as all upcoming tour dates via the following links- Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Spotify, Apple Music/iTunes, Knuckle Down Records and Soundcloud.  You can watch the band’s video (their first!) for “Gravity” below.  Photo credit: Emma Shalaway

Kasey and Patrick- A Very Special Episode formed in 2016 and although the band has had a few line up changes, the two of you have been a part of the band since the start. How did the two of you meet and what led to your decision to form the band?

Kasey: Believe it or not we became musically involved in high school! Patrick was very strongly motivated to play music and create art, though it took time to get other people on his level. I was drawn to his guitar playing and to how passionate he was so I weaseled my way into the band as best I could. I picked up bass when we needed one and it just became us fiddling with ideas ever since. It wasn’t until we were living outside of DC that we really got serious about getting our ideas down on paper and starting a new project that was what eventually led to Censored Dreams.

Your sound is a blend of shoegaze, pop punk and pop rock. Who would you count as musical influences?

Kasey: Our influences definitely draw from a bit of each of those buckets. We draw inspiration most strongly from bands like A Place to Bury Strangers, Ringo Deathstarr, The Kills, Paramore, and PUP. Though we don’t necessarily match them all in sound, there is an energy and passion we draw inspiration from that’s just as important.

Patrick: We got the chance to see My Bloody Valentine for the first time just recently which was a life affirming experience. As Kasey said, I wouldn’t say we have any particular songs that directly link to MBV or the others she mentioned but we definitely look up to them.

The band just released it’s sophomore EP, “Cut For Time”, which has been described as a surge of growth for the band. What led you to approach this album with a more aggressive and fast-paced tempo?

Kasey: I think we’re really influenced by whatever we’re enjoying at the time and that has an impact on the way our sound leans. We were heavily into the energy and style of the more punk bands of the local scene and we wanted to flex that side of ourselves.

Patrick: The changes in style was definitely in part from exposure when we started performing on more punk bills and it’s just generally been a more fun way to play.

I read that you all had a very specific goal for this album, which was to create definitive versions of several of your songs that started out as bedroom demos along with a couple of new ones. What prompted that goal for the EP and how did you decide which demos to include?

Kasey: Our first release was more of a proof of concept for us as a band, and a catalyst to get us moving in a forward direction. We were proud to finally release things we had been playing with and tooling for a while that we had been keeping to ourselves. Once we began playing out with greater frequency it began to shape us more as a band and help us to develop our style. While we wanted to include new songs on the EP, we felt that a few of the songs had really become new and different in our playing them live and wanted a chance to give them life in a recorded space with higher production value.

The band signed with Knuckle Down Records this year! What led to you signing with them and how has the experience been so far?

Patrick: It’s been great! We owe a lot to But, Pyrite’s Matt Leister for introducing us to Knuckle Down’s corner of the scene and getting us on some shows. After a while we made a decent enough impression on Larry Spahn and Brandon Bujnowski to receive an invite to get on the label and it’s been an amazing experience ever since. Larry’s been a great help on getting us on some killer bills over the past year and Cut for Time would never have turned out as it did without Brandon’s expertise in recording and mixing.

Kasey: It’s honestly so cool just to be part of a strong community!

What can you tell me about the song “Gravity”, as well as the video? I read that it was your first video!

Patrick: Yeah! “Gravity” is one of the first songs we ever wrote as a band and definitely benefitted from us playing it live and iterating different ideas we had to improve it as a piece. Cut for Time as a project actually came out of the desire to re-record “Gravity” when our friend Emma Shalaway approached us to do a video for it. She really loved the song as it was, but thought it would be a good idea to use a “definitive” version of it that matched our fast and higher energy live version of the song. To make the most out of the studio time we decided to do a whole EP which got us to where we are today.

Having gone through a number of line up changes, you have worked on developing your sound over the past couple of years. How has that process been? Do you feel that your sound on your new EP is where you want to be as a band?

Patrick: I’d say we’re still in the middle of that process, and maybe we always will be. We’re always trying to improve as musicians and to incorporate new concepts as we write material. One benefit of playing with all the different drummers we’ve been with is that we’ve been exposed to many different styles and options to play our own songs. Richard Chen got us exactly where we wanted to be with Cut for Time and it’s been so fun recently playing with Chayse Schutter and getting his interpretation of the same songs and input for new material which kind of created multiple and unique flavors of A Very Special Episode. I like how we can always be changing which keeps things from getting stale for us and for whoever makes it out to see us.

Kasey: I think that being in a band with any human means growing and changing all the time, as it should. It can become tricky once you’ve found your stride with something to not to want to put down roots and milk it for all it’s worth, but that’s just not how people work. We’re constantly feeling inspired by new sounds and ideas and that will naturally come out in whatever we do next. Whoever has drummed with us has been perfect for us at that time and we’ve been lucky to play with so many selfless and amazing musicians.

You cite television and sitcoms as a key influence to your identity as a band. What is it about television that you find so influential? Were there any particular sitcoms that influenced you? What are some of your favorites?

Kasey: I think I can trace my love for tv as starting with my parents, but really taking off when I was old enough to stay home alone during the summer. Every day became planned around what shows were on when and how many chores I could accomplish between commercial breaks. This was before streaming was big so I was limited to what I could find to watch on my satellite dish. Old sitcoms in the morning, like The Nanny, Golden Girls, Fresh Prince, or Family Matters in the morning, Gilmore Girls reruns on ABC Family, soap operas with lunch, and Boy Meets World or Full House in the afternoon was my routine for quite some time. Those sitcoms along with the more modern Friends, How I Met Your Mother, and The Carmichael Show all have a great impact on me. Any time a light and funny show got serious it really got me. I honestly can’t watch the episode of Boy Meets World where Shawn joins the cult without crying.

Patrick: It’s difficult to not be influenced by something you spend so much time on, so for the band we fully owned up to it.

You’ve mentioned that over the last month you have experienced some incredible music from a number of amazing bands that has left you feeling so full! Who are the bands you have been listening to? Who should people check out?

Patrick: We were so privileged to be able to play with The Loneliers, But, Pyrite, and The Rizzos for Cut for Time’s release show and Bedpan Fight, Hopeless Otis, Trashy, BLEW, and The Sharp Shadows are always a great time. Chayse is also the frontman of a band called Pocketsand who do an amazing live show. They’re playing again on October 21st at the Kingsland, anyone reading this should check it out!

Kasey: The list is long, but I’m drawing particular inspiration from some of the female-fronted bands in the scene right now. Bands like The Royal They (I’m obsessed), Powersnap, and Meansiders have really been inspiring us lately. Besides them, all our Knuckle Down friends always make us feel warm and fuzzy while also rocking our faces off. Oh, and Enziguri is possibly the wokest hardcore band around and listening to Dave between songs is like a free TED talk!

You will be playing at the first annual Knuckle Down Showdown, a showcase of Knuckle Down Record’s bands that takes place on October 14th! What are you looking forward to with the showcase? Who are you excited to share the stage with?

Patrick: It’s going to be awesome playing with all our label-mates in one place. We’re definitely looking forward to playing with Lucky 33 and Uncle Djuzeppe & the Mob who haven’t shared a bill with in a while and I can’t wait to see the reunion of 42 Grams Heart Attack (for the first time, for me).

What’s next for the band?

Patrick: We’re working on post production for a music video for “Still Here” at the moment. For that one we got a bunch of super 8 footage shot at our most recent live shows by whoever was around and could handle the camera. We’ve also been writing some new stuff and are already talking to Emma (our favorite collaborator) on what we can work with her on next as far as future video projects.

Kasey: For me personally, I struggle with writing. So I think taking time to write things that we’re really proud of is the next step and then getting out on stage and trying them out, even if they’re not perfect yet.

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