“Casual Technicians is a band consisting of three geographically separated songwriters (Tyler Keene, Boone Howard, and Nathan Baumgartner). All three have deep roots in the Portland, Oregon music scene. Keene and Baumgartner were founding members of And And And, sharing songwriting duties until Keene’s departure to focus on his prolific Log Across the Washer project. Howard led The We Shared Milk and the Boone Howard band. Baumgartner now lives on the Oregon coast and Keene lives in Newark, New Jersey.
The two traveled to Howard’s Chittenango, NY farm to write and record new music together as Casual Technicians while being surrounded by turkeys, sheep and beautiful upstate scenery. Having three accomplished songwriters attempting to write music together sounds like a recipe for disaster and clashing egos, but the resulting tunes were created with very little conflict and are a cohesive if idiosyncratic collection of songs. Pop earworms and lush harmonies abound. There are elements of Steely Dan, Smile-era Beach Boys, Angelo Badalamenti/David Lynch atmosphere, and splashes of unabashed emo. The mixture of oddball humor, emotional sincerity, and singalong hooks make their debut EP a fun, exciting, and strangely easy listen.”
The fall is here, the long evenings come as well and we all need some laid/back indie music to keep us company. I have some craft beers in my fridge, I can open one up and play this EP as a nice soundtrack to my moody Fall vibes.
The songs are nicely flying and I am really loving the gentle slacker lo-fi vibe that is coming from them. The songs are so well crafted and I am enjoying the EP from the start to the finish.
The track Four Corners climbs nicely into a climax that will get you pumped and I love the energy it brings in comparison to the first mellow track for example.
Every song on this EP is worth checking out and has its special feel. The countryside influence is quite present in the song and I enjoy this reference to folk/country music.
Highly recommend finding time and listening to this.
I have reached out to the band and asked our 3 Qs and Nathan Baumgartner from the band replied.
What inspired you to start making music and what keeps you making music?
I became obsessed with listening to music in the 6th grade. I got a bunch of CDs from one of those mail-order companies in the 90’s and kept collecting CDs, tapes, and records. I came to appreciate all the different ways these musicians would approach creating music that I found emotionally moving or intellectually compelling. Even within a specific genre, it seemed there were endless combinations and paths to explore. In pretty short order I began humming my own melodies and started playing guitar. Over time I realized that songwriting and matching lyrics to melodies can be therapeutic. Sometimes things come out in the lyrics that I was maybe burying or did not want to confront. I keep making music because there always seems to be more territory to explore in that regard. Also, it can be quite gratifying when you are puzzling out how to find the right melody or chord structure and it finally comes together. That’s why I love working with Tyler and Boone. We are basically sitting together trying to put all the pieces together, hitting a brick wall, and then all of a sudden someone has an idea that brings it all together.
What was the most challenging thing in your music (artistic) path?
Procrastination. Sometimes making music, being in a band, and writing songs can feel a lot like being in school. There is a due date, there’s something I should be doing, but for some reason, I’d rather not do the thing and just lose sleep over it. It is an illogical thing that I struggle with and I know a lot of people have very similar experiences. My band (And And And) went on a 4 year hiatus and I barely touched a guitar for 3 years. I knew I was capable of making new music, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything. Tyler and Boone got in touch with me and asked me to be a part of the Casual Technicians project, and my first inclination was to say “No” because I thought it would be something that would put me in that negative cycle again. Once I got out there and started working with them I felt completely revitalized creatively. It was very nice to have some of the pressure taken off where I wasn’t building songs from the ground up. We were building off of each other’s ideas. I think the three of us really respect and trust each other’s artistic vision. It made it really easy to hand over the reins when I got stumped with where a melody or lyric should go. It never became competitive and made me feel really excited about making more music in the future.
What would you dream to do if anything was possible?
My dream as far as music goes, would be to be able to continue making compelling music for as long as I can, with the requirement that I’m having fun. I’ve given up on the idea of making a living playing music. I spent years trying to make a band successful through touring, professional recording, PR games, etc. It is work and often not fun. I feel like if I spent more time focused on the actual creative aspect of the band I would have made at least twice as much music. I turn 40 next year, which is pretty old in the music world. This is the age where musicians typically become washed up and go through the very worst phase of their careers. I feel like I’m working on some of the most interesting music I’ve ever made with Casual Technicians and it is honestly a dream come true because of the low pressure that is involved. We plan on getting together for a week every year to make a new album. For me, that is perfect. We can be really productive, but not endlessly toiling for reasons that are unclear. There seems to be an unlimited amount of music being recorded and distributed these days and I don’t really need our band to become the most popular thing in the entire world. That is not realistic. However, I would love for the band to achieve a cult following of sorts. As a person who has been very emotionally moved by other peoples’ music, it is my dream to have people be moved by the music that I am a part of.