The progressive metro Detroit jam fusion band has released two new tracks this fall as it prepares to release its full-length debut album and gets revved up for a three-day New Year’s Eve bash.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series partnering with Ypsilanti’s Grove Studios to spotlight artists from the east side of Michigan — an endeavor aimed at bridging the gap between east and west. Today, writer Lori Stratton profiles southeastern Michigan’s Act Casual. Scroll down to listen to the band’s latest singles.
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For Act Casual, a quick shower provides the ultimate confidence boost.
The metro Detroit jam fusion quartet of Ryan Yoskovich (drums, vocals), Ryan Stafford (keys, sax), Will Richardson (guitars, vocals) and Danny Flynn (bass, vocals) douses listeners in a funky, exhilarating rush of inspiration on the latest single, “Fresh (Out the Shower).”
“Originally, I had this semi-serious track with these really not so serious lyrics, and it was going to be some goofy song about a guy taking a shower with a funk chop in it, and that’s how the first verse kinda went,” Richardson said.
“Then, Danny wrote the second verse on it, and that kind of shaped it into this cool back story of getting some swag in your step, going out and seeing who you can meet.”
Act Casual brings an irresistible swagger to “Fresh (Out the Shower)” as radiant electric guitar, slapping bass, smooth drums, shivering cymbals and lively keys instantly summon the right mojo. It’s the ideal, jam-tastic anthem for approaching that special someone when you’re clean and dressed to the nines.
Richardson boldly sings, “Jump in the shower/Dirty from the night before/Just came from happy hour/Gettin’ ready for the show/Grabbin’ the soap bar/Wash the funk between my toes/Don’t forget your armpits/Meet a lady/Call your baby/And you got to be ready to go.”
“It could be viewed as a confidence anthem for the listener, or it’s a song about a character or someone who would come to one of our shows,” Flynn said. “They just like to party and hang out and hope to meet a cute somebody at the bar, and then they’re gonna go home, and do it all again the next day.”
LISTEN: Act Casual, “Fresh (Out the Shower)”
“Fresh (Out the Shower)” also serves as Act Casual’s second new single this fall. In September, the band dropped the soulful, funkified track, “Livin’ a Lie,” to eloquently recount the everyday struggles of overcoming a romantic rough patch. (Scroll down to listen to “Livin’ a Lie.”)
Throughout “Livin’ a Lie,” vivid, wah-wah electric guitars, climbing bass, fluid drums, tingly cymbals and sheeny keys engulf love-stricken fans and provide them with bluesy-induced relief.
Richardson thoughtfully sings, “Get out of bed/Deep in my head/You know there’s something on my mind/I’m livin’ a lie/She said I was wrong/I knew she was right/I ain’t tryin’ to win this fight/I’m livin’ a lie.”
Filled with lush vocal harmonies, “Livin’ a Lie” also serves as a powerful anecdote about the common arguments people have with their loved ones and the strong emotions that accompany them.
MAKING THEIR SONGS ‘POP’ IN THE STUDIO
Both “Livin’ a Lie” and “Fresh (Out the Shower)” started as improvisational live tracks before morphing into their current studio versions with Ryan Hyland at Plymouth Rock Recording Co. in Plymouth.
“Ryan has been a huge help in making all those pop. Playing it live is one thing, but when you hear it in the studio, you can get all those dynamics … that nice crisp drum, and the bass is nice and fat. Everything is perfect,” Richardson said.
The band continues to work with Hyland on its first full-length studio album called “Livin’ a Lie,” which will drop this winter and feature a mix of vocal-driven tracks and instrumentals. It also will be Act Casual’s first studio release since its 2017 self-titled, four-track EP.
“We’ve got some synth stuff that I have to do, and we have a sax track that we have to lay down. Outside of that, most of the stuff is done other than going back, re-listening and touching up,” said Richardson, who formed Act Casual with his bandmates in 2016.
“What we’ve been doing throughout the process for all the singles is getting two or three mixes down and listening to those, going back to the studio and fixing them. We have to do that with like five or six more tracks.”
In addition to working on a new album, Act Casual has played a steady roster of live shows and festivals, including Halloween on the Mountain, Sacred Harvest and Pond Jam.
On Friday (Nov. 12), the band played The Parliament Room at Otus Supply in Ferndale with Grand Rapids’ Desmond Jones, and will join Stormy Chormer and friends in Ann Arbor as part of a three-day New Year’s Eve bash at The Blind Pig.
“The majority of our shows have been outside since it’s been nice out. We’ve played a handful of indoor shows, and it will be interesting to see how they continue into the winter, but so far we’re optimistic. More venues are having shows and selling tickets, so things seem to be going smoothly,” Flynn said.
In the meantime, Act Casual fans can support the band through a new Patreon account, The Casual Collective, to access exclusive content. They also can look forward to a new video for “Livin’ a Lie” being directed by former bandmate Nick Small, as well as a third single before year’s end.
“We’re planning on releasing at least one more single, and we’re just getting antsy to get it out. But we’ll see, we may do a fourth single,” Flynn said.
LISTEN: Act Casual, “Livin’ a Lie”
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