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Punk Father, Hardcore Son
The Casting Out
Yeah, we do punk rock. It's pretty damn simple. - Nathan Gray
by Steven DiLodovico
Nathan and Simon Gray of The Casting Out
Nathan and Simon Gray of The Casting Out
(Credit: Steven DiLodovico)

For over 30 years hardcore music has been a generational thing; an aural history passed on from the old heads to the young. A lot of people involved in this scene, especially in the pre-Internet days, will tell you they were introduced to the music, the shows, and the culture by an older brother or sister's record and t-shirt collection. Many of us were inducted into our first matinee experiences much in the way a gang member is "jumped into" his family: sometimes it is just as bloody an initiation. Imagine your first pit being a 1985 Cro Mags show, or the violence of an Agnostic Front pit and youíll understand.

The Delaware-based band The Casting Out has its roots planted firmly in that hardcore scene. Vocalist Nathan Gray first gained notoriety while fronting the politically-charged Boy Sets Fire, who were an acclaimed, underground sensation in the '90s. Boy Sets Fire eventually landed on a major label before disbanding and its dynamic frontman wasted no time in putting together his next project: The Casting Out.

The Casting Out started as an exorcism for Nathan: he quickly put to rest the notion of the staunch and rigid ideological musings of his previous band with the band's first EP. The Casting Out's name alone is a direct nod to the shedding of the revolutionary rhetoric and political proselytizing that Boy Sets Fire perfected. The Casting Out is a fun band; an infectious, hook-laden outfit that, while retaining the same dynamic energy of a mid-'90's hardcore band, is less about consciousness and more about exuberance.

Now, set to release their second and self-titled album, The Casting Out finds itself facing new challenges: staying together as a band.

"We have a history of losing members," laughs Nathan. "People seem to get into this band with the wrong priorities. When you get into a band thatís actually going to do something; you know: tour and stuff like that; you basically can't have other priorities. It has to be the band. It's the price you pay: you either do it or you don't."

This sort of half-hearted commitment almost cost the band a few important gigs. Before embarking on a few warm-up shows before the official U.S. release of the album The Casting Out's bass player quit, leaving a huge hole to fill with no notice.

"That was like our third bass player," continues Gray, "and I was looking around. We were going crazy trying to find someone. He quit two days before we were set to play two shows in Massachusetts. It was unbelievable: we had been planning these shows for a few months and he got in touch with me two days before we were set to leave! I was going crazy trying to find someone who could learn these songs in two days."

Enter Simon Gray, the 16-year-old son of Nathan and bass player in the ultra-heavy metalcore outfit The May 4th Massacre.

"It was funny: Simon's mom called me to ask me something about him, something that had nothing to do with music. I got off the phone with her and then exclaimed 'oh my god, what the fuck was I thinking?' He is the most talented musician I know and it never even occurred to me to ask him! So I called him up to see if he wanted to do it. By this point it was literally one day before we were leaving."

Simon stepped in and took the cue from dad and never missed a beat.

"We went through all the songs and he picked them up real quick. We were in there for a good four or five hours going through all of them. I donít know anyone else that could have done that. I was really stoked."

Not only did the younger Gray learn the set list to perfection, he did so with his right wrist in a cast. Seriously.

"The Casting Outs songs weren't too hard to learn. I picked them up pretty quickly, and, as you can tell, they don't really focus on technicality in their songs," says Simon, laughing.

"Yeah, we do punk rock," agrees Nathan. "It's pretty damn simple. Simon's band is heavy as fuck."

Nathan and Simon Gray of The Casting Out
Simon Gray (Credit: Steven DiLodovico)

Simon is a multi-talented musician capable of playing bass, guitar and drums. His own band (which also features a son of another ex-Boy Sets Fire member) plays an extremely technical style of grinding hardcore that borders on death metal and encompasses ever-shifting time signatures and tempos. Musically it is miles away from the simplistic anthems of The Casting Out. "The May 4th Massacre is a metalcore band; I guess that's what you would call it. Our influences range from bands in the '90's hardcore scene to bands that are around today such as A Day to Remember and Vanna," explains the younger Gray. "The Casting Out's style wasn't hard to adjust to because even though I listen to heavier stuff, I also like the style of music they do."

As for his discovery, Nathan was as shocked as anyone when he discovered the depth of his son's talent.

"I knew he really likes music and stuff, but I had no idea how talented he was until one day I walked downstairs and he was playing something on his guitar and I was like 'wow, what are you playing?' It was some crazy Lamb of God song. I automatically assumed that he had been working on it for a while. I asked him where he had heard it and he turned on the DVR: he had been watching the video and just casually picking it out. It was some crazy, technical, solo thing. I was amazed."

Clearly the father's admiration and respect for his son's talent is evident. Touring was nothing new for Simon either. He had done stints on the road with his father before, with both Boy Sets Fire and The Casting Out.

"Iíve been out on tours with him a couple times before, but this was the first time I played music with him. It's fun; they're all really cool guys and I've known most of them for a while. We get along pretty well," says Simon nonchalantly.

"It was definitely different bringing him out as an actual band member. He's 16 now, so we're pretty good friends and it's not as difficult as when he was younger and you had to watch out for him all the time. It's amazing having him along with us."

Even with the vast differences in their personal tastes and the style of music each plays, both father and son have found a commonality in the live arena. The father teaches the son and, at times, the son teaches the father. It is the circle of the generations completing a tradition.

For more information on The Casting Out: www.myspace.com/thecastingout.

For more information on The May 4th Massacre: www.myspace.com/tm4m.

Steven DiLodovico
Steven DiLodovico is an accomplished writer who grew up in the underground Hardcore scene in the early '80s, where he learned and lived the DIY ethos by booking local shows, writing for fanzines and organizing events of varying political activism. While raised on a steady diet of heavy classic rock from the '70s, his roots extend deeply into the worlds of Punk, Metal and Hip Hop. Originally from Philadelphia, Steven has worked for various independent record labels in different genres, including Superegular Recordings, Babygrande Records, and Enemy Soil Records. He has written for such Hip Hop magazines as Subculture and Elemental as well as a number of Hip Hop websites. He has also contributed to highly-esteemed websites like Jersey Beat and SmutLife. Steven is currently co-writing an oral history of the legendary Trenton, NJ Punk club City Gardens. Contact Steven at [email protected].
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