Castanets Interview

Bearded pic taken from Castanets’ MySpace

The man behind Castanets is mid US tour, yet takes time to talk with Shane Mehling about feline asthma, Freak Folk and (obviously) Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.

usounds: What lessons did you learn from your last record that you addressed on In The Vines?

Raymond Raposa: I learned to fry eggs. I learned the wretched smell of corn mash turning to whiskey, the smell that burns the inside of your nostrils, makes you think blood will tear from your eyes. I learned that it is better to leave some things on the ground no matter how intriguing they are to pick up.

usounds: Since the name implies a group of people, was the band started out with the intention of it not being a solo project? Do you ever think about forming a full-time band?

Raposa: It only implies a group of people if it’s written or said as “The Castanets” which is incorrect. It’s Castanets. The band did start out as a trio, however quickly mutated and the possibility for happy accidents by inviting friends and strangers to share the stage was sweet unpredictability. I have dream bands in mind, but I think these dreamy incarnations are happening in ways more powerful than self-willing or intentionality. It’s a flexibility thing. Keeping limber.

usounds: With Radiohead putting out their new record for as little as zero dollars, do you think this will have a trickle-down effect for indie bands in the near future?

Raposa: Radiohead is reveling in the privilege of stardom. They flaunt their bourgeois dismissal of dependency on the market economy because they have been blessed by that market economy. However, that said, even the engagement in music as a pastime or profession is a luxury that we as post-survival humans take for granted.

usounds: When cats severely suffer from feline asthma, they’re given glucocorticoid, which is a hormone that binds with the cortisol receptor. While effective, it’s a little pricey. Are you one of those people who spend a bunch of money on their pets, or do those people creep the shit out of you?

Raposa: The only thing creepy about this is the fact that cat asthma is a result of their allergies to humans. Makes one wonder what else in the world is allergic to humans.

usounds: Has anyone ever reviewed your record with the line “More like the Castanots”? Did it make you furious?

Raposa: No. What makes me furious is that you just said it.

usounds: You were considered part of the Freak Folk movement. Was that the dumbest name ever? Grunge was a pretty stupid name too. Was it dumber than grunge?

Raposa: Is the use of a word for forward progressing describing two genres that are actually a nostalgic look back an oxymoron? Taxonomy is a bitch you can’t leave. Definitely a terrible, terrible name and a lazy catch-all for a bunch of bands that kind of know each other.

usounds: On a scale from 1 to 10, how much do you love having a beard?

Raposa: I don’t know about score, but if you want me to categorize, I say “best new”. That seems to be a useful term these days.

usounds: You are known for the endless amount of musicians who are happy to get up on stage and play music with you. Can you give me the name of one guy who sucked really bad?

Raposa: Myself. If others are “sucking” or standing out, I have failed because of my nearsightedness and inability to assimilate the chaos, or at least dance with it.

usounds: “Psychodelic-Megabytes” wrote on your comment page “your one amazing person. :-)”. Did you e-mail her back to tell her that the correct spelling is actually “You’re”? Could you go do it now?

Raposa: Punctuation is negligible. MySpace even more so.

usounds: Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego, your native city. He died in 1543 of gangrene stepping out of his boat and splintering his shin when he stumbled on a jagged rock. Do you think you’ll die in a less or more pathetic way?

Raposa: I could only hope my death is that pathetic. Blessed are the pathetic, for they shall escape the historical misappropriations of future generations.

-Shane Mehling

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By Shane Mehling

Shane Mehling is an underground political and art collective based outside of Austin, TX.

In 1974, shortly after President Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon, Duke University graduates Emmanuel Shane and Barrick Mehling began a small counterculture magazine called "Shatter" questioning the power of the US government and what they saw as the apathy of its citizens. By the Summer of 1975, interest and circulation in Shatter had risen to a point where Shane and Mehling felt it necessary to move their operation to a more advantageous location. Deciding on Los Angeles, they left on July 7th, but never reached their destination.

Their badly charred remains were found on the outskirts of Austin six weeks later. Their vehicle and all of its belongings (including the next 2 issues of Shatter) were never recovered. Conspiracy theories involving various high-level organizations have been put forth, but no "Smoking gun" evidence has ever been uncovered.

Roughly five years later in 1980, the name "Shane Mehling" began to pop up connected with guerrilla art installations, scathing critiques in major newspapers, and anarchical underground records. If an address were made available, it would always be the site of the murders. Little is known about the actual inception of Shane Mehling, but it has been pieced together that the main goal is to carry on the tradition of Shatter by questioning the roles of government and popular culture through any viable form of communication.

While its members remain anonymous, rumors abound that celebrities such as actor Benicio Del Toro, the late biologist Steven Jay Gould, and
satirist P.J. O'Rourke have made significant contributions to Shane Mehling related works.