Cisco Caesar

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Cisco Caesar

If Mavis Staples had a lovechild with The Black Keys, it’d sound pretty damn close to the tunes of Cisco Caesar. With fuzzed-out electric guitars and some cracking beats, the band is flying the flag for Australian ballsy rock ’n’ roll. In the lead up to the release of their debut album Burnt and Broken, I got the opportunity to sit down with James Cisco to chat about life on the road. In the thick of it leading up to the album launch, Cisco can’t wait to tour around the country playing shows. “It’s pretty exciting to finally have the album out. It’s taken two whole years but I can’t wait to get out and play these tracks in the live setting.”
With a studio in Ferntree Gully, the process of recording the album, although quite lengthy, allowed for the band to get the right feel and sound to the record. Capturing the best sound for bass, drums and electric guitar, Cisco feels that Burnt and Broken still retains that fresh element despite so much studio time.
“Although it has taken two years to put together it was recorded in small blocks and I think that created a healthy working environment for us. Every time we walked away from it, we came back with fresh ears again and that opened up a world of possibilities to the songs, from adding harmonies and little bits and pieces. When you are trying to capture your live sound in the studio, sometimes you forget things.”
Originally from Illinois just south of Chicago, Cisco spent most of his musical life playing along Route 66, before moving to Australia with his wife. With a family heritage of playing music, Cisco was always destined to be a rock star. “My dad was a self-taught musician and collected and repaired vintage instruments. I was obsessed with instruments as a kid and my father eventually set up his own music store. I owe it all to my father. He’s obsessed with music. My brother is also a multi-instrumentalist, just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.”
In addition to the album coming out on CD, one of the most exciting aspects about the release is the vinyl record, which has made quite the resurgence over the last five years or so.
“It’s actually really great. I’ve always collected vinyl for a long time and I am a huge fan. I got my first record player when I was five. I got Jackson 5 Greatest Hits and Creedence Clearwater Revival Greatest Hits. I still have the record player and those records, and it’s fantastic and a big thrill to have our album on vinyl.
“I have scouted through hundreds of thrift shops and garage sales to find all my favourites, so to drop the needle on my own record is pretty damn exciting.”
Taking in shows all around the country including Hepburn Springs and Bendigo, the idea of hitting regional areas of Australia was a no-brainer. “That was something that we wanted to do. We played a blues-fest in Goulburn two years ago and everyone was so nice to us. We went to get breakfast and they knew who we were and we didn’t have to pay for breakfast.
“Hitting regional towns isn’t about free breakfasts, though: there is a great atmosphere and vibe to those shows man. We can’t wait to take the record to the people. See you in a front row!”
When&Where: Old Hepburn Hotel, Hepburn Springs – September 14 & The Newmarket, Bendigo – November 15
By Tex Miller