Before guitarist Justin Casey moved to his current home, he had already decided what he was going to do with the one-car garage. He was going to assemble some cheap microphones and basic editing software and use the garage as a home studio.
That was in 2009, and in 2011, Casey and Ben Cavin created a band called Uneasy Pilgrim. The band didn't last long, but during its tenure, Uneasy Pilgrim was invited on a local web series. Scheduling conflicts got in the way and the taping never happened, but the request inspired Casey and Cavin to create their own series.
“At this point, I’d acquired a fair amount of audio knowledge, gear and experience,” Casey says. “I figured there wasn’t really anything stopping me from making a simple YouTube series myself, bringing in local bands and just letting them rock out.”
Casey had no experience in video editing, but he didn’t let that stop him. “I felt it needed to be brought to life — video quality be damned,” he says. A self-described DIY enthusiast, Casey began scouring Dallas pawn shops and eBay for point-and-shoot cameras.
Today, Casey and Cavin have shot and uploaded dozens of videos to their YouTube channel, Single Car Sessions. The videos are a mix of "in-garage" sets and interviews that spotlight musical acts from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Matthew and the Arrogant Sea, the Angelus, Dead Mockingbirds, From Parts Unknown, Clifffs and Pearl Earl are some of the bands who've participated in the last year.
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Single Car Sessions range from a couple of minutes to more than 20. Casey and Cavin use a consumer-grade camera for their main shot and lower-quality cameras for their other angles. All of their videos are in black and white. Casey says this is by design; it helps create a lo-fi feel while also masking flaws in the equipment.
Cavin assists on production day and helps with booking acts, and Casey takes care of all of the postproduction work using a free editing program. Casey says it can take from four to five hours to shoot each episode, and the editing takes several more hours of work. He aims to release 13 videos per year.
Casey, who considers himself a local music junkie, says the web series has several goals. The first and perhaps most obvious is to help local artists who appear on the show.
“There’s so many good musicians in the area that deserve more attention,” he says. “This way they can show off their live skills outside of those shitty cellphone videos that everyone ends up with after shows. Splicing in the interview-documentary style segments between songs provides an added benefit to the artist not found in many in-studio video series.”
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The opportunity to network and learn from other musicians is a benefit for Casey. “Plus, I get a free private show in my house,” he says. “It’s also been a great way for me to brush up my skills in the studio. The red light has definitely been lit more over the last two years than the previous four combined.”
When he’s not working on Single Car Sessions, Casey focuses on his band, the Delzells, which started up a few months after Uneasy Pilgrim broke up. The Delzells comprises Casey, Ralph Brownell (vocals, guitar), Michael Posival (bass, vocals) and Jon Rose (drums).
“The sound is really beginning to take shape,” Casey says of his new band. “It’s hard not to refer to it as punk, but there’s a definite garage-rock vibe — something vintage. At points it’s almost indie or surfy.”
The Delzells are recording their debut EP, which they plan to release Feb. 16, at Single Car Studio. They'll mark the release with a party at Double Wide. In the meantime, you can hear the Delzells for free Dec. 15 at Armoury D.E.