Music Interview: No need to Crtl+Alt+Delete

By Nathan Atnikov

Somewhere in a dark basement, a punk rocker leans back in his chair and flips on the TV. It doesn’t sound like anything special, but this isn’t any regular basement and this certainly isn’t any regular guy. Sitting amongst thousands of dollars of equipment in his own recording studio, Casey Lewis checks out the first ever music video by his band, The Failure.

“We just sent this out to MuchMusic,” Lewis says, eyes glued to the screen. “We’re pretty stoked about it.”

The video is intense, a barrage of disturbing images slash across the screen, skin melts off faces and skeletons seem to walk right through the screen as The Failure’s harmony-driven punk rock blares through the speakers. But the video isn’t about shock value. Each image carries a calculated message, equal parts cryptic and cynical. The video, as it turns out, is a personification of the band itself.

Lewis is as precise and thoughtful in conversation as he is when putting together his songs. He realizes the opportunity being in a band affords him, able to send a message to a willing audience and Lewis is reluctant to pass up that opportunity.

Though not the only songwriter in The Failure (guitarist/vocalist Dean Rudd writes as well), Lewis does contribute the majority of the lyrics, which range from political commentary to inward reflection.

“I used to feel almost an obligation to write a song about the state of the world, about politics, when I was younger,” Lewis says. “And I’m not saying I don’t anymore. I think that it’s important for any songwriter to express whatever their thinking. Anything else is pretentious or contrived.”

Punk rock and politics have gone hand in hand since the music came above ground three decades ago, so it should come as no surprise that The Failure is willing to throw their weight behind a worthy cause. No strangers to benefit concerts, the shrewd cynic side of Lewis is fully aware of the self-congratulatory aspect of these kinds of shows and is quick to stop short of patting himself on the back.

“If you’re in a band and you can actually do something to help somebody else, “says Lewis, “then that’s a very good feeling. But a lot of people would play up the beneficial nature of playing a show for a charity. In a way, we’re still serving ourselves; we’re still getting up on stage and doing what we love to do. It’s no different than if we do it for money, but every now and again it makes you feel good to do something that’s not entirely selfish.”

While the band slowly puts together their follow-up to last year’s … Of Reason, it’s easy to see why Lewis is excited about The Failure’s future. “A band always moves forward,” he says. “You can try to hold it back and fight it, but the best way is to let every person evolve individually, and evolve as a whole. I definitely think we’ve found our voice.”