The Thin Air

Q+A: Casual Riots

Ahead of what’s set to be a busy few months for the fast-rising five-piece, including the release of new single ‘Honey,’ we catch up with Belfast alternative indie/alternative band Casual Riots

Hi guys. Take us right back to the start. How and when did Casual Riots first become a reality, and what bonded you as five musicians?

It all started with a few friends who met in school and who shared a commonality, love and interest in writing music and making a racket together. Around April time 2021, we decided it was time to rebrand ourselves. This is because we found ourselves with certain complications regarding our previous name, Vale. With a Bob Dylan book in hand and a list of significant words and phrases, the name Casual Riots fell from the sky. It really is all thanks to our Bob Dylan. After the name change we knocked things up a gear, we practised more, wrote more, gigged more and booked more time in the studio. With our explosive, energetic live shows and catchy hooks and melodies we started to make a name for ourselves in the local Belfast music scene, allowing us to start booking our own headline shows in which we packed out sweaty rooms all around Belfast.

Early on, you got a strong reputation for your high-energy live show, winning the Hop House Battle of the Bands at the Pavilion and playing headline shows at iconic venues like the Empire. How do you think you have evolved as a band since then?

Looking back to our earlier days, I believe as a band and as musicians we have grown and matured together. Our strength comes from friendship and understanding one another. Our live shows stand out to people because they’re real, it’s as simple as 5 friends doing what they love together. As we progress further into our journey, we are constantly adapting and improving ourselves. This reflects the standard of our performance as it continues to accompany the growth of our musical capabilities, developing the band holistically.

The best bands usually share a range of musical influences that help guide their musical self-discovery. Which artists have made a mark on your sound in recent times?

Between us, there is a wide variety of taste in music genres, some more questionable than others. But this frees us from being confined to a certain sound as each member inserts their own style and personality into our music. After many debates on who has a better music taste, it is undeniable that we take shared inspiration from bands like Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, The Jam and some modern-day artists like Willie J Healy and Sam Fender.

Looking closer to home, which Northern Irish artists have inspired you as a band since forming?

We are massive fans of Van Morrison, Stiff Little Fingers (SLF), Rudy and The Undertones. We would take inspiration from these local legends and are particularly motivated by bands such as SLF, for a few of their founding member were born and bred in the same areas as us – some even went to the same school. However we can’t deny the indie legends that are Two Door Cinema Club who produced some snappy tunes that certainly became a soundtrack for a few of our childhoods.

Back in September, you played a busy show at the Limelight in Belfast. What was it like performing to a crowd of that size, and does it encourage you going into 2024?

Our headline show at the Limelight was electric. It was exciting and extremely overwhelming to play to a crowd that size at our own headline show. We were received so well by everyone in that room. The crowd danced to all of our songs and to our surprise, belted out our singles word for word. It gave us immense motivation to come back bigger and better with our next headline show in 2024, with new, catchy tunes and a newly released single for people to sing along to.

You had a busy 2023, with new music, shows at the Ulster Sports Club and support Warmduscher as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival among the stand-out highlights. What are your stand-out moments from the year just gone?

Our stand-out moments have to be each of our headline shows. The headline show we played in Ulster Sports Club was great as we got to get so close to the crowd, we felt the room shake and got to see the emotions on everyone’s faces. The room was packed and sweaty, full of swinging arms and legs, the crowd was unbelievably supportive and they matched our energy from the stage to the dance floor. Stepping things up a notch, our headline show at the Limelight elevated this feeling even further. Now we were on a slightly bigger stage performing to a bigger crowd whilst being in a bigger venue. It was quite evident in the organic growth we had throughout the year and made us feel very proud and grateful for where we are and where we’ve come from.

You’ve new music in the pipeline, following the release of Life Cover in July last year. What can we expect over the coming weeks and months regarding new tunes?

In the next coming weeks and months, we are planning to release our newly recorded single titled ‘Honey’. Honey is another up-tempo tune that’ll stick in people’s heads day and night. We believe it may be one of our best singles yet and we are so very excited to release it.