Left Hip
The Castanets are embarking on a comprehensive North American tour in support of their new album, First Lights Freeze. The album is a shiny mixture of dark folk and country, blustering interludes and atmospheric soundscapes. At the center of the Castanets is songwriter Raymond Raposa, with whom I had the pleasure of discussing his band’s tour.

So your guys are you are playing in Seattle at the Crocodile?

Yeah, it should be fun show. We have never actually played there. Last time we played in Seattle it was at Gallery 1412. The first time we came through, we played at a sports bar in Ballard – probably like three years ago, just James Bunke and us. Essentially it wasn't a show so much as we were in a sports bar playing, while people watched TV or shot pool or whatever.

That doesn't sound like much fun...

No, it was way beyond just a bad show, and well into the realm of like a surreal experience. I'm not a working musician, so it was a really interesting experience. The second time through was definitely an improvement.

The Crocodile is a really neat club, definitely one of the better venues in the city. So are you touring behind a new release?

Yeah, the new record came out on October 11th.

Cool. How many recordings do you have out now? I picked up a copy of First Lights Freeze, that is the latest release, right?

Yeah, the one before that is Cathedral, and we have a split 12” instrumental and some CDRs.

How many people are in the band? On the record it seems like there are moments that are very environmental and minimalist, and then the tone will swell and get pretty big and rockin’.

Yeah, on some the interludes between tracks we had like seven people on them so that is half of the credits right there. But most of the tracks are Rafter, Sufjan and I doing lots of overdubs. And as far as the touring band goes, it’s never fixed from tour to tour;

the last one I did solo.

Sounds like it would make touring little easier – I mean as far as not having to cram seven people in a van.

I mean… we have done it; the last west coast tour was with a seven piece. It took two vehicles. I guess it kind of depends on the mood that I’m in as far as how many people I want to bring out, or the way that I feel about presenting certain things at certain times kind of dictates who is playing and how many of them.

How did you end up on Asthmatic Kitty records?

I had made a couple of CD-Rs in San Diego, and one of those ended up with Michael Kaufman at Asthmatic Kitty and he sent one over to Sufjan and one over to Lowell. We were going to put that record out, which was called What Kind of Cure. But it ended up getting pushed back, and we agreed on doing the Cathedral record instead. But yeah, it was just good fortune that Michael and Sufjan liked the record.

Castanets are playing three shows in the northwest on their tour:

November 22, 2005 Seattle, WA - Crocodile Cafe
November 23, 2005 Portland, OR - Holocene
November 25, 2005 San Francisco, CA - Hotel Utah