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Casey Crescenzo Gets Colorful

February 14, 2012
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The Dear Hunter’s multi-instrumentalist tunesmith Casey Crescenzo has always had a penchant for grand things, including his three-album conceptual journey in three acts. Now he’s back with an even more ambitious undertaking: The Color Spectrum [Triple Crown], a collection of nine EPs, each inspired by a different color of the rainbow. The tunes paint Crescenzo’s clever guitar playing, layering, and orchestrations in a super-hip, multi-hued light.

Did you have a specific guitar approach for each color?

Definitely. Each color differed greatly. For Black, it was more textural and not overly technical. Red was more straightforward rock guitar, power-chorded riffbased stuff. Orange—I grew up on Hendrix big time, so the excuse to crank a Marshall amp, throw in a wah-wah, and play a ’70s-era Olympic White Strat was definitely rewarding. I wanted Violet to be more proper and sort of British sounding. For White, I was definitely approaching it in a shoegazing way—more ambient—textural but in a totally different way from Black. Aside from a little pedal steel and a very sparse melody line that’s played on electric, the Green EP is totally acoustic.

You obviously take a lot of care to arrange the guitars on your records, but your live show is really well orchestrated too. There are some- times four guitars playing at once, but it never sounds messy.

We orchestrate the live guitars very carefully. I try to apply the same mindset when arranging anything, which is there’s good space and there’s bad space. Not everybody has to be playing with full overdrive or fuzz and delay turned to ten or anything like that. Everyone in this band is really selfless as far as their playing goes. There are moments everybody gets to shine, but we all have a good clear understanding of the sonic goal live. That means not stepping on each other. So when there are moments that need big guitars, two of us will take the rhythm and one of us will take the melody. For those moments that require something completely different, one of us will be doing a soundscape—almost serving the purpose of a synth pad—while someone’s playing a melody and the other’s playing chords. Because we don’t have an orchestra live, the most organic way to recreate the ambient vibe of a lot of the songs is with guitar. Everybody in the band has a really good knowledge of pedals and amps and how to manipulate their guitar tones to fit whatever the parts require.

What would you say is the heaviest color of these EPs?

I think Black is heavy in substance and in the tone of the lyrics. Red is heavy in the sense that it’s very aggressive and raw. I would guess that Orange would have the most weight to it as far as being guitar- driven rock. I think certain colors are heavy for different reasons.

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