John Power of Cast: 'I wanted to make a defining piece of work'

Fans attending John Power’s solo shows late last year got a surprise when the Liverpool singer-songwriter gave the first public airing of the opening tracks from his band Cast’s first album since 2017.

But talking to The Yorkshire Post, it’s soon evident that the 56-year-old is keen for many more people to hear the full record, Love Is The Call, which is due out this Friday. “The reaction I got (last October and November) was amazing,” he says. “I mean they are very beautiful songs, I just knew I had to play them. I’m still listening to the new record with a detachment that you get when you know that you’ve made the best record that you could in that time.

“I was happy to play a few songs that I haven’t really played in the past, but those two went down really wonderfully, it was a great way of testing the waters with the new material.”

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While Power considers Kicking Up The Dust as “a really good bunch of tunes”, the new record is, he feels, a more complete album. “Now and again you connect to the main artery and you have a complete idea of what the next record is going to be,” he explains. “I just think as a band and as a writer, I didn’t just want to have a bunch of good songs. I wanted to make a defining piece of work, an album that is framed so that all the songs are related and have a kinship between each other. I wanted to make one more seminal record and it had been itching away at me for a while...and I just caught the wind in my sails.”

At its heart was Power’s idea that “if I wrote a debut record for the band now after all these years, how would it sound?”

“I wanted to capture that energy whilst obviously knowing that we were a more mature act – that sort of vibe was where I was coming from,” he says. “It was very rewarding and very inspiring to have a real idea as opposed to just trying to write a song. I’m always writing songs, I’ve probably got a solo album’s worth of material left in me that didn’t make it onto the record, that wasn’t to do with the fact that they weren’t any good, they just weren’t cut from the same fabric. I wanted a continuity on this record.”

Creatively, Power found himself in a similar headspace to where he was 30 years ago after he had left The La’s and was contemplating what would turn out to be Cast’s debut album, All Change. “I wanted to kind of complete the circle, really,” he says. “There was a space post-La’s and pre-All Change which I knew existed. It was neither one or the other, it wasn’t a parody of either of those things, but it was a space that existed that instead of me having two separate lives – I was in The La’s then, and I was in Cast then – it’s all part of the same journey. I just wanted to use the experience of myself as the bass player in The La’s and not separate it from the songwriter of Cast.

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“I didn’t have to look very hard in that space, there was ideas there, I just had to go, ‘OK, yeah’. It’s very much a Cast record, but I play bass on the whole album, I play all the rhythm acoustics, I wasn’t turning my back on my old self. I kind of leant into that breeze that blew and tried to have fun between those two polar regions.”

John Power of Cast.John Power of Cast.
John Power of Cast.

Although Jay Lewis, who replaced original band member Pete Wilkinson, didn’t play on the record, Power is at pains to point out that he’s “still an inner sanctum dear friend, comrade and amazing musician” who will “be with us whenever and wherever he chooses”.

“He’s a very close friend of all the members of the band, but in the real world it’s sometimes difficult for us all to hook up. He also plays guitar and bass with The Zutons, he also does his own solo stuff.”

The album’s title track is reminiscent of Cast’s early sound. Power believes it was important to play to the band’s strengths. “It’s very easy to forget who we were, what we are or how we want to be,” he says. “You know how it goes with mature musicians, you play a variety of music – Skin (Liam Tyson) can play a variety of styles of guitar, Keith (O’Neill) can do the same, I can flit between folk and blues stomping stuff into pop – but I know what the band’s strengths are. The idea was to go back to that, back to the future, go forward to it like in physics, time is a figure of eight. You can go forward whilst bringing back some of the I wanted to incorporate that, play to our strengths. Keith’s drumming on this record I think is the best drumming he’s done, I would say the same about Skin, the band’s performances are blistering and that was helped by Youth producing.

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“You’ve got to look at the record as the last record we’re going to make – that was the point that I made to everyone, ‘please look at this as the last time you’re going to make a record with the band’ – and if you look at it like that then you’ll just want to do what’s best for the song.”

Cast play at O2 Academy Leeds on March 9 and are guests of Liam Gallagher at Sheffield Utilita Arena on June 1.

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