On Friday afternoon, Tony Castles drunk dialed me. Well, maybe not drunk dialed so much as almost-tipsy dialed. “I’ve been drinking since five,” guitarist Will Miesmer tells me. It’s 5:30, and it’s his 27th birthday. I’m at work, I tell him. Should I call you tomorrow? “Nah, fuck it,” he responds. “Call me after you get off.”
Five hours later, Miesmer is having a cigarette outside a friend’s restaurant in New York’s Lower East Side. “I’m going to go to a tranny bar later,” he jokes. Really, he’s planning to keep his buzz going by drinking the champagne his sister gifted to him in celebration of his “I don’t really care, blah blah blah, fuck it” birthday. It is a time of change for Miesmer, who plays guitar for the Brooklyn-based indie pop trio that is (the) Tony Castles, beyond the fact that it is his birthday: The Tonys recently “parted amicably” with drummer Gabriel Wurzel and introduced “Travis,” and now that recording has wrapped on the band’s upcoming debut album, Tony Castles is looking to release it on Das Racist’s record label Greedhead instead of its usual Famous Class, a label Miesmer helped found. “Basically, we got new directions,” he says.
The Das Racist connection runs fairly deep—members of the group have appeared in Tony Castles videos, acted as “informal body guards” at Tony Castles shows and shared the stage with Tony Castles—Heems even manages the band. The two groups share an amicable silliness and an ear for catchy sounds, but while Das Racist has ignited the blogosphere with its goofily edgy lyrics and cartoonish persona, Tony Castles remains one of the best-kept secrets in Williamsburg. Now it looks as though the Tonys are poised to change that.
Wurzel played drums for the Tonys since the trio formed in 2008, after he, Miesmer and Sicilian moved to Brooklyn from Skidmore College. Wurzel and Sicilian had been playing together since high school, a time that was “a blur of green sports fields, fluorescent hallways and the shaking jowls of authority figures.” In college, Miesmer had a brief stint playing in the group Wurzel and Sicilian formed, which they called Bernie Tonka. “I played bass for a few shows, and then they kicked me out,” Miesmer explains.
After college, the trio regrouped in Brooklyn as (the) Tony Castles, this time with Sicilian on bass and Wurzel on drums. Miesmer took over the duties of keyboard and guitar, and so began the creation of happy, almost Twin Sister-ish friendly indie pop: noticeable and rolling baselines, fair-weather guitar riffs and a dreamy energy woven together with an ear for tight construction.
Without Wurzel, Miesmer anticipates the Tonys’ sound will stay pretty consistent, but some deviation is inevitable. “We’re going to be playing the same songs off the record, so there’s going to be some continuity where we just teach [the drummer] to adapt to those existing recordings,” Miesmer told CMJ. “But from there, it’s an open game.” With new songs and a “new energy,” the Tony Castles is ready to launch a new phase of its existence, starting with the release of its debut album.
Whether the members of Tony Castles are rocking floral dresses in their music videos or suggestively rubbing each others’ heads in interviews, the band has a goofy charm that has served them well in growing a network of band-friends. However, playing shows with personal friends isn’t necessarily a positive, Miesmer told CMJ. “It’s good not to have many friends—then you’re not just playing to people who like you for other reasons,” he said. The Tony Castles’ music is reason enough to like the band, regardless of its members’ sparkling personalities. The boys describe their sound as “something a younger someone who might like to be sexual maybe with someone of the opposite sex or same sex or just talk MIGHT PUT ON at a moment of fun with their friends,” a modest goal for such adept songwriters. Even with its down-to-earth amicability and modesty, the Tony Castles has new directions that might not keep it a secret for long.