Casey Hopkins ranges from funk/psychedelic to garage/punk rock. He joined us in the studio to chat about politics, Florida, funk, punk, and livin’ that musician life.
Casey Hopkins is a Florida-born musician now residing in NYC. While the music of the South–like electric blues and classic country–heavily influence his sound, he makes sure to provide some heavy rock’n’roll and lets his new home-base guide him in his musical ways.
His sound began to develop at a very young age. Up until he was a teenager, his dad took him to blues shows and he was able to meet musicians who would eventually become some of his musical icons.
When he first picked up the guitar he learned jams like AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and The Dead Kennedy’s “Police Truck.” However, though those are in the rock’n’roll and punk rock category, his first serious experience in creating originals turned out to be funky and psychedelic. “When I started doing the funk band, it was just fun—just kids doing it,” Hopkins tells BTRtoday. “That was a huge release for me.”
Hopkins’ father seemed to be a huge influence on his push towards a musical path. “My dad was pushing us all towards singing cause he was a giant dork growing up,” Hopkins admits. Eventually, his older brother sang in two shows on Broadway and, as younger siblings tend to do, Hopkins wanted to follow. He began singing and playing around with his brother’s guitars.
His brother eventually went on to train in Olympic-style powerlifting, but Hopkins continued with music. “When he was starting to go to the gym, I was like, ‘I want to go to the gym!’ and he was like, ‘nah man, you’re going to screw me up major—just keep with that guitar thing, that seems to be working for you.’” So Hopkins stuck with the guitar thing and it eventually morphed from being a hobby to being a much-needed outlet in his life.
Photo by Sacha Lecca
“My dad had an AOL profile and there was a section for your likes and dislikes and one of his dislikes was listening to me play the guitar,” Hopkins reminisces about his process in learning to play guitar. “Eventually it switched over and ended up being a like.”
Unfortunately, Hopkins’ father struck ill and could no longer take his sons to blues clubs. Hopkins realized he had to grow up quickly, and by 18-years-old him and his brother were doing everything on their own while also taking care of their dad. Hopkins also came to the realization that not everyone likes the same type of music as him.
“I had the realization that not everyone wants to play the same type of music as I did at that time, so I started playing with kids from my high school that I hadn’t even hung out with while I was at my high school,” Hopkins describes. “Whenever you have your first real band where people start to like it in your hometown, you start to take it more seriously than you should sometimes.”
Hopkins explains that Florida is geographically in its own little bubble—so being a likable band in his small little Southern Florida tip town boosted his confidence. He explains that touring bands rarely go as far as Tallahassee, FL because it’s just too far away from everything. When he left Florida to NYC he had stars in his eyes and was ready to take on the world. His first job in NYC was hell, and this was slightly disheartening. However, he eventually got a job at a guitar store and now he is able to play all day!
“I work at Pentatonic Guitars in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and that was something that I didn’t used to have—I get to play all the time at work and experiment,” Hopkins confesses. “That aids in my writing process too—I constantly get to think of ideas.” He also is currently working on a podcast.
Though finding a job in a new city is important, Hopkins was in NYC with a purpose. Luckily, the underground music scene is surprisingly welcoming, and Hopkins was able to fit right in. On of his first shows was at a place called the Grand Victory and he was ecstatic! Later, he played countless house shows, and now he constantly plays The Good Room in Greenpoint, Brooklyn—in fact, his next show there will be Nov. 30th with five other bands, including Paul Collins from The Beat! (He is also trying to premiere a brand new music video on the same day!)
Album artwork courtesy of Casey Hopkins
“Coming from Florida, whenever I’d see people going up to play NY shows it was like, ‘this is the biggest thing ever!’ So it’s humbling in a way—I forget when I’m playing here that a lot of people kill to play shows in NYC,” Hopkins raves about finding his place in the NYC music scene. He states that it feels weird to be a musician here because while growing up in Florida it seemed like such a crazy dream, but now living in NYC and helping to cultivate the scene it’s like, “whoa, you actually can be a local band here!”
Casey Hopkins is currently working on getting together his debut full-length album. He’s sure to still tap into his psychedelic roots, but his sound now has mutated into a mixture of garage, punk, and classic rock. His voice is nostalgic of the classic rock of the 1970’s, but his wild and chaotic guitar riffs and solos create a vicious ‘80’s punk rock vibe.
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