Artist Spotlight: Casinos

Abbotsford band released “Sean”, their first single in three years, in May
Alyssa Laube, Coordinating Editor

Casinos members Mitchell Trainor, Kier Junos, Zachary Keely, and Ken Ditomaso (left to right) have been playing alternative rock music together for years. (Alyssa Laube).

Casinos, an Abbotsford band that has been cranking out alternative rock tunes for nearly a decade, wants you to know that their hometown “is cooler than you think.”

The four piece was born out of Catholic school, back when members Kier Junos, Ken Ditomaso, Mitchell Trainor, and Zachary Keely were still high schoolers unfamiliar with the area’s bustling music scene. In the years since, the band has grown and flourished to become an adored staple of Abbotsford music, boasting members in other successful groups like Little Wild and Blessed.

“There’s always been a thriving music community there,” says Keely. “You can look at a lot of the bands from Abbotsford like, for instance, Oh No Yoko, You Say Party, all these bands. “And Nickelback unfortunately,” he laughs, “but yeah, there seems to be a good amount of creative individuals there.”

While Abbotsford is chock full of musicians—many of whom play in hardcore, punk, and acoustic acts—it’s also a relatively small town. For that reason, the scene “tends to be incestuous,” Junos explains, adding that every member of the group is in at least one other band.

“In terms of how the local scene influenced Casinos’ sound, I think a lot of local bands have similar music when we play with them,” he says. “There are a lot of dissonant devices in their songwriting and heavy tensions in their music. I think we’ve kind of adopted that. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it was a direct homage to some of those bands, but it’s something we’re familiar with and it felt natural to have that there.”

Regardless of local influence, Casinos sticks out as an accessible but interesting alternative rock band. Junos’ songwriting is guitar-and-melody-driven and slightly experimental in terms of song structure, but still catchy and easy to dance to.

The band’s most recent single, “Sean”, is Casinos’ first release in almost three years. The hiatus came as a result of members being preoccupied with school and other artistic endeavors, but has finally come to an end. Now, the group is excited to brandish their evolved, “less bubblegum” sound.

“I think with the kind of music we’re listening to, we’ve always been fans of bands like the Vaccines, but now a band like Yuck is what we’re listening to, or even Weezer,” says Ditomaso.

That shift in intensity is easy to pick out of songs such as “Sean”, which Junos describes lyrically as “a roast.”

“It’s a song about dying friendships, and particularly about a friendship that I am still trying to escape because it’s toxic,” he says, delicately describing said “friend” is “a racist asshole.”

“Sean” is composed of several different parts that flow smoothly into one another while still evading the “easy listening” label. That style demonstrates a step up in maturity for Casinos, who are expecting to release another “more familiar Casinos single” sometime this summer and may put out new EP in the near future.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to really complete it promptly because [the EP will be] songs that we’ve loved to play for a good time now, and because we’re more into it as songwriters and producers as well,” says Junos.

Casinos will be playing at Carport Manor on July 12 with the Sylvia Platters and at the Jam in Jubilee festival in Abbotsford on July 27 alongside Little Wild, Kuri, and the Burn Ins.

“There are all these cliques of people who play music in Abbotsford and that’s where we really come together,” says Keely, about Jam in Jubilee.