By Michael Lello
From The Moody Blues to Metallica, rock bands have dipped their toes into the classical music pool from time to time over the years. But Casey Crescenzo, who leads the band The Dear Hunter, is taking things a bit further. A string quartet is accompanying the band on dates this fall – including Saturday, Sept. 7 at Union Transfer – and he is working on composing his first symphony.
“The last tour that we did was kind of an attempt at a fans-favorite set; it was not really weighted toward new material,” Crescenzo said during a recent phone interview from his Lincoln, Rhode Island home. “On this tour we are playing a good amount of new material and gearing it more toward the string quartet. So it definitely has some moments that are a lot more low on the dynamic scale, but the hope is just to do some of these songs with such lush arrangements and do them more justice.”
Earlier this year, The Dear Hunter released “The Color Spectrum Live” on DVD, and in April, it released its latest studio album, “Migrant.” “Migrant” is notable for what it is not: a concept album. The Dear Hunter had previously released the thematic “Acts” albums and “The Color Spectrum” series.
Surprisingly, Crescenzo said he there were not any particular concept albums that inspired him to pursue the concept pieces The Dear Hunter recorded.
“I was doing concept records in high school with my high school band. I don’t really actually really remember any concept albums that inspired me. I think I just like the idea of a cohesive body of work.”
Last month, Crescenzo announced that he is composing a symphony, and he is raising funds from fans in order to finance recording the work with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra in the Czech Republic this fall via http://pledgemusic.com/thedearhunter. Incentives for fans who pledge range from autographed score books and a limited vinyl release of the symphony to the opportunity to join Crescenzo in the Czech Republic for the recording or have him deliver the vinyl release and score book to their home and perform a private concert.
Crescenzo said the symphonic projects are an opportunity for him to grow as an artist.
“Yeah, I mean I have a really inspired interest in it, and it is something that presents a really wide universe of things to learn for me,” he said. “Not that by any means am I saying I know everything there is to know about rock music, but it’s a more inspiring doorway to walk through.”
Using fan-funding is something Crescenzo is not entirely comfortable with — at least not in all situations.
“I think that the Kickstarters that make the most sense, and the crowd-sourcing that makes the most sense, are the ones where it’s an audience putting its faith into something new or different,” he shared. “I obviously couldn’t convince a label to back this project because it’s not something that would necessarily be smart for them to do. They would see it very much as taking a chance. This is a good example, I feel – obviously, I’m biased — because this is something that’s very different from what I usually do, whereas making a record, that’s something I already do, so why is it fair to ask fans to fund my record? More, it’s asking people, ‘Would you like to hear me create a symphony?’ It’s kind of tough for me to complain about anyone doing it.”
Crescenzo started The Dear Hunter in 2005 while he was still a member of The Receiving End Of Sirens. In 2006 he was asked to leave the latter band. He immediately began to tighten the focus on The Dear Hunter and did not consider leaving the music world after his dismissal, he said.
“Um no, no,” Crescenzo said. “There was and still is a fear of failure, but I think that I’d rather fail doing something I enjoy than succeed doing something I don’t. That continues to be the steering factor.”