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The best kept secret in music


"Casino likes its odds for success"

Casino wears its attitude on its sleeve. Loud in a good way, raucous and rocking, this band's music begs for the skinny supermodel treatment so oft-used in music videos.

"You don't want people just sitting there looking at you," bassist Mike Gogola says. "You want people either dancing or throwing stuff."

Singer and guitarist Damon Murrah agrees: "If your music polarizes people, that's a great position to be in."

So what if someone in the audience does turn on you?

"If you're on your toes and can answer back sharply enough, the audience will be yours," Murrah says.

And what if the audience isn't paying attention at all?

"It's common to find people chatting through the set or playing pool; there's a certain amount of that that's understandable. If it's too ridiculous, I'll confront the folks that are being idiots. But ultimately it lies with the band; it is the band's responsibility to entertain."

Perhaps it is the fact Casino has been around for five years (or seven or eight, depending on which member you ask) that offers Murrah the ability to exude a supreme confidence in his band's ability to deal with whatever is thrown at it. Murrah and guitarist Larry Horn, who met through a mutual friend, are the band's two original members. Numerous rhythm sections have come and gone, but Murrah and Horn are happy with Gogola and drummer Ron Rushing, both of whom joined this year.

"This lineup is the most professional out of any we've had in the time Larry and I have been together. I don't know when I've looked to a bass player or drummer so often for song ideas," Murrah says.

The band has released one full-length album, 2002's Affluenza. The tracks feature a crunchy, fuzzed-out sound and Murrah's great rock voice, which sounds like Brendan Benson with a bit of Mick Jagger. High points include poppy opening track Cold Comforts and the midtempo Silent Movie.

New tracks are in the works, but don't expect any drastic changes to the band's sound. Loose Ends and Easy, which will appear on an EP to be released early next year, have less of the crunch of Affluenza's big sound, but sound similar to the band's previous offerings.

"We're going to release a series of EPs," Gogola says, "as a way to keep new things coming along. This has been my push. I think you can only take local music in small chunks. It's not like people are waiting for us to release a new record like they would Coldplay or something."

Living and performing in Nashville, Tenn., before coming to Houston, Gogola gives the band an outsider's perspective.

"When I first played a show here, my jaw dropped at how many people showed up. We didn't pack the house, but it's so hard to get 10 or 20 people at a show in Nashville, and I was like, `This is great!' and these guys were like, `You're crazy.' "

Ask Murrah his feelings on Houston, and he groans a little but holds back on any trash talk, opting instead to offer a suggestion.

"I would like to see the scene become more competitive and more cutthroat, because I think that brings out the best in people. Bands should have to be constantly aware of what other bands are doing," he says.

The band would like to get out of the state and tour widely, but it's not big on making long-range plans.

"We're just trying to plan short-term," Gogola says. "Too many bands plan ahead, thinking next summer they'll go on a world tour or something. But in the meantime you still have to get your live show together. I would like to start opening for touring bands. I think that would be the right direction."

Murrah is confident that the band already has the most important ingredient.

"We write great songs, and we play them well," he says.
- Houston Chronicle

"Casino - Affluenza"

Casino may record for a label called Fancy Music, but its music is anything but. Affluenza is Brit-style raunch and roll. More specifically, most of the bands Casino calls to mind (Stone Roses, Charlatans, Oasis) come from "Madchester" circa 1990, when the gritty red-brick northern English metropolis was the ecstasy-and-lager-fueled vortex of the rock and roll universe. This is late-night music, best accompanied by five or ten imperial pints of Boddington's Bitter and best followed by an intensely regretted-in-the-morning mystery meat vindaloo curry. That's the way they do it over there, anyway. Luckily for Houston nightcrawlers, molten curries are hard to come by after midnight.

Casino's Brit-centrism is to be expected from a band led by Damon Murrah, brother of Tim, whose late, lamented downtown nightclub Metropol was H-town's Britpop nexus. What's surprising is how well Casino pulls it off. Murrah's vicious guitar riffs sound like good ideas that should have been thought of a long time ago, as do lyrics like "You're a picture of manners in second-hand clothes" and "I put the 'us' in genius." The band stays just on the sane side of psychedelic, and for a quartet (with drummer Scott Binnings and the single-monikered Lawrence and Billy on second guitar and bass, respectively), the band crafts a nicely textured sound -- though a few more keyboards here and there would do wonders.

Affluenza has the feel of a live show. The nine listed tracks blur in to one another, and after a very long pause, the band returns to perform two excellent bonus tracks at the end of the CD. These primarily acoustic tracks should have been closer to the middle of the set, though, as there is not quite enough variance in tempo in the first nine tunes. One also wishes the backing vocals on "Air Conditioning" were a little higher in the mix.

Nit-picking aside, this is sterling stuff, and it all sounds like it would be best caught live. But if you manage to find a curry to chase those pints after the show, don't say you weren't warned when the next morning finds you in agony.

- Houston Press

"Casino is Houston's Worst Band"

Casino Is Houston's Worst Band

by Brian

Long time fans of Fatal Flying Guilloteens (they really do exist!) may remember a time long ago when all our songs were called, "Yeah, c'mon, c'mon, yeah" or "Baby, yeah, baby, baby, c'mon!" We were making fun of bands like Casino. Because, you see, even though Casino wasn't around back then...bands like Casino have always existed. Only now, they've got a name. "Casino band" will forever describe paint-by-numbers, bland cock'n'roll cliche on Houmidity.

I had planned on making an elaborate post about Casino's sound, their gay Anglophile tendencies, the fact that they're all approaching 40 years old and a comparison of other bands they're like in spirit (the Vue, Flash Express, Towers of London), but realised (<--- the "s" is for you guys!) after looking at their MySpace page that it's a better explanation of their terrible-dom than I could ever give. Just look at the pictures! Hahahahahahahaha. Man. These guys are a regular riot.

They have a song called "Casino Boogie." Hahahahahaha. Make it stop! Uncle! Hahahaha.

Look at their guitarist! Hahahahahahahaha. Jeeeeee-sus. Oh. Man. I'm. Crying.

Look at this dude's shirt! Hahahahahahahaha. Kidneys. Hurting. Sides. Splitting.

Hahahahaha. I gotta go. I can't see the computer screen with all these laugh tears in my eyes. - Houmididty - Brian McManus


Affluenza 2002
E.P. 2006


Feeling a bit camera shy


Casino play rock and roll. Perhaps that is not such a bold statement, but in this day and age, it truly is. Casino’s primary songwriters grew up in Texas and Detroit. They grew up in the 70’s, when radio was made for rock. It could have been Mick and Keith, Chrissie Hynde, George Jones or ZZ Top which inspired them to play music. It could have been countless songs on the radio. Actually, it was a mix of all of this and more. Later, they would call London and Nashville their homes (respectively). The exposure to different styles of music was huge, and their immediate surroundings only helped to shape their views on what music was and what really mattered. After all, they were raised in an era when hard work and determination was the key to success, and rock and roll was more than a lifestyle bought at the mall.

Casino know that rock and roll must do what it says, rock and roll. Grit and soul, boogie and slide, sweat and passion. Thankfully they are un-enthused about current trends and fads in music, and apathy cannot even describe their sentiments toward the cluttered airwaves. Live, however, they play happy under their influences. Drenched in sweat and soul, Casino do what they were raised with, they play rock and roll. They play their guitars, not just wear them. They believe in what they do. Looking back, it can easily be summed up in what their heroes once penned on Exile On Main Street, “Casino Boogie”. Yes, they do!