Amplifying Dissent with Casey Sabol
We talked to Casey Sabol about his move from California to Tennessee and how to approach difficult topics by avoiding divisive labeling.
Casey Sabol is a rock artist, songwriter and producer. He was the lead singer for the Grammy-nominated progressive metal band Periphery. For three years in a row Casey’s song submissions were selected for inclusion into the annual ASCAP Music Expo.
Casey has been releasing music as a solo artist since 2020.
Can you share how you came to your decision to leave Los Angeles for Nashville?
I grew up in a rural suburb outside of Philadelphia, and I went to college at Berklee College Of Music in Boston after I graduated high school. It was my first taste of city life and I loved the contrast. I went from Boston to Los Angeles in 2009 to pursue a recording career.
I loved it for the first 6 years, but by around 2017 I was fed up with it. As the political landscape became more and more reactionary to the recent election of a new kind of Republican president, LA moved further Left by the day it seemed.
The politics of LA are certainly no mystery to anyone nowadays, and prior to Trump I’d’ve counted myself as aligned with them. But as I witnessed the logical conclusions of these ideologies manifest as rapidly declining economic and social standards, I became increasingly more seduced by different politics and lifestyles.
Soon enough it was obvious that, as a professional musician, I had to set my sights on Nashville. I wanted to live somewhere at least a little bit freer…it just took (what seemed like) forever to actually make it happen!
Have the current restrictions affected your ability to collaborate with other musicians? What has it been like recording and producing over the past two years for you?
I’m one of the lucky ones. My career in music has mostly consisted of working from home with a select few collaborators, so the covid restrictions had virtually no impact on my actual work functions.
As an artist, however, I draw inspiration from life and social interactions. So in that regard there were both pro’s and con’s to the restrictions. As a hardcore proponent of self-ownership and individualism I certainly was angered into inspiration by the covid policies’ clear violation of my moral principles…along with the majority of the populace’s willingness to not only obey but proselytize and tattle-tale on the establishment’s behalf.
All that served as begrudgingly useful fodder for my songwriting. But at the same time I was bereft of my usual social interactions from which much of my ideas had previously been derived. I ended up finding a work-around though, and I’m glad I’m able to see a silver-lining to the tyranny in retrospect.
"Right To Rule" is a sick song — is it about covid restrictions in California?
Thank you! As far as I remember that song came out before covid happened, actually. It sought to spark a discussion on the meaning of freedom, insofar as it is a property of the individual’s capacity for consent rather than a collective majority-held belief.
Nothing is true or moral just because the majority believes it to be. I believe in objective morality, and I believe individual consent is its bedrock. Given that the covid policies cleanly subsist on the violation of these principles I hold dear, I would say “Right To Rule” turned out to be perfectly relevant accidentally!
You do a good job approaching topics through your music and on socials with enough nuance it doesn't come across as polarizing or preachy. Have you received pushback from your fans for your political views?
Thank you, and no I have not — yet! As I explained earlier, I used to hold completely different political and economic beliefs than I do now. This makes me well qualified to productively speak to those with whom I am now in disagreement.
I remember what it was like to be them, and I can make their arguments for them. In my art and my public presence I avoid divisively labeling my positions in favor of repping the moral and economic soundness of them. You’d be surprised how many people agree with you when you take a clear and uncompromising moral position rather than simply wave a flag to signal which team you’re on. I ain’t a team player.
Are there any likeminded musicians or venues you could share?Venues, I have no idea to be honest. And musicians/bands?
Very few. The first one that comes to mind, who most of the people reading this probably already know, is Eric July’s band Backwordz. They’re as great as they are obvious. I wish I had more to recommend but my particular sort of anti-politics moral positions are notoriously absent from the music scene.
You’ll meet tons of musicians who have these types of personal beliefs, but very very few who choose to promote them through their art.
This interview is part of a series discussing mandates, restrictions and censorship with musicians and music fans —read more of these interviews here.
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