If we could make ourselves teeny tiny and travel in that magical submarine Ms. Frizzle from “The Magic School Bus” loved to bust out, our destination would be Casey Crescenzo’s brain.
The singer and brains behind The Dear Hunter, Crescenzo is a musical powerhouse with projects that are larger and more ambitious than almost all of his rock band peers. As a man who is very familiar with long-narrative concept albums and lengthy EP projects, no one could ever ask Crescenzo to be any more impressive as he already is, but then he went and wrote a symphony.
Crescenzo took a break from The Dear Hunter recently to travel to the Czech Republic, where he recorded his first symphony with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra. Crescenzo doesn’t know how to read music, but he found a way around that and wrote it entirely on the piano. He used software and cheats to put together something that could maybe work, and in the end the result is a beautiful four-movement symphony he titled Amour & Attrition.
“The process of making Amour & Attrition was very very different from making a rock record, which is all I had really known before that,” Crescenzo says. “Even just the act of writing rock music, even if you’re writing super technical rock music, you’re really only writing for five instruments tops. With the exception of drums or keyboards, guitar and bass are very simple instruments.”
“With Amour & Attrition, writing for all of these different instruments and writing them with all the transitions and all of different articulations that the instruments are capable of, it was, just the act of writing it, was a huge challenge for me.”
Crescenzo also has no problem knocking himself down several pegs when it comes to his inexperience with classical music from the composer perspective.
“Traveling to Brno in the Czech Republic and sitting with 70 or so virtuosos instrumentalists in a 200 year old symphony hall with an incredibly talented conductor… I was very ignorant, but I wasn’t arrogant about it. I was just so excited to learn about the process. Once I surrendered myself to letting people know I had no idea what I was doing, I could soak up every ounce of information.”
Having released Amour & Attrition, all eyes are on Crescenzo and what is next for The Dear Hunter. After this North American tour, the band plans on hunkering down for a new album in the fall. Crescenzo says everything is in the planning stages but the wheels are surely turning.
“I slip into survival mode when I’m on tour and my brain does a track change and it puts all possible effort into performing well. And then usually when the tour is over, my body says, ‘Okay, we got you through this. Now it’s time for you to be sick for a week,’” he says.
RX Bandits w/The Dear Hunter, Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Avenue, Phoenix, crescentphx.com, August 13, 8 p.m., $20-$23