Music runs in Casey Lewis’s blood. But Lewis — who was initially more interested in the visual arts — didn’t discover his passion for drumming until he was 16. Now, he’s the drummer for the Calgary-based punk legends Belvedere and The Evidence.
Both of Lewis’s parents were professional musicians, so music was always around as a kid. However, that wasn’t what inspired him to dream of making a career out of music.
“I was convinced I was going to do something in the visual arts, like an illustrator or an architect or something like that,” explained Lewis, who enjoyed drawing everything from monsters and knights to comic books. “I had no inkling that I was going to be a musician in any way, shape, or form.”
It wasn’t until Lewis’s dad approached him with a drum kit asking if he’d like to “bang around on them” that he began drumming. Being a 15-year-old rebellious “headbanger,” how could he refuse?
At 16, Lewis met a friend who — like Lewis — was a drummer with parents who were professional artists. However, the friend was a better artist than Lewis and Lewis was a better drummer than his friend. It wasn’t until around this time that he realized he was destined to follow in his parents footsteps.
“If you’re playing music for any other reason than because you love to play music and you expect something out of it, you have to be careful about that,” Lewis says. “Because that’s a really good way to burn yourself out on it and never want to do it again.”
But, with drumming being one of the loudest instruments, practicing was not always easy for Lewis. In fact, Dean Rud — the bassist of The Evidence — said Lewis would sometimes practice on pillows in his bedroom when drumming was not practical.
From bedroom practices to the stage
At 17, Lewis also began writing songs. It was at this time that he started his very first band called The Everymen. They were the kings of diverse tunes, so they played a little bit of everything. There was a common theme with the lyrics though, and that was straight-up rebellion and trying to breakaway from “the everyman.”
Lewis played with The Everymen for 10 years until they disbanded in 2001. For Lewis, the breakup was tragic. His first band had taken up such a huge chunk of his life, that he didn’t quite know where to begin after they broke up. His commitment to the band and playing drums was one in the same.
However, Lewis still had a desire to create great music. A few months after the breakup, Lewis gathered together Colin Hess, Tyler Pickering and Rud to create The Failure. With Hess on bass, Rud and Pickering on guitars and Lewis on drums and vocals, the infallible “supergroup” was born.
Unfortunately, Hess left the band in 2006 before The Failure changed their name to The Evidence due to some confusion with another band with the same name. The Evidence then had two other bass players from the time Hess left in 2010. The Evidence plays their own brand of rock music — a unique love child of progressive rock and punk with a tiny bit of pop to top it off.
The birth of Echo Base Studios
But being a drummer is not the only thing he does. Lewis started up a recording studio in 2000 under a Star Wars influenced name: Echo Base Studios. The studio is located just off of 16th Avenue and Second Street in Calgary. Here is where he entered a whole new world of passion by producing and engineering for bands.
Rud says Lewis was a well-known music figure because he used to run the sound for the all ages shows at the multicultural centre.
“Sometimes it would just be like he would show up at the jam space with a rented 8-track recorder and basically record and put out a demo tape. That sort of evolved into him having a space in the basement of a house, it wasn’t yet Echo Base but it was sort of the beginning.”
Although, this brought up some new challenges for Lewis, “I find myself consciously having to shift perspective, so ‘okay, I’m done tracking drums, now I need to look at these drums from an objective standpoint.’”
“Instead of saying ‘they’re great because they’re my drums, I played them and I’m going to mix them really loud,’ and that’s been a labour and an ongoing process.”
Lewis recorded, mixed and mastered all of The Evidence’s albums and recorded Belvedere’s newest album Revenge of the Fifth, which was released in 2016.
Getting into the production side of the business has helped Lewis become a better musician overall.
Lewis has known the members of Belvedere since the 1990’s but in 2003, The Evidence — then The Failure — played a few shows with them. In 2014, Lewis fell into place as the drummer for Belvedere after he filled in at two back-to-back shows in Tokyo. This led to Lewis having a hand in the writing process of Belvedere’s first release in 12 years.
Unfortunately, due to conflicting schedules, The Evidence is disbanding almost exactly 15 years to the date of the first show they played. Their final show is on Dec. 23, 2016. Lewis will continue drumming on the throne in Belvedere and producing music until he forms yet another band.
The editor responsible for this piece is Brett Luft, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org