The members of Front Range synth-pop trio Glass Cases make high-energy, festival-friendly bangers about mental health, addiction and life's struggles, and they do it with a perfectionist attitude.
Despite the imperfections of life during a pandemic, they're counting on 2021 being a good year.
The band was founded in 2016 by childhood best friends, both soccer players: intense singer and bassist Alex Van Keulen and spoken-word multi-instrumentalist Austin Seifert. When they're not making music, Van Keulen is boning up on biotech as a grad student at Colorado State University. Meanwhile, Seifert recently wrapped his degree in pre-med after bouncing around various schools and returning to his hometown of Colorado Springs to be with a girlfriend who left him not long after his arrival. Drummer Cameron Greene joined the group shortly after it formed.
All three bring a professional attitude to music and have international ambitions, carefully dropping new songs, music videos and building their image. Most of their music is driven by synths, ukulele parts and drums, and their sound spans Modest Mouse-style indie rock and OneRepublic pop, occasionally flirting with hip-hop swagger.
"It’s grown, as you can imagine, as we get inspiration from different artists," says Van Keulen. "We like to be poppy, but also a little dark."
"When I was growing up, I listened to punk rock and grunge," says Seifert. "That’s more my style. Lyrically, when I write, I get influenced by those kinds of artists. That’s not our music. When we write, we go in a different direction. I think my lyrics are more grunge and punk rock, but the music is more poppy and alternative."
Both founders take turns writing songs, helping each other hone their melodies, lyrics and instrumental parts.
"We’re critical of each other, but if something isn’t up to par, we’ll be honest with each other, which is good," says Van Keulen. "We push each other in that way. We've done it our entire lives. ... We don’t let sloppy stuff pass."
That was a skill they developed playing soccer while growing up and in college, and it's translated well to music.
Both musicians have had their share of struggles, and they sing about them candidly in their songs — especially "Chemicals." The music video just came out.
"I don’t have any sort of regular disorder," says Van Keulen. "I’m a very normal person. I tend to go on these swings. Everything is great, but something will tick me off for a couple days or hours." His music has what he describes as "Christian undertones — that it's okay to suffer a little bit. If you're not struggling in some way, you're not going to grow."
While Van Keulen doesn't view himself as an overtly religious person, he takes comfort in the Christian notion that the best things people will experience are in the world to come.
"A quote by C.S. Lewis is that 'We can’t achieve earthly happiness because we’re not meant to be on earth eventually,'" he says. "That’s the Christian undertone. That’s what inspires me: 'This is not the ultimate place where we’re meant to be.'"
And both bandmates hope that better things are to come for Glass Cases — even in this brutal world.
Prior to the pandemic, the group was getting regular gigs around town and had also had some national press coverage. Glass Cases was voted to play Taste of Fort Collins and had plans to do a local set at Red Rocks. But COVID-19 upended all of that.
"Hopefully, we can pick up where we left off when the virus hit," says Seifert. "We had a lot of things going for us. We just released an album and were playing big shows. We were just on a roll and got stopped dead in our tracks and were like, ' What do we do now?' Hopefully, things get back to normal and we’ll keep cruising like we were."
Hear more at the Glass Cases website.
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