What in reincarnation is this? Behold the past lives of Athron and Leanna Rachel, aka musical duo Bullet & Cass. Lou Niteunz investigates.
Veteran folk-rock Bali fixture Athron and Californian crooner-songstress Leanna Rachel met on Bali and began harmonizing within hours. Sharing a connection that only comes after many lifetimes together, they have drawn on their experiences as a fugitive couple in the 1930s to bring ‘Bullet & Cass’ back to life – telling their stories through dark indie-folk music.
Rich harmonies and melodic emotion sew together tales of love, death, murderous adventures and passionate reunions, singing audiences through a soundtrack of sweet lullabies, grinding rhythms and percussive beats. With a debut EP ready to release and a tour to California in motion, we caught up with these ‘love on the run’ ramblers to ask how their chemistry works on the crossroads of today’s musical landscape…
So B&C, as long-term Bali devotees can you recall any first impressions of this magical island?
BULLET: Being born with an abnormal heart that only beats to the sound of chaos and music, I’ve found it hard to rest my feet in most places. The moment I stood on Bali soil though, I felt a sweet mix of madness and creative harmony that my soul longed for.
CASS: Well, I myself felt the pull in my bones the moment I stepped foot on this land. From that moment, I knew that no matter where I went, I would always feel at peace here.
How did you first get into music?
BULLET: When my papa took to the bottle, the only thing to settle his rage was the gentle hum of music. Mama handed me a guitar most nights to sing away any chance of a beating. Over the years, I guess I just kept on playing. Now music chases my own demons back to the dark.
CASS: My daddy didn’t pay me much attention at all except for laying down rules. I spent most of my time locked up in my room listening to records, dreaming of the day I could be like Elsie Janis, standing under those bright lights, singing loud enough for the world to hear. I’m sure my folks would pay some attention if I made a success of myself.
Ok so it sounds like we’re in full cowboy mode here, so let me ask you about something a little more of the now: how do you see the current state of the post-internet music industry?
BULLET: Well, it sure gets mighty confusing, compared to the gramophones we would wind up and sing along to. But we never did trust those record company folk too much anyway. Truth be told, we prefer putting the power in our own hands. This internet thing means we can tell our own story and reach people with our own means.
CASS: I don’t know much about these internet things, although I do enjoy having the capacity to record for ourselves, in our very own home. I think it’s real important to be self-sufficient these days – I’m just tickled that we can get our music out there usin’ this modern-day technology.
How did you arrive with this new direction for Bullet & Cass? Join forces as a new entity?
BULLET: We fell into harmony from the moment we met. Whether it was card tricks, laying low or putting our minds to a bank job, we came together like sparks to a powder keg. It was just a natural progression that we put our stories to song. Our voices feel at home together. Playing music is our peace in the storm.
CASS: Yeah, it was real natural – we started singin’ together immediately after a few sips of our first glass of whiskey. Connections like that just don’t come along every day.
Ok … so how do you manage balancing your lyrics and harmonies together usually?
BULLET: With all the voices in my head, there are enough words for a lifetime of songwriting. When Cass and I blend our voices to a tune, the lyrics to a new song are never far behind. We’ll often improvise music at the day’s end and then scribble down notes to save what came naturally.
CASS: Oh that’s not something I even think about – it just happens with Bullet and I. Generally, the more the thinkin’, the less the gettin’ done.
What would you tell your 10-year-old former selves?
BULLET: Being different isn’t something to shy away from. If you don’t seem to fit into the world, tear a bigger hole in it. Feed the part of your soul that feels different. If people try to shoot you down, it just means you’re making a mark big enough to aim at.
CASS: Learn the piano. And never take no for an answer.
What’s your biggest challenge these days?
BULLET: For anyone that’s chosen a life like ours, the challenge always lies in what the future will bring. Some days you’re left to wonder where your next meal will be, other days you wonder who’s blood is on your hands. But most of all we hope to turn all of our experiences into a musical journey that people will want to follow or join.
CASS: I would say the main challenge is Bullet’s reputation. When we come to a new town, often I find that people are quite scared of Bullet, him bein’ so gruff-lookin’ an’ all. That, and they mighta heard some stories. Thankfully, when I’m around, we don’t have many issues. I tend to smooth a whole lotta things out . . .
[Ok I think that’s enough of that … Ed.]
One more question … what can we expect from Bullet & Cass in the near future?
Our debut EP ‘Where We Buried Us’ is out soon. The first single ‘Storm’s Coming In’ is out November 15th, followed by music videos, written stories and plenty of surprises. We will be touring California through November and playing shows in Japan in January before heading back to Bali.
You can pre-save the single on spotify at https://show.co/MMrytUF
To join us on our musical journey, just head to www.bulletandcass.com
Ok, adios amigos. Rock on.