When Weymouth-based rock trio Space Casino walked into Ralph’s Rock Diner to play their first Worcester show, it was love at first sight.
“The first time I ever walked upstairs at Ralph’s, I literally had my bass drum in my hands and Randy from “Trailer Park Boys” (actor Patrick Roach)” was walking around without a shirt on, drunk and high. I was like, ‘What is this place? I love it here,’” said drummer Seamus Donovan.
That show, in early 2022, was only the first of many that the band has played in Worcester, both at Ralph’s and at the Hotel Vernon. Space Casino will return to the upstairs stage at Ralph’s on Jan. 14, at the top of a bill that also includes Big League Collective, Hippie Commune Pipe Dream, and Mother Fungus.
“When you drive into this dirt road and there’s a biker bar, it seems like something out of a Tarantino movie,” guitarist and singer Jared Torchetti said. “We love playing at Ralph’s.”
A band in formation
Since releasing their first EP, “Almost Classy,” in August, Space Casino has crisscrossed Massachusetts, bringing its funk-tinged indie sound from Boston to their native South Shore and across the Rhode Island state line to Providence.
According to Donovan, Space Casino’s three members grew up together, with Torchetti and bassist Nick Morrison starting a band together in high school. Eventually, Donovan joined on drums, and in 2020, the lead guitarist of that band left, leaving the current lineup.
“We put ourselves on lockdown [in 2020] like a lot of other people did, so we didn’t really get to practice. It gave us a chance to hone our sound, though, because we weren’t practicing for gigs and we weren’t doing anything else,” Donovan said.
‘Pop, and a little weirdness’
“Almost Classy” features four songs recorded over the course of one weekend in summer 2021, two featuring vocals from Torchetti and two with Morrison singing lead. The EP blends indie rock, pop punk, and a distinct funk influence in Donovan’s drumming, especially on “You Look Good.”
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“It’s a few songs that we felt were the best. We shelled out the money for a nice four-song EP. There’s pop and a little weirdness too,”Torchetti said.
Donovan said that the band plans on taking a more DIY approach on their next project, as they aim to release a full-length album, and even one weekend of studio time for an EP can cost significant money.
“I think it’s important for us to capture our full sound, and I think we did that. I think we were also constrained. We’re happy with it, but we were constrained by the time, having to go to a studio,” Donovan said.
A Massachusetts sound
Both Donovan and Torchetti said that their sound was distinctly Massachusetts, although in different ways.
“On the South Shore in the suburbs, it was the pop-punk scene that was really huge. I was hanging out with my older sister and all of her friends were musicians, and they were all that pop-punk sound,” Donovan said.
Donovan added, “When we were kids, (Boston’s music scene) was right there, only 15 minutes away, but you’re still in your bubble. Now that we play out and we’re in the music scene, every weekend you’re going to shows and playing shows with two or three other bands, and those bands get inside your head, inspire you to be better.”
“My dad was a drummer in the ’80s, and he turned me onto most of my music. We get it from the elders,” Torchetti said. “They say when you’re in colder temperatures you make faster music.”
Donovan said he noticed some differences between his fellow Boston musicians and Worcester’s scene, where hardcore is noticeably more popular, but that those differences only made him more enthusiastic about returning to town for the Jan. 14 gig at Ralph’s.
“Most of the bands we played with that were from Worcester seemed to be heavier than we are. We can be aggressive, but it’s not super heavy. Worcester felt a little bit heavier, but I like heavier music, so I really dug it. I didn’t feel like a fish out of water, I felt like I was adding something a little bit different,” Donovan said.
Donovan added, “The vibe in Worcester, I just love.”
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