LOS ANGELES, October 21, 2013 — Cassie Jalilie’s story of joining the Los Angeles punk band, Union 13, is one of the cooler stories in music. It is a story that every music fan who picks up an instrument dreams about. Cassie took some time to speak about starting to play drums, joining Union 13 and about recording and releasing Union 13’s new E.P.
Kevin Wells: When did you start playing drums and what made you choose drums?
Cassie Jalilie: I started playing when I was about 12. I was just always drawn to drums. It was just so different than everything else. It wasn’t as common, especially for girls, to play drums as opposed to guitar, bass or singing. I was just alw*ays fascinated by the drums. [There] was no doubt I wanted to play the drums.
KW: What bands got you into punk music.
CJ: For me, it was more like the mainstream bands like Green Day and Nirvana. That was kind of like my introduction and then I started really getting into it. I started getting into bands like AFI, Bad Religion, NoFX, The Distillers, Union 13, of course, Anti-Flag, bands like that.
KW: Are there any drummers that influenced you as a drummer?
CJ: Yeah, when I first started playing, drummers like Travis Barker and Tre Cool. I also started in high school I started getting into a lot of heavier music, a lot of metal. I like a lot of drummers like Chris Adler from Lamb of God, Dave Lombardo from Slayer, Pantera. I started getting into more metal bands, Metallica as well. Just a lot of heavy, fast, loud music, that’s really what drew me to playing drums and learning.
KW: How many bands did you play in before Union 13?
CJ: I’ve played in three other bands. I was in a band in high school called Damage. We actually did play a lot of clubs and venues. We started out when we were 16 and that all the way through high school. After high school, I joined an all-girl Turbonegro tribute band called Turbonegra. I was 20 at the time. I met the guitarist just like jamming out one day. She called me out of the blue and said, “We need a drummer. We’re going to Europe. We’re gonna be on tour. Would you be interested?” I was like, “Hell yeah! Europe? Yeah! Hell yeah!” So, I hooked up with them and I went to Europe for a month. It was the most amazing experience I had. It was pretty cool, but it was limited to being a cover band. I always wanted something more, you know? So, that’s when I hooked up with Union.
KW: How did you get hooked up with Union 13?
CJ: They were at the legendary 924 Gilman in Berkeley and I remember we were there kind of early and this white van pulls up with a trailer and they step out and I’m like, “Oh my god, that’s Union 13.” Me and my friend were freaking out. They started talking to us and they were super cool and super nice. I was like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe we’re hanging with Union.” We hung out the whole night, before an after the show. They were just super cool. And then they just mentioned the fact that they needed a drummer. That’s when I just totally swooped. I was like, “Oh my god, you guys are one of my favorite bands, one of my biggest influences. I know all your songs. Let me try out.” A couple weeks later, I was still talking to them and they’re like, “Send us a couple Youtube videos.” The next day, I sent them some videos and they’re like, “Alright, that’s it. When do you want to come down?” The only thing left was that I had to move down to L.A., which was hard at first because I knew no one, I had no friends or family down here, but music is all I wanted to do and this was one of my favorite bands. I was like, “F**k it, I’m gonna do it.” So, I came down here and it was amazing. It’s been the greatest experience I’ve had.
KW: Union 13 recently recorded a new E.P. What was the recording process like?
CJ: For that, we recorded at a couple different places. I did the drums with Clemente Ruiz, which was really good. And then [the rest of the band] finished up the bass, guitars and vocals with Ian. He’s over at Fletcher’s studio from Pennywise. They’ve done work with him in the past. He’s really, really good, you know? That’s where they finished up everything. It was good. It was a fun experience. We have five songs we’re gonna release and hopefully plan to move on from there, you know, do a full length. That’s our main goal.
KW: When can fans look forward to hearing the E.P.?
CJ: We don’t have a set date right now. We’re just waiting on a couple things, likeartwork and a few more things we need to finish up. It should be very soon, very soon.
KW: Is all of the music done?
CJ: Yeah, all of the music is done. We’re just waiting on the little stuff, like the artwork and stuff like that, you know?
KW: What effect has your singer Edward Escoto’s move to Wisconsin had on the band?
CJ: It’s a lot harder, for sure, because he’s pretty far. We don’t really get to practice with him as much, unless it’s right before a show. We all get together, we run through everything and then we go out there. We’re also limited to the shows we can play right now. When we do play shows we do little runs. We just did the east coast. We’re working on the midwest for February, as well. So, when we do play, it’s not one show. It’s like three or five shows, whatever we can do. As for writing and things like that, we write everything. Me and Eddie [Carrasco] get together and Balti [Rodriguez]. We write all the music, all the songs and once we’re done and we completed those, we show them to Edward and we do vocals last. It’s usually always the music first. We’ll record the songs that we have and we’ll send them out to him and then he works on them.
KW: How often does Edward fly out?
CJ: It’s usually once a month or once every couple months. He only flies out whenever we have shows. It’s not really to like practice or anything. He’ll be here in November when we’re playing Los Globos [in Los Angeles] with Reagan Youth.
KW: Do you have any side project bands that you play in to fill your time when Union-13 is not doing anything?
CJ: Yeah, I’m always playing with other people. I’m not limited to punk rock either. I definitely love playing other types of music. I love jazz, I love other styles as well. One of my friends from my first band actually moved down here to L.A. We’ve been playing a lot. He records, we’ve been recording. I just try to stay busy. I just love playing shows and I just try and be as busy as I can.
KW: Is there anything else you would like people to know about either you or Union 13?
CJ: Yeah, just to stay tuned. A lot of people don’t think Union exists anymore or we’re pretty much dead, but we’re still here. It’s been hard because they had people who were not all on the same page, but now we all have the same goal and a main focus and that’s just to keep going, you know? Keep recording, keep playing shows and keep playing punk rock. That’s the whole goal for the E.P. to let people know Union-13 is still around. We’re still here, so stay tuned because we are hopefully going to release a full length.
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