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Cast

One of the most traditional guitar bands to emerge during the Brit-pop era of the mid-'90s, Cast have always adhered to the guitar gospel of the mid-'60s: they prize clarion hooks, chiming guitars, and candied melodies. Led by John Power, a vocalist/guitarist who played bass in the seminal '80s indie group the La's, Cast colored their muscular jangle with a mystical, vaguely hippie-ish sensibility, a combination that kept the group lodged in the top of the U.K. charts throughout the late '90s; they racked up seven Top Ten singles -- including "Sandstorm," "Walkaway," "Flying," "Free Me," and "Beat Mama" -- within the course of three years. Cast split after the release of Beetroot in 2001, spending a decade apart before reuniting in 2011 for Troubled Times. From that point forward, Cast were a working band, regularly touring and recording the occasional album, such as 2024's Love Is the Call. Cast carried the torch lit by the La's, the Liverpudlian group led by Lee Mavers, whose lone album proved pivotal in the rise of Brit-pop in the '90s. John Power joined the group in 1986 and stayed with them through the release of their eponymous debut in 1990. A sensation thanks to the single "There She Goes," the La's became the rare British guitar pop group of the early '90s to crack the U.S. chart, but Mavers didn't capitalize on their success. Instead of writing a new batch of songs, he drifted, his aimlessness leading Power to leave the group to form his own band in 1992. After spending a year cycling through musicians, Power severed himself from a pre-existing contract with Go! Records -- the La's label retained him after he split from the group -- and spent 1993 assembling the lineup that became Cast. Now featuring Power, guitarist Liam "Skin" Tyson, drummer Keith O'Neill, and bassist Peter Wilkinson, Cast played their first gigs early in 1994. Within months, Elvis Costello took the group out on the road as his opening act; Oasis would also hire them as support that year. By the end of 1994, Cast had signed a record contract with Polydor Records and began recording with John Leckie (XTC, Stone Roses). "Finetime," Cast's debut single, reached number 17 on the pop charts in the spring, followed by another hit single, "Alright," in the summer. All Change, the band's debut, was released in October of 1995, debuting in the British Top Ten, taking the singles "Sandstorm" and "Walkaway" into the Top Ten as well. Cast's audience continued to grow in 1996, as All Change worked its way toward platinum status, and the band toured America several times, gaining a cult audience. In the fall, Cast released the single "Flying," their first new recording since their debut. The single entered the British charts at number four. The band's second album, Mother Nature Calls, was released in the spring of 1997, debuting at three on the U.K. album charts and generating three Top Ten singles: "Free Me," "Guiding Star," and "Live the Dream." Two years later, the group hired Pixies producer Gil Norton for Magic Hour, an album whose lead single, "Beat Mama," became their final Top Ten hit. During the recording of Beetroot, Cast started to fray, as Power worked with co-producer Tristin Norwell on threading drum loops, samples, and other electronics into their sound. The band broke up one month after the album's July 2001 release. After Cast disbanded, Power released a a series of solo albums, then reunited with Lee Mavers in a new lineup of the La's for a series of concerts. Tyson played with Robert Plant's Strange Sensation, while Wilkinson joined Echo & the Bunnymen; O'Neill worked in the music business behind the scenes. The quartet reunited in 2010, commemorating the 15th anniversary of All Change with several live shows, then reteaming with producer John Leckie for Troubled Times; for the recording, drummer Steve Pilgrim stepped in for O'Neill, who had other business commitments. Released in early 2012, Troubled Times brought Cast back to regular duty, and they toured the world in support of the record. Cast experienced some tumult in the mid-2010s, culminating in Wilkinson leaving the group; he was replaced by Jay Lewis, a former guitarist for both the La's and the Zutons. Cast completed their sixth album after he joined, releasing Kicking Up the Dust in April 2017. After the release of the compilation Singles 1995-2017 in May 2018, the group launched a Greatest Hits tour, heading back out on the road in 2020 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of All Change. By the time Cast headed into the studio with producer Youth to record Love Is the Call, Jay Lewis had left the band and Power played bass on the record. Love Is the Call appeared in February 2024; later that year, the group supported Liam Gallagher on his tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of Oasis' debut album Definitely Maybe.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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