By Kevin Zimmerman
Gavin Castleton Finds His Home
Song cycles about passion found and lost have probably been around as long as popular music itself, with love, life, and zombies maintaining their permanence as lasting themes.
Uh, wait a second ... zombies?
Well, yes. At least in the case of Home (Five One Inc.), the latest release by prolific singer/songwriter Gavin Castleton. The 14-song set was inspired by a real-life relationship - and subsequent parting - that Castleton endured. Minus the undead, of course.
"We'd been together for about six years," the Providence, R.I. native explains, "and then we started to break up. I foolishly thought that we could remain good friends, and wanted to write and record what it was like as a tribute to what we were, with her helping me to write the female point-of-view to keep it fair. All my older and wiser friends thought it was brave and really, really dumb," he laughs, "but it seemed like a good idea at the time."
With both parties longtime horror-film aficionados - "We actually talked about making a zombie movie at one point" - the creatures eventually made their presence felt in the evolving narrative, with Castleton pleased as how neatly the zombies served as a metaphor for what was happening with his love life.
Though recorded on a shoestring budget, Home's lush sound and musical diversity shine through, whether on the trip-hop-influenced "Warpaint," the Coldplay-ish, multi-part "The Human Torch," and the simple, concluding "Credits," which explains in self-effacing detail what did (and didn't) actually happen. Lauren Coleman of the bluesy soul group Pebaluna handles the female vocals.
Something of a child prodigy - he was a classically-trained pianist at age three, due mostly to his parents' insistence that "everyone in the family know an instrument, so if nothing else works you can fall back on being a teacher" - Castleton first made waves on the indie scene as a member of genre-bending group Gruevis Malt, and continues to work with several ex-Malt mates in the self-described "progressive/indie/comedy" group Ebu Gogo. Having spent some time living in Oregon, Castleton finally relocated to Portland in late 2008.
Currently "touring forever," having recently wrapped dates with alt-rock favorites Gardening, Not Architecture and mulling various other opening-slot offers, Castleton is pleased to reveal that he's now in a new, zombie-free relationship.
"She's extremely understanding, a great human being," he laughs, emphasizing the last two words.