Meet Deal Casino: The Band That Stole our Hearts at Gov Ball
Folk hero Robin Hood isn’t the only guy in town who’s constantly looking out for the people. Meet Deal Casino, the alternative rock band that made sure festival-goers got the party started at Governors Ball properly this year.
By choice or not, Deal Casino were the designated master of ceremonies, which ultimately made them Gov Ball’s de facto heartthrobs. Some guys really do just have all of the luck. Being one of two opening acts for last Friday’s lineup, Deal Casino didn’t waste any time introducing themselves to an entirely brave, new world.
Joe Parella (vocals & guitar), Jon Rodney (bass), Joe Cowell (keys & guitar), and Chris Donofrio (drums) of the band remembered life’s Golden Rule: expect the unexpected, especially when you’re playing in an unfamiliar territory.
The scenario that they found themselves in on Friday didn’t take place in a dimly lit dive bar on the possible mean streets of Sparta Township, New Jersey—a familiar scene that Deal Casino knows quite well. This go around, there was pressure from an enormous horde of thousands of eager young adults demanding quality music from the moment they set foot on Randall’s Island.
Edging near the danger zone, the humorous and cunning foursome didn’t disappoint the festival’s eager early birds who had high expectations of the group. Drawing inspiration from icons like Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac, Deal Casino told a story of their own on a sunny afternoon.
In an exclusive interview with Music & Mojitos, Deal Casino took a step back to recall their experience about playing their set at Gov Ball.
“We were too nervous to really let it sink in,” Parella modestly reveals to Music & Mojitos. The band also didn’t wear sunscreen on that fateful gorgeous day, which made matters even more complicated (and sunburned) for the openers of Gov Ball. Luckily, one of the guys was in the clear with his distinctive choice of outfits.
“I’m wearing a long sleeve shirt, which was protecting me from that insane sun that’s out there,” celebrates the cerebral Rodney.
It’s the little things which make Deal Casino stand out. They started to make waves in the industry when they cleaned up nicely at the Asbury Music Awards in 2014, according to NJ Arts. Winning prestigious awards, including Best Pop/Rock Band, Best Vocalist, and Best Live Performance, Deal Casino built up a loyal fanbase on the East Coast.Their first album, LLC, featured love songs with a dark twist. This time around, the band took an unexpected turn with their latest single, “Robin Hood.”
“What we’re doing now seems to be anti-love songs, in a weird way. It still has that romantic element to it, though,” Parella says of “Robin Hood.” “It’s about the end of the world happening, and getting away with this one person. That’s the romantic part. The f*cked up part is that…the world ends. It’s the fact that you don’t get to be with the person you want to be with until it’s too late. That’s reality.”
Judging by the band’s latest work, Music & Mojitos doesn’t know if Deal Casino will celebrate Valentine’s Day next year, but one thing is for sure—don’t talk about the drummer’s increase in rent. The band discussed the influx of people into their hometown of Asbury Park, and Donofrio might take Cupid’s arrow and spear your eye out if you get him started on the topic.
“My rent went up about f*cking $800,” exclaims Donofrio. “It’s crazy!”
“When the weekend warriors start trickling in on Saturday, it gets insane in our hometown. We almost get hit by cars, every single time,” Cowell swiftly follows up.
It’s not all ranting and raving for Donofrio, however. He recognizes that without the hometown support, there would be no Deal Casino as fans know it today. They might still be known as Something About January, from many moons and classroom sessions ago.
“It gave us a starting point for our band,” he recalls. “ There’s venues that would let us play every night. They would say, ‘Hey. Come on down and play.’”
With a few more festival dates, worrying about the steady increase in living expenses might become a thing of a past for Deal Casino. In the meantime, the guys are currently concerned with where they’re going to find the next best slice of pizza in the Big Apple. Leave the dollar slices in the microwave for a frugal day, kiddies, because Deal Casino isn’t going to skimp when it comes to satisfying their craving for unexplored hot, cheesy goodness. The band tips off fans where they can currently find them.
“La Margarita, without a doubt,” nods Donofrio. “It’s in the part of what was once the really cool part of the Lower East Side, that’s not really cool anymore. But it’s the f*cking most dankest pizza shop ever.”
“It’s great,” agrees Cowell.
Deal Casino’s priorities are in the right place. Mamma mia!
When not chowing down at La Margarita, you will find Deal Casino singing “Robin Hood” at the Mercury Lounge on Wednesday, June 19. Tickets can be purchased here.
Banner photo by Lauren Johnson