Music Speaks

Autism makes no difference to up and coming musician

Casey McCorkindale is a 27-year-old local musician who can often be seen delivering pizzas for Papa John’s or playing at open mic nights. He is also autistic. I had the chance to sit down with Casey and talk about his passion for music, as well as his plans for the future. From the beginning, it was clear that music is something he loves very much, so much so that he has put other passions, such as playing soccer, on hold to further his music career. Read on for a look into Casey’s life.

What instrument do you play, and how long have you been playing?

I play guitar: I play electric, I play hollow-body, I play acoustic. I’ve been playing since I was 11 years old. I’ve taken some breaks, like to play soccer. In my music, I’ve played with friends, I’ve been in a few bands, but mostly I’ve played by myself for 11 years.

What kind of music do you like to play?

I like playing punk, pop, emo, screamo type of stuff. I actually write my own stuff. I write the instrumental parts first, and then I go back and write the lyrics. The instrumental songs can go anywhere from one minute to four minutes.

What kind of themes do your songs have?

In reality, love is there. A lot of music these days is all about money, drugs, alcohol, and disrespecting women. It’s the same thing over and over and I’m tired of it. The style I want to go for is, “I want to have fun, and not care about the fame or the money and just care about the music.” I just want to have fun with friends and family. I write about things like falling in love, my first encounter with alcohol and other life experiences.

Where do you usually perform?

I like to do the open mic nights at Molly’s Irish Pub, sometimes Fat Tuesdays, but I normally just post videos on Youtube or Facebook.

How long have you been performing at open mic nights?

I’ve been performing at open mic nights ever since I began living on my own, so about three or four years. They’ve shown me there’s a lot more talent out here than I realized. I appreciate the talent, I like seeing other people, and it gives me a confidence booster to go up there and play. Sometimes I joke with the other musicians, and if someone does a really good job, I say, “How am I going to follow up on that?” Most of the time I actually write my own stuff, and I sit off in the corner, and I still listen to theirs but I’m thinking “You’re going to do this song, and then this song, and then this song.”

Do you remember the first time you played at an open mic night?

Yes, it was actually at Fauquier [High School] when I was a junior. I played my Fender acoustic — this beautiful black guitar — and I drove the teachers mad. I brought my guitar with me anywhere I wanted, because I wanted to play. I played in the old library before they fixed it up.

Tell me more about your donations to Autism Awareness.

There’s this new album I’ve been working on, it’s called “One Breath” and it’s more of a punk, emo thing. I’m friends with some people on the board of Autism Speaks in New York and I told them if I do well enough on my tour I’ll definitely donate up there. My record label is called “Frat Boys” but it’s not what you think of when you think of frat boys. It means that everyone is accounted for, everyone can party and have fun and it doesn’t matter who you are. Any sort of thing you have, who cares? You’re still human, and you are loved.

You mentioned you’re going on a tour?

Hopefully, once my recording studio person gets back from Tennessee. I’ll probably do a round tour here, probably Leesburg, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Gainesville, Haymarket. I’m working with a friend of mine who does state tours, so I’m going to try and get out and see if I can do places like Indiana, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and I saw this spot on the wall and said to myself, “I want that spot. That spot is going to be mine one day.” And my parents always said, “You have to work hard,” so that’s what I do. I have a younger friend who is autistic as well, and he plays guitar too. He must be five or six, and he gives me hope. I can be this big fighter for kids who are autistic, and they can look up to me. At one point, I was to the point where I wanted to throw everything away and start over. But then I went to Drum & Strum and they had this beautiful white Ibanez guitar and I said “One day I’m going to buy that,” and I did. I want to be different. I want to have people say that yeah, I’m autistic, but I can still play the guitar. I want to be for the people and for my music, not for anything else.

If you had any advice for people who want to start performing but are scared to, what would you say to them?

Just think to yourself, “We’re all human. We’re all going to be nervous, in reality everyone is afraid of something.” Before I go on stage I always tell myself, “Patience. You’re going to get nervous. Just close your eyes, tell yourself everyone does this. Mick Jagger, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, the Who, everyone gets nervous. If they can do it, I can do it.” Playing has been very challenging at times, but I learned to have fun.

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