Isolation Drills: Mighty Joe Castro

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Castro: We got lucky. After spending the winter months recording our new album, trying our best to ignore the pandemic slowly blossoming over our shoulders, we strolled out of Miner St Recording, final mixes in hand, two days before the quarantine was declared.

I’m a big fan of boredom—it’s the best fuel for the creative process. So with no social obligations, no errands to run and less distractions, I dove head first into making things. I designed our album cover. I started learning After Effects. I created a collage style skateboard graphic to raise money for Artist For Puerto Rico. I shot a DIY “film-noir” style music video with an iPhone and three flashlights attached to old mic stands.

My nine-year-old daughter wrote a song so we recorded it together in the home studio. And I continued to mail out hundreds of free “Rockabilly Against Racism” stickers to people around the world. Henry Rollins once said, “No such thing as spare time, no such thing as free time, no such thing as down time. All you got is life time.” I try to keep that in mind.

I have friends in NYC and Spain, so early on in the pandemic, I heard firsthand about the hardships they were going through. It’s no joke. I personally know people who’ve had it and a few who, unfortunately, passed away. I mean, the virus doesn’t care whether you believe in it or not. It doesn’t care who you voted for or which cable news station you watch. It’s no hoax. And people need to remember that it’s not necessarily the virus that will get you; it’s the strain on the hospitals. Get in a car wreck or have a heart attack when the hospitals are at capacity with COVID patients, you’re out of luck. So please America, just wear a mask. You’re not as good looking as you think you are anyway.

But overall I feel lucky. A few short years ago, I moved a little farther into the ‘burbs, to a mid-century ranch house with a sunken living room that sits on an acre of land, right next to a horse farm. Most days, if I’m smart enough to turn off the bad-news machine for a minute, I can sit outside in the sunshine, smell the fresh-cut grass and, for a moment, step away from the madness. It sure is a beautiful day for the end of the world.

Having the kids home from school has been great. We eat meals together, play some cards and I take my time sipping my coffee. Meditation has been super helpful, and I try to keep a daily practice. Exercise and walks are essential. Look, I know I’m lucky. I’m just trying to savor this slowed-down lifestyle as much as possible because, before we know it, we’ll be thrown back into the chaos of modern life, where we’ll be forced to endure everyone complaining about how incredibly busy they are. 

All that being said—I’m really looking forward to getting back on the road and playing live shows again, although I don’t see that happening until sometime in 2021. Fingers crossed for the vaccine. Until then, please check out Come On Angels!, the debut full-length album by Mighty Joe Castro And The Gravamen, out July 31.

Be safe, friends. Cheers.