Smile Politely

Casados’ Nic Dillon Back In Action After Summer Injury

There are some phrases that never lead to anything good, and “cracked skull” is certainly one of them. Fortunately, Nic Dillon of local indie-rock/folk duo Casados is almost fully recovered from injuries he suffered in a run-in with a falling tree limb earlier this summer. “It’s good in a way,” says Dillon. “I was realizing that I just turned 28, and that’s a good point in life to re-realize a sense of mortality.”

Casados (made up of Nic and his wife, Heather) have been playing “here and there” this fall after Nic got back on his feet, and they’ve got a full weekend slate planned. Friday night at Mike ‘N Molly’s (9 p.m., $7), Casados joins Ryan Groff, Peter Adriel and Lovely Houses for a White Elephant Song Exchange. “It’s the best name we could come up with,” explains Dillon. “It’s an excuse to learn Christmas songs and make them cool and a little different.” Then Saturday night at the Courtyard Cafe (9 p.m., $5 public/$3 students), Casados opens for David Bazan (check out SP’s interview with Bazan tomorrow).

After the jump, Dillon recounts his injury and recovery in graphic detail, explains the difference between Urbana’s professor and indie-rock ghettos and assures you rockers out there that major medical insurance is a good investment.

Smile Politely: Do you live in Champaign-Urbana?

Nic Dillon: We live in the indie rock ghetto of Urbana. The professor ghetto is east of Lincoln, west of Vine. The indie-rock ghetto is east of Vine, west of Philo. It’s based on the economics of living in these two areas. Those of us in the indie rock ghetto appreciate older homes, but can’t afford to live in the professor ghetto. It’s nice living in a place where you have to explain yourself less. With something like indie music, which seems really big in some ways, it’s hard to explain to family members and people who get most of their information from the mainstream media. It’s strange if you live around those people. I think every person who works at Parasol lives within a couple blocks of our house, Ward Gollings lives nearby, and Jay Bennett (formerly of Wilco) lives back here. Roy at Parasol lives two doors down. He played drums for Braid and is in New Ruins now. If you say that you’re going out on tour, people around here know what that’s about. When there’s a sense of normalcy, I think it makes me more productive. We’re all screw-ups in one way or another, but we’re also homeowners. So, maybe we’ve achieved a good balance?

SP: Are you full-time musicians, or do you have other jobs, too?

ND: We both have part-time day jobs; we both work currently. I teach guitar and work at the University part-time. Heather is a freelance writer and copy editor, mainly of academic journals.

SP: How does that work when you go out on tour?

ND: If you provide a good service at work, your boss will be more understanding when you say you need to get six weeks off. If you’re up front and honest about the reason that you don’t want to be full time, then it’s not a big deal. It’s easy for Heather because most of her work is freelance and contract and if we’re not going to be around, she doesn’t take on the job. It’s easy for me because I just tell my students I won’t be around.

SP: Since you’re part-timers, do you have medical insurance?

ND: We have a major medical insurance policy. I know a lot of musicians don’t carry health insurance, but we do. It has a $5,000 deductible and an $8,000 yearly cap. I can’t say it hasn’t affected us, but it’s a case that a lot of people are in.

SP: Would you say that you’re back to 100 percent physically?

ND: I had a really good and fairly quick recovery. A lot of things went right that made that possible. I was fortunate when my skull cracked that there was a pretty good-sized laceration and the blood flowed out because otherwise there could have been internal bleeding, so losing blood was a good thing. That prevented injury with regards to my brain. And there was no intensive surgery needed around my scapula. The bone healed slightly off, but that was the lesser of two evils. There was no surgery and no blood transfusions, even though I had some fainting trouble a couple weeks after the injury. I was reluctant to get blood transfusions, even though there are a lot of steps taken to ensure that it’s safe.

SP: Why was that? Because of the risk of communicable disease?

ND: I’m just weird about some stuff, I can’t rationalize it. I’m a better person if I am afflicted in some way. A lot of people when they’re afflicted, they become sad and burdened. I have a better perspective when I am afflicted and I am a better friend and husband. When I’m in a routine, I lose sight of what things are all about.

(Photo by Ryan Patrick Clarke)

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