InterviewsSeptember 26, 200511,300 views

Cave In interview

By Alex
Our old friend Eric Alexy was kind enough to check in with Cave In frontman Stephen Brodsky for some questions regarding the band's new album.

So, I've noticed a few of these songs on ""Perfect Pitch Black" were originally found on that bonus CD that came out a year or two ago. Was your plan from the get-go to eventually release those songs in a more formal manner?

When we recorded that particular batch of tunes, the sessions began as a means to finish the vocals on a song called "Day Trader." Of course, we can never just enter a recording session and simply do what we're there to do, and six new tracks came out of it. And we never had big plans for them, but we do like the way that particular session came out.

Tell me how going from preparing to write and record your RCA follow-up to recording as an independent band again affected your mindset when writing and recording this album, if at all.

Well, the material you hear on this album was written while the band was still under contract. The outcome of the demos is such that, once we had severed ties with RCA, we felt the freedom to actually finish what we started. The reason we stopped to begin with is because we weren't even sure if it was worth it to put a bunch of time and heart into a piece of work that may never see the light of day.

By and large it's fairly difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is your singing about in your lyrics, some might even call them a bit obtuse. Is there generally a particular story, mood or inspiration behind each song's lyrics, or do you consider yourself more of a free-form poet?

It varies from song to song, but I don't feel as though these are my strongest set of lyrics. I usually make it a point to rework and revise, but in this case, I was happy enough with the actual vocal performances that I simply decided to rest on it ... and not print the lyrics in the album artwork this time around. But if you listen closely, there are many references to the frustration we were experiencing with our label situation at the time. "Trepanning" and "Tension In The Ranks" are both Caleb's and my own testaments to that period, respectively, his represents our anger towards it, and mine represents a bit more sadness.

Obviously Cave In, The Octave Museum and your solo material sound almost nothing alike. Do you find it at all difficult to in a way wear different hats for each project? Also, can you name the five bands that have influenced your work in each project the most?

The further apart these things are, the easier it is for me to costume change, so to speak. It's when these things begin to blend a bit more than I like them to do, that it becomes difficult to bounce between. The stuff I do on my own has taken on some new influences in the past year or so: pre-"Songs In The Key Of Life" Stevie Wonder, which is just rich and uninhibited in all the best ways; Dungen, a new band that has created a very masterful sonic universe from all kinds of things I'm familiar with and love very much; and the most important being that of all things Brian Eno, a master at songwriting, layering, sonic spices, and space all at once. That's a solid three instead of weak five.

On that note, when can we expect a follow-up to "Ol Sunday" and what can we expect from that?

I'm working on it now... it's taken me forever, because of various distractions I've had in the past year and a half: some being good, others being kind of bad. But one of those distractions has been my induction into the digital world of recording, or better stated, fusing my old and crafty 4-track ways of working into a grander medium of space to use. That being said, I've learned quite a bit in the mechanical world of recording to apply to my songwriting abilities, which I've concentrated on developing more than ever in the past year.

On everything from "Creative Eclipses" to "Antenna," one could really only hear Cave In's hardcore/metal influence in undertones, what prompted the band to bring the heavier elements to the forefront again?

It had a lot to do with revisiting our older material when we decided to dust of the heavy metal cobwebs and take a crack at playing some of that stuff live once again. Also, given the situation we were in during the writing for our new album, the heaviness we re-injected came somewhat naturally.

Obviously you screamed on the earlier material, but Caleb now handles those duties in the band. Are you glad to be relieved of your screaming duties, and how long have you known Caleb could do it so well?

Caleb is quite a phenom behind the mic, and that is certainly no surprise to any of us! He did it on "Big Riff" and a couple of other recordings we never managed to properly release, and of course, there is his more recent work in Old Man Gloom. Cave In's very first tour was with a band called Strike 3 that Caleb fronted as the main vocalist. We were actually more surprised to learn that he is, in fact, a great bass player. He can scream far better than I ever could, that's for sure.

You guys are obviously huge Failure fans. Seeing that you covered "Magnified" some time ago, is it fair to assume that that's your favorite Failure album? Compared to "Fantastic Planet," which I'd venture to say is quite meandering, if not boring, "Magnified" is just such a tighter, more urgent album. I mean there's not a single riff on that album that is anything less than seminal.

"Magnified" was the first thing I heard from them that truly warped my ears for the better. It had all the cooler, more obtuse catchy melodies akin to early Nirvana and really pushed it all the way. I'd never heard anything like it, so I sought to make my own creation based upon it. It was perhaps a bit obsessive, I now admit--but I guess that's what is bound to happen when you learn and play along to an album in your bedroom, trying to crack all of its codes and such.

I've heard conflicting reports at this time, but will you be contributing anything to that upcoming Failure tribute?

As of right now, we have not fully committed to doing it. If we did, I'd rather submit something other than our version of "Magnified" [from "Creative Eclipses"].

Just based on the bands that you guys have covered--everything from Codeine and Giant's Chair to Failure to the infamous Zep cover--it seems fair to assume you have a pretty varied taste in music. Do you consider yourself a bit of a music aficionado? Tell me the 5 coolest, most obscure, perhaps out of print albums you own that not too many other people do.

I just came across the first Emmit Rhodes album, which I believe rivals anything Paul McCartney has ever done solo. I have held on to most of my old hardcore records... or, I should better say, records associated with the hardcore scene of my teenage years. A lot of that stuff is probably difficult to find: Lincoln 7"s, Still Life records, old Deadguy, Inkwell.

"Down the drain" is certainly the band's biggest ode to [My Bloody Valentine's] "Loveless" to date. Tell me a bit about the origins of this song and the particulars of writing and recording such a song (in the sense that it certainly stands out not only on this album, but also when compared to your catalog as a whole).

It was a nice sounding set of chords I had laying around. I had a 4-track version of it recorded, and I played it for everyone just as we began to record the stuff for the "bootleg" CD. I didn't have vocals for it recorded on the 4-track version, so I just kind of sang along with it in the studio while everyone listened and they seemed to like it enough. I remember purposely detuning all the instruments away from each other just a bit, and during the tracking of the acoustic guitar, we had to stop a few times because of clanging pipes in the building causing interference. You can hear them a slight bit just at the end of the Codeine cover we did from that same session. This is also why you can hear me say "What the fuck is that?" right afterwards.

After you guys parted ways with RCA last year, did you immediately jump back to Hydra Head (not that you ever left, they did obviously do the Antenna vinyl), or given that you just had a song on the radio and had toured with Foo Fighters and Muse, did you feel at all obligated to perhaps find a bigger label for your future endeavors?

Our thinking was that our band could easily outlive any of these major labels, and no one made any offers anyway, we were old meat by that point. Hydra Head has expressed love for us from day one, and even more so when they heard us pushing ourselves a bit more on what was originally RCA album #2 demos.

Obviously you guys have been with Hydra Head since very early on. What are you thoughts on the label in general, as far as the sort of quiet influence a lot of their bands have had on the state of modern hardcore/forward-thinking heavy music? Would you agree that today, with bands like Jesu, Pelican, 27 and Isis, that the label's as good as it's ever been?

They've always championed diversity in every and all ways: from their packaging, their aesthetics, and their roster. It's a very comfortable place to be for any free-spirited and free-minded musician, which is why we like it as much as we do. It's also where some of our best work as a band rests, as most of us know.

When I saw you guys on tour several years back--I think it was with From Autumn to Ashes of all bands--I really wasn't expecting to hear you guys play "Juggernaut." What prompted you to bring some of the old songs back to the live setting?

Being bored with touring as much as we had done it until that point, there needed to be a change. The atmosphere was the same every night, playing the same songs from the same era of the band to the point of aching boredom. We were also a bit pissed at the way things had changed at RCA from when we signed to when our album was "dead in the water," as they like to say.

Why hasn't Dave Grohl produced a fucking Cave In album yet?

He's certainly more than welcome to talk with us about it anytime, if he'd like! I'm guessing that he probably has enough on his plate these days.

You were obviously quite hesitant about signing with a major in the first place, but you guys eventually did it. Now, you got out of your deal, and, unlike so many bands who have been in such a situation, you're still intact and together. How disheartening was it to be put through the whole major label rigmarole, and what did you learn from the process?

It sucked a lot of life out of us, but we also were given many great opportunities during our little ride. We got some money going into the deal, and they gave us money going out of it. Positives and negatives abound. You learn to accept that there are always a bit of each, a bit of positive and a bit of negative... and if you love what you do and you love the people you do it with, this can and will supercede anything.

Tell me how the recent change in drummers from J.R. to Ben (Koller, of Converge) has gone.

Well, it was a tough thing for us to do, since J.R. has been a part of this band since day one. His drumming has certainly shaped the feel of this band, and we had to really come to terms with the fact that we wanted to do it more than he has been able to do it as of late, and to not feel bad about doing it without him. But Ben has been great, he's a musical phenom, and we're excited to once again mutate ourselves into something new for future songwriting.


Post Comment
oil_ 9/26/2005 6:28:43 PM

first post, cave in LOL!

lowercasejay_ 9/26/2005 6:37:11 PM

cave in

yeast_infection_ 9/26/2005 6:59:04 PM

I wish they would've interviewed Caleb. Stephen's replies are always held back and too carefully put together. He comes accross as though he never enjoys interviews.

anonymous 9/26/2005 7:07:45 PM

wow, an interview that was actually not painfully awkward to read on here.

Michael_ 9/26/2005 7:12:09 PM


goaty goaty goat goat_ 9/26/2005 7:18:55 PM

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO READ EVER

anonymous 9/26/2005 9:39:19 PM

can't wait for new stephen brodsky record.

fnffishcore_ 9/27/2005 8:49:56 AM

I haven't read this yet, but I'm certain it'll be filled with tons of no funny and/or humor...........

fnffishcore_ 9/27/2005 8:59:11 AM


mark_ 9/27/2005 10:08:40 AM

i wonder how JR feels about it?

808_ 9/27/2005 12:37:20 PM

Uh, the interview just ends.....finish it.

john_doe_ 9/27/2005 12:39:20 PM

no question about 'why does the band sound keep changing every few records?' CAVEIN.

mrwong_ 9/27/2005 1:03:23 PM

Shit interview.

sydbarret._ 9/27/2005 11:32:37 PM

This Cave In interview has been the coolest thing on this board in a long time.

horsecow_ 9/30/2005 1:33:46 PM

why are you playing old songs? "well, we wanted to get back toHOLY SHIT WHERE DID OUR FANBASE GO?!?!!? QUICK, PLAY JUGGERNAUT!!"

Dave2112_ 10/1/2005 12:57:30 PM

The mentioning of Brian Eno boosted my respect for these guys, from "I like them a lot", to "they are awesome".

rat_ 10/1/2005 3:45:42 PM

good interview

is it really?_ 10/2/2005 3:05:23 AM


Ryan Mc_ 10/3/2005 4:43:31 AM

I like how whenever some asks Stephen about his influences, he never lists Failure even though everything Cave In did from "Creative Eclipses" to "Antenna" sounds like Fantasic Planet.

this_band_sucks_ 10/3/2005 2:07:55 PM

yes they do.

radaroreilly_ 11/15/2005 1:45:31 PM

hahahahah @horsecow