One of the more amorphous heavy rock bands, Cave In have endured much success and strife between their highly praised records, most notably Until Your Heart Stops and Jupiter, and eventual hiatus. After their reformation, they put out the EP Planets of Old and the full-length White Silence, but not a lot of interviews or news has come from their end recently. Thankfully they’ve sacrificed some time to The Alt Review to address these things and more.
Thanks for doing this interview! Could you please state your name(s) and role(s) in the band?
My name is Steve Brodsky. I play guitar and sing, sometimes capture wavefiles and wail the mean tambourine.
I heard White Silence was self-produced, is that true? If so, how did that experience compare to the major label-funded Antenna?
It is true. We basically took our time over the course of a year writing and recording, usually getting together once a week to work on it. I think in general there was less pressure in comparison to making “Antenna”, because at this point we’re essentially beholden to no investors. So there’s definitely the sound of a unified effort on “White Silence”, because as a group I think everyone feels more comfortable working under those circumstances.
The screaming sounds like Brodsky is having a lot of fun. Is the band having as much fun these days?
Actually I’m only shredding my throat on a fraction of what you hear. Caleb and Adam really stepped up their vocal presence this time around. Tracking that stuff was fun – at times it pretty much turned into a vocal round-table of experimentation with ideas.
Are the last three songs an intentional curve-ball? They’ve gotten mixed responses, which very well may be an achievement itself.
Those were tracked separately from the rest of the album, which definitely adds to their singularity. We wrote a lot of parts and arrangements for them as we went along, whereas writing for the rest of “White Silence” was mostly finalized prior to the recording. It was just a means of mixing up the creative process by tracking a few jams that way – we thought it yielded the kind of material that makes for a nice ending after such a rager of an album.
Do you do a lot of rewriting of the songs to develop them? Have there been any songs from the past that took a long time to “finish”?
It’s varied over the years, but the bulk of “White Silence” was written without much hesitation. That was sort of crucial to the process, I think, because of all the deliberating that’s taken place with prior releases… especially our bouts of excessive rewriting from the past, it really slowed things down and definitely stripped away the initial spark of some potentially great songs. For instance, I think there must have been almost a dozen different arrangements of “Woodwork” by the time it ended up on “Antenna”. At that point, who knows what’s good anymore! This time around we managed to avoid that problem, thankfully.
Considering the heaviness of Until Your Heart Stops to the opposite heaviness of Jupiter, as well as the other departures in your career, what is the band’s philosophy for the continual growth in multiple sounds? Have you considered doing that between songs instead of between records?
I think it’s got a lot to do with having insatiable tastes for new music. There’s always discoveries to be made and we really get into sharing our findings with each other.
How influenced are (any of) you by progressive rock, however you may define it?
Much of what’s progressive-sounding about Cave In is usually carried out with a layman’s approach, probably because none of us were heavily schooled with music theory or have much classical training. Seems like the real legitimate prog folk, especially the stuff we love from the 60′s and 70′s, they have that kind of background to play around with – so we do our best to compensate with bludgeoning volumes and excessive electronic goodies.
Your EPs branch off noticeably from the albums. Are they more explorative in that sense? What is the role of an EP?
Yeah I think the EP is generally a healthy format to explore new ideas without spreading yourself too thin. Also the pressure is off to invest yourself too deeply into uncharted sonic territory if something feels like it’s a gamble to begin with. “Creative Eclipses” was a big one, that’s essentially the EP that helped us test the waters with what would become “Jupiter”.
What has branching off into solo projects brought back to Cave In?
Probably a heightened sense of independence. Especially for Caleb and Adam, I think those guys really honed their songwriting crafts within the realms of Zozobra and Clouds, respectively.
Are there any newer bands around today that have surprised you? Books or movies?
Let’s see… some current bands and musicians doing things I dig are Helms Alee, Kurt Vile, Nihill, Jodis, Chelsea Wolfe, Circle, The Men, Iceage, Phantom Glue, Sailors with Wax Wings, and Enslaved. As for books, Marukami’s novel 1Q84 was truly great and actually inspired me to complete a new song I had struggled with finishing. I also enjoyed and appreciated much of the research that went into Outliers by Malcom Gladwell.
Is there any news on the new collaboration between Ben Koller and Steve Brodsky?
Yes – Ben and I have Andrew Schneider onboard this month to mix 7 songs that we recorded ourselves last summer. We’re stoked to put this twisted mutant noise into the world soon… however, we still need a good name! Any suggestions?
Now that you have the personal success of White Silence, do you have a positive outlook on the future of the band?
Yeah definitely. We needed to make “White Silence” in the manner that it was done, just to prove to ourselves more than anything that we can come together as a band and still have fun doing this.
There wasn’t a whole lot of touring for the record. How come? Are there any EPs or record ideas in the works?
With two fathers in the band, it’s just hard to coordinate things that require those guys to take extensive time away from their families. And since I moved to Brooklyn last year, things have been kind of quiet with Cave In, mainly because I’ve had to focus on getting myself settled in a new situation. So for right now, everyone has their irons in other fires. But we did actually just get back from an awesome camping trip together in the woods of New Hampshire!
How do you compare touring today with touring with past albums?
Well it happens so infrequently now, which is probably the biggest difference. By the time we start to get our feet wet, the trip is practically over! When shows are happening, I just try to soak in all that I can at that moment. Anything else is beyond my control.
Is there anything Cave In hasn’t done that any of you have really wanted to do?
There’s plenty of places in the world I’d still love to see one day, with or without Cave In. As long as our friendship remains, the future holds something good.
Thanks for doing this interview – is there anything you’d like to add?
Thanks for reading and for the support.