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An interview with Caveman

New York's Caveman

Caveman‘s dreamy self-titled sophmore album warms with its atmospheric synthesizers and rich harmonies. Nowhere is that more apparent than on stand-out track “In The City” which quickly has become my favourite song of the summer.

Based out of New York, the band has a sound that will hopefully take them far. Though their strengths do often shine through, it is a lack of variety that holds back this most-recent album back from reaching that next level. With that said, there is a lot to love. Here’s our conversation with with lead-vocalist Matthew Iwanusa:

You played a show in Toronto last month! How’d it go? Any highlights?
Toronto’s great! I ate some amazing sushi. But I think the highlight was our good dude Mikey Jones playing with Snowden. They got added to the show so we got to see him. It was great!

I was surprised to see Julia Stiles in your slick video for “In The City”. How’d that come into being?
I met her through some friends. She likes the band and we thought it would be the perfect fit. I’m really happy she did it. It turned out great!

I saw you play at SXSW 2012. Since then, I feel your sound has broadened to an almost anthemic level, what’s precipitated that change?
That was a fun show. I remember my monitor was completely blown out so I could barely hear anything. We’ve played a lot since then. A lot of it has to do with the way we react to each other. Everyone gets excited about what each other plays. We care about a big sound.

What’s the inspiration behind the name Caveman?
They paved the way.

How have you felt like your past experiences in other bands have helped/hindered your progress as a unit?
Our other bands had a real drive just like this one. I think they helped us understand ourselves as musicians. We were all in bands that were at different levels so everyone brings something different to the table.

It’s hard to stand out in a scene like New York’s, how have you been able to overcome that?
Not really worry about it. There’s a lot of great music and musicians in NY. If you accept it, it works to your advantage. No reason to get down about it or over think it.

What are albums that you guys currently have on rotation while on tour?
Well we probably listen to the Stone Roses at least once a day. I’ve been listening to this Jacco Gardner record a lot and I love the DIIV record. Throw some Tears For Fears in there and you’re at the next city.

Freestyling is an important form of expression in hip hop. If you had to freestyle four lines about your new album, what would you say?
Listen to my shit.
It’s what you want to hear.
Then come hang after.
Help us load out the gear.

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#SXSW Photo Recap: March 16th, 2012

Rhapsody Rocks 2012 @ Club De Ville: Caveman, Zola Jesus, Washed Out
Clive Bar: New Build, Grimes, YACHT

Look out for:
-Zola Jesus acting crazy + her hot violinist
-the crazy crowd inside and outside the venue for Grimes
-Grimes’ mic control technique while using her keyboard

See my review here.

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#SXSW Recap: March 16th, 2012

Rhapsody Rocks 2012

So my third day at SXSW got off to a rocky start as the late nights were starting to catch up with me. I sucked it up and headed over to Club De Ville for what looked to be a great line-up. Feeling in a bit of a daze, I missed openers Tanlines but I was able to shake off the cobwebs to catch a band called Caveman that I hadn’t heard of before. I’m glad I did because they reminded me of the first time I saw Grizzly Bear. Great harmonies and melodies and any song that they announced as a “new song” seemed really catchy and addictive, definitely a band to look out for.

After Caveman came Zola Jesus and knowing a bit of her discography, I had no idea what to expect from a live set. She ended up being a bundle of energy, rocking out in the crowd and on top of the speakers, and put on a hell of a show. Great vocal control and the music (indie electro with gothic influences?) actually translates really well. A very European sound despite her Wisconsin roots. I mean that in a good way.

Washed Out finished off the day and surprisingly performed with a live band. Their album, Within and Without, was one of my favourites of last year so it wasn’t too hard to dance to some chilled out music as the Austin weather was making the day a treat. Cobwebs became a distant memory.

Third Man's Rolling Record Store

Third Man's Rolling Record Store

After my time at Club De Ville, I tried to get into Jack White but found it was badges only, so instead was able to use that free time to visit the Third Man Rolling Record Store which had a lot of great merch, including a tricolour Jack White “Sixteen Saltines” single and an Insane Clown Possee single, another band signed to Third Man ಠ_ಠ.

Check out those rims!

Check out those rims!

I then headed over to Clive Bar to check out Grimes. Even at 9 PM, the line was massive, so the wristband came in handy. The first band I really focused on was New Build, an electropop steel-drum-infused enigma containing members of Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem. Though the crowd was clearly focused and ready for Grimes to hit the stage, songs like “Do You Not Feel Loved?”, had the crowd paying attention and, even better, dancing up a storm.

Grimes was next and there were a lot of factors that seemed to work against her right from the start. A quick festival sound-check for a girl who is so focused on creating an atmosphere with layers of precise music is not ideal. It’s even worse that she seemed to be doing it all on her own with a thousand people packed into a 400-person venue (people were legitimately jumping the fences to try to get in) staring intently and cheering for her to start. When it was clear that the sound-check wasn’t going well, I was worried to see her dive in regardless. It seemed like her mic was almost off to start with and it wasn’t until a few songs had passed that things really started sounding amazing. And then it all ended aruptly, the music cutting out mid-song due to another sound problem. Despite all the issues, there were flashes of absolute brilliance and in the proper setting, I would see Grimes again in a heartbeat.

Yacht, another electronically-influenced indie band, followed with a lot of energy but also suffered from the same sound issues that plagued the Grimes set. Lead singer, Jona Bechtolt, found a clever way to kill time while trying to fix the sound, opening up the floor to questions from the crowd.

Overall, a solid night at SXSW despite some let-downs. I recharged my batteries a bit too which was important because day 4 was set to be a busy one.

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