Stephen Brodsky: guitar, vocals
John-Robert Conners: drums
Adam McGrath: guitar
Caleb Scofield: bass
"Believe it or not, it's actually harder to write shorter and more concise songs than it is to slop together a nine-minute-long space-rock opera. Look at The Beatlesâ€™ Rubber Soul: almost every song is under three minutes long and the listening experience is completely satisfying."â€”Cave In guitarist/vocalist Stephen Brodsky
? Which is not to say that Cave Inâ€™s RCA debut Antenna doesnâ€™t have one or two full-on stellar excursions: One need only wade halfway into Antenna to be immersed in the eight-minute-plus odyssey of "Seafrost." To make that journey, however, is to witness a rapid succession of the Boston-based quartetâ€™s tightest, most focused, and dare we say, outright catchy moments to date in "Stained Silver," "Inspire," "Joy Opposites," "Anchor" and "Beautiful Son." In fact, track after track on Antenna represents another apex of Cave Inâ€™s darkly melodic and consistently challenging evolution.
Cave Inâ€œAntennaâ€™s songs are for the most part shorter and somewhat more refined than other songs we've written in the past. We deliberately wanted to do this as a challenge to ourselves, more or less. If you listen to a song like "Requiem" from Jupiter, a new song like "Inspire" comes across as more minimalist, dare I say even pop. This approach for the songs on Antenna was more or less an experiment for us.â€?
Hardly surprising talk, coming from a band whose fans and critics alike have described its since the hard right of the Creative Eclipses EP and the epic and defining Jupiter (Hydra Head Records, 1999 and 2000 respectively) as a â€œdeparture.â€? â€œThe change might have seemed sudden,â€? says guitarist Adam McGrath. â€œBut if youâ€™d lived in Boston around â€™98-â€˜99 you would have seen a gradual change. We started experimenting with new sounds and eventually new ways of writing songs that we were all more comfortable with.â€?
The origins of Cave In can be traced to its 1995 genesis in a Methuen, Massachusetts basement, the bandâ€™s earliest works documented by the Beyond Hypothermia compilation of early recordings and first proper album Until Your Heart Stops. The two albums, both released 1998 on Hydra Head, served as fittingly perplexing starting points: Straight-up frozen metal with a series of gravel throated vocalists screaming themselves ragged, ending with founding guitarist Stephen Brodsky. This technically abrasive style steadily built Cave In a following in its native northeast, moving them out of suburban halls with stages that came unhinged and sandwiched drummer John-Robert Conners between his kit and their back walls.
Cave In - JupiterCave Inâ€™s first major evolutionary leap was largely accidental. Recorded for an aborted compilation, the song â€œLuminanceâ€? signaled a turn in an epic melodic mode that had early fans postulating that the band members had employed keyboards and synthesizers in its recording (They hadnâ€™t). Rounded out by four other tracks, these recordings became Creative Eclipses. Cave In forged further onward and outward with Jupiter. Released in June 2000, Jupiter stretched, twisted and shattered the mutant genres that had apparently only begun to emerge on Creative Eclipses. The five of the albumâ€™s eight tracks that exceeded the five-minute mark seemed to challenge their own structures, alternately careening into full-on prog-metallic fury and diffusing into interludes held together by the most delicate melodic strands. Elsewhere, the title track and â€œBrain Candleâ€? proved the new Cave In could still deliver a focused punch inside of three and a half minutes. Not coincidentally, the new breed of Cave In fan seemed to multiply around this timeâ€¦ a change McGrath noticed in terms of â€œmore diversity in gender and open-mindednessâ€¦ It also seems we attract a sort of â€˜college ageâ€™ crowd.â€?
This same crowd seemed to enjoy searching for new bastard genres to describe Cave Inâ€™s music as much as they enjoyed the music itself. The intricate new arrangements and Brodskyâ€™s increasingly elliptical lyrics led to â€œSpace Emoâ€? and other such equally brilliant and wretched cross-pollinations. A brilliant single released in early 2002 (â€œLost In The Airâ€?â€”which appears in re-recorded and subtly re-arranged form on Antennaâ€”coupled with â€œLift-Off,â€? Hydra Head) stirred the pot some more with evidence of an undeniable pop sensibility that reigned the song lengths back under five minutes and produced not one but two killer choruses. Still, Brodskyâ€™s lyrics continued to fight gravityâ€™s pull. â€œSure, as always,â€? he agrees. â€œSometimes the strongest lyrical themes in any of our songs can be from a dream I had years ago, or a subconscious thought I had while riding public transportation one afternoon. It's all still very personal, but the subject matter often tends to be smeared like an artsy-fartsy painting display at a museum.â€?
Tides Of Tomorrow, an EP released in October 2003, marked both Cave Inâ€™s final release for indie Hydra Head, as well as a markedly mellow approach on the bulk of the material. Written and recorded in less than a month, Tidesâ€¦ ranged in tone from Jupiter/CE type fare (â€œCome Into Your Ownâ€?) to heavy balladry (â€œDark Driving,â€? â€œEverestâ€?) to McGrathâ€™s uber-mellow â€œTides Of Tomorrowâ€? and bassist Caleb Scofieldâ€™s â€œThe Calypso.â€? Reviewers went off the rails, resulting in five-star reviews from STANCE and KERRANG, and MAGNET likening the EP to â€œlost songs from Radioheadâ€™s OK Computer sessions.â€?
Among Cave Inâ€™s most ardent fans were the Foo Fighters, who invited the band to support them on their SRO arena tour of the UK. As unnerving as it must have been to step out in front of 14,000 Foo Fighters fans that first night at the Manchester Arena, Cave In held it together, ultimately winning over tens of thousands of potential new fans, including over 20,000 over a two-night stand at Wembley Arena.
With the Tidesâ€¦ sessions and subsequent touring further honing and tightening the bandâ€™s collaborative chemistry and vibe, Cave In attacked the Antenna material with renewed intensity. â€œStained Silverâ€? and â€œRubber And Glue,â€? for example, were written prior to the Tidesâ€¦ sessions (both appeared on a limited edition sampler packaged with Hydra Headâ€™s recent Jupiter special edition, the latter as â€œBigger Riffâ€?), but never definitively recorded until the band deemed appropriate.
â€œWe had a pretty good idea of what was going on the album and what wasn't,â€? Brodsky recalls. â€œAlthough there were a few last minute surprises. "Penny Racer" was originally meant to be a B-side but it was just too fun for us to keep it from making it onto the actual album. Before we even recorded Tides Of Tomorrow, I had made countless drafts of potential track listings for the album, and almost all of them had omitted every song on the EP. Which isn't to say we felt those songs were filler or subpar by any means. I still stand by the notion that those six songs were meant to be heard as they were presented. But they certainly did not fit the overall vibe we were trying to achieve on Antenna.â€?
Cave In - AntennaAntenna was also Cave Inâ€™s first experience working with producer Rich Costey. Given the wide latitude necessary in building a resumeâ€™ like Cave Inâ€™s, it could be theorized that marrying the strong-willed band to a â€œnameâ€? producer could be disastrous. As Antenna proves, the results were anything but: â€œRich was there to point out the little things that none of us would really care to notice,â€? Brodsky says. â€œStuff like â€˜J.R., instead of rolling the drum stick with your left hand on the snare fill there, can we hear it with you making it just solid hits instead?â€™ And the rest of us are like â€˜Huh?â€™ But it all makes somewhat of a difference. People still tend to think a producer is someone who sticks their nose into your music and rearranges the whole big picture, when in fact that person should merely be someone who only helps to enhance what is already there to begin with. And that was essentially why we chose to work with Rich.â€?
And with results like the standout â€œYouth Overrided,â€? the re-worked â€œLost In The Airâ€? and surprise keeper â€œPenny Racer,â€? the working relationship was indeed mutually beneficial. Antenna does indeed veer beyond Tides Of Tomorrowâ€™s lush acoustics, but not quite into the realms of Jupiterâ€”but to even the first time listener, itâ€™s undeniably Cave In. Brodsky sums up: â€œI don't really hear much of a style change in our music since Creative Eclipses. To me, it's just ethereal rock that's catchy without sounding forced or cliched.â€?
Cave In Selected Discography
Beyond Hypothermia (Hydra Head, 1998)
Until Your Heart Stops (Hydra Head, 1998)
Creative Eclipses EP (Hydra Head, 1999)
Jupiter (Hydra Head, 2000)
â€œLost In The Airâ€?/â€?Lift Offâ€? (Hydra Head, 2002)
Tides Of Tomorrow EP (Hydra Head, 2002)
Antenna (RCA, 2003)
Perfect Pitch Black (Hydra Head 2005)