One limps by, barely balanced on his cane while another speaks softly of scorching fires and the logistics of flipping a van off the side of the road. It’s nothing to them really, just the average wounds from the road. Say what you will, the guys in Cave In are hardcore, even if their sound is not.
Cave In began in 1995, a group of 15-year-old kids spouting derisive hardcore melodies and screaming at the top of their lungs. Seven years later the band has transcended this initial fury, embracing instead the soft-fuzz of spacey psychedelic rock.
Members Stephen Brodsky (vocals/guitar), Adam McGrath (guitar), John-Robert Connors (drums) and Caleb Scofield have all seen their share of long nights and ratty hotels and they’ve come out playing as strongly as ever, despite their sometimes disasters.
I myself was faced with diversity upon finding my GW Fall Fest interview with the band had become mangled and torn, the tape forever broken. They might be tough guys, but they’re also really nice and at last Saturday’s Black Cat performance guitarist McGrath sat with me again, catching up since we last met.
Hatchet: So what’s been going on man? It’s been a while since I’ve seen you.
Adam McGrath: I’ve been on the road, on tour getting drunk every night.
H: So I saw (lead singer) Stephen’s leg is messed up. What happened?
AM: He jumped off the stage last night, on the crowd. He’ll stick it out.
H: That’s good. I felt weird because I’ve interviewed you all before and I was wondering if he always had a limp and maybe I just didn’t notice.
AM: Nope. He just jumped and messed it up. Sucks, huh?
H: Yeah. Anyway. Reading your bio I saw that you said your band has been through really high points and really low points. What happened to your van? I heard that was a low point.
AM: Like three years ago we pulled over at a rest stop, we thought the van was overheating. We got out and suddenly it was enveloped in flame.
H: Jesus. It’s lucky you weren’t in there.
AM: We would have been but we were inside peeing.
H: So what do you do when a van explodes? I mean were you stuck?
AM: You just kind of watch it. You go into shock. It was just unbelievable.
H: At least you can hold it over other bands’ heads. You can be like “yeah, well at least your van didn’t explode.”
AM: I’ve got plenty of battle scars like that.
H: Yeah? Like what?
AM: I rolled a van once and we missed the show.
H: Anything else?
AM: I got hit by a car last year in Japan. But I survived.
H: So, you guys used to be hardcore, almost metal. Now the sound is spacey rock. Was there an exact moment when that changed?
AM: We were 15 when we started this band. You grow up a little. You change the way you do things. You change the way you dress. You change the way you create.
H: Do you feel like you guys have a place in the hardcore scene?
AM: Probably not. A lot of people shunned us. I don’t think there’s a place anymore.
H: So was there a backlash in the scene?
AM: Yeah. We got called pussies, faggots and homosexuals. It’s stupid. Just because you play lighter music doesn’t mean you’re less masculine.
H: What do you say to that?
AM: I don’t say anything. It’s disgusting. I don’t want you to like my band anyway. Get out. Let people do what they want. It’s only music. We’re not curing cancer here.
H: Speaking of losing friends, how has it been on your own, now that you’re not playing with Jimmy Eat World.
AM: The crowds are good. Fortunately you don’t see much negativity in the crowd. Of course we did have one show where the kids were real dicks.
H: What do you do when the crowd is like that?
AM: We make fun of them back. You just act like an asshole and they stop. I never get bummed out. I just diffuse as much as I can. I point them out. Usually they stop right away.
(Cave in lead singer Stephen Brodsky limps in for a moment saying a cordial hello and asking about the band’s set list.)
H: You ever get an injury like that on stage or are all your battle scars on the road?
AM: I cut my hand once and bled all over my guitar. Not that bad.
H: You never dived in the crowd and fell through?
AM: I did when I was younger. I wasn’t playing then. I was stage diving at Strife shows. Nasty stuff.
H: That’s a real hardcore band. I’d stay out of that pit.
AM: I do now. When I was young I was a little braver.