|Cave In began as a remedy for boring suburban hell in the early springtime of 1995. Jay Frechette (our first vocalist and band co-founder) and I grew up a couple blocks from each other in the not-so-nice part of Methuen, MA. It was in his parents' basement where we first began to write songs as Cave In. This is also the same place where one of Jay's little cousins would drink bleach and sit inside J.R.'s bass drum during practice. There were plenty of attempts at doing bands prior to Cave In, with names like Quinine and System3 (our repertoire included the occasional Snapcase or Threadbare cover song), and it was all in good fun. With myself, Jay, Justin Matthes on bass, Adam McGrath on guitar, and John-Robert Conners on the skins, we put our tiny brains together and tried to sound heavy and also combine everything else we liked about music: bands like Threadbare, Cable, Unwound, Sunny Day Real Estate, Snapcase, Failure, Giants Chair, Groundwork, Chokehold, Garden Variety, etc., etc., and local monsters Converge and Piebald. The band name itself comes from the title of a Codeine song on the "Frigid Stars" LP.
Despite our naivety and high school confusion, we got serious and recorded our first real "demo" that summer on my little cassette 4-track machine. We played almost every show we were offered. Taking 3 car pools full of dilapidated gear and people to Orange, CT and back for one show, opening for a Deadguy no-show at the Living Room in Providence and playing in front of virtually no one except the folks who'd driven us to the show: this was "paying your dues", as they say. So it was a nice break to befriend local bands like Piebald, Converge, Gambit, Splintered, 357 Noise and countless others who would help us along the way. Some of these bands already had amassed a strong following, and we benefited greatly by sharing live bills with them.
Sometime in the autumn of 1995, Jay Randall (who was then fronting the local band Gambit) offered to self-release a Cave In/Gambit split 7" and we were delighted. Brian McTernan was operating his Salad Days recording studio in Brighton, MA at the time - located just outside of Boston. So we bummed rides from everyone we could to do the sessions because none of us had our driver's licenses yet. This was the first time any of us had ever stepped into a 'real' recording studio. Nervous as hell, we somehow managed to squeeze out 4 songs in December of that year, and the release of the Cave In/Gambit split record followed shortly after.
We recorded more songs with Brian in April of 1996 for two releases: a Cave In/Early Grace split 7" on the Tampa-based Independence Day label and a Cave In/Piebald split 7" on Moo Cow Records. Splitting headaches, to be honest... we were dying for our very own release to happen! Justin played on these songs with a fresh cast on his left hand from a mishap that took place outside in a nearby park while we killed time waiting to record. The shit just hits the fan exactly when you don't need it. Both of those records were released in the autumn of 1996, and we trudged on, somewhat disgruntled that no one had yet to offer us our own Cave In release and NOT another split record. That is, until Aaron Turner of Hydra Head caught a Cave In show sometime in the early winter of 1996 and expressed interest in the band. Piebald & Converge, both new to the Hydra Head family at the time, were filled with nothing but good things to say. Aaron offered us our own 7" on Hydra Head and we kissed his feet all over.
In the winter of 1996-1997 we booked more time with Brian at Salad Days to record songs for our next single. We wrote 2 of the heaviest & longest suckers we possibly could, and Hydra Head released the 7" sometime around May of 1997. It was great to finally feel a part of a good record label that actually worked at getting our name out there. Andy "Gondiva" Kyte became our new bass player shortly after the recording, and played with us our first little east coast tour to Florida and back that summer before we parted ways with him. This time also marked the leaving of vocalist Jay from the band (he went to briefly play guitar for the now-defunct Boston hardcore band Ten Yard Fight), and we called upon Dave Scrod to fill his position. Dave was the singer in another hardcore band that we had all worshipped a few years earlier called Alert (later renamed Swivel). Late that summer is when we really began concentrating writing songs for "Until Your Heart Stops", rehearsing without a bass player.
In the meantime, we decided it would be nice to have everything we'd done up until that point available on one "discography" CD. So Aaron gave us the 'go' and we reworked some guitar & vocal tracks on the older songs to give them some new life (we can now admit that some aspects of this decision were quite foolish), while recording a few new ones to round the thing out. Thus, "Beyond Hypothermia" was born. However, Dave Scrod's spot in Cave In was short-lived - after a Cave In/Piebald winter tour in 1997-1998, he and the rest of us decided to part ways. Upon our return home, we were soon bass player-less and without a lead singer. Travis from Piebald had graciously accepted the role of playing bass on the tour.
Luck had blessed us again - shortly after coming home from the Cave In/Piebald tour, Caleb Scofield gave us a ring. Strike 3 - the band he sang for and the same band we shared a van with during our first east coast tour - had just disbanded. He was offering to play bass for Cave In. It was a surprise to learn that he even played bass - we really had no idea. The real surprise came at our first try-out rehearsal together - he was a closet bass phenom! Then the question loomed: Should we seek out a 5th person to fill in the lone vocalist spot? Ultimately, we opted to play by the "3 strikes and you're out" rule with our rotating 5th member situation and didn't bother to fill the spot of 'lone vocalist' with someone else. Instead, we remained shrunken to a 4 - piece band and rehearsed the songs for "Until Your Heart Stops" this way. Immediately, we all felt somewhat liberated to play music without the nuisance of a 5th ego, and the line-up stuck. In late April we began recording "Until Your Heart Stops" at Kurt/Converge's new God City Studio in Allston. By the summertime the record was released and we went on our first real U.S. tour with Canadian rockers Ire. They hid poop in our van, we lashed back by attacking their van with it, and we all had a splendid time together. By this time the band was really settling into being a 4-piece and we felt it was time to play around with some new ideas.
Brian offered us a free recording in November of 1998, and we went to Gloucester to record some songs we were playing around with that eventually became tracks on our next EP. Adam & I scraped up a few 4-track pieces that fit the mood and dumped it all together to make "Creative Eclipses". We all agreed that the band wasn't ready to dive into writing songs for another full-length, so we thought it best to release something small until we were ready to begin the next project. After a short winter tour with The Dillinger Escape Plan & Converge, "Creative Eclipses" was released on Hydra Head. This of course was the beginning of our alienation from some of fans we had aquired - many people were confused by the EP, and it was generally perceived to be a sort of "experiment" that we did just for fun, before releasing another series of heavy metal records. Oops.
We spent the rest of 1999 writing, recording for both a Cure and a Bad Brains tribute compilations, and touring the U.S. extensively with Isis & briefly with Neurosis. I always wanted to write a record titled "Jupiter" the planet being the largest in our solar system, but also a failed star. It made for a nice metaphor in creating some the newer music we were working on. Being our first real album as a 4-piece band, "Jupiter" was our first opportunity to create songs that carried no demons from past incarnations of the band. But I'd say we had a hell of a time trying to write this thing. The blazing van fire we experienced on our tour with Isis didn't help us much either: we lost most of our equipment and it certainly threw off the speed of things, not only for the writing of the record but for the band in general. We took some time in February & March to lay "Jupiter" onto tape with Brain McTernan, spending even less time on the tracking than we had recording "Until Your Heart Stops". The reason we kept the album as minimal as it sounds - no layered vocal tracks, no guitar overdubs, and minimal studio trickery is because we felt that we had to prove ourselves as band with this new batch of music. We wanted people to see us perform the songs live as closely as they appear on the album recording. The album was released in September 2001, followed by our first appearances at the CMJ Music Festival in New York City and a U.S. tour the following winter.
Shortly afterward was when other various record labels began sniffing around our camp. We waded through all of it - some choices being more obvious to pass on than others - and ultimately decided on working with RCA Records. They have Elvis Presley, the King of Rock N' Roll. Duh. Of course there is obviously more important factors in why we chose RCA over the slew of other proposals, and our musical freedom was pretty much at the top of the list. After some writing, we did a brief recording stint with Paul Q. Kolderie and Sean Slade in Boston for a 2 Song Single/7" containing the song "Lift-Off" and an early version of "Lost In The Air" that was released by Hydra Head. Both shared their stories about Frank Black and helped reinforce the notion that we never landed on the moon. Hardly a trivial matter for us, considering the "space-rock" tags we sometimes give ourselves when we get too exhausted by journalists questioning us as to how we "describe our own sound". We then toured the U.S. with the Plea For Peace / Take Action tour in the summer of 2001, which ended in Los Angeles and stayed there for about a month, continuing to write and write and write and... another U.S. tour followed our brief stay in L.A., followed by our very first tour of the U.K. and mainland Europe in the winter of 2002... followed by more writing and writing.
Finally, to alleviate our recording studio withdrawal, we teamed up with Andrew Schneider for a recording session that was to become "Tides Of Tomorrow". Some of the material was taken from all the writing we had been doing in the past year or so, and some of it was created during our break after the first European tour. The tracking took place over a 2 week period prior to our departure from Boston to Los Angeles, once again, to begin pre-production on a new album. We decided to pay homage to one of our favorite relatively unknown and highly underrated bands - Giants Chair by doing a version of the song "The Callus". It originally appeared only as a B-side to their "Purity And Control" single on Caulfield Records, which is now long out-of-print. Upon hearing about the planned release for these songs, some people suspected that this batch of songs was actually a bunch of RCA rejects that weren't "allowed" to appear on the next album. Coincidentally, this is around the same time that the four of us lost the ability to follow all of the rumors surrounding our decision to sign onto a major label. It couldn't have come at a better time, really. The EP was released on Hydra Head Records in October of 2002
The recording of "Antenna" began in the summer of 2002, at Cello Studio in Los Angeles. We felt like dirt stains in this beautifully historical recording studio - photos of old Hollywood and the Beach Boys recording "Pet Sounds" hanging all over the walls, a live room the size of a high school gymnasium... very cool. For a producer, we chose to work with Rich Costey. Known more for his mixing and engineering talents, we connected almost immediately, in part with the fact that he is also a New England native. We spent about two months in the studio, getting really good at Grand Theft Auto III and occasionally blowing fuses the control room speakers during playbacks. Recording the album at times was boring as hell - lots of waiting around, lots of playing the same parts to the same songs OVER and OVER again with different sounding gear set-ups ("That was good, real good... let's just do it ONE more time." "....AAUGH!?!"). Then, literally the morning after doing a few last minute vocal overdubs, we were on a plane to Japan to play a couple festival dates, then Pukkelpop in Belgium, Reading and Leeds Festivals, a show at the Monarch in London that was recorded live by a portable recording studio, and then a few hours of sleep here and there, maybe some time for a hot meal. Don't ever think for a minute that signing to a major label is a vacation, by any means. The four of us have never been worked harder in our lives - but it's something that we were all well aware of diving into the whole thing. Hopefully our band metabolism can keep us a few steps ahead of it all, so that we can continue to do the one thing that brought us together in the first place. Which is essentially writing, recording, and playing music.
So that's it for now, the thrilling life story of Cave In without the rock n' roll excitement of excessive drugs, senseless violence, teenage pregnancies, and. . . well, yes there were some unexpected pyro-technics involved. . .
- Stephen Brodsky