‘In the shire again!’ We stepped to the side of the media area at SF’s Outside Lands into a pseudo forest to escape the noise of the show and have a chat with New York native band Caveman. Their sound is a refreshing mix of soothing indie vocals and dreamy, positive vibes that knows no coastal boundaries. We had a chance to hear about their creative process, live performance style, philosophy, and sunglasses choice:
Do you guys try and convey a specific emotion with your overall sound?
Positive vibes. Loving life.
My response to your music is very dreamy. Is that intentional or just a nice after effect?
A bit of both. I think it’s a good way to feel, a good place to be. Dreams are real man. I mean, I think they are.
In the sense that they’re premonitions?
I mean they’re as impactful as a movie or something like that, which is another thing that’s not real, but sort of real, you know? It’s a real experience.
Do you guys find yourself influenced by your dreams in terms of songwriting and performing?
Totally. Always, 100%. Life is pretty amazing in that we’re just walking around, getting on with our lives and working hard on what we love, and that’s a dream in itself, you know?
Who does the songwriting? Is it a collaborative effect, or is it more individual?
It’s a mix. I write some of the stuff, sometimes we all write together.
Beyond writing, how does the entire song come together?
Once the main idea comes in, it all grows from there when we all start playing together.
I saw and enjoyed you guys at SXSW this year, do you notice a big difference in terms of the settings you play in?
You learn from every experience playing, everything is different; it’s never the same. Big place or small place, it’s all mixed up so you learn from every aspect of it.
Do you cater based on the setting you’re in or do you just do your thing and people enjoy it?
We don’t really care that much. You know, one or two songs get exiled in certain moments. It’s really a challenge to do it like that, sometimes you can be on stage and be like ‘this sounds so wrong, but I can make this work’. You always get one or two crazy awesome fans right in front that seem to want certain stuff, so we’ll play those songs even if they’re not set appropriately [laughs].
You guys all have crazy shades with you, what’s the story behind that?
We’re from New York and we knew we were coming to California.
I have to say these [Guitarist Jimmy ‘Cobra’ Carbonetti was rocking circular white shades] for the craziest, what’s the story behind them?
I stole ‘em from my friend’s shop on the way to the airport [laughs].
You guys describe yourselves as being a New York band, how does that impact you playing here on the west coast?
It’s great, bringing the New York vibe. It’s positive, it’s like the west coast vibe is our New York vibe in a weird way. There’s alot of people doing the wrong thing in New York. Not musicians per say, but just people that aren’t treating it right. You might as well feel like you’re on the west coast, you know what I’m saying? There’s alot of positive people. It’s way more than just a coastal thing – it’s worldly. It’s a strange mentality out here, we like it. But have a bunch of people that are just in the multiverse over there. I feel like in New York you can do whatever you want, you just really have to be your best at it, and that’s all that counts, cause there’s so many people doing the same thing.
So what makes you guys different?
The ability to not be stressed out in New York City is kind of what I’m trying to get out there. We’re out there really doing something we care about. It’s the only thing we know, basically. I was born there, we work really hard and that’s all we want. Just working hard and doing the best that we possibly can.
Sounds like you guys are doing a great thing with each other, what brought you guys together?
Just hanging around town and being in other bands, playing shows with each other, meeting in guitar shops, alot of New York City wandering. For some reason or another we all were drawn towards each other friendship wise. Then we were all playing shows and making music seperately, and it just felt right. The stars aligned and all our individual projects took a break for a bit, and then we started this [Caveman].
Where did the name come from?
Just a personality and a vibe.
We’ve got alot of positivity and spontaneity in what we’ve been talking about, how does that connect to a caveman?
Gotta be positive when you’re a caveman [laughs]. You’re tryna make a wheel out of a boulder, it’s all hard work in trying to create something in the big picture. It’s also like our band was pressing the restart button in a weird way, that’s a caveman vibe right there. You don’t have to take influences necessarily, we’re just like ‘where do we want to be right now?’
Do you always try to stay away from influences? Are there artists that do influence you guys? If not artists, what other things led to what you’re doing?
Space. The universe. I don’t think anyone really knows what influences them, because in reality you can take in all these things in a really overt, direct way, but the stuff that comes out in those moments of truth are subconscious.
That ties in well with what you guys were saying earlier about dreams.
You were talking spontaneity, how does that happen in your live performances?
For this last tour we never wrote a set list, and it just felt right. We just kind of come into the moment of the city and the show and the venue and how you’re feeling that day. It all just comes across and changes right before you play a set, and after you play you might have changed it. No need to call out what feels right, you just know. We’re all connected in that way because we spend so much time together, we’re all on the same page.
How is that connection built?
The more we get to know each other the more hanging out and working together become one and the same. The older I get the more I realize the beauty of rolling with the punches. Actually feeling and reacting, you can’t architect everything.
Is that something that plays into your lives in general?
Absolutely. That’s why we’re all best friends, you know, we all get along so well.
Changing gears for a second, the joint ‘Vampirer’/’Old Friends’ video was stunning. How did that come about?
It was all our director Phil, he’s right here! [Calls over Phil, the director of the video, who is standing a few yards away] He’s one of our best friends of all time. It was all Phil’s idea.
Phil: The idea was mainly inspired by the music. ‘Old Friends’ was really the big song, but ‘Vampirer’ set the mood for the imagery and idea. I had total creative freedom and worked with that. The aesthetic is stuff that I like and stuff my cameraman likes.
Well, welcome to California. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, we’re looking forward to your set [Caveman played the Panhandle stage on Sunday at Outside Lands] tomorrow!
Thanks, see you there!