Cave In: ‘The Longer We’re Around, The More People Don’t Like Us’

With Cave In’s new EP, Planets of Old, seeing a proper release – with a bonus DVD – on January 26, here’s a vintage interview with the guys when they had Antenna on the brain.

Stephen Brodsky is a happy man today. No, not because he stands front-and-center in Cave In, arguably the densest punk-rock band to ever grace a major label. No, not because said band has aroused Dave Grohl to the point of ejaculation. No, not because he finally has a day off after countless consecutive weeks of touring – with Sparta, Foo Fighters and others.

Alas, it was a $2 scratch ticket that made Brosky’s day. Calling from a bus in Boston on a nippy March afternoon, he reveals to Rockpile:

“I hate gambling. Never played scratch tickets, never played the lottery. But I was feeling lucky the other day, and – lo and behold – I won $100. There’s my dinner!”

It’s been six months since the band capped off work on Antenna, its inaugural record for RCA. A pastiche of re-recorded old material and new tracks, the volume calls to mind a revved-up Piebald or toned-down Icarus Line, plastering an endless supply of complicated twists and turns and – gasp! – a prog-related mastery integrated within their double-edged guitar technique.

Having teamed with producer Rich Costey (Apples in Stereo, Injected), Cave In have come a long way since their original incarnation as a proponent of Methuen, MA high-school hardcore.

“We’re not like The Ramones, where we put out virtually the same record every time,” Brodsky assures. “That’s no dis to The Ramones – they should’ve put out the same record every time, because they had a great formula. But with us it’s a gamble. What I’ve come to find with our band is that the more records we put out and the longer we’re around, the more people don’t like us, and the more people do. It’s one of the perks that comes with being unpredictable.”

One could easily point to Cave In’s broad scope of cover selections – from the obvious (“Dazed and Confused”) to the obscure (Giant’s Chair’s “The Callus”) – that punctuate their live set. Or one could tie in the remarkably random peripheral factors that have escorted them throughout their career.

Double-dog dare? Try three exploding tour vans on for size, plus two additional cars of Brodsky’s own.

He imparts the best backlog:

“The first car I owned I bought from my grandparents – it was this Oldsmobile of theirs that had been sitting in the garage for years. A little while after I bought it, I was driving along the highway … the engine rusted out of place and fell on top of the steering wheel. I was on the highway, unable to turn or drive any faster than 45 mph. As I turned into a parking space in front of my apartment, the steering wheel snapped free and the engine died.”

Reaching back even further, he recalls his earliest memory as a musician, performing with neighborhood chum Jeff Coco as Stevie-B & Jivin’ Jeff.

“I never made an attempt at songwriting until I was in the fifth grade …”

Man, talk about a late bloomer.

“… We had a little boombox, and we’d find karaoke tapes and make up our own words. Of course, they’d be a lot more juvenile and raunchy than anyone needed to hear. We’re talking ‘Cherry Bomb’ and ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy.’ ”

“Cherry Fart-Bomb?” “Don’t Worry Be Crappy?”

On to other matters.

In celebration of the band’s first major-label record release, Cave In teamed with amigos Piebald for an evening at Boston’s pre-eminent Avalon – which has recently hosted The Vines, Pete Yorn and others.

Prior to the gig, Brodsky confessed, “We’re worried that it’s going to be this Spinal Tap thing where there’s 150 people at an 800-capacity venue. Thousands of people pouring out the doors after Piebald gets offstage.”
Worry, worry not. With the array of concert tales Brodsky has to relate, it’s amazing that nervousness can still fit into the equation. For starters, there was the time Godsmack invited the band to perform at its self-owned club in Haverill, MA; surprisingly, Cave In managed to sneak in two gigs at Aerosmith’s Mama Kin venue before it shut down a few years back.

“It was actually a cool place to plays shows,” he admits. “The stage was very visible from any point in the audience; the sound system was loud. I never met anyone from Aerosmith, but it was fun to play at.”

Compared with the impossibly gaudy Steven Tyler, it seems strange that Brodsky hails from the same region – and, not to mention, listens to Toys in the Attic on a daily basis.

As for his own, fiesta-free home life, it requires turning the volume knob down to 1.

“My days are usually spent reading at home or making recordings on my four-track machine. I just went to a party the other night and left after about an hour.”

Which happens to be the same length as Antenna, nothing short of a rock ‘n’ roll realization.

Originally published as “Headed to Music Heaven: Cave in Honor the Past” in Rockpile issue #88, January/February 2003.

Go here to read the Bad Penny’s review of Cave In’s new EP/DVD, Planets of Old (Hydra Head).

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