Published May 29, 2011Five years after releasing their last album, Perfect Pitch Black, Boston's space-rock/metalcore pioneers Cave In are back with the much-anticipated White Silence. The album combines all aspects of the band's multi-faceted style ― raging hardcore and metal, Beatles-esque balladeering, drawn-out atmospheric jams ― in what is the best and most cohesive documentation on one disc of all the genres Cave In dabbles in. Guitarist Adam McGrath is as excited as the band's fans are that they're back at it, although, as he reveals here, other life responsibilities are going to prevent Cave In from totally conquering the musical world with this one.
So, congrats on White Silence.
Thanks! I feel good about it. It's been complete for a while now so I'm just excited for other folks to hear it at this point. It's definitely my favourite Cave In record to date. A complete DIY recording.
How do you compare that with being with a producer?
It was the first time we self-recorded and produced. It was very natural, in comfortable and familiar settings with any one of us at the control helm at any given moment; loose and relaxed. It was very self gratifying when we all finally heard it complete.
You mentioned this being your favourite Cave In record to date. Have you ever finished an album and it wasn't your favourite up until that point?
There have been projects in the past that I've felt better about than others but that's what happens when you do this half your life. There are lots of highs and lows in a band that has had this longevity. White Silence is my favourite because of the deep personal connection we all had in its creation.
It's always interesting when you guys release something new. It's never just like, "Cool, a new Cave In album!" It's almost like, "Uh-oh, what are they going to do?" How does that make you feel?
Well, people have their own personal expectations of us based upon whatever Cave In record or era they like best. I'm happy to be unpredictable. Most of my favourite artists viewed and created their music within non-traditional scopes. Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Brian Eno, Wu Tang all had their own unique musical visions. They trusted their own instincts and did not even consider the listener or audience.
Do you ever worry that there's any amount of arrogance to that? Should the artist ever consider the audience to some degree?
Depends on how you look at things. All those artists I mentioned truly inspire me with their music and in the way they did things. Is it arrogance or did they just not fall into line with what everyone else said they should do?
To me, White Silence flows a lot better than your last Perfect Pitch Black. To be honest, for me personally, that album felt kind of forced. Was there any aspect of the songwriting process that was smoother for this one, or is that just me reading into the last one wrong?
There were years of personal and musical growth between Perfect Pitch Black and White Silence. We all took on new musical projects and personas while Cave In was on hiatus. JR [Conners, drums] and Caleb [Scofield, vocals/bass] became fathers. When we reconnected as Cave In I think we were all much more comfortable in our own skins. Maybe the music reflects this.
I totally agree; I think the album feels way more comfortable. Can you look back on Cave In's catalogue and trace your own personal growth through the music you guys were creating at that particular time? And is that strange, having that aural documentation of your life?
I don't think it's strange at all. I've lived a lifetime with these guys. Cave In is very much a part of the fabric of my life.
To step back a minute, when I say Perfect Pitch Black sounded forced, I mean it felt like there was some level of self-awareness, like the heavy parts were more thought-out than they should be so they kind of stuck out. On this album, however, I felt like it all made more sense and flowed together nicely. What I want to know is how does Cave In manage to make albums that flow even with such a variety of sounds, when so many bands fail at that?
"Flow" certainly depends on your perception. Many olks think we are a very schizophrenic band. Bad Brains were exceptional at playing both hardcore and reggae. Bad Brains never hid the fact that they could execute and perform both styles. We've taken that attitude and applied it to our own music.
"Sing My Loves"… wow. That's a great song. It's hard to believe the same band that can crank out something like "Centered," also a great song but in a different way, can pull this off. I love how you placed it so early in the album, too. You guys really don't care about any expectations anymore, do you?
I have no idea what peoples' expectations really are of us. "Expectations" remind me of music industry terms that have little to do with this band in 2011. Collectively we expect to honestly output the best musical product that we could only imagine.
Did the whole major label experience mark a turning point for you guys caring about that kind of thing? Like, before Antenna, was there a time when you were aspiring to "meet expectations" and whatnot?
In reference to Antenna, when a label invests chunks of money into your band there are expectations whether you want to admit it or not. That period is like some sort of distant dream now. I know that we lived it, but it's a fading memory.
Speaking of Antenna, how do you feel looking back on that album? I feel like it's a really neat, interesting rock record that definitely flew under the radar. I think over time people will rediscover it.
Looking back it's the same feeling I have about other past Cave In releases: some good tunes along with some duds.
Back to White Silence, there are songs like "Summit Fever," where it's hard to even tell if it's heavy or not…
Well, it's neither, I think. Which to me is kind of how Cave In sounds on this album... it's not so much heavy/mellow/heavy as it is all one unique sound. I guess that's why I feel like it actually flows better now.
I guess I'm too connected to the record to come up with a good explanation as to why you think it flows better than other things we have done. To me, this is all just Cave In.
Having helped create what many think of as modern metalcore, what do you think of that scene today? Do you feel you fit in it at all?
Honestly I feel no real connection to any sort of scene. I certainly have made tons of great friends from music and art. Friends that I respect and always continue to inspire me with their work. However, as we get older we all have separate lives from each other and our music. If we are part of a "scene," I hope that we always try to carve our own path.
This brings up an interesting point to me. When bands are young and just getting started, there's that all-for-one gang kinda thing happening, especially in heavy music. But as the people in the bands get older, that goes away with real life responsibilities, and that sometimes shows in the music and attitude. Do you feel that having more separate lives from each other has any effect on your music?
How could it not? When you're younger it's certainly easy to take your band for granted. You think that your life of writing, recording and touring will last for an eternity. With age comes the wisdom that nothing lasts forever and that things in your life will change constantly. Now when we do Cave In we try to make the most of it and value the little time we do have together.
What's the status of the band right now? Are you guys going for it full-time?
JR and Caleb are currently full-time fathers; they are both exceptional dads! We rehearse every Thursday and play live when we are all willing and able. Many of our band rehearsals these days mutate into reggae-dub psychedelic listening parties and freak-outs.
Does it frustrate you that you aren't able to do it more often?
Not at all. We all know there is much more to life than just being a member of Cave In. Filling up your life in other ways can be just as gratifying. Whether it's being a dad, a guitar teacher, an alpine skier, a cyclist…