The Cave In and The Octave Museum's head honcho on going it alone
When you've been in an internationally renowned band for the past decade through an assortment of highs and lows, it's only natural that the sands of time start to shift things. After intercontinental arena tours with the Foo Fighters, a testing major label experience and a slew of critically acclaimed albums, in November of last year Cave In officially announced a "hiatus". A term that's become coupled with negative connotations thanks to bands like At The Drive-In and Blink 182 disbanding shortly after publicly declaring such, many Cave In fans feared the end was nigh upon hearing the announcement. But things aren't always as they seem when you're peering in from the outside, "It's one of those things where each of us have different things going on in our lives both musically and also more family orientated. And also distances between us, you know, in that we live in different parts of the country. So in a way we all still realise that playing in Cave In is a special thing and I think we only want to do it when it feels right for all of us, you know when that time comes again it will come. So I think we all think very positively about that idea. " explains Cave In vocalist Stephen Brodsky, perched atop a guitar case in a cramped upstairs dressing room of North London's Bar Monsta.
The very same venue where only minutes earlier he was closing the final show of a triumphant UK tour with his new project The Octave Museum - a power-pop trio that counts Electric Bastards bassist Johnny Northrop and drummer Kevin Shirtleff of Scissorfight fame amongst its ranks - Brodksy's clearly pleased with the way their maiden British tour has unfolded after initial hiccups, "It's gone really well, we had a few bumps to begin with. A flight delay in Philadelphia for eight hours and our gear getting lost for about a day, and then our van getting broken into in Leeds, but the shows have been really fun".
With Cave In firmly on the backburner for now, The Octave Museum is at the forefront of Brodsky's thoughts when he returns to the US. Starting as an innocuous solo project, the bandís debut album was gradually pieced together in his Massachusetts home using the digital writing program Pro Tools, with Shirtleff and Northrop recruited towards the end of the writing and recording process, "I'd like to write and record more songs with these guys. We do it quickly and easily. Everyone has a sense of dedication to doing it, so as long as that maintains then I'm down to do it.". Brodsky had also made quite a name for himself in local circles for his solo work by this point. When pressed on why he felt the need to start another band and not pursue this other burgeoning career he elaborates, "Because I can play solo any time. The chemistry of playing with people changes the song that you play and that's a very attractive thing to me. A lot of the songs on Octave Museum have kind of developed even from when we first started playing together again after a year hiatus."
Almost as far from Cave In's metallic hardcore roots as can be, the group's debut album Stephen Brodky's Octave Museum was one of last years most pleasant of surprises, but it almost never saw the light of day after two gruelling years of writing and recording. It seems Northrop and Shirtleff's recruitment was central to its completion, "Both Johnny's and Kevin's talents a bass player and as a drummer respectively are far superior to my own abilities, so I think that's what helped me complete it. The excitement of these other musicians with their own persona to add to each song. " The album certainly seems more positive and upbeat than anything else in his impressive back catalogue, but Brodsky doesn't necessarily agree that it's a sign of growing a little older and moving away from the hardcore scene that he first made his name in, "I don't know if it's about moving away from a scene in particular, but I will say that I don't venture out to as many hardcore shows any more. But I've seen Converge every time they've come through Boston, same with Isis. People who I respect and who are my friends. I think the album does have more positive overtones to it and if that's a sign of aging then I'm ok with that!"
In addition to his solo work, as a member of Cave In, The Octave Museum and New Idea Society (a band he founded in 1999 with his friend Mike Law), it must be difficult writing songs for so many vastly differing acts and knowing where they fit best. Brodsky admits "Sometimes I tend to feel confused about where things might belong musically when they come out of my imagination or whatever, but I don't worry about it so much any more. It's sort of like whatever is active at the time as well, which has an influence of what shapes my mind in terms of visualizing a song. I've got to say after a week of playing with the Octave Museum it's like if I was to bust out something right now it might fit closer to what we've been doing for the last seven days. "
With fellow Cave In bandmate Adam McGrath on the same tour fronting his 70's flavoured garage-rock act Clouds, drummer Ben Koller busy on the road with his other band Converge, and bassist Caleb Scofield busy working on his Zozobra project, it seems no one in the Cave In camp is happy resting on their laurels or taking a step back from the music world, "Whether or not Cave In fans like it is out of our control. But really Cave In was always a sum of individuals. Musical individuals and this sort of proves it, the fact that we don't play in Cave In together and yet we're all still active musically and we're good at it."
After earlier in the evening watching The Octave Museum produce a sparkling set on the final night of their inaugural British tour, those last sentiments are ones Rockmidgets.com can most definitely echo.