I think that emo is a piss-poor media term used to pigeonhole bands.
Currently enjoying the success of their first major-label CD, Antenna, the Boston four-piece Cave In is far from being an overnight success. Their origins can be traced as far back as the mid-1990s, when the band released their earliest recordings on a small independent label and began playing small clubs to steadily build themselves a following in the Northeast. Over time, Cave In fine-tuned their sound, which started out as progressive metal and has now evolved into what critics have sometimes referred to as “space emo.”
After opening for the Foo Fighters on their U.K. tour a few years ago, Cave In headlined their own U.S. tour last year and were then asked to become part of what has become the summer’s most highly anticipated rock festival, Lollapalooza. A few hours prior to their outstanding late-afternoon side-stage set, I spoke with Cave In’s guitarist, Adam McGrath, and drummer, John Robert Conners.
Where did you get the band’s name?
AM: We actually stole it from a band called Codeine, who were on Sub Pop in the early ’90s.They’re from Boston; they had a song called “Cave In” that we really liked. We covered that song in the studio recently, but we’ve never played it live.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
JRC: I like to say Radiohead with balls.
AM: I always say loud, aggressive rock with psychedelic highlights.
Do you agree or disagree with the term “space emo” that you’ve been tagged with?
AM: I disagree. I think that emo is a piss-poor media term used to pigeonhole bands. I don’t think that in 20 years people are going to really remember emo music. Rock is more general, and punk is more general, and so is metal. Those are the terms that we can relate to and feel a connection with, and those are the true places that we come from.
What are the best and worst aspects of being on a festival tour like Lollapalooza?
AM: The best would definitely be all of the diversity—there’s so many kinds of music here: punk, hip-hop, rock. I think that makes people in the audience a lot more apt to paying attention to what’s going on. It gets people excited, because they’re being exposed to new and different styles and sounds. The worst part is having to deal with the heat, which really sucks the life out of us when we’re performing. But this tour is such a great place for us to be, so we’re dealing with it as best as we can. This was way too good of an opportunity for us to pass on simply because it was too hot!
What do you like to do on your days off?
JRC: I don’t remember a day off. [Laughs]
AM: It’s true; days off in Cave In don’t really exist because we’re always doing something that’s related in some way to the band, since this is our full-time career now.
What are the band’s plans for the future?
AM: For now, we’re trying to make the most of what our latest CD has to offer us. Also, we’re interested in writing lots of new songs that are probably going to be a lot heavier than what we’ve done over the past two years. Maybe going back a bit to more of the metal roots of our earlier days. That’s what we’re focusing on right now.