The Cave Singers | Cold Lamping

cavesingers 75Naomi is either everything or nothing. She is a holy waitress of the cosmos.

 

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Clever orchestration and clever lyrics are a trademark of Seattle’s The Cave Singers. No big surprise then, that lead singer Pete Quirk would have some pretty clever—and even educational—answers to my questions. The Cave Singers are currently touring in support of their new LP, Naomi, and will be making a stop in St. Louis on April 1. (No foolin’!)

Actually, after reading Quirk’s answers, I’m pretty sure you’ll place bets with me in favor of the likelihood of hijinks at their show at The Old Rock House…

You all live in a part of the country that I am dying to visit, and your music seems to me to be an echo of all that natural beauty. Are you outdoorsy kinds of folks? How do you feel your surroundings impact your music?

It is incredibly lush and beautiful here, and we do our best to get out there for a hike, or some camping, snowshoeing. I’d say we fall somewhere between the survivalist and the couch potato. There’s a wild mist that kind of hangs out over the city for several months. We try to invite it into our amplifiers and hang out with us while we discuss the pros and cons of Netflix and sandwiches.

I understand that the new LP isn’t named after a real person but is just a name you liked. As Naomi is a fictional muse, do you have a picture of her in your head? A backstory for her?

Naomi is either everything or nothing. She is a holy waitress of the cosmos. She just bought a couch but it doesn’t fit in her apartment. I think I saw her once when I was in Philadelphia at this very bright diner—I can assure you a staggering vision—but I was too sheepish to approach her; and before I knew it she ethered up out into the sirens that wailed. She lay on tops of trees when we were recording, burping out some stars for us.

I’ve read that you enjoy poetry and I know that No Witch came from a line of poetry (which poem?). Does the name of the band reference something? Who are some of your favorite poets?

The line is from a poem I wrote a while back. Nothing in particular, as far as art or literature. More a reference to a figurative space we inhabit when we’re playing, writing, laughing, etc. A primitive world of our own, where the waves crash outside. Some favorite poets this moment: Sara Teasdale, Bill Knott, James Tate, Emily Dickinson.

Can you tell me a little about your friend Morgan Henderson joining the band? How has that impacted the dynamic of the group? (By the way, the flute is a beautiful addition to your sound. I love it!)

After recording No Witch and [doing] a bit of touring, we decided that it would be interesting/awesome to add a new writing member to the band who would play electric bass and multiple instrumentals. Fortunately for us, Morgan was available. It literally could not have worked out better; he completely merged into the fold. Side note: He has been properly hazed, and has survived the vision quest and obstacle course. We love him very much.

The album focuses on “love and suffering, surrender and redemption: the messy stuff of life,” but the sound or feel of the album is sweetly upbeat and confident, and is an interesting contrast to the darker heaviness of No Witch. Do you tend to write in a more autobiographical manner or from the perspective of other people’s stories? Do you feel that songwriting helps you make sense of the “messy stuff of life”?

For me, it’s a bit of the nonfiction and fiction meeting somewhere in the middle and having a word with one another. But invariably I see it as storytelling, dictated by the imagery that the music provides. I do feel that music is a way to make a mythology out of one’s life, to recollect the past and the future; to gather and to ultimately let go, making room for the present moment to rise.

You’ve had quite a bit of time between the recording of the album last August and the tour in March. How have you been spending your time?

Cold lamping! And just got a new toaster from my Mom. Could not be a nicer toaster, seriously.

[Interviewer admission of un-hipness: I had to go to Urban Dictionary for help on “cold lamping.” Definition: “Tapping into the electrical wires of a street light to power DJ and MC equipment, and sound system, for the use of underground hip-hop performances and battles.” Now I know.]

What music have you been listening to lately?

Today I was listening to Neutral Milk Hotel, Kurt Vile, Paul Simon, and Jana Hunter. Talk radio about snow tires. The wrapping up of a basketball game and a few seconds of static. Oh, and that song from Bosom Buddies was jamming when I was driving my groceries home.

You’ve played quite a few festivals in the past. Do you have any favorites or ones you really look forward to? Any that you already know you’ll be taking part in this year?

We love playing festivals in general, ’cause we get to kick it and watch all the bands and eat at hospitality. One of our favorites is Pickathon Festival in Oregon, which we get to camp at for the weekend, and play on an Ewok stage in the middle of the woods, a throbbing barn filled with magic, and a stage outside under darting birds. Always an extraordinary experience. | Janet Rhoads

The Cave Singers will be at the Old Rock House in St. Louis with Bleeding Rainbow on April 1; doors at 7 p.m.

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