In Cages have been hitting the scene in a big way recently, most notably with a performance at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, as well as New York hotspots such as Sullivan Hall, the Parkside Lounge, and Bar East, among others. But their favorite venue right now is a long-time mainstay of the New Jersey music scene, Clifton’s Loop Lounge. The band loves to mix with their fans as well as other bands and the locals who frequent the venue.
In Cages are the vision of James Mercer, who is joined in the group by Filomena Jack, bassist/vocalist Lionnel Mascarenhas, who hails from Mumbai, India, and drummer Chris Trembath. I caught up with James to see what the band has been up to lately and what they have in store for the immediate future.
How did you get the band get together?
My vegan wife’s influence and connection led to vegan/animal rights activist Filomena Jack. Lionnel answered a Craigslist posting, and Chris was found living down the street.
How would you describe the music of In Cages?
A blend of ‘80s no wave, ‘90s grunge, and post-post-hardcore.
Who does the writing, and how does the writing process work in the band?
Initially, I brought a lot of material, but new songs are a collaboration, from rhythms to lyrics. It may be slower going but there is more trueness to the group when you keep working through iterations of material until it feels right for everyone.
Who are the band’s musical influences?
Everyone brings a very different background. We have fans of Band Of Skulls, Pixies, Mike And The Mechanics, Nirvana, Placebo, Modest Mouse, Sonic Youth, Amanda Palmer, Sleeper Agent, Fugazi, Black Flag, Bush, and on and on. Having that span of influences brings a different ear and interpretation of where a riff should go or what a song should be saying.
Any particular songs the band does that are favorites of fans or yourself?
It seems like we always like our newest one better. Fans seem to group around the songs that represent the “sound” they like best. If they like grooves it’s “Dirty Water,” pop songs it’s “Walk Away,” rock epics it’s “Travel,” and lovers love “Queen Bee..”
Do you have plans for shows in the near future?
We are playing about two to three shows a month, which is tougher than you think when they are away from your hometown and you want to still spend time in the studio working the next set of material. We are adding shows pretty regularly and our calendar is up on facebook.com/incages.
What are your goals, musically and professionally?
We want to record great music and share great live shows as well. Our first official release was June 23rd, self-titled, which we are celebrated with a show in Tribeca, New York, at the L4 Black Door.
Where does the name of the band come from?
Like the songs, the name really means different things to each band member. I would say it is about animal rights advocacy, a statement on love, and an acknowledgement of the things we have in our lives that we have to do versus want to.
What’s a typical In Cages recording session like?
Well, after hours of recording, who doesn’t regress to being six years old again and think everything is funny? We record at REM studios in Hillsdale, New Jersey, and they have tv monitors on the isolation booths. We do pretty much every immature thing you can think of to each other when we are in there. Mostly it involves gags where we pretend we can’t hear them, which results in the typical retaliatory hand gestures and mooning. We get straight for shows, though—very serious business until we put on a good performance!
You can find out more information about In Cages, as well as get their debut release and check out upcoming performances at incagesband.com and facebook.com/incages.