Interview with Adam McGrath: Cave In According To Cave In

Cave In may be known to some as a hardcore band, others as a metal band, others as a spacey alternative band. It depends on what kind of Cave In you’re looking for.

Started as a hardcore act with a revolving cast of members before settling into their current quartet—Stephen Brodsky, Caleb Schofield, Adam McGrath and J.R. Connors—for the aggressive early-metalcore record Until Your Heart Stops on Hydra Head Records. They followed up with the more open-ended post-hardcore Jupiter before being picked up by RCA Records for Antenna, their least heavy release with a great focus on harmonies. Two years later, they found themselves back on Hydra Head with the heavier Perfect Pitch Black.

Then of course, there are about two albums worth of EPs in there all in the span of about ten years.

Their influence and interests have expanded to other projects: Old Man Gloom, Zozobra, Pet Genius, Doomriders, Clouds and probably about seven others I’m forgetting. After Perfect Pitch Black, the band went on hiatus and essentially dissolved until about a year and a half ago. They got back together, wrote some new songs, and here we are.

Guitarist McGrath talked at length about the band’s current state, new and upcoming material, and of course, their haters.

Where have you guys been?

We did two shows two weeks ago—we did Scion Festival. Basically a car company pays us to play free shows. We played Atlanta and Los Angeles. We kind of disintegrated after ’06 for a couple of years, but basically the reason why we didn’t play for a few years is none of us were living in the same places. Caleb was living in Los Angeles. That’s pretty much it. We’re not one of those bands that send files in the mail, like ‘Oh I wrote a song, I’ll mail it to you.’ We have to be together to do things. That’s kind of it.

Now J.R. and Caleb both have kids so we kind of go around their schedule. We’re certainly not a band that’s at the point where we have to get out there and spread our name. We did all the things of ‘getting on good tours’ and ‘getting our name out there’ and ‘this is the audience we need to play in front of.’ I think we’re all over that notion as far as Cave In goes. We have people who like us, people who hates us—we play and still have people come, and that’s really all that matters. As far as having some sort of consistency, I don’t think we feel we need to do that anymore. As long as we keep on recording and do shows every once in a while, people know who we are and at least they want to hear us.

You were on the new Converge record recently.

That’s a funny story actually, those songs I recorded probably about five years ago (laughs), and they just used the recordings on this record. I recorded that stuff in 2003, 2004 maybe. We were trying to do a project called Verge In, which was gonna be like a combination of Converge and Cave In but I just thought there was way too many cooks in the kitchen and nothing ever came of it (laughs). But I think the song on the new Converge was the best song that came out of it. It’s not like they used a shitty song (laughs).

It was too hard to put together. Way too many guys, way too many people showing up and not showing up. It was just hard to cater to everyone’s tastes I guess. I can’t blame anyone but I was kind of doomed from the beginning I guess. It’s funny, hearing it on the new Converge record, everyone’s like ‘It’s great,’ and I’m like, ‘It’s old.’ (laughs)

Is Planets Of Old all organically new Cave In material, or had these things been lying around as well?

No, no, we recorded those a year ago in October. October of last year. They were all new Cave In songs at the time. Caleb moved back from Los Angeles, J.R. was around, and we decided to see what it would be like to play together again. I think we all were kind of standoffish just because we’ve been through so much together, we were just so happy to still be friends. We did so many years of playing music together, it was kind of like, ‘Let’s take our time, we don’t have to rush into anything.’ And we have been taking our time. We played for almost a year before we recorded those songs or before we even played a show. It wasn’t a priority, it was just ‘Let’s get back together and write songs.’ I don’t care about getting ourselves out there, I don’t care about playing shows, I don’t care about the ‘next big Cave In thing.’ ‘Let’s just kind of do it because we like it.’

It’s a full circle thing. The reason why you started playing.

Yeah, exactly. Because we like being around each other, we appreciate each other. I think It’s very natural for the four of us to play together because we’ve been through so much together. And now we already have a handful of other tunes, I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we have a handful of songs that we hope to record next year I guess. But everything moves really, really slow now, and I’m fine with it. You just have to have patience. That’s kind of just the way it goes now.