Cave In critics have it all wrong
Some fans have accused Cave In of turning its back on its audience — especially those within the hard-core metal scene who discovered the group through its 1998 debut CD, "Until Your Heart Stops."
Since that CD, which band members Stephen Brodsky (vocals, guitars), Adam McGrath (guitar), John-Robert Conners (drums) and Caleb Scofield (bass) openly have admitted drew from their love of hard-core metal sound, Cave In has branched out musically. In turn, many fans within the hard-core scene swore off any allegiance to Cave In and openly criticized the group for betraying its musical roots.
"We never really anticipated it driving people to throw sort of derogatory slang at us, homophobic remarks, being sent hate e-mails and letters," Brodsky said of Cave In's move away from a hard-core sound. "Our whole thing was Jesus, there are a million heavy metal/hard-core bands. What's the big deal if one wants to jump ship and be different?"
So one can only imagine the howls of protest Cave In's current CD, "Antenna," drew from the hard-core audience. It's a CD whose concise and punch songs are catchy enough to qualify as pop-influenced. But this time no one can accuse Cave In of ignoring its audience. In fact, Brodsky said in one sense, "Antenna" is a direct outgrowth of how fans have responded to the Boston-based group's two previous CDs — as well as various EPs and singles that comprise the group's catalog.
"There have been lots of people who have said that, just fans or whatever, that it takes them a few listens to even start to get into some of our older records," Brodsky said. "I sort of took that into consideration and said: 'Hey, let's just try to make something a little more immediate, that hits a little more directly.'"
That mission certainly is accomplished on "Antenna," the group's first CD under a new deal with major label RCA Records after an extended stint on indy label Hydra-head Records. Where the group's most recent full-length CD, the 2000 release "Jupiter," featured multi-faceted songs that frequently stretched out to seven minutes or more and embraced elements of progressive rock as well as metal, "Antenna" is largely about musical economy.
With the exception of one extended track, "Seafrost," the other songs all clock in at around four minutes or less. Metal and progressive-rock influences still figure into the sound, but "Antenna" largely is defined by compact songs like "Anchor," "Inspire" and "Stained Silver" that feature some of the hookiest guitar riffs and chorus melodies Brodsky and his bandmates have ever crafted.
"It just sort of seemed like a natural thing to try to do, only because we find it really easy to make long songs," Brodsky said, explaining the decision to write more concise music. "But one of the biggest challenges for us was writing the record 'Antenna' mainly because the songs were short. It was really difficult to try to sort of chisel away at something that's maybe seven or eight minutes long and trying to figure out what the strongest parts of the songs were and honing in on them and simplifying it to the point where it was short, but somewhat satisfying to listen to, from beginning to end."
In fact, writing for the CD began in September 2000 and stretched through several additional demo sessions where the band members wrote, rewrote and honed material before finally entering the studio last summer to record "Antenna."
The process, in fact, took so long that Cave In released an EP last year, "Tides of Tomorrow," to help bridge the ever-lengthening gap between the "Jupiter" CD and the new album that became "Anten-na." The considerable wait for "Antenna," which finally arrived in stores last spring, helped spur rumors of tensions with RCA.
Some fans speculated that "Tides of Tomorrow" was comprised of songs RCA had refused to release. Rumors also surfaced that RCA had rejected at least one early version of "Antenna" and ordered Cave In back to the studio to re-record the CD. But Brodsky said both rumors could not have had less basis in reality.
"RCA didn't reject any songs or say we couldn't use certain songs on our record. They had nothing to do with that kind of stuff," he said. "If anything, they wouldn't have paid for the recording of 'Tides of Tomorrow' if they weren't happy with it or excited about it. They essentially funded and licensed the recording to Hydrahead. That's basically how it worked.''
Cave In will play Sept. 21 at Mississippi Nights. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show, which also features headliner From Autumn to Ashes, Every Time I Die and Funeral for a Friend, cost $10 in advance and $12 the day of the show with a $1 surcharge for minors.