Caveman: TAS In Session
The members of local band Caveman have gauged their process wisely, opting to gig diligently around New York City rather than setting off in a van for the North American hinterlands.
Collaborating with producer Nick Stumpf of French Kicks, Caveman recently released its second, eponymous album on Fat Possum earlier this month. The Brooklyn quintet — Matthew Iwanusa, Jimmy Carbonetti, Stefan Marolachakis, Sam Hopkins and Jeff Berrall — will get out of the five boroughs for a bit this spring and summer, playing Sasquatch! Music Festival over Memorial Day weekend and opening for Rogue Wave beginning on June 15. That bill comes to New York on June 21 (Music Hall of Williamsburg) and June 22 (Bowery Ballroom).
Caveman recently did a live session for The Alternate Side which you can hear this Friday, April 26, at 11 a.m. EDT on TAS on 91.5 WNYE, also streaming online. Watch videos of the quintet in Studio A below.
Russ Borris: What feels different between the first and second albums?
Matthew Iwanusa: I think that this new record has more of us. We got to play together for a lot so it’s kind of where we are as a team. That comes out in how much bigger the sound is on this record compared to the first one.
Jimmy Carbonetti?: Like he’s been saying, we’ve been touring together for two years since we recorded the record. We’ve already been playing music seperately a lot and together, but this time, we really were mind-reading each other. We don’t even need to talk anymore.
Matthew: We don’t talk.
Russ: Talking is overrated.
Jimmy: The trust is there. We just respect each other’s musicianship a lot and look up to one another. We play music and leave it open. Even live, things can go differently and take on its own vibe.
Russ: Before you guys were Caveman, you knew each other. When did the band get going?
Matthew: Well, Jimmy and I went to high school together. We knew each other too well, but the band got started in 2009. We started there, got everyone together and it was a great experience. Right off the bat we started to work on the record and we tried to play the biggest shows possible in the city. We tried to keep it focused to the city. Our old bands all hit the road right away and we learned a lot, personally, from that. With this project, we really built up New York.
Jimmy: From the mouth of [producer] Nick Stumpf, “Conquer your hometown.” Those were his words of advice. We met him on my birthday, my 19th.
Matthew: You were 19 and I was 18.
Jimmy: We were at Siné Bar and Jeff was working, our bass player. That’s where we met him. So it’s a coming together of best friends and Nick produced both records as well. We did the new record at Rumpus Room. Albert [Di Fiore] engineered, put down the vibe.
Russ: As a new band, you’re trying to figure out who you are and the relationship between band members. But for a guy to say, “This is what you need.”
Jimmy: New York City is a huge place to start. It’s not like you’re playing the same place once a week. You can do a borough tour.
Matthew: I felt that Nick almost acted as a manager when we first started. He played in a band called the French Kicks forever. For me, he just helped out any time I needed advice or had a question. He’s a great guy. It worked out really well.
Russ: You said that the album was a little larger. A little spacey in its bigness?
Matthew: Totally. We’ve been thinking of a lot of sci-fi movies and soundtracks. We got into that studio and it was so huge. We really focused on the sound of everything and tried to make it spaced out.
Jimmy: Like Joe said too, we were always talking about recording air and I think that’s a big part of the spatial sound too. You can have everything closed mic, but when you’re in a really big room, or a big studio, you can really feel that room. We focused on a lot of the bigger sounds and keeping it really open.
Russ: Did you do sci-fi marathons on Netflix?
Matthew: Actually Sam and I lived together for a minute, multiple times, but in this one situation we lived in the same room for four months and we watch almost every sci-fi movie on Netlix. That could be something to it.
Jimmy: It was like one long date.
Matthew: The longest date. We watched a lot of “X-Files” which was fun. I got really obsessed with it. Then Sam and Jeff got into “Battlestar Galactica” when we lived together and I got tapped out at that point.
Jimmy: At one of the truck stops when we were on tour, me and Jeff saw a DVD with twenty movies on it and we were blown away. Twenty sci-fi movies.
Matthew: Probably a two-sided disk.
Russ: Can you name any of those movies?
Jimmy: “Revenger from the Swamp Five.” That one stuck out for me.
Russ: As a band, you guys are collaborative. How do the songs start?
Matthew: It depends. There are some songs we all wrote together. A lot of times I’ll bring in a melody and a quick chord progression, we sit together and really make the whole song after that. The majority of it is a collaborative effort.
Jimmy: We all bring a vibe, turn off the lights, turn on the fog machine and it happens.
Russ: You do need a fog machine.
Jimmy: We’ve got one in the car.
Russ: If we let you guys take over and be guest DJs, what song what you want to hear.
Matthew: Probably a Stone Roses song. “Fool’s Gold” or “I Wanna Be Adored.”
Jimmy: Let’s flip a coin.
Matthew: What is that, a penny? You’re flipping a penny?
Jimmy: That’s all I got!
Russ: Let’s go heads on “I Wanna Be Adored.”
Jimmy: It’s heads.