On a sunny, blustery afternoon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with New York City on the cusp of spring, the band Caveman announced that they’d like some coffee. Some with milk and sugar, one or two black, the five-some continued their jaunt around the neighborhood, embracing a few off days before heading on tour February 26th, the start of their 31-city headlining stint (including the obvious stop in Austin, Texas for SXSW) in preparation for their new, self-titled album, the second record from the band, whose past efforts elicited praise from the likes of NPR. The new album, due out April 2nd on Fat Possum Records, like the coming of spring in New York City, promotes a change in the band—a maturing of sound and a more self-revealing effort from the Brooklyn up-starts.
have played together, now, for two years since the last record was
done,” explained Matt Iwanusa, lead-vocalist and songwriter for Caveman.
“With [Coco Beware], we were still getting to know each other, in a
sense. We felt that our band, sound-wise, was getting bigger. It felt
like a natural progression in how things were working.” The sound, a
more echoey and less clacking mix of retro-shoegaze and
modern-daydream-indie, showcases more rounded-out synth and elongated
tempo than Coco Beware.
“When you play together for so long, you get to know where everybody sits and what everybody can do and what we want to do as a group. That’s where we were taking it,” Iwanusa explained, referencing the focus on each band member’s individual strengths. “The rhythm on this record is a more confident vibe, where that sits in compared to the keyboards. Things can be isolated a lot more and I think it is cleaner sounding.”
Lyrically, Iwanusa seems to be spilling a more introspective take on being an up-and-coming 20-something indie rocker with the dichotomy of band life and real life in need of balance. Themes of naivety, wonder, regret, and loss are heard throughout the album, utilizing Iwanusa’s penchant for lyrical repetition to echo his emotional standpoint. In their debut single “In the City,” Iwanusa chants “I don’t want to know” between verses, the phrase repeating again as the title of a later track “Never Want to Know.” In “Ankles,” Iwanusa boasts, “I live in a bad dream,” giving the record a bit more substance than merely flowing, background tunes. “Every single person in the band went through some emotional stuff in between the first record and this record,” confided Iwanusa. “It was a time where we wanted to be honest about how we were actually feeling. Knowing that we wanted to be extremely honest about it fueled the entire record. What better to write about than something that is on your mind?”
writing the album, the band spent time at guitarist Jimmy Carbonetti’s
grandmother’s farm in New Hampshire, where they packed into the attic of
her barn and wrote much of the album’s material. “It was really
early-on and we thought it would be fun to go up there and be as loose
as possible, and I really think that set the tone for this album,”
Iwanusa explained. As the recording process came to fruition, under Fat
Possum, Nick Stumpf (who also produced Coco Beware) was partnered with
sound engineer Albert Di Fiore. “That was the idea, with getting the
bigger sound, to get a second person in there,” Iwanusa said. “They came
from two different worlds, so it really helped to have them come
together and help with the record.”
As the band sipped their coffee, steam from the cups wrapping around their faces like ribbons, they walked in a row, similar to a small army,, swaying legs in almost perfect unison. “We love to tour because we get to hang and be around each other, “ Iwanusa confided. “It’s also the original way to get your music out there. It’s the perfect way to promote a new record.”