Cave In

When Boston’s Cave In began life, its 15-year-old members wanted nothing more than to be in a hardcore band playing bingo halls and VFWs with some of their favorite bands like Converge and Dead Guy.

Nearly 10 years later, the band, guitarist Adam McGrath, vocalist/guitarist Stephen Brodsky, bassist Caleb Scofield and drummer John-Robert Connors, has dropped the metal/hardcore milieu of its youth, trading it for the progressive/alternative metal that informed its 2000 Hydra Head Records release, Jupiter, which sparked a bidding war that was ultimately won by RCA.

“We were limited in the kind of shows we could play; we were labeled as a metal/hardcore band so we were playing shows with just metal/hardcore bands,” McGrath told POLLSTAR. “We played some shows with Dillinger Escape Plan, Isis, Converge, some great bands. But also some fucking shitty bands.

“It was just so uninspiring, just a really stale place to be in every night. Every night fucking balls-to-the-wall shitty metal.”

Of course, given the fiercely loyal nature of hardcore fans (it’s called hardcore for a reason), some of the band’s old fans have had a difficult time with the transition.

“Some people hate us and they just leave and move on with their lives,” he said. “Other people hate us and call us [various unpleasant epithets] and throw gum at us when we play.”

But the “new” sound has also gained Cave In countless new fans, opening the door for trips through Europe and Japan, including an outing through the U.K. supporting Foo Fighters.

And, the epic sound of Jupiter brought the interest of several major labels, all of whom had ideas for the future of the band.

“Right when we put out Jupiter, a lot of major labels and some really cool independent labels started talking to us. I was still in school and none of us really knew how to handle it,” McGrath said. “There was like a clusterfuck of people wanting to have dinner with us. … It was a matter of sifting out the assholes.

“I think the guy we signed with (RCA’s Bruce Flohr), I haven’t regretted it at all. … He’s taken his time; he hasn’t rushed us to put out a product or anything. He just wanted to put out the best possible thing at that particular time, and that’s what he’s doing.”

Fortunately for Cave In, Posthuman Entertainment’s Brigitte Wright, who started managing the band in February 2001, was available to help the band make a decision the members felt comfortable with.

“She saved us, there’s no doubt about it,” McGrath said. “I did not know how to handle the music business. I was a kid who played rhythm guitar.”

According to Wright, RCA has adopted a strategy for Cave In centered around strong artist development instead of trying to rush the band.

Cave In

“They’ve toured the U.K. four times, they’ve gone to Japan, gone to Europe, they’ve done three or four U.S. tours,” she said. “They put out a single, they put out another EP (Tides of Tomorrow) on their indie (Hydra Head).

“[RCA’s A&R department] enabled them, along with the marketing people, to do that for a change, rather than just saying, ‘Go into the studio next month and crank out the record and let’s put it out in four months.'”

In mid-March, the strategy paid off when Cave In’s RCA debut, Antenna, hit the new artist album charts running, coming in at No. 6 on SoundScan’s list its first week out. The album retains most of the chaotic prog rock of Jupiter, but with some of the rougher edges smoothed out, creating an almost, gulp, radio friendly album.

McGrath said choosing an agent (Creative Artists Agency’s Don Muller) was not one the band lost any sleep over.

“It was easy to pick him, man,” the guitarist explained. “He said, ‘Here’s the bands I’ve booked,’ and it was like Pearl Jam, Rage, Nirvana, all these monstrous bands that we grew up listening to, and it was just like, ‘Holy fuck, this guy wants to represent us!'”

Among the high-profile engagements Cave In has been involved with in the past year are tours with Jimmy Eat World, Sparta, Foo Fighters, stops at the Reading/Leeds Weekend Festival, Belgium’s Pukkelpop and a set at Japan’s Summer Sonic festival.

The band’s Summer Sonic appearance was preceded by an extra push from RCA Japan, which ensured that the Tides of Tomorrow EP and a Japan-only collection of bonus tracks were available, meaning Cave In had built-in fans before ever stepping foot there.

Thanks to Dave Grohl, Cave In was given a sizeable promotional push when Foo Fighters invited the band to support its autumn 2002 tour of the U.K. That jaunt led to Wembley Arena, which was the largest venue, outside of festivals, the band had ever played.

Preceding the release of Antenna, The Agency Group’s Russell Warby set up a second European tour for the band in early 2003. After the album dropped, the band called up fellow Massachusetts band Piebald for a North American club trip that kicked off with a hometown show in Boston.

Toward the end of April, Cave In again teams up with Foo Fighters for a tour of bigger venues like Universal Amphitheatre and the Tweeter Center.

And after that?

Says McGrath, “We just assume that we’re going to be on tour the rest of our lives.”