Peter Grier: Saskatoon band’s frontperson talks inspiration and future plans

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Caves, a Canadian indie band based in Saskatoon, SK.

Formed in 2008, and based in Saskatoon, SK, Caves is a musical quartet comprised of Peter Grier (vocals, guitar and bass), Angus Dickin (guitar), Jeremy Kiss (drums) and Stephen Cooley (bass). A notable member who joins the band during live performances is Jackson Semko (bass and guitar).

The band caters towards a young adult contemporary audience, and has released six albums to date. So far, labels such as Leaning Trees Records, Sound and Silence Collective and Pop Quiz Party have represented the band.

1. How did Caves come to be? How did the band form?

I got a cassette four track recorder after high school to teach myself to record and mess around with sound tricks. This led to songs written using recording experiments as the base.

First release was a split tape with Stephen’s ambient guitar work on the flip side. We recorded that in Jeremy’s dad’s house after he sold it so the living room was empty except for a piano and a fish tank. We used Angus’ photo for the artwork and made copies ourselves taping over old tapes found in my parent’s basement.

After a few more releases on my own, Angus and I started itching to be in a conventional rock band after years of making noise music together, [known] as Lion Stab. Jeremy was more than happy to play drums with us after playing with his doom band The Unutterable. Stephen joined soon after on bass after many shows as a two guitar trio.

The four of us have been friends for years and encouraged each other’s music projects. Stephen has since moved to Toronto and records as Mosais. Our friend Jackson Semko of the band Sexy Preacher has joined on bass this year.

2. Do you write your own songs?

In the past, songs were written based on loops and recording experiments with lyrics added at the end. The spirit of experimenting through a hodgepodge of ideas is still alive in the rock band format. Often, Angus or I will have separate chord progressions or melodies made up separately then we try to stick them together with Jeremy, Stephen and Jackson’s input on dynamics, tempo and general structure.

Lyrics are put together from scrap-paper jots and mid-sleep one-liners, with the vocal melody made up in jamming the song. We play the songs live in different variations before recording, but even after that they don’t always stay the same. Jackson has also started to contribute guitar parts in new songs.

3. Who are your influences?

Becoming friends in high school meant we all had a big influence on each other’s tastes and interests and still do. We’d trade mix tapes and .mp3s of all sorts of “Alt-Music.”

Initially, Adrian Orange (a.k.a. Thanksgiving), personally, was a huge influence to start the Caves project and is where the name comes from. Since then, all our music consumption caught up with us and all sorts of things got thrown into the bus. From Smog to Talking Heads to Can and back again.

Going to and putting on shows at a young age really encouraged us to make our own music. Do-It-Yourself culture in general is a big influence, but these days we aren’t trying to emulate a specific sound beyond playing around with pop and experimental music tropes.

4. Your most recent album Idle Worship was released in 2013, are there any plans for an upcoming album sometime soon?

Yes! Those songs are now over three-years-old so it’ll be nice to have something new out. We have a whole album partially recorded and a number of songs that could appear on a release of some kind in the next year. It’ll be a softer, smoother groove. Also, there is a possible audio/visual treat via Pop Quiz records ;). No release dates are set in stone yet.

5. I listened to your song “Fuck Food,” and would like to know more about what the lyrics denote. What is the overall message and how does this tie into the title?

Fuck Food” is sort of an oddity for me because it’s very lyrically blunt. Overall, the message is that frustration and disappointment can sometimes be ridiculous and not worth getting worked up over. Like being mad or morose can have irrational side effects. When Stephen, Angus and I were roommates, I started saying fuck food because my groceries were always going moldy and it turned into a joke motto. Cursing a necessity of life like nourishment because you’re bummed out or annoyed is ludicrous. If you got food, you’re doing great. Also, it’s hilariously grating to sing “Fuck you, dude” in a song, which I kind of like.

6. Caves’ sound gives off a “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” vibe for me. Would you describe your music to be psychedelic?

Have always loved The Beatles and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” It was probably the first psychedelic thing I encountered. I remember first thinking it was about Lucy Van Pelt of the Peanuts and thinking that was weird because she was so mean to Charlie. Maybe we should celebrate her more for her business prowess. Teaching Chuck about the cruel world with a trick football then taking advantage of his broken spirit by selling sweet psychiatric advice for nickels, nickels, nickels. Great role model.

Anyways, there definitely is a psychedelic flavour in our music but it isn’t our goal to induce flash backs or to glorify a psychedelic world view. But, we are fans of creativity with a psychedelic twist (movies, music, books, art, food, etc.), and “you are what you eat” so it’s in there, no doubt.

7. Is there a story behind the cover album of Idle Worship?

One day, Angus was walking home from our university campus and saw this statue all wrapped up to be relocated. We both went back with a couple cameras and took some quick photos just too get a record of this weird looking thing. It had a sort of banal creepiness to it that we liked. After deciding to call the album Idle Worship, the photo was fitting because it acts as an idol of worship but is bound up in an idle state where it has no clear meaning or purpose.

Later, I found out it is a statue of the Ukrainian poet and women’s rights activist Lesya Ukrainka and it was the 100th anniversary of her death in 2013. She was super cool, her work is great!

8. Will the band be going on tour? If not, do you have plans for touring?

No official plans yet. Once the album is done, we’ll sort that out.

9. What are your biggest challenges as a band?

Staying proactive in recording and planning. But it isn’t too big a deal because we don’t really have a careerist perspective on music.

Want to check out Caves on social media? Click these links: BandcampSoundCloudFacebook, and YouTube.

Have a band you really love and want to share their story on A Quarter Young? Let us know!

 

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