Caveman Is Indie Rock’s Latest Breakthrough Band
Caveman doesn’t consider themselves mainstream. But with their latest single “Life or Just Living” receiving critical acclaim from Pitchfork and Billboard, their most recent video having been shot by fashion photographer Steven Sebring, and their album party being exclusively hosted at hotspot venue Baby’s Alright, they may not be able to stay under the radar for much longer.
We talked to the band about their friendship with the Drowners, New York’s punk rock scene, and why Rihanna is the best thing in mainstream music.
Amanda Lang: “Life or Just Living” has been called your most mature single to date and a bit of a breakthrough for you guys, what are your thoughts on that?
Matthew Iwanusa: I agree, I think it’s the best song we’ve had to date. Right away it felt good. We had to work through it a lot to make it what we think is perfect, but it definitely felt like growth for us.
What was the process behind Otero War? How does it compare to your previous albums?
Jimmy Carbonetti: Since our last record, we’ve been playing live a lot and we were writing a lot on tour.
Matthew Iwanusa: We’ve had two records so it’s going to sound like the same band since we’ve been together for so long, but after playing our old records a few times once we started writing we were like let’s make sure this happens this time. We’ve been trying to get better and we have been writing better songs, but there are still a lot of elements that we want to keep and we’ve been able to do that I think.
Your songwriting process is very collaborative, what does it look like when you guys get together to work on something new?
Matthew Iwanusa: It starts with the main idea and then we kind of go off of that. Sam brought a lot of ideas with him too, but usually once we throw in the main idea everyone will come up with parts that go with it and then we’ll talk about if some things should change. It is very collaborative.
Who are some of your primary inspriations?:
Matthew Iwanusa: Peter Gabriel, Tears for Fears.
Sam Hopkins: When we were working on this record we were listening to a lot of Genesis P. Orridge.
You guys are also friends with Johnny T and connected to the whole punk scene; even the band Drowners is said to have a punk vibe to them; what do you guys think about that?:
Sam Hopkins: Punk goes a lot of different ways these days. I feel like anything that sounds even slightly distorted will be compared to punk.
Matthew Iwanusa: Yeah, I don’t think that any of their [Drowners] new stuff sounds like that at all. Maybe pop punk.
Sam Hopkins: I hear punk down the streets at some little DIY venues all the time, but that’s about it.
You guys collaborated with fashion photographer Steven Sebring on your video “Never Going Back,” what was that like?
Sam Hopkins: We didn’t know what he was doing and it was so cool. We were just walking in front of a green screen and he had all these ideas in his mind but he wasn’t telling us about them.
Matthew Iwanusa: I kind of sat with him for a whole day going over ideas and I think it all got in there, but you can tell that he comes up with this stuff on the spot. He’ll be like “This is great, we have to do this!” He’s a cool guy and it was a great experience. I think we looked good.
Jimmy Carbonetti: We try to keep a heavy hand in what we do.
What’s next for you guys?:
Matthew Iwanusa: Touring! We’re going overseas, so we’ll see what happens. It’s been good so far, but something crazy usually happens because someone hears one song and then something works out from that.
A few critics have said that your song “Life or Just Living” is what is going to launch you into the mainstream, do you think that’s true?:
Matthew Iwanusa: It’s a good song, but you have to do a lot to go mainstream.
Sam Hopkins: What does that even mean anymore? My version of mainstream is Rihanna.
Matthew Iwanusa: She is the stream.
Sam Hopkins: There are so many bands these days who have their thing and they’re making a living and most people still don’t know about them.
Matthew Iwanusa: It will be a good building block either way. Whether that means a major level or not, it will still help out in some way.
Jimmy Carbonetti: Check out the music.
M: Listen to the new single!