Stephen Brodsky is the lead singer and guitarist of influential hardcore scene leaders and Boston, USA-based group Cave In.

Cave In released their latest album, the stunning ‘Perfect Pitch Black’, in 2005. This album found the band mixing the full blown hardcore music which they had made their name with on their earlier albums such as 'Until Your Heart Stops' (1998), and 'Jupiter'(2000) with the more melodic tones they had crafted on their later albums , ‘Tides of Tomorrow’(2002) and 'Antenna' (2003).

'Perfect Pitch Black' was a triumph (and actually my personal “album of the year 2005”), but the band felt the need to relax and take something of a break.

While many bands take breaks and go and hang out in bars on beaches and hide away from the world collecting the odd royalty cheque for their troubles, the members of Cave have adopted a different approach to “taking a bit of time off”. Each member has since either formed or re-joined another band that they have played in alongside their Cave In day job.

Brodsky did so with his band Octave Museum who have just finished touring the UK, and who released their debut album, 'Stephen Brodsky's Octave Museum', at the end of the last year. They brought along Brodsky's fellow guitarist in Cave In, Adam McGrath, and his band Clouds as a support act.

I was fortunate enough to catch up with Stephen Brodsky before a gig at the Head of Steam in Newcastle and chatted to him about his new band, his old band and his old band's new bands.

PB : How are people reacting to the new Octave Museum material compared to your previous work with Cave In?

SB : Well so far it doesn’t seem like many people have left the shows after Clouds are done playing, so that’s a good sign. I think they’ve come out to see what’s it's all about

PB : So is it a co-headlining tour?

SB : It feels like a co-headlining tour, even though, we’ve been playing after them, but I think that’s mainly because our record has been released for a longer period of time. The Octave record came out in November and the Clouds just released their album ('Legendary Demo') last month.

PB : Didn’t Caleb Scofield (Cave In's bass guitarist) also put out a record recently as well?

SB : Yeah Celeb just put out a record, 'Harmonic Tremors', with his band Zozobra. Caleb is out in LA. And actually Jim Carroll and Adam McGrath who are in Clouds were just rehearsing some songs because they’re going on tour with the Zozobra band.They’re going on a really, really great tour. They’re opening for Isis and Yazoo.

PB : Are you deliberately playing smaller venues?

SB : Well, Octave Museum is a new thing. The tour was booked to meet the demand, and whatever that demand was it was met. The smaller venues seem to be the appropriate choice, so that’s fine.

PB : How are you finding that compared to playing bigger venues. Your previous UK tours included a stint supporting the Foo Fighters in arenas.

SB : Well, we also did a lot of club venues. The typical venue Cave In would play would be anywhere between 200 and 500 people, so clubs on the smaller scale are what we’re accustomed to

PB : So it doesn’t feel like starting out all over again?

SB : Not really, I mean I’m fortunate to have been part of something like Cave In, which laid a lot of groundwork out for pretty much anything I would like to be a part of in the future, but it didn’t come about without its hard work. But at the same time, these shows have obviously been advertised with ‘Cave In’ being part of the flyers, but the name Cave In will only go so far.

PB : Well, yes, but you’ve got some hardcore fans!

SB : I think so. Yeah.

PB : Do you find it your writing process has compared to when you first started Cave In and as your career as a musician has progressed? Once you would have had to worry about school or a 9-5 job, whereas now I would imagine you have the time and freedom to just enjoy being creative.

SB : Oh, I’m still working 9-5 (Laughs). Well, there are two main differences. There is a much different chemistry to that with Cave In, and that comes through in any scenario involving a different mix of people other than what you’re used to. With Cave In, it was this one idea and unit of individuals under this one umbrella called Cave In that we all worked together on for about 10 years. With the Octave Museum not only is it a different group of people, but I’m the only guitar player. It has taken me a few years to become comfortable the playing on my own.

PB : Is that much different for you then?

SB : Yeah, it’s certainly challenged me to fill up that top end of guitar space I wasn’t necessarily trying to hard to fill in with Cave In. But with this I'm the whole rhythm and lead and also in the forefront all at once, but I got there. It’s been a big challenge.

PB : Octave Museum have a different sound to Cave In. The songs are more mellow sounding and psychedelic. Did this style come about due to a change in musical tastes on your part? Or are those different elements things that were always there but were not really suited to the music you played in Cave In?

SB : I think the tendency in Cave In was that everyone would always play at levels between 9 and 10 at all times. In the Octave Museum, there are plenty of time points where the intensity level reaches that point but, at the same time, we back off a bit and that is refreshing. It’s nice to do that. Its something that wasn’t always explored in Cave In. You know softer volumes and not so much intensity all the time. It’s showing the old man in me a little (laughs).

PB: Is that change in musical direction a result getting older and getting into different music, or is it just what is coming out of you at the minute?

SB : I’ve always been an old man (laughs). I’ve always had an appreciation for all kinds of music, even when I was going to all kinds of hardcore shows when I was in high school. At the same that I was at every local hardcore show I would also buying every Sub Pop record I could find. But as I’ve got older I’ve got more into blues and folk. It is exciting just to be exploring new interpretations of things, regardless of whatever the musical vehicle is, whether it is playing guitar in my bedroom alone, or playing a show with my friends.

PB : In interviews with yourself and Cave In you have said that you are a big fan of your new band members' other bands, Scissorfight and Electric Bastards. How did playing with them come together or did they approach you ?

SB : Cave In had played some shows with Scissorfight. Octave Museum's Kevin Shurtleff is the drummer in Scissorfight as well. His involvement with Octave Musuem goes back a bit further than our bassist Johnny Northrup. Johnny is the lead singer of the Electric Bastards who I had the pleasure of recording a record for, and he also plays in some other really great bands around Boston, and his involvement came about a little later. It is all folks within the same sort of region who are like-minded about their musical taste though.

PB : Any plans to come back and tour the UK ? Listening to the record I could imagine it being perfect for the festival.

SB : I would love to if someone will bring us out here.

PB : I’ll bring you out here!

SB : (Laughs) I think what would be great for us is to open for a band that would push us to step up our musicality a bit. That’s already happening playing with Clouds every night. After those guys get of stage, you have to get up stage and cut through every night. I mean those guys are awesome and a great band, and I would really like to be able to in a situation where we could step up to push ourselves every night.

PB : So what is happening with Cave In at the minute? Is it just a case of everyone doing their own thing?

SB : Pretty much yeah. Adam’s involved with Clouds. They’re touring and doing great and the Zozorba record came out last month, so there’s a tour being set for March with them. JR (Connors, Cave In drummer-Ed) is playing in the Doom Riders. We're talking about writing some more music together.

PB : So do you ever see the four bands coming together for a super tour in which you all play and then get together as Cave In at the end?

SB : Yeah that wouldd be something.

PB : It would be great you could all hook up at the end?

SB: (Laughs) Yeah maybe. That would be cool. A little double duty

The Head of Steam is a good sized bar spread across three floors, the basement of which is where the music takes places and which makes a perfect. yet awkward venue. The room is small, which isn’t always a bad thing when playing an intimate, and sweaty, gig. It is shaped almost in an L shape with the bar at the end of the main dance floor. All the bands on the night in question took up half of the said dance floor with their mics and pedal boards.

When Clouds came on they wowed the crowd just as Brodsky had promised. Playing their no holds barred form of stoner rock Clouds definitely had the volume turned to 11. You cold not ignore them in a venue of this size. They suited it,perfectly filling the room with their grooves. At times they sounded a little like Queens of the Stone Age with Jim Carroll and Adam McGrath's dual vocal duties. They exceeded all expectations laid down by Brodsky, who was at the front of the crowd through the entire show.

It is also worth mentioning McGrath sported a ‘Doom Riders’ T-shirt throughout the night. Being such a fan of Cave In I thought it was such a great thing to see such members of much loved and respected band so clearly thrilled not only about what they’re collectively achieved, but showing so much support for the three other guys they’d shared and created so much with in their new bands. It would have been easy for each of them to just go out and do their own thing and not worry about the others, but this was a great example of a group of guys who are there for the music.

While Clouds sound very much like a band in which one of its main members was in a hardcore outfit, Stephen Brodsky’s Octave Museum have a much more mellow, dreamy and psychedelic sound that, while not totally indistinguishable, is quite unlike most of his previous band's work.

After seeing Clouds rock the basement, the Octave Museum really didn’t disappoint. Beginning the set with seven minute album opener ‘Voice Electric’ it was clear to see that they were happy to let the music do the work, only at a much higher volume. 'Steohen Brodsky's Octave Musueum' really is a strong body of work and seeing the majority of it performed live gave a whole new raw energy to it. The band are clearly accomplished musicians, and played the songs note perfectly. In this live setting the songs really came to life. You could not help but be drawn completely into the music as it grabbed you and brought you along for the ride. Playing songs such as ‘Kill the Queen’, ‘Red Headed Butterfly’ and the sublime ‘Kid Defender’, along with a few tracks off a UK tour only EP, the band did an impressive job of breathing a whole new life into the songs.

Despite the smallness and the packed venue, most of the audience were swinging their hips and swaying. My only negative comment would be that they didn’t play ‘Swinging in the Sky’ which I genuinely consider to be the best song I heard last year. Hopefully I’ll hear that soon though if they do come back later in the year.

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