Wednesday, August 31, 2011

INTERVIEWS: Lou Hanman (Caves)

For a relatively new band, Bristol's Caves have surely achieved a lot! From Fest appearances to countless Euro tours, and records released on Yo-Yo and Kiss Of Death records, Caves are without a doubt one of the leaders in the current UK scene. I talked to Lou Hanman about the new record "Homeward Bound", Sexism and a bunch of other stuff and this is what she had to say...

Okay, so first things first... Can you give us a brief History of Caves, how you came to start the band etc?
I moved to Bristol in December 2008. Went to a few punk shows and met Dave Brent. I was looking to form a new band but play drums in it.  I decided to go back onto guitar and singing because Dave was a drummer and I had songs waiting to go.  Dave enlisted his flat mate Mike.

Are there any messages you wanted to give out through the band?
Yes I guess personally I want to live the way I want to live and not feel pressure from society to change or be a certain way.  That said, I think Caves isn’t a “political message” type band but I believe in making the personal – political, so in being who you are (your lifestyle choices), you can be political.

Do you feel it's important for DIY bands to have ideals, or ethics?
Yes but it’s not the most important thing.  Also, being DIY can be ethical enough.

Caves are no strangers to touring. Do you think touring is an important aspect of being in a band?
For me it is yes.  I don’t think you have to tour in order to be a band, but for the bands I’ve been in I think it would be hard to keep momentum and interest up if you’re not playing alot.

Speaking as a band that have recently toured the mainland, what is your take on the current DIY scene in the UK in comparison?
Well I would have said that in Europe they respect DIY bands a lot more – give so much time and energy into looking after you.  It’s the norm to get free food and beer all night, and then have somewhere to stay – normally with a breakfast too.  But since we did the Sundials tour in the UK in July, we were treated SO well.  I think there was only one night out of 17 that we didn’t get fed. We even got plenty of free booze and there was always good audiences at the gigs.  The current bunch of people involved in UK DIY – promoters and bands - are really special and we can be proud of it.  So, I think the UK DIY scene is as good as the mainland right now.

Who're you favourite bands in the UK at the moment? Who should we be checking out if we haven't already?
Well it’s the obvious ones – The Arteries, Bangers are favourites to begin with.  Also though, I think Dividers, Muncie Girls, Big Success, Wellwisher, Linekar and Canons and Tanks are all great and under valued too.  Also Southport are still totally on top of their game – love that band.

You've spoken out quite a lot about Sexism in the past, or atleast you have at the Caves show's that I have attended. So I was just wondering what your current take is on sexism in the punk scene in the UK?
Firstly I feel sexism a lot more outside of DIY Punk.  My current take is that when I’m playing a gig I don’t feel like people are being sexist, generally I don’t feel that in the atmosphere.  However, I know it’s there with some people that I don’t associate with as friends.  For example I was told recently that when we were playing a gig a little while ago, someone shouted “take your top off” whilst we were on stage – I didn’t hear this, if I had, I would have had a problem with that guy.  It annoys me when people see women as a novelty in punk.  I want to be seen as a musician first.  I do know it makes Caves slightly stand out from other punk bands which can work in our favour but I wish it wasn’t like that.

What has been the most memorable moment of being in Caves?
The main memorable moment for me was playing Fest 9.  There weren’t many people there when I went side of stage to tune up and get equipment but when I came back out on stage suddenly the room had filled up and I saw people I knew from the UK and people I knew from US bands that I loved.  I was genuinely surprised that people had come to watch us.  I’d had the opportunity of playing Fest a few years ago but had to turn it down, so it was a personal triumph to have a second chance and been able to play.  Also  I love being able to meet so many great people and play with so many bands that I’m a fan of.

You've recently finished a tour with Sundials, aswell as doing a split with them on Kiss Of Death. How did it all come about? And how was the tour? Any cool stories?
The split happened because we’d chatted to Bryon KoD about doing a Wormburner/Caves split but that didn’t pan out unfortunately.  So when we started setting up the Sundials tour we approached him again and luckily he was up for doing a split with Sundials.  Tour was so great, again genuinely surprised that we could do 17 dates in the UK without a day off and all of the gigs were great and we were treated so well.  Cool stories? Um, the party in Pontefract destroyed me. Sorry I’m rubbish at telling cool stories… There were plenty of rad times.

Are there plans of doing Splits with any other bands in the near future? Who would you dream of doing a split with?
We’re constantly chatting about doing splits with people.  Who knows, some of them might work out.  We’ve started writing the next bunch of songs so we’ll see how prolific we are!  Top of my wish list to do a split with would be Lemuria I think (in my dreams!).

The new record Homeward Bound has been pretty well received! How would you say the material differs from your past efforts? Did you want to try anything new on this record?
Thanks.  The songs have (slightly) more developed lyrics and crazier guitar and bass parts.  We recorded these songs over three days the weekend after we got back from touring mainland Europe for 3 weeks, so that’s why they sound how they do – we decided to play them exactly as we had been on tour.  There’s still a large amount of woahs – incidentally that’s how I like to get none lyrical melodic content into the song whilst still being able to play a full chord type guitar part.  If we weren’t a three piece I think there’d be much less woahs.

In terms of production the record was pretty unpolished which resulted in the recording sounding Honest and Organic. Was that the intention?
Yes absolutely, Nick who recorded us was great and fully committed to the energy and rawness that we were trying to get.  So there’s no overdubbed parts and most are first takes. Mine and Minty’s vocals were laid down at the same to get the buzz off each other that we get live.  Personally I’ve recorded by putting down a few guitar parts to try and make the sound more full but in the end I’d always feel like it sounded muddy and unclear so yeah , it was the intension to keep it live and raw sounding.

It was released via Yo-Yo Records and Specialist Subject. How has working with both labels been? 
Great, they’re both super labels to be involved in and they know each other so have a good relationship.  It’s been perfect for us – LP with Yo-Yo and CD with Specialist Subject.  It also means that the labels haven’t got the monetary burden of both formats and can help each other out with promo etc.  It seems like the perfect combination to me!

As a DIY band, what are your views on file sharing and downloading music?
With our level of band, I think file sharing only helps us to get the word out – the more people hear our stuff the better.  I don’t know if it’s affecting CD or LP sales at all.  I would like to think that people who’ve downloaded the music for free would pay to come to a gig and perhaps buy the LP and support us in that way.

You're playing Fest this year, and played last year too. Are you excited? How was last year? How are Caves recieved in the US?
YES I’m so excited. Last year was great (see my previous answer).  We were received pretty well I think!  We had a good crowd and the pre-fest shows were also great.

What's next for Caves? What does the future hold?
Well we’ve got some UK gigs with Glasses early Sept, gigs with RVIVR in October, Fest 10 in October, French weekender with OK Pilot in November.  Then in the spring hopefully another euro mainland tour and fingers crossed a US tour.  We shall see! Maybe another LP same time next year!??

Thanks so much for doing this Lou! Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks to you Gav for including us in your blog, you’re a gem.

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