There’s no riveting backstory or mythology to The Cave Singers’ tale, either. “None of us just got out of rehab. We’re just ordinary guys that have other jobs, too,” he says. “We like to think of ourselves as a people’s band.”
That’s a band that enraptures a live audience, and that energy and rapport is what the trio hoped to evoke on their third album and Jagjaguwar debut, No Witch, released in February.
Their first two rustic, woodsy-sounding albums were largely written on a four-track in a home shared by Quirk and guitarist Derek Fudesco. They added drummer Marty Lund, and their efforts were representative of their newfound cohesion. After years of touring, fleshing out their sound, No Witch is decidedly the band’s most rock effort to date.
Led by straightfoward jams on “Black Leaf” and clever percussive arrangements on “Outer Realms” and “Faze Wave,” the album nails it. Yet it still ambles along pleasantly enough at times for old fans with driven, loopy guitar parts and Quirk’s raspy, nasally vocals.
The album was produced by Randall Dunn—a veteran of projects with Black Mountain, Boris and Sunn O)))—and his touch is apparent, via his contributions of experimental overdubs and additional musicians. Dunn knows “musicians, like the best oboe or viola player” around Seattle, Quick says, and they all live down the street from his home recording studio, Aleph Studios. That was convenient for the band to add in layers.
“[Dunn] has his hands all over the place. I love how many new elements are in the record, but it’s not too much for us,” Quirk says. “He’s a weirdo—in a really good way.”
Outside of Aleph Studios, the trio would release the pressures of recording with a game they invented: basketball soccer. “It’s starting to take off around the country,” Quirk says, jokingly. The game involves a deflated basketball, hardly any rules (or inventing them on the spot) and a wheelbarrow. Rather than “group hug,” this seems to make a fitting metaphor for the band’s sound—but in all the right ways.
“It’s, like, minimalism: We make great things out of less,” Quirk says, now laughing.
The Cave Singers are jokesters—the other members cackle in the background during the interview as they sped through Florida. “If this whole touring thing doesn’t work out, we’re going to be a standup comedy troupe,” Quirk says. “We’re old, ya know—not like we’re real old—but we can’t even think about where we’re headed, actually. We’re just doing it.”
They’ll slog across the country twice this spring/summer, starting at SXSW in Austin, Texas, and ending in New York City with Fleet Foxes in August before heading to Europe.
“To stay sane, we make [touring] an adventure. We try to go to a museum and park or make it into a food tour. And lots of alcohol and drugs. I’m joking,” he says.
They’re a pretty good touring team, because they’ve known each other for a decent time now. It’s easy enough to tell that from seeing them in concert, where they shine.
The live show is like an initiation into “people’s music” or at least The Cave Singers’ cult.
“It’s kind of like ‘men’s recovery project’ for us, in a way,” Quirk says, with a laugh. “We have our secret handshake and comb each others’ hair in the van—that’s when you know things are getting a little weird.”