Every year I like to draw up a list of who I’d like to interview and who I’d like to see live and obviously who I want to release a new album. A band that ticked all of those boxes was The Cavemen. They make great records and they’d be awesome live and I think they’d have some quality tales to tell and have well lived in faces that make for interesting people. So with this pandemic still kicking the backside of the globe, I thought I’d hit them up and see what’s happening before we all get the green light and they are chomping at the bit to get back out there and play some live shows and when they do I’ll be front and centre that’s a promise. So here is what I and Jack the guitar player chatted about. Enjoy…
Firstly let’s go back to the beginning you were formed in 2012 right? You relocated to the UK in 2015 was that all of you or just one or two of you?
Yeah, we’ve been destroying eardrums and brain cells together since we met in high school way back in maybe 2009? Memories are hazy. It’s actually the 10 year anniversary of our first ever show in April this year. We’re approaching dinosaur rock status! The move we did all together, much to the dismay of various London landlords over the past few years…
You took three years to release the first album but since then you’ve been full-on with four albums and a heap of excellent singles. The artwork is a thing of beauty, Do you have a favourite?
Yeah, Paul Caveman does all our artwork himself by hand, so it fits the warped worldview of our music. The first single and album covers are certainly up there, maybe because we hand-printed them so they’re forever seared into our brains or maybe it’s just because you always remember your first time… Special mention also has to go to the back cover of our Nuke Earth LP, which so offended the company that handles Slovenly Records album covers that they refused to print it!
What about song titles. Do they come before the music describe your process of writing and recording?
The lyrics and titles all come from our deeply warped personalities and dark senses of humour and the music from our troglodytic musical skills. Sometimes the riff comes first and the words later, sometimes a concept just hits us and we’ll work music around it. ‘Why Won’t You Take Drugs With Me?’ was one of those, I wrote it on a bus. Sometimes it just comes outta nowhere … like ‘Rides With The Reich’ I woke up from a nightmare with that one fully formed.
Why London and the UK? weather-wise, climate-wise and generally what with the UK being Shit Island couldn’t you guys get into Australia or The US?
We were never afraid of a bit of rain and cold, but the move came mostly because we heard that the rock ‘n’ roll scene in Europe was really wild, especially countries like Spain, where we’d already had some interest in booking us. Funtastic Dracula Carnival, Cosmic Trip, Hipsville … we wanted to be close to those kinda parties. It also helped that most of us have British or European passports…
Straight from the off you guys meant business with song titles like…well, take your pick the titles were what drew me in many moons ago. ‘Mentally I’ll’ for a start ‘Fucked In The Head’, ‘Fuck For Hate’ to name a few you laid your cards on the table. What made you guys so angry?
I guess growing up in a tiny country at the bottom of the world. Most people in NZ channel their boredom and frustration into drug abuse and problem drinking … which we also took to with glee but we craved some wild rock ‘n’ roll too. Very few bands that made the kinda racket we dug ever made it down our way, either cause they were dead or it was too far to travel, and with a few notable exceptions the local scene was limp indie or godawful BBQ reggae so we just decided we better do it ourselves.
Who were your influences then and did it drive the music?
All the usual suspects: Ramones, Cramps, Stooges, Dead Moon, Little Richard, Elvis well as a healthy dose of early New Zealand punk bands like The Scavengers, Proud Scum, Toy Love, The Spelling Mistakes and Suburban Reptiles. One lightbulb moment for us was when we snuck into a Guitar Wolf show as teenagers, it was in a tiny packed out concrete venue and we were deafened for three days. That certainly gave us some ideas.
When you picked up the instruments how did you guys meet?
We formed in high school, where we immediately recognised in each other (un)common tastes for wild rock ‘n’ roll, substance abuse and a depraved sense of humour. Not long after, while skating and blasting Blue Cheer, Paul Cavemen met our bass player Nick on the street. He was dressed like a drug casualty from the 60s. He joined not long after.
Loud, fast, sweaty, booze-fuelled mayhem. Jake will usually be passed out on the kit by the end.
How hard did you work on getting that sound its a real throwback in the best possible way to The Stooges and other garage rockers?
Not all that hard really, it was just the sound we dug and wanted to make. We started out by plugging our shitty guitars into our broken amps and attempting covers of things like Strychnine, Loose and Mysterex and went from there. That’s not to say we were immediately any good… there’s probably a demo CD in a basement in Auckland somewhere of our outta tune-outta time teenage years…
Was it easy picking up a deal because you seem to have found your spiritual home with the excellent Slovenly records that’s the perfect fit.
We ran into Pete Slovenly at our first show in Amsterdam supporting the Dirty Fences back in 2016, I think he was DJing… and then crossed paths a few more times at other rock ‘n’ roll festivals around Europe. I guess we made an impression cause he’s been putting out our filth ever since. Pete also shares our weakness for playing shows in strange countries around the world, having put us on at his We’re Loud Fest several times in places like Istanbul and Ho Chi Minh City. He even joined us for a large part of our monster 4 month world tour in 2019 which ended with Nick having his passport stolen in Cuba. He must surely be sick of us now…
You recently released a new single on pig bag this time how come?
We like releasing limited-run singles on different, smaller labels just for a bit of variety. This one came about because our buddy (and original bass player) Takumi played a US tour with The Schizophonics who are signed to Pig Baby. He introduced us to Jeff who runs the label and the rest is history…
Can we expect a new album any day soon? You guys don’t seem to suffer from writer’s block at all. four steady albums since 2015 is the recent single an indication that album number 5 is imminent?
Since the plague scattered us to the four corners of the Earth last year we’ve been unable to lay down any new material. We record everything live so any kind of technical wizardry, ZOOM chat bullshit is out of the question. Same goes for these abhorrent ‘live stream shows.’ We Luddites as well as troglodytes! But you can bet as soon as we all have our microchips and can travel we’ll be tearing up stages and tape machines once again!
I think it’s awesome bands like yourselves and The Hip Priests still see single releases as important and always release such great songs on 7″ has this always been the plan?
We’ve always thought of 7″ singles as the perfect punk medium. Short and to the point with no room for self-indulgence. That’s why we also try to keep our albums under 30 minutes. Albums seem to sell better but the 7″ is still king in our book.
What can you tell me about the Sin City project how did that come about? I could think of worse places to get stuck than Spain. Are the sin city sessions going to get get a vinyl press?
So Nick and I had been talking about doing a kind of country/soul side-project for a while and then we ended up stuck together in a flat in Alicante, Spain for the 2020 lockdowns. There happened to be a piano and acoustic guitar there and with nothing to do but drink cheap Spanish beer and play music we just decided to start writing and recording songs. We’re actually about to do some sessions in a proper studio down here in New Zealand with a full band, hopefully, we’ll have that released physically soon enough…
If I was going to impress a friend with my Caveman collection what would you suggest I play them first?
If you want to impress anyone I would strongly advise against playing any of our music! But if you want to scare your granny or piss off ya neighbours you can’t really go wrong, it’s all trash!
When this lockdown ends and live shows are a thing what are the chances people around Shit Island can see the band live?
We’ll definitely be hitting the northern hemisphere for some shows when possible, fingers crossed the post-plague parties are completely out of control! Till then it seems that for the first time in history New Zealand is the most lively and happening place on Earth… so once we can get Paul Caveman away from the mantis men of Warwick and down here for some shows that’ll probably be our first destination for live shows.
I watched cooking with The Cavemen. Who would you have round for dinner if it was possible to bus anyone in? and what would you cook them?
We often discuss these types of scenarios during long drives on tour and this ones always been a divisive one in the band, I always say Elvis, Jeffrey Dahmer and Ghandi and we’d be eating burgers. Paul goes for the 1972 Uruguayan Rugby team over for a reunion and some ‘Traditional kiwi BBQ.’ Nick (who’s the chef of the band) inevitably picks Owen Wilson, Chris Holmes and Scarlett Johansen and serves em some of his famous fried chicken, and by the time we get around to these types of conversations Jakes always asleep.
Where is the best place people in the UK can pick up Cavemen merch from without having to pay the crazy shipping fees?
We have a small stock of the new 7″ in the UK, you can get that direct from our Bandcamp. Otherwise, the cats at Dirty Water have our first two albums and a handful of other items available. They also have a new distro company called 14th Floor that handles the slovenly releases, you can get that stuff through their discogs page…
Cavemen Bandcamp Here
Sin City available Here