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Published: 2010/12/17
by Abigail Bull

Cadillac Sky Takes It Deep

Fresh off a tour with England’s Mumford and Sons, Cadillac Sky will head home for a short holiday break before hitting the road again hard in February. Their most recent effort— Letters in the Deep —was produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and saw the five-piece add electric rock grooves to their already experimental bluegrass sound. Ross Holmes (violin/guitar/mandolin/vocals) talks to Jambands.com about the band and their influences, touring with their idols and making music they genuinely love creating.

Can you tell me a little bit about how the band formed? You guys are from Texas?

Yeah. The band formed a few years back. Our former mandolin player and lead singer Bryan Simpson put a band together and he knew our banjo player Matt Menefee. And I knew Matt, and Cadillac Sky was formed. Then shortly after that we hired Andy “The Panda” Moritz on bass and then subsequently a little bit later, David Mayfield on guitar and then as of about three or four weeks ago Brian is no longer in the band and we have a new singer from Georgia, a ridiculous vocalist named Levi Lowrey.

Did you know each other at all growing up?

Not really growing up. We had originally put the band together in 2002 as just sort of a hobby band. Then we took a break after like a year and a half of being in the band. We stopped for a while. We really didn’t start it up again hard until 2007. January 2007 was when our first major album was released on Skaggs Family Records so it’s been about three and a half, four years of serious playing. We got two records on Skaggs Family Records and our latest, Letters in the Deep, on Dual Tone Records which was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys

I met them at one recording session prior to our getting together for the first time and Brian met Matt at a gig and just asked him to come over the house and make some music. The rest is just sort of inadvertently meeting the other guys here and there.

What’s the story behind the band’s name?

Really, it’s a complicated story. We were going from Phoenix Arizona back to Texas and we rented a Cadillac and decided that we couldn’t get there—home—fast enough so we attached rockets to the side fins of the vintage Cadillac rental car and along the way somehow we caught some air really hard and Cadillac sky was born. That’s a big rumor and myth and lie but that’s the best answer that we can give.

How about your influences. What inspires you guys musically? What did you guys grow up listening to?

We all came from totally different musical backgrounds. Some of us came from jazz and classical backgrounds. A couple of the guys really came from bluegrass. Everybody kind of had common thread interest in Rock & Roll. Because of that because there wasn’t one similar interest in bluegrass or one similar interest in jazz or whatever—I mean we’ve been able to draw from so many influences and really, I think that where we’re at now, our influences are just our friends and what’s sort of happening around us. We write all of our own material and create all of our own arrangements. A product of our life experiences really. I grew up listening to more instrumental music. I really love jazz. Of course everyone says John Coltrane and Miles Davis and all that. I really love gypsy jazz from France in the 30s to Django Reinhardt and then of course all the big Nashville session players, Mark O’Connor, Stuart Duncan, all those guys. And then the bluegrass craze. Bill Monroe was an influence kind of later in life but definitely an influence. I know for a lot of the guys we can all say the Beatles are probably the most common thread of the band and we all have a same common interest in and Led Zeppelin. So many bands and so many genres have influenced us and we’re on a tour now with Mumford and Sons and those guys have definitely been a big influence as well as dear friends.

How did the tour with Mumford and Sons come to be?

It was really funny, we were playing a music festival this year and they were also playing and we were playing our main stage slot and their whole band came and sat in the front row and watched the show and we were just tickled to death to see them there because we were huge fans of their band. We dropped everything we were doing and ran out to them just to say hi. And come to find out our first record Blind Man Walking was a very pivotal album in their band’s creation. Our band was an inspiration to their band and their band’s an inspiration to us.

How’s the tour going? What’s it been like to work with the source of inspiration and vice versa?

More than anything it’s absolutely an event of a concert. Because we’re all such dear friends, the Mumford boys come up and just walk onstage at any point in time in our set and just sit in and play and we did the same with them and it’s welcomed, it’s invited and everybody is so down with it. Then after every show—it’s somewhere either at the venue or the hotel or on the tour bus or something—we always get into these epic two or three hour massive jams and it’s funny because, besides being from England, their idea of a jam session is everybody just sit in a circle and singing songs and kind of fumbling their way through the chords. But our idea of a jam session over here is singing the tune, but people take solos and it’s sort of elongates the tune, passes it around a little and gets more participation from everybody. They never really experienced that so it was quite a trip for them to be in a session like that. It’s been so much fun.

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