As soon as I met Caveman’s singer Matthew Iwanusa and drummer Stefan Marolachakis at Cobra’s Guitars, it was immediately apparent that this unique shop served as the band’s unofficial home and also as an inspiration. Caveman’s multi talented lead guitarist Jimmy Carbonetti runs Cobra Guitars, a custom guitar shop. Full of guitar experts, gorgeous guitars and shelves and shelves of vinyl records, Cobra’s Guitars is any music lovers dream and a perfect place for the band to hang out and experiment with new gear that has shaped their distinctive densely layered but breezy sound.
After releasing their debut album CoCo Beware independently last fall, Caveman quickly gathered steam and buzz that led to a sold out headlining show at New York’s Bowery Ballroom earlier this year. While explaining how they released the album on their own, Stefan says, “Knock on wood, so far, so good,” and that phrase works to describe Caveman as a whole too. So far things seem to be going well for Caveman, who are poised to establish themselves nationally as one of the most exciting and creative young rock bands. Today the band is relaxing at Cobra’s Guitars just two days before embarking on a massive tour that will see them cross the country and include multiple appearances at SXSW and Canadian Music Week.
Eventually we move outside to take advantage of the unseasonably warm spring weather with some basketball, but first we sat down at Cobra’s Guitars to discuss Caveman’s upcoming tour, critically acclaimed debut album, signing to Fat Possum and plans for a new album.
Let’s start off by talking about your big spring tour and SXSW. Is this your first national headlining tour?
Matt: We’ve done a few weeks here and there of headlining but this is our first actual headlining full sweep of the states.
Stefan: And it’ll be fun because the April tour will be after our record is being reissued by Fat Possum, that’s happening March 27th so we’re really excited about that. And then when it ends, I mean SXSW should be really fun, and when it ends we’re coming home, we’re playing a show at BAM Opera House so that’s sorta unbelievable. Yeah it’s a good 60 day stretch ahead.
You mentioned Fat Possum is putting out your record. You guys originally put it out yourselves and started your own label to do so?
Stefan: Yeah, Magic Man
What was that like?
Matt: Lotta fun
Stefan: Yeah it felt like a great idea. It feels like we were sort of taking the temperature around us and realized that the best thing would be to not sit around and wait to get the songs out into the world. And we had a lot of fun doing it. We played a ton of shows, and, now you know we met these guys who have a great label who wanted to team up and so far, so good.
Matt: We can take it to the next level.
Stefan: Knock on wood, so far, so good
What is happening to Magic Man, is that gonna stick around?
Stefan: Oh it’s still around, yeah. That’s the thing, we’re gonna work on the business plan for Magic Man…
Matt: We’ve got some ideas for Magic Man. It’s a good group of guys who work over there at Magic Man. It’s a great team. We’re looking to do something in Manitoba in 2015… with Magic Man. I’ll leave it at that.
Are you using it to put out music by some of your friends, maybe some smaller groups?
Stefan: Yeah that would be cool to do one day.
Matt: Once you know it seems right, we’ll do something like that, probably. This Manitoba thing is really cooking, but after that…
Stefan: We need to finish building the home before we build on the additions if you know what I mean. We can’t do renovations yet because we’re still fixing odds and ends.
Are you working on a second album for Fat Possum yet?
Matt: We’ve been writing and I think we’ll record in June. We’ll start recording in June and gonna record at this place called the Rumpus Room in Brooklyn. Great place. Now that we’ve been playing together for a long time, it’s just taking the music the direction that it should go, and now we all feel comfortable about what we’re doing and it seems like it’s gonna be really fun to work on the second record. Lotta dudes in a room hangin’ out.
Have you been playing any new songs live or planning to break out a few in the spring?
Stefan: Yeah we’ve been road testing a few.
Matt: We’ve been rotating four new jams live that seem pretty much done.
Stefan: Gotta remember to pepper them in, gotta salt and pepper them right in there because people still want to hear the record that they know, or that they’re getting to know. And you have to retain that perspective because we obviously know the record pretty, pretty well at this point.
Matt: I’ve heard it a few times.
So is your plan to road test these songs and let them grow on the spring tour and then get right into to the studio once you get back home?
Stefan: Yeah totally. Yeah and then there’s some time between the tour and studio where we can work on other stuff too.
Are you planning to produce the album yourselves or work with someone outside?
Matt: We’re gonna work with Nick Stumpf again. He did our first record. He’s an awesome man full of good thoughts, great vibes, good ideas, easy going times. He’s a good man. So he’s gonna record it and it’s gonna be fun.
Stefan: He knows what to do. He knows just what food we should go get when we’re on break. He knows how to set the mood.
Matt: And he knows when to call it quits for the day.
Those are the important things. CoCo Beware is such a lush, layered, intricately produced album. What was the process like recording it?
Matt: Yeah, it was a lot of just going in as groups, sometimes as a full group and then sometimes as just a few of us and get the basic things down and then find the right sounds to layer with other things and just basically find sounds that complimented each other. So it’s eventually layered up and turned into this thing.
So how long did you spend in the studio?
Matt: We were off and on for about 4 months. But a solid 2 months of recording I’d say.