In the Spotlight: The Cavs

The Cavs are a five-piece indie/rock band from Manchester (UK). The band was previously known as The Cavaliers, but after a couple of line up changes, they changed their name to The Cavs. The band currently comprises of Elliot Craven (vocals), James McAuley (rhythm guitar), Chris Terry (lead guitar), Michael Carney (bass) and Arthur Townson (drums). The band takes influences across multiple decades and genres from bands such as Kasabian, Elbow and The Libertines.

I recently spoke to lead guitarist Chris Terry about the new single ‘Music to My Madness’ and now we’re taking a closer look at the upcoming EP and their sound.

Can you give us a brief history of the band and how you guys came together?

“Me and James originally met on a night out, after I bumped into someone I vaguely remembered from another night out about a year before that. Funnily enough, James was there on that night out the year before, we just never actually spoke. God knows what he must have thought about this weird stranger asking him to be in a band, but he took me up on it.”

“James knew Elliot so brought him down after a painstaking two months of “will he show up this time”. When he did though, Elliot serenaded me with his own version of Oasis’ ‘Talk Tonight’ and I was sold.”

“Me and Mikey knew each other from working at the same restaurant in Manchester, and he replaced a very short term bass player, who I also met on the same night out as James, after about two practices.”

“Arthur came slightly later after my brother stepped down as the drummer. I didn’t know Arthur, but my old guitar teacher knew of someone looking for a band back in Burnley, through another music teacher – Arthurs drum teacher – and he came over for a practice. The rest was history, as they say.”

What dynamics do the members bring to the band?

“Arthur for sure brings the most musical knowledge, a lot of technical ability as well. But besides that, I’d say we all bring a similar thing to the band. Musically anyway. Personal anecdotes, riffs, beats and all that.”

“I would say that I bring a slightly more organised head to the band in terms of scheduling things and organising our calendar. I think that’s because of my job, and the fact I’m a bit older and boring!”

When you aren’t working on music, do you guys hang out for fun?

“Post lockdown, I think we’re all quite sad to say we don’t hang out as much as we’d all like to. Pre lockdown, we would be out most weekends together, if not just a few of us. It’s probably not a bad thing we’ve slowed down a bit!”

“Everyone’s lives have changed, work’s changed and where we all live has changed, so – unfortunately – naturally we’ve not got as much time as we used to and the time we do have free doesn’t match up with everyone in the band. It’s something were trying to get better at, I think that’s a big part we all miss.”

“We all agreed we didn’t want to come across as an Oasis/Roses tribute band so I think that’s a massive way we’ve used that to influence our sound. Or not influence should I say.”

You are based in Manchester. How do you think your hometown has influenced your sound?

“Strictly speaking, me and Arthur are from Burnley, Arthur was born in Halifax though, so we’ve probably brought slightly different influences. We all share a lot of the same though. We all agreed we didn’t want to come across as an Oasis/Roses tribute band so I think that’s a massive way we’ve used that to influence our sound. Or not influence should I say. There’s no getting away from it though in a sense. We don’t snub it either, it’s the music we’ve listened to, so we probably let whatever music comes out happen and take it from there. A big part of what we do is, if we like it then we’ll run with it. Very few times have we taken a step back to see how other people might see us, or a song.”

“We all listen to quite a lot of music that’s not from Manchester, and more recently, so I think thats what has helped sculpt our sound up until now.”

What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

“Trial and error. Stuff has worked in the past, stuff really hasn’t. I think finding what has comfortably worked for a while now has helped us start to add some extra layers into our sound. Keys, synths, a couple of self recorded back tracks. Knowing we’ve got a solid foundation means easier to step outside our usual comfort zone.”

“The longer we’ve been together, the more comfortable we are with the whole writing process.”

How does it work when you write songs? Who does what? What does your creative process look like?

“There’s no one rule or process that works every time. Some of our best stuff has come from literally nothing in the matter of an hour, Some things take weeks of perserverance or fresh ears to find a direction. Everyone is coming with ideas at the minute, it’s quite an exciting time for new music. The longer we’ve been together, the more comfortable we are with the whole writing process. We can put ideas together far quicker now and get them to a playable stage and then take a step back and see where its going.”

Are you also thinking about how songs might sound on stage when you’re writing and recording them?

“There’s probably a subconscious thought about how it might sound on stage, and if we think we need to shorten certain bits. That’s come with time in the studio and cutting out ‘fluff’ as its been called.”

“We’ve started to try and work on our live show as much as we do new music so I think there’s an element of “how can we make this work into this song, or out of that song” whilst we’re writing, but not too much.”

When did the songs from the upcoming EP begin to take shape?

“‘Find a Way’ and ‘Salvador’ were the first two songs James brought back after lockdown. It was almost like a reshape of our sound. Everything just felt a bit softer, but we worked it in with our gritty sound. We just found a different way to bring them together. We’ve been playing them for a while now so they feel quite old, but they’ve improved in how we play it and slightly changed shape since so they also feel quite new.”

“‘Music to My Madness’ and ’See You There’ didn’t come until around late 2021. ‘See You There’ is probably the only song that’s been written as a full band in almost one go. Elliot had been playing this riff for a couple of weeks before we all just started jamming it one day and it took a shape fairly quickly. It took maybe one EP demo session to get it to the structure it is now, and then just playing in the studio to get all the parts that made it onto the record. Similar thing with ‘Music to My Madness’, that began as a phone recording of a synth from Arthur. Took it into an EP demo session and played out a structure for it, which is pretty much the same as what it is now. It had very, very different lyrics originally though. The lyrics didn’t get finished until about the week before we started to record rage vocals back end of 2021, maybe January 2022.”

What can fans expect the overall vibe and sound to be like? Did you try anything new?

“It’s just a way bigger sound. Bigger guitars, bigger drums, bigger vocals. We experimented a lot more with overdubs for guitars in this record, a lot of which we can still play live. We wanted to be able to sound as much as we can to the record when we play.”

“We also used some new instruments as well, some keys and synths have subtle appearances in a couple of songs. We had some amazing students come in from Royal Northern College of Music to live record with us as well, but we won’t give too much away on that just yet.”

Can you touch briefly on some of the songs, as far as musical or lyrical inspirations?

“We’ve spoken about ‘Music to My Madness’ recently so I won’t bore you too much with that one. It’s a song that mixes the relatability of nothing else mattering when you’re in the middle of a gig or a festival with your mates, and madness that takes over your mind to want to throw yourself into such an unforgiving industry.”

“The ‘Find a Way’ lyrics were written by James so I can’t comment too much, but to me it’s got an innocent vulnerability about it. It’s not a happy or sad song, it just says “We’ll find a way, I know we’ll find a way…”. Everyone always does, good bad or indifferent.”

In your opinion, is it better to release EP’s and singles instead of full length albums, just to remind people more often about your existence?

“Considering we’ve not even entertained the thought of an album, we’d probably say EPs. More of them and we don’t feel as precious over the songs that go on them knowing we’ve got more up our sleeves.”

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

“They’re two very different things. Studio time when were all together just does not feel like we’re working. It’s so fun and exciting hearing something build from the ground up and sometimes take on a whole new life we never knew it had. You never really know a song is any good until you’ve played it live though. The buzz of being on stage with your mates a crowd jumping and singing to your songs is a feeling that’s still yet to be beaten. It’s really hard to choose, but I’d probably say live performance. There’s just a special euphoria that comes with it.”

If you could headline a music festival which would you pick? What would be your dream line-up?

“The obvious one would always been Glastonbury, but we all have a burning love for Kendal Calling. We’ve all been there separately over the years, and as a band in recent years. We’d love to think it’s one we’ll get to play one day, regardless of the stage. We’d never turn down the main stage though.”

“Between us our dream lineup would probably include the likes of Elbow, Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys, Gorillaz, Libertines and Stereophonics. Is that too many headliners? If those Gallaghers fancied another crack at it, we’d definitely have them on!”

Can you recommend some up and coming artists in your local area that you want to give a shout out to?

“We always shoutout our mates Dirty Laces. Arguably, The Cavs might not exist without the Laces. Luke Dec especially, as I got to spend a lot of time with him pre Cavs, but roadied for them for a while whilst we were starting out. I got to find out a lot about what goes on in the industry and got a lot of great opportunities, which have helped us out since. Shoutout out to their manager Paul as well.”

“Honorary mentions also to SHADE, The Notion, The Haciendas and Kaiden Nolan (Formerly of Scuttlers) who are also doing great. Loads of exciting new music from all of them this year.”

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

“I think just enjoy the EP release and the big gig for it in November. It’s been so long since we released something! We’ve definitely got one eye on next year as well, so some studio time is in the pipes.”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?

“The Howlers ’Nothing To Lose’ is my favourite from that list. It’s a really great playlist of music, but I think having just played with Howlers on their UK tour there’s a personal feel to listening to that song. They’ve got like a Black Keys sound, with a bit of a Jake Bug vocals kind of sound. I hope they don’t mind me saying that! Great band and really good live. I urge everyone to see them if you get the chance.”

What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?

“Skinner Brothers – ‘Put Me Down as a Maybe’. They are one of the most exciting bands around at the minute. One of the best gigs I’ve ever been to.”

Twitter/Insta/Facebook – @Cavsband

Published by leancool20

Drinks tea, not coffee. Usually dressed in black.

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