The Cold Cave Interview

What happens when you lock a bunch of hardcore and noise musicians in a room? They make gothic music, of course! Wesley Eisold (formerly of American Nightmare), with assistance from Caralee McElroy (Xiu Xiu) and Dominick Fernow (Prurient), bashes out primitive, insanely catchy, dark electro in the vein of Joy Division, Blank Dogs, and Cabaret Voltaire, filtered through archaic effects pedals and ancient keyboards. The vibe of Love Comes Close is poised, foreboding and authoritarian. The vocals are joyless and icy – split between a blank female and a blank male – the synths and drum machines echo the heartbeats of a melancholic. Their music takes in and spits out new wave, postpunk and early house music, all with a deeply European hue.  This interview was conducted by email and finds Eisold cagey, at best…

Tell me about the creative transition from playing guitar-oriented music with American Nightmare and Some Girls to making music as Cold Cave – it seems as much personal as it does aesthetic for you. What was it that drew you to making electronic music? When you sat down with the synthesizer for the first time, did sounds come to you immediately?

“Really it was just that I never wrote music before. I never played a guitar or bass really because I can’t, so off and on through my life I would become mildly obsessed with synths or an old piano. I started making music because I wanted to make something myself without relying on others and it came out electronic.”

Did you enjoy bands like Depeche Mode, New Order or Sisters of Mercy when you were younger?

“Yea of course, younger and older. For me bands like New Order, the Cure and the Smiths growing up spoke to me.”

What was your reaction when Matador expressed an interest in signing you? Are you pleased with the job they did on the Love Comes Close reissue?

“Thrilled because some Matador records were really important to me and one of the aspects of the label that I appreciated is that it wasn’t defined by sound to me but by individuals, more so than other labels.”

What does the material you are writing now sound like? When can we expect a new album?

“I’m recording now and not sure if I could say exactly what it sounds like. I know live the songs make more sense to me when played a bit more aggressively and I’m sure the new album will reflect that. It probably won’t be out until 2011 sometime.”

What does Cold Cave live sound like as opposed to on record? Are you able to do things with the songs live that you can’t necessarily in the studio?

“It took a few line up changes and re-interpreting the songs publicly to get it right. I don’t think we played a good set until about a week into our last European tour in May. The songs come off heavier live really as there are actual drums and more layers of synths and noise.”

What sort of reactions are you getting out on tour in places you haven’t been before?

“I feel really fortunate, you know, we’ve become better, our shows have gotten better, and there are more people at each show and we recognize people from before. I don’t know really what to say, it seems like the more we enjoy ourselves the more the crowd enjoys it.”

Would you talk a little about the songwriting for Cold Cave? Do sounds and melodies come to you quickly? I like how you keep it simple in the songs – I can imagine fingers punching out every keyboard line, etc…

“I’m kind of in the middle of writing and recording now and am a bit neurotic and losing sleep so I guess that is part of my process. Pulling hair, chewing nails, self-loathing, frustration, little celebrations, nervous neighbors.”

How has the writing process for Cold Cave changed, from early on when it was mostly you and now that you have a group of collaborators. Are they taking an active role in composing songs?

“No its just me still.”

Do you feel able to express yourself more effectively (either lyrically or sonically) with Cold Cave?

“I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. I don’t want to really compare it to a previous band because its just a different time.”

What are some nonmusical influences on the band?

“Life, love, regret.”

How did you get the Radio Shack commercial? Were you pleasantly surprised on how it turned out?

“That was Matador. Yea I think when you sign up for things like that it could go any direction and it was fine by me.”

Between Heartworm and Cold Cave and your nonmusical writings you must be working on art and music most every day?

“Yea just trying to write for Cold Cave and lately when I’m not doing that 5 try to take my mind off of everything with movies or just traveling. Since the band started touring a lot I’ve found it really hard to be home or somewhere for too long so we just keep moving.”

Do you have any other projects or happenings in the offing?

“Not so much at the moment, just the new LP.”

Do you have any long-term aims or goals with your art and your music? Or do you take these opportunities as they come?

“Yes, I have personal ones that I don’t always realize I have. Really I want to provide in a way that others have for me.”

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