MusicMusic Features

The Cave Singers

Spanning the country on their most recent tour, it took exactly one word to turn the laid-back, joke-jabbing boys of The Cave Singers from silly to stoic: “domino.”

“Domino,†says lead singer Pete Quirk. “We just get along really well on the road just because we’re so comfortable with each other—but sometimes we exhibit our love for each other in the way of just making fun of each other brutally. So, we had to come up with a safety word if someone was making fun of you too much and you couldn’t handle it. It was a great idea for us.â€

A great idea, indeed, considering the time spent in that van as the Seattle-based folk-rockers trekked across the country in support of 2011’s No Witch. The band opened for big names like Fleet Foxes along the way, tightening up their stage show and soaking up every new experience.

“We’ve had a crazy year, but a great year. We probably toured the most that we’ve ever toured consistently behind [No Witch],†says Quirk. “The shows are getting bigger and livelier. It’s been a great progression.â€

The progression began with 2007’s Invitation Songs and 2009’s Welcome Joy, showcasing subtle and logical steps within the deeply rooted, familial qualities of folk-pop bred from the genre hotbed that is the Pacific Northwest.

“When I look back over [our discography], so many things have happened in just living life over the period of those three records that it’s really crazy to see where we’ve been,†says Quirk. “I can look back over [the albums] as a reflection of where I’ve been, or where I lived or all these things that have happened. I’m glad that those things exist for me because it documents a certain time and feelings in my life.â€

How The Cave Singers came upon their current sound is surprising, considering the musical backgrounds of the band’s founders.  Quirk hails from indie rockers Hint Hint, and bandmate Derek Fudesco came from the rock/post-punk outfit Pretty Girls Make Graves. The early days of The Cave Singers came simply from laid-back, intentionally directionless jams between the two where a new sound was born.

“There was no ‘We gotta get into this folk-pop thing right now; this shit is blowing up,’†laughs Quirk. “From the beginning, there has been no pretense for any sort of direction or anything other than just creating. I was just happy at the time making music in my room on my four-track and working at my job. That was completely satisfying [laughs].â€

The free flow of musical ideas was undoubtedly key in those early jams.

“There were no rules. There was no leader of the band. You could do whatever you wanted, and it didn’t matter what kind of song we wrote,†says Quirk. “It was super fun and we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. We had already been in bands that took themselves too seriously or were frustrating at times. But this was just really easy, and it continued to be so and continued to evolve into something that felt worthwhile, productive and satisfying for us as musicians.â€

The same vibe sticks with the band, even as they’ve become a seasoned group riding a respectable wave of buzz from the first three outputs.

“It’s still always loose, and things materialize when we really get into writing it,†says Quirk. “At that point, you have to focus and make the idea as clear as you want. We’re getting better at that, as well as at arranging things so that our ideas, whatever they are, are the best we can make them.â€

The idea of being a full-time musician is one at which Quirk still marvels. He’s admittedly unsure of how he, or The Cave Singers as a whole, got to this point. Something—something genuine yet largely inexplicable—has clicked for this group in a way it simply didn’t in past musical incarnations.

“It really is like a family with us, and it’s amazing how it’s become part of my existence to write music with these guys,†he says. “It’s part of what I do now—this permanent, creative thing. That’s an amazing feeling.â€


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