Interview with Cave Birds

‘Some Lightening Thrill’ is the debut single from Leeds based band ‘Cave Birds’ – the melody of which has lodged itself firmly into my mind although it hasn’t beaten Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ which lasted a good month and kept me awake at night (please make it stop). I managed to catch up with vocalist, songwriter and producer Tom who kindly answered my questions via email…

Interview by Jo Whitby

Cat On The Wall: First up, for those yet to discover Cave Birds could you introduce yourself and tell us about the band first came about?

Cave Birds: I’ve been writing and recording music for years, mainly for my own pleasure. It’s an obsession of mine. I’ve played in a number of indie bands, here and there, and I’ve also done the doomed troubadour thing; busting my throat and guts out for a few beers.

After a few years away from Leeds, studying and travelling, I came back to my hometown, got a sales job that paid well and started buying decent studio gear. The songs that have turned into the Cave Birds project are a product of that period of writing and recording.

I then quit my job and formed the band about a year ago. We only played our first gig a few months ago. It’s been a secret project. I didn’t want to play live before it sounded right. It took a few false starts as well. A few people came and played and didn’t cut the mustard, so to speak. It’s not easy finding great players.

COTW:  Your debut single ‘Some Lightening Thrill’ is released digitally on the 28th November. What was your creative process behind the song? Did you set out with a particular theme in mind?

CB: I stopped writing with my guitar about 2 years ago. I got sick of it. I now write from rhythms, i.e. start with a drum pattern or loop and build it up from there. Add a bass line, add a synth pad etc. And usually, if I’m lucky, a melody will appear. So, the single started out like that. That drum machine loop it begins with – that was the first thing I did.  It’s quite a crazy journey you go on, creatively – but that’s what I love about it. And I never get bored.

Lyrics are always last. Quite often last minute too. Or even unfinished. I personally never finish songs. I just drop them.

This song is a love song. A character piece. Unrequited or in despair or hurt. I collect lines of lyrics day to day in a book or on my phone and glue them all together for songs. The woman is the storm in this song. And it’s really just an extended metaphor. Rain, thunder, lightning, storm, tempest, etc. Maybe it’s too much. I do remember spending quite a few days tinkering with the words. It’s fine.

COTW: We’re huge Kate Bush fans here at Cat On The Wall and could definitely hear Kate’s influence in your music (which isn’t a bad thing). How much of an impact does the music you listen to have on your songwriting? Where do you usually draw your inspiration from lyrically?

CB: Well, I’m glad you’re huge fans of her. Any fan of Kate Bush is a friend of mine. Unless you’re in Placebo.

I had a bit of an obsession with her. It’s wavering slightly. I’m getting over it. But she’s incredible. Totally original. “Hounds of Love” is faultless. And I’ve had religious experiences listening to “Aerial Disc 2”.

I listen to a lot of music, different styles and genres. I listen to a lot of classical music, a lot of electronic music but as a teenager I was really into Verve and The Doors and other 60’s stuff. So they shaped my tastes I suppose. Verve’s first records are benchmarks for me.

Kurt Cobain was the reason I learned guitar when I was 11. And started smoking. So, he’s to blame for all of this.

Lyrically, Leonard Cohen is the Godfather. And Dylan. And I read a lot of poetry too. Hughes, R.S. Thomas, Dylan Thomas, Bukowski. But I suppose I’m inspired by life situations; mainly pain and despair and ruin and broken promises. I’m a cheery kinda fellow.

COTW: How did you come to work with Tri-Tone records?

CB: Simon Duffy is a fan of the band and offered to release the digital side of things for us. Just a connection thing I suppose. I admire what he’s done and continues to do.

COTW:  Is there an album in the works? Can you tell us anything about it?

CB: Well, there’s a pile of songs I’ve recorded in my studio. I would love to get an album out in the summer of next year but I suppose we’re just testing the water at the minute, see how people react to a couple of singles. I would need to upgrade a few bits here in the studio first. And that takes a bit of money. My computer is like a clapped out old car that only works if you kick it at the right angle. But she’s done a lot of hard work for me in the last few years.

COTW: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?

CB: Near future? Well, we’ll see. I think getting on the road a bit more might be a good idea. We throw out a pretty good live show. People need live shows.

I’d like to release another single, maybe February/March. See how things go. I’ve also a few collaborations I’ve spent some time working on, co-writes and some producing jobs for friends. It might be nice to let them out of the bag soon.

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