This Saturday, Chicago-based psych-rock band Cave will grace the hardwood floors of Fountain Square’s best house venue, Mediumship. It’s hard to imagine a band that could fit more perfectly into the Mediumship aesthetic. They are heavily-steeped in the determined, repetitive, driving guitar grooves known as krautrock—purveyed by bands like Neu! and early Kraftwerk—and which is a primary influence on the bands in the Mediumship collective, primarily Crys, who is on Saturday’s bill. To put it this way: if Cave were based in Indy, Mediumship would probably consist of four bands and not three.
Their 2011 album, Neverendless, is a tightly-focused and entrancing ode to said genre, with insidiously penetrating rhythms and repeated, gradually-unfolding themes. The album is like a vast canvas on which Cave has painted scenes that sometimes seem like wallpaper—highly patterned and threatening to fade into the background—but which ultimately wrap themselves around your brain so carefully and deliberately that you didn’t even realize it was happening until you’re falling head-first into them. The 14 minute song “This is the Best” is—no pun intended—the best example of this.
On the verge of their month-long European tour, Cave founder Cooper Crain and I spoke about their first time playing in Indianapolis, the band’s recent personnel changes, and what it’s like to travel as a band abroad...
Have you ever played in Indy before?
No. We’ve played in Bloomington five or six times. But this is the first time it’s made sense for us to play in Indy. It’s been kind of an ongoing thing, trying to get here to play, but it just hasn’t worked out until now. We’re about to leave on a big tour next week, so we’re practicing a lot but we’re not really doing anything else until we leave. And anyway, house shows are way more enjoyable than big clubs for sure, and it’s nice to experience that in a new town.
Do you ever improvise any of your sets?
There are some looser moments... but more or less, you know how things are going to start and stop. And then some older songs have a little more structure. But we have a bunch of new songs. We just got a new guitar player in April, so we’ve been writing a bunch of new stuff with him. And also our synth player Rotten Milk isn’t with us any more.
Those are some fairly significant changes. How has that altered your sound?
Well, it changed in the sense that we’ve been writing new songs. But they’re still really groove-heavy repetitive songs. There’s not a synthesizer for probably the first time [period] live ever. It’s a little more led by the guitar and bass.
These songs were a little tighter, a little more coherent from the get-go. Whereas [the songs on Neverendless] we re-worked and re-worked live for like a year. Those were much more of an unstructured thing until we went into the studio.
Tell me about the tour. Will this be the first time you’ve toured in Europe?
No, this will be the third time, actually. Almost half of it will be in Spain, then we’re going to France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and a little bit of Holland. We’ve got a single being released by a label in Spain during the tour, so that’ll be cool. Shows are kind of more comfortable and more enjoyable on a tour over there.
[On tour in the U.S.] you’re kind of trying to find a floor to sleep on every night, trying to feed yourself, or sometimes you don’t have the right equipment at venues. But over there everyone kind of takes care of you. I mean, of course there are some great spots here in the states, too, with good people. But most of the time those people have gone over to Europe, so they kind of understand things a little better.
What are the venues like over there? Do you play any houses on the tour?
Not really any houses. It just depends on where you go. Like in Holland and Belgium there are some old lots that have been squatted and now they’re owned by a bunch of people and they run it as a venue. It’s not really a bar, just like a warehouse kind of thing. Otherwise, it’s about the same.
What’s the next step for you as a band?
I think we’d like to keep touring aboard. We’re trying to go to Australia. We were trying to go to Brazil this fall but it kind of fell through. Just to keep traveling with the art that we make and sustain it. Even though it’s the third time we’ve gone to Europe it still feels really cool. I mean this isn’t a main job for any of us. So as long as we just keep our personal lives going well, I think the band will work and just keep getting better and easier over the years.
Cave return from tour in mid-October, when they plan to start work on an upcoming album, to be released by Chicago-based Drag City Records. They will play at Mediumship tomorrow atop a bill that includes Lafayette-based TV Ghost, Crys, and Sitar Outreach Ministry.