Although dynamic new artists come and go, there was a certain entity, known as Don Caballero, missing in action for six years that left a gaping hole.
That drought finally ended with last year’s World Class Listening Problem, the Pittsburgh band’s first release on Relapse Records. Even with that much elapsed time and a whole new lineup, save for drummer and founder Damon Che, Don Cab still managed to maintain its ameliorating death trance and musical sign language.
“I think of it as like a new cast on a television show, or some new MVPs came in and some old ones retired on a sports team,” Che says of his new lineup (guitarists Eugene Doyle and Jeffery Ellsworth and bassist Jason Jouver). Together, they’ve managed to live up to a legend begun 15 years ago by three earnest dudes with a knack for complex instrumental rock that doesn’t lose itself. If you ask Che, though, it’s still lost on some.
“To us it is the mainstream,” he says. “To people who just want to watch American Idol, it doesn’t even register with them. It’s noise to people who think Justin Timberlake is what music sounds like. There’s nothing wrong with any of that stuff. It’s just not what we’re doing. We’re a different animal. Our creation is outside the mainstream, or we’d probably be bigger than what we are.”
But even after the original lineup splintered and went on to form other bands, Che was driven to continue Don Cab because “it works.”
“We all have the experience of being in dozens of other musical entities, and in our own estimations there’s nothing wrong with them,” he says. “But there [are] no fans for them. Don Cab has become a responsibility for me, because people like it. I’m doing something for someone else that’s worth their time and effort to come out and see us or buy our records. It would be stupid of me to go out and tour with a band that no one’s going to come to see and maybe, if [we’re] lucky, have gas money in [our] pockets.
“That’s why I do Don Cab. It’s the opposite of that,” he adds. “You go out and lots of people come and have a great time.”