Stereo-Type 08.2000
  PLANET ROCK
Cave In enters yet another new world with "Jupiter"
by Albert Mudrian

It's one radical move after the next for young Stephen Brodsky. For the past few years, the 21-year-old guitarist/vocalist and his band Cave In have been touted as one of the brightest hopes for Boston's considerable metallic hardcore scene. That's about to change with Cave In's new album Jupiter, a record that owes more to the spacey sounds of progressive rock than the ferocity of hardcore and metal. But even before the questions concerning his band's aesthetical shift can begin, Brodsky has recorded an equally confounding acoustic driven solo album called Static Intellect - his second record of Elliott Smith - inspired tunes, scheduled to be released this autumn.

The first time we speak is on the eve of his first solo acoustic performance. Tomorrow afternoon he'll take the stage at Philadelphia's Pontiac Grill without the protection of vocal distortion and the hardcore acrobatics his bandmates normally provide. Understandably, Brodsky feels a little apprehensive, and a bit naked.

"I think it takes a lot guts to do this," he says plainly. "You just get up and you do it. I think I'm ready. I have a lot of songs that I haven't put out on anything that I've been writing lately that I like a lot better than anything else I've done. So I'll probably end up playing stuff mostly that nobody really knows. I guess I'll play for like 30 to 40 minutes; I mean my songs aren't really that long. And I might be too nervous and just leave."

"I felt alright once I was doing it," Brodsky says of the show a few weeks later. "I'm still new at playing like this, I haven't done it enough yet. I think I have my own sort of charisma with Cave In but I don't think I have that by myself yet. I wanna do more solo shows in the future but Cave In keeps me pretty busy."

Between a burgeoning solo career and his day job at Bagel Rising, much of Brodsky's time has been occupied for the past few years. But the bulk of it is still dedicated to Cave In. Emerging from Boston in the mid-90's, the band endured numerous line-up changes even before recording their first 7" in 1995 - a session the youngsters required a ride to. More line-up changes, learner's permits and even a year stint for Brodsky in fellow Boston band Converge would follow before Cave In eventually began recording for the then fledgling Hydra Head label in 1997. A year later the band's debut LP "Until Your Heart Stops" surfaced, turning heads with its unique fusion of Slayer-styled thrash guitars and Radiohead-like art rock drones.

"We wrote all the songs for "Until Your Heart Stops" as a five-piece," Brodsky recalls. "And when it came time to record the record we were a four-piece but we had all those songs and we just sorta had to get them outta the way to do something new. We couldn't have written another record like that if we really even wanted to. Since "Until Your Heart Stops" we're a different band now."

After solidifying a lineup-consisting of Brodsky on vocals and guitar, bassist Caleb Scofield, drummer John Robert Conners and guitarist Adam McGrath - with last year's "Creative Eclipses" EP, the group began work on their second proper LP in February with longtime producer Brian McTernan. The result, "Jupiter", is already one of this year's most talked about albums in underground hardcore and metal circles, partly because of its significant departure from the band's more aggressive beginnings.

"We all grew up listening to heavy metal and that's something that I'll always have a place for in my heart," Brodsky says. "But as far as playing music it just gets to the point where you play with so many bands that start to do the same thing and it gets boring. And you start taking for granted what you do. So we were kind like, 'let's try to do something that's a little different for us.' In the grand scheme of things we're not doing anything different than lots of bands that we listen to. But for a band that started out as a heavy metal band to start playing the songs that we're playing now is looked upon as being pretty radical."

It is. With "Jupiter", Cave In have crafted a post-hardcore record that's neither punk nor indie nor emo, and even hearkens back to the rock guitar theatrics of early Rush, King Crimson and Pink Floyd.

"A lot of the sounds and ideas for our songs lately are, I guess, new for the band but I've always recorded my own songs on the side that weren't like metal songs," Brodsky says. "Ever since I was 14 when I got my first four-track recorder I would just do my thing. A lot of what appears in Cave In songs is culled from a library, I guess you'd call it, of music that I've got laying around. To this point, the music is 75% from myself. It's only the past year or so that everyone has come out of their shells and it's more collaborative. It allows everyone to kinda have their hands on it more and feel more like it's a piece of theirs rather than just mine."

And for what it's worth, it also means Brodsky might not be the only band member to experience flak for the band's new direction. Not that the young songwriter is particularly concerned with any possible underground backlash.

"Most of the reaction that I get is pretty positive," he explains. "But it's not really what other people think, which is kinda important for people that buy the records. If you don't sell enough records . . . you probably won't be around too long. But the last thing you wanna do when you write music is to try to think what other people think of your music. If you do, you're not really gonna put 100% of yourself into it."

This article originally appeared in the August 2000 issue of Stereo-Type. Reprinted with Permission.
Official Stereo-Type website: galleryofsound.com