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Band to Watch: Cold Cave Merge Synthpop and Hardcore Punk

Frontman Wesley Eisold discusses paying tribute to his past and embracing an 'American' sound

March 23, 2011 11:00 AM ET

Click to listen to Cold Cave's "The Great Pan Is Dead"

Who: An electronic band led by Wesley Eisold, a veteran of hardcore and noise rock bands such as Give Up the Ghost, Some Girls and Ye Olde Maids. Whereas previous Cold Cave releases have had a dark synthpop sound, the band's second full-length album Cherish the Light Years is harder and louder, merging their buzzing keyboards and programmed beats with the intensity and aggression of Eisold's punk rock past.

Tribute to Youth: Eisold says that the emotions and sounds on Cherish the Light Years came out of going back to the towns where he lived as a kid. "I grew up as a military brat, so I moved every two years or so," Eisold says. "I spent a few months revisiting all these places, and the record turned into a tribute of sorts to youth and to all these different cities and towns and memories of people I no longer know, or maybe remember or hold on to in some way. It was a way of letting go."

American Band: Eisold says that he was inspired to make a very "American" record because he loved very British-sounding records by the Smiths, Pulp and Suede as a teenager. "They created a world of their own," he says. "I have no idea whether that world existed or not, but it seemed very real from an outside perspective, so I wanted to create a feeling of my own world and I wanted it to encompass my friends and the lifestyle that I knew."

Overcoming Limitations: After years fronting punk bands, Eisold embraced electronica when it came time to make his own music – in part because of a physical disability. "I was used to writing lyrics and vocals to music that other people had written, and I felt I owed it to myself," he says. "It was a challenge, as I'm limited to the number of instruments I can play since I was born with one hand." The rich, layered sound of Cherish the Light Years is a result of working with his bandmates. "I've learned how to explain what I'm looking for to friends who can help interpret what I'm trying to get across through a guitar and play what I am incapable of doing myself."

Ad Money: So far, Cold Cave is best known for "Life Magazine," a song from their 2009 album Love Comes Close that was featured in a television ad for Verizon. "Maybe some people found Cold Cave and only really like that one song," Eisold says. "For me, I saw it as an opportunity to enable myself to continue to make music, which is the most important thing." Aside from keeping him afloat financially, the ad legitimized his long career in music to some of his relatives. "I think some family members had thought I'd finally done something with my life," he says.

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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