Interview: Cold Cave
Wesley Eisold is the magnetic writer and brain behind the fanatic-inspiring underground darlings Cold Cave, and the frontman for seminal Boston hardcore band American Nightmare. Not much needs to be said to introduce Wes, a man whose words are so poised and carefully chosen. Recently, as Cold Cave became a free agent, he began releasing a series of 7″ singles. Today we are discussing “Oceans With No End”, among other things.
I read in one of your latest interviews with My Socialist.com that you’re “in a good place for the first time in your life.” How do you feel today?
It was a rough month, really rough. I feel fortunate though to be here now. Tour starts soon which takes me through summer. I’m balancing my time between doing everything that goes along with the day to day of Heartworm Press and Cold Cave. I just released a book by Boyd Rice and the ‘God Made the World’ 7″ so am really busy sending those out.
When I spoke with Stephanie to arrange this interview I learned that you prefer email interviews over phone interviews. Out of curiosity, do you find something adverse about phone interviews, or speaking to strangers on the phone?
My whole life I have felt more comfortable writing than talking. I also find that interviews over the telephone often come with misquotes and I don’t know… Even when writing answers things get taken out of context and it kind of drives me crazy. I just try to prevent upsetting myself by avoiding reading something I didn’t say. The only people I really talk to on the phone are family members. So in a way it’s very intimate. And these days when the phone rings I just assume it’s bad news.
Let’s discuss the video you’re about to release for “Black Boots”. The video was directed by Slava Tsukerman, famed cult director of Liquid Sky. From what I can tell from IMDB, and correct me if I’m wrong, this is Tsukerman’s first film work in four years. How did this come about? Did you seek him out because of his work, or was it more serendipitous, like you met by chance and decided to collaborate?
Slava mentioned wanting to make a music video to a mutual friend who introduced us as he knew I was a fan of Liquid Sky. We talked at first, on the telephone no less, and then I visited him in NYC and we moved ahead with it. It’s his first music video and it’s also the 30th year anniversary of Liquid Sky. Beautiful film and soundtrack both in need of a proper re-release.
What did you hope to accomplish through the marriage of styles? In that respect, was it a success? When can we expect to see it?
It was made cheaply with Slava, his imagination, a camera and me. He talked about how the failure of many movies is that they are made with a small budget yet try to attain the aspects of films that have gigantic budgets. But people aren’t stupid and it’s impossible to achieve that so you shouldn’t subscribe to that method. And this video was made with that mentality. It should be done around the time the tour begins in late April.
Your latest 7″, “Oceans With No End”, was released by Deathwish Inc, a predominantly hardcore label owned by Tre McCarthy and Jacob Bannon of Converge. I understand you’ve had a long standing relationship with Jacob, but the label is a curious place for music like Cold Cave’s. How did the idea to join forces on this come up?
We’ve known each other a long time. Jake designed all of the AN records, released and designed Some Girls records, and then we worked together more recently on the AN reissues and documentary. Tre was there through all of that, too. I don’t really think too much about what type of music Deathwish represents to people. I just know I like them as people and we both thought it’d be cool to do. Cold Cave hasn’t ever had a married sound. It’s changed and will change and I think of it as my art, not just as my band. That’s how I see it anyway.
Being that you’ve such a history on personal levels, is your ‘deal’ with Deathwish Inc structured the same as if you were strictly doing business? Did your friendship have an effect on the details of the contract? Was there even a contract at all?
No it’s not like that at all. There isn’t a contract or anything. It was us just wanting to do a release together. You can’t do that with too many people or labels but you can with them.
I understand Cold Cave is completely Wes Eisold, but I was still oddly excited when I read on AbsolutePunk last Fall about the latest incarnation including Hunter Burgan (AFI), London May (Samhain), and Cody Votolato (The Blood Brothers). Is this still the current state of Cold Cave in a live setting? If not, who is currently playing along side you?
I did a two and a half week tour with that line up and it was exciting for me to hear the songs played by a full band. I tried to do that when Cherish came out but it didn’t work. After that two and a half week tour I started writing and recording songs again in the way I did when making “Cremations” and “Love Comes Close…” By myself, at a desk in my apartment. It was freeing and exciting in a way because I didn’t owe anyone an album. I got to just make them to make them. The songs were minimal, honest, electronic and without help. These next tours will reflect that. It won’t be with a full band. It will be minimal, electronic, honest and exciting.
When you choose these players, do you pick from a bank of friends or are you seeking hired hands based on talent alone? At this stage, do you have a favored live Cold Cave lineup?
I’ve mostly invited people who were directly in my life in some way to help perform my songs. I don’t have a favorite line up from the past. What’s exciting to me is the unknown. The first couple of shows ever were like that. Starting to play with Prurient was like that. What’s next is definitely like that.
Although you are the sole composer, do you feel any sort of influence from the musicians you choose to help you perform the songs? If so, what is that influence like and how do you use it? How does it inspire you, if at all?
You know, I don’t feel that now but I have in the past. Some of the material I made for “Cremations” was done when I lived with Max G. Morton and Justin Benoit. I liked showing them and Dom what I was working on. Out of all of the past contributors I’ve worked with those three definitely knew and understood the intent of the band more than anyone. Then other times the presence of outside influence has weighed me down and killed all inspiration. I’ve been naive and thought people were into it for the music. I guess that stems from hardcore and never thinking about money. But it’s not like that. For some it’s an opportunity. And then a lot of people have this confusing desperation for fame. It was a few hellish years and not many people know that. It’s nothing to mention now. I fought hard to get away and I haven’t even hit my stride yet. It’s crazy… all the paths you can take just to end up right back where you always were meant to be.