Interview: Cold Cave
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:46:27
Cold Cave make the otherworldly sound divine on Full Cold Moon [iTunes link]. Their latest release collects recent singles into one body of work that’s equally haunting and heavenly. Driven by Wesley Eisold’s cinematic instrumental vision and lyrical mosaic, it’s one potent sonic spell after another. It also offers an appropriate gateway into Eisold’s world for the uninitiated...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Wesley Eisold of Cold Cave talks Full Cold Moon, touring with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden this summer, and more.
What’s your take on Full Cold Moon as a whole?
The main thread would be the time in which it was recorded. I was going through a lot of different transitions with Cold Cave and in my life in general. I made this series of singles that were meant to be individual ideas. I wasn’t ready to make an album. Realistically, they were recorded within a year of each other. There’s that thread. Then, there are the ideas behind the songs, which are about change, letting some things in life go, and moving on. That theme runs throughout all the songs. Sonically and instrumentally, it’s not really cohesive to me. I didn’t sit down and make an album. That’s why it’s more of a compilation. It compiled four or five different singles. It’s not really what I want my next album to sound like. It doesn’t represent that to me. It’s more of a time and place. I didn’t feel like I needed to subscribe to the idea of what an album was at that time. I wanted to do singles. They were pretty limited, and they sold out. So, I wanted to compile them. I thought it was important to document that year or year-and-a-half period.
The lyrics feel really poignant. What’s your lyrical approach?
Thank you...I think the lyrics of Cold Cave and other bands I’ve been in before are what’s most important to me. I think they’re what creates the bond between my music and the people who listen to it. I think that’s crucial. It’s something I struggle with in terms of making music in general. When making music by myself, that was something pretty new to me. I really wanted to get to the point sometimes, get on with it, and write the lyrics and vocals—but those come second for me in Cold Cave throughout the timeline anyway. They are still most important to me though. On Full Cold Moon, I had just moved to California, and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with Cold Cave in general. I was dealing with the suicide of a close friend of mine. Everything just came into a new perspective. If I had to narrow it down, the perspective would be that you can’t count on anyone or anything in life except for yourself.
Do you still handwrite lyrics?
It varies. I do still write. If I’m out and about and I think of something I want to keep, I’ll just write it in my phone. Or, I’ll write it on whatever piece of paper is around. Sometimes, I remember I had written something down. I’ll find it and see if it works for whatever song I’m working on at the time. If not, I just put the instrumental of the song on loop forever, and I think about how the song feels to me and what emotions it elicits for me. I also think of what, as a listener, I’d want to take from the song. That’s the cool thing about music. It elicits emotion without vocals. I try to complement the feel of the song. Sometimes, things I’ve written fit it. Other times, they don’t, and I have to start from scratch. In some instances, I’m typing lyrics out. Other times, I’m writing them with a pen. Or, I’m jotting things down on my phone.
What’s the story behind “Beaten 1979”?
I had written this free verse poem, and I wanted to use it in a song. I also had this piece of music, but I didn’t know how to make words fit it or how it was going to turn into a successful song for me. I remembered this poem I had. Somehow, the cadence of it fit the song, and it came together. I wondered what I was going to do with the music for about an hour. I remembered the poem, and thirty minutes later the song was done. I played that song all through when we played China last year. I think that’s the only time I’ve played it.
When did you come up with the title “Don’t Blow Up the Moon”?
There was this news story. In the Cold War, one strategy would be to blow up the moon. That stuck with me like, “What an insane idea for the world?” It’s also something that seems totally possible. I don’t think it’s beyond mankind to go to such drastic measures. I say “love and war” a lot in it. I wanted the title to be very literal, but the rest of song changes the context of the title and leaves it open to interpretation. Don’t kill the magic.
How did “Oceans With No End” come together?
That came together really quickly. The music and the lyrics came really quickly. It was something I was feeling at the time, and I wrote and recorded that song in forty-five minutes. It’s what I would hope a new Morrissey record would sound like. I wish he would sing that song. It reminds me of what I used to get out of his some of his older records—that sentiment and sound even.
What other art forms inspires you?
I guess it’s everything. I do read a lot. We own a bookstore in Los Angeles so that’s a big part of my life. It’s called The Daily Planet. Amy has owned it for years. That’s a big part of our lives as well. I had a bookstore in Philadelphia before I moved out here. We also release books by artists we like. Film inspires me too. In the past few years, the biggest theme that’s been influential to us is minimalism in every aspect, performance-wise, visually, and in terms of design. That’s working for us now.
What was the last book you read?
Someone compiled all of these Captain Beefheart, interviews, text, and late night television appearances into a book. I’ve been picking that up from time-to-time. His “Ten Commandments” of guitar playing were passed around on the internet for years. Someone had the good sense to compile this into a book, and that’s something I’ve been into a lot lately. It’s the Beefheart manifesto.
If you were to compare Full Cold Moon to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
I’d say In a Year of Thirteen Moons. It’s a Rainer Werner Fassbinder film. It’s my favorite. If you watched it, you would get the references. I recommend it.
Are you working on new music?
I’m working on the next album. I’m constantly working on music! I’m trying to narrow it down.
You must be excited for the tour with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden…
We’re super excited. We just spent the last two months on tour with Nine Inch Nails in Europe. We were ready to go. Trent knew we could do it, and we were available. The last tour went so well that it seemed like a no-brainer. It will be different than Europe. In Europe, we were playing in the arenas and stadiums where it was just Cold Cave and Nine Inch Nails. People had been waiting for a band to play for an hour-and-a-half already. We’re first of three, and it’s outdoors on this tour. It’ll be daytime and dusk. We’re figuring out how to transition our show, which depends so much on the mood of the night and dark aesthetics. I love playing with different sorts of bands. My least favorite thing is to be on tour, show up, and the opening bands are guy-girl synth duo. I like all sorts of things. I’m excited to play with Soundgarden, and I love Nine Inch Nails. I like doing these different sorts of tours. I think it’s really cool Trent chose the bands he did. It changes the context of the tour.
Have you heard Cold Cave?
See why Full Cold Moon was our "album of the week" here!