In 2007, Seattle folk band the Cave Singers rose from the ashes of postpunk groups Pretty Girls Make Graves and Hint Hint. Now on its fourth release, Naomi, the group has polished once-ragged edges to deliver its most tuneful effort to date—bright and accessible, with plenty of Northwest imagery. There may be a lot (a lot) of Seattle folk rock to choose from these days, but the Cave Singers continues to stand out, thanks largely to the distinctive nasally vocals of lead singer Pete Quirk, who also pulls off a regionally indecipherable twang.
We chatted with Quirk on the road a few weeks ago for our latest Fiendish Conversation. The band takes a break from touring for a hometown headlining gig at Showbox at the Market on May 4—so we had just enough time to talk about new additions to the band and "the gaudy mystique" of Seattle.
Now that Naomi has been out for over a month, how are you feeling about the songs?
The more we play 'em live, the more we sort of settle into them. They change a little over time, as some of our old songs do as well. But being in Baton Rouge right now, it’s just nice to play them because they have imagery from being at home, so it’s kind of nice to play them and be there for a little while.
How did the approach to Naomi differ from previous albums?
The studio approach and production approach is different from the previous three. The first two were recorded with the same person [Colin Stewart], and then the third was a bit of a departure—like, darker. This one is a little bit more sunny—a little bit more coming out of the clouds—but also it's got a bigger production style and the most extra things we’ve done. We added another person, Morgan Henderson, on bass. He added flute, and bass, and was also involved in the songwriting. That’s probably the biggest element that’s new to this record.
How do you think Seattle has influenced your sound?
I mean, it’s influenced us because we live there, and so the imagery is from there. That’s what I see when I walk around. I’m not from Seattle, so I really love it there. I’m still in the honeymoon period. I’m romanced by the gaudy mystique that Seattle has. The music is sort of a soundtrack to that.
What up-and-coming Seattle bands should we pay attention to?
What’s the best live show you’ve seen in the past year?
I went to go see Jenn play as S and I thought that was great. I also saw this band Pony Time from Seattle. They were great, they were just a interesting two-piece kind of punk band that I thought was rad.
What are your opinions about critics?
Well, I usually like them if they give us good reviews and don’t like them if they give us bad reviews. I’m pretty fickle that way.
If you weren’t a musician is there another line of work that you think you would have pursued?
Yeah, I’m interested in psychology, being some sort of psychologist or counselor. Maybe cognitive behavioral, but I’d have to really go back to school to see which way I got steered around.
What should people expect from a Cave Singers show?
What I’m noticing lately is that people are expecting it to be like some of the earlier records. They’re like, oh you guys are way more loud and rocking than I had anticipated. So be prepared for more dancing, a sort of full-on show; more of a spectacle and an experience. The only way I can do it is by trying to engage the audience and dancing around like a manic. It’s a great time to celebrate being alive.
The Cave Singers
May 4 at 9, Showbox at the Market, $20