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Northern Exposure: Days 3-5 – Kitchener, ON / Traverse City, MI / Columbus, OH

Note: We apologize for the massive gap between updates.  We have learned that wireless internet is a rare and valuable commodity not readily available in all places.  Because we never knew just when we’d have access to internet next, we decided to hold off on posting our tour diary until we arrived back home.

Day #3 – Kitchener, Ontario (Continued)

Only in Canada

Danko Jones couldn’t make the Kitchener show, so we got the prime spot directly opening up for Clutch.  It was pretty nerve wracking the moments before we took the stage because this was a sold out show and pretty much everyone who was gonna be there had arrived at that point.  So I went and had myself a good, cleansing crying session and prepared to take the stage. Read the rest…

Northern Exposure: Days 2 & 3 – Burlington, VT/Kitchener, ON

Day#2 – Burlington, VT

I woke up this morning at around 10:30 feeling like death.  It was still raining outside and at this point I don’t give a shit anymore.  The thing that pissed me off the most about the rain is that it made me think of that Garbage song.  I don’t want to think about Garbage songs, like ever.

After shambling around and grunting at each other for a little bit, we got things together, got some coffee in us, and left the place we were crashing for the evening. Bye Maine.  Unfortunately, we did not get to meet Maine’s biggest celebrity, Stephen King, but we DID get to meet a guy we’d like to think of as a celebrity by the name of Bob York (pictured below with Ira).  He approached us in that town in New Hampshire… the one with the abandoned train station next to the bank of America that kinda looks like a log cabin. You know that town right?  Bob has been CRUSHING ass in that town since way back and stopped to tell us everything he knew about trains and New Hampshire.  It was educational and awkward. Read the rest…

Northern Exposure: Day 1 – Portland, ME

We left DC around 8:30 pm (yes that’s pm) to begin our 10 hour trek to Portland, ME.  Actually we thought it would be a 10 hour trek, but it took around 12.  Kids, when you use a Tom Tom make sure you pay attention to the “Avoid Toll Roads” screen.  Not respecting that screen will cost you time and tears.

Read the rest…

Northern Exposure: Foreward by the Author

Ed. note: Aural Slate Recordings artist Caverns is embarking on a North American tour (that includes you Canada) in support of Aural Slate’s inaugural EP release We Lied.   Tagging along with Maryland stoner rock legends Clutch, Caverns will be going pretty much everywhere you don’t want to be  in April, if you like to be warm!

Greetings.   Welcome to Northern Exposure, which is to be a written archive of all of the adventures our band, Caverns, whilst touring with the mighty Clutch.  As I’m writing this, most of the band is, like me, at lunch at their day job mentally preparing to embark on this 3 week, 16 date tour.   We’re all still in shock that we got the time off work (except for our piano player, Patrick who is his own “boss”) to live out this childish rock fantasy, but never underestimate the generosity of a well kissed ass!  Seriously though, thanks so much to the powers that be for letting us take the time to do this, you know who you are and you win.  We’re leaving for our first show in Portland, Maine tonight after Rush Hour.  What did you think we’d go on tour for three months without watching Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker hilariously riff off of each other?  No chance, kemosabe.

Getting ready for our first national tour has been fraught with buying unnecessary items, people offering questionable advice, and losing the thing you just had in your hand two seconds ago because you have so much shit on your mind.  We’re probably gonna forget Ross when we leave.  We’re about 99% of the way done at this point, but I will say that, for a band about to embark on a tour opening for Clutch, we are wildly deficient in facial hair department.  Ross and our tour manager Ira have respectable beards, but even then they are not at viking status, which is where I think they need to be.  I myself am clean shaven because I just don’t have the stones to grow a beard and Pat’s face never went through puberty.  Anyone know a good costume shop in Portland?

We’ll be checking in pretty much daily with news or our happenings and wildly embellished retellings of assorted road hijinks that may or may not have occurred.  There will be pictures, videos, laughing and love.  Oh and a daily recap of amazing events and noises Pat was able to sleep through.  So please stay tuned, good AS reader, we will be back to check on you very very soon from Portland, ME.



Aural Slate Recordings: “Arctic Phantoms” from Caverns’ We Lied

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MP3: Caverns – Arctic Phantoms

A week from today, our newest venture (EP label Aural Slate Recordings) will launch with the release of Caverns’ EP We Lied. Caverns have long been one of my favorite local artists, providing a unique take on the stale formula of rock and an explosively engaging live show. I’m really proud to have them on-board as our inaugural release. The first release show will be on Friday February 19th at Comet Ping Pong in DC with Detox Retox, and Prisms. Release shows in Frederick and label party in Baltimore will follow in the spring.

We Lied was recorded with Chris Freeland at Beat Babies, and J. Robbins at the Magpie Cage. Mixing duties fell on Chris Freeland and Matthew Leffler-Schulman of Mobtown Studios, who also did the mastering. Album art was designed by the multi-talented Caleb Moore of Lands & Peoples.

To give all you loyal Aural States readers a taste of the album, today we present the opening track (and lead “single”), entitled ”Arctic Phantoms.” Coincidentally, it is also the only track on the EP recorded with J. Robbins at the Magpie Cage, and really sets the stage for the rest of the EP.

More from lead guitarist Kevin Hilliard:

The opening track, “Arctic Phantoms,” operates as the mission statement for this EP. In fact, we titled the EP We Lied because this song steps outside of the purely instrumental confines our music has remained in up to this point by incorporating a heavily effected vocal melody and atmospheric synths into the mix. Our drummer, Ross Hurt, programmed glitchy electronic drums to add yet another texture previously absent from our compositions. The beginning of this track might even sound like the work of an entirely different band if it weren’t for Patrick Taylor’s lead piano line, which maintains a continuity between “Arctic Phantoms” and our earlier work. As for the lyrics…we’re not at liberty to discuss them, but if anyone figures out what they are, we’ll give you a free t-shirt.

Find out more than you ever wanted to know at our label site (including more track previews, links to buy etc), and stay tuned for more exciting announcements throughout the year. Starting next Friday, a limited run of 200 CDRs will sell for $5 at shows, and the album will be available digitally on Bandcamp (which means you could even get it lossless!) for $4.

Photos: Cursive @ the Ottobar, Caverns @ Sonar (2009.08.08)

I did some show hopping last Saturday, first catching DC’s premiere instrumental rockers Caverns in their opening set for MD legends Clutch. Spreading their wings on the Main Stage, Caverns seemed a bit lost on the big stage. They definitely work best in smaller venues, but thankfully their massive sound fills out any gaps left untrampled by guitarist (and sole kineticist) Kevin Hilliard’s frantic scrambling and freak-outs all over the stage. Their second time opening for Clutch, they’re no stranger to the tunnel vision that often dominates the minds of many in Clutch’s fanbase. But ever resilient to chants and heckles beckoning for Clutch, they chip away more and more fans as their sound grows ever more massive in their set.  Quite possibly the loudest I’ve seen them since Aural States Fest.

They are sure to be even louder tonight at the Hexagon with bastard cousin Solar Powered Sun Destroyer, locals Lexanne and headliners Night Horse.


Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage Caverns @ Sonar Main Stage

From there, an abrupt mood and style shift as I headed over to mope territory at the Ottobar with Cursive and Tim Kasher’s emotive yowls headlining, and the ever-effusive Love Language opening.  To be brutally honest, I was underwhelmed by Cursive.  Progressively more adventurous in their latest efforts, to me they still fall short of capturing lightning in a bottle that was The Ugly Organ, that mixture of catchy, sappy, and adventurous that feels just right.  Sad but true.  Kasher’s bubbling stew was plenty big, but lacked much punch.

By contrast, openers The Love Language proved even more effusive than my last time seeing them. They are 2 for 2 wowing me with phenomenal live performances and presence.


Cursive (Tim Kasher) @ the Ottobar Cursive (Tim Kasher) @ the Ottobar Cursive (Tim Kasher) @ the Ottobar Cursive @ the Ottobar Cursive (Tim Kasher) @ the Ottobar Cursive (Tim Kasher) @ the Ottobar Cursive (Tim Kasher) @ the Ottobar

Live Review: Caverns Video Release Party feat. A Place to Bury Strangers, True Womanhood @ Rock and Roll Hotel (2009.06.05)

IMG_3651.jpgCaverns @ Aural States Fest

We’d prepared you for weeks and finally, this past Friday, the loudest bands in DC and Brooklyn combined for a night of earsplittingly beautiful rock and roll: the Caverns Video Release Party featuring A Place to Bury Strangers and True Womanhood.

Read the rest…

Video Premiere: Caverns – “Dance You Son of a Bitch”



Download full video: MOV

The nature of music videos has been evolving just as fast, if not faster, than the nature of albums in the age of broadband and digital media. Now, even the most amateur videographer can pump out a video for a single of his/her band, damning any notions of style or quality to hell in favor for expediency, gimmickry and fast, viral PR.  But for Caverns’ first foray into this realm, things are very different.  Caverns have never been much for following the trends or current moods. Everything they do is meticulously planned, distinctive and shaped by discriminating taste and style, a watertight DIY ethos and a fun-loving outlook.

Now, they lay upon the world their first visual offspring, a music video for “Dance You Son of a Bitch” off their Kittens! EP.

The song is classic Caverns, a showcase of their signature modus operandi and lays plain their artistic manifesto. The razor-sharp, craggy edges of Hilliard’s scraping guitar riffs open the song with a shower of sonic shrapnel. Taylor’s suave, full-toned piano comes in and sets up fantastic melodic contrast, dripping into your ear like sweet golden aural honey. Hurt’s percussion comes in and ties it all together with a taut and coasting rhythmic bow, feeling almost relaxed if it wasn’t for the heft behind each hit. The spiraling, dueling melodies from guitar and keys build and build into an addictive riff before disintegrating. The video captures all this perfectly: tense and searching (but never ADHD-addled) camera work, alternatingly the smooth and the frenetic, prodigious and tasteful lighting (no surprise considering Caverns earlier live shows with extensive lighting) and was filmed and cut in-house by Taylor, who doubles as mastermind behind D dot Films.

This is a complete 1-2 punch when you consider Caverns has lined up Brooklyn-based wunderkinds A Place To Bury Strangers and fellow District-dwellers True Womanhood to play their video release show this Friday June 5 @ Rock and Roll Hotel.

In 1 week…

June 5: DDot Films and Aural States presents the Caverns Video Release Party w/ A Place To Bury Strangers, True Womanhood @ Rock from Greg Szeto on Vimeo.

Prepare yourself…


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