INTERVIEW: CHILLING IN NYC BAND CAVEMAN’S HIDEAWAY

By FAITH ANN YOUNG
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Left to Right: The men of Caveman: Jeff Berall (sitting), Stefan Marolachakis, Matthew Iwanusa, Sam Hopkins(sitting) and Jimmy Carbonetti.

Every artist or band or family needs a place to retreat: a cave-like shelter where they can create, dream, philosophize, and drift away from the burdens of reality.  Virginia Woolf called it a “Room of one’s own.” For Hemingway, it was any bar that had a desk to write on and a bar with flowing alcohol. The Stones loved the South of France and their farms in England. In LA, artists tuck into caverns in Silverlake or look-outs in the canyons.

For the NYC band Caveman, it’s only appropriate to have a cave of their own . . . and it’s Jimmy’s Guitar Shop on Orchard. To get there, you’ve gotta go through the slim doorways of the hip clothing store By Robert James, past the tailors suits, up the winding stairs to the second floor – a long, vertical room filled with sawdust and smoke, where Jimmy Carbonetti – Caveman’s guitarist and handy guitar carver, chisels away at wood, while vinyl spins in the corner and, outside basic indications of “day” vs. “night”, time generally flies free. One of such days, we joined the band, sat around, snapped some shots, and asked the lead singer Matt Iwanusa a couple questions.

LAC: What’s an average day like at Jimmy’s guitar shop for Caveman?

Matthew Iwanusa: Well I guess it’s different for all of us. Jimmy’s usually working on a guitar. Our buddy Mas Hino is as well. We mostly listen to records and chat about life. Some cool people come in to drop off guitars for repair or just to hang and we take it from there.

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LAC: How did you decide to record your latest album (self-titled) up in Matt’s grandma’s barn in New Hampshire? Why escape to nature? Did grandma help with the recording process?

MI: We actually didn’t record the record there. We went up to Jimmy’s grandmothers house for just a weekend trip and jammed in a barn. It was really fun.

LAC: Heard you jammed all in the dark. Who first proposed that?

MI: We all like to set a vibe when we record. Getting the lights right has a lot to do with that. You can focus on the music and imagine weird things.

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Jimmy carving away and making it look easy

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LAC: Who is the girl in “In the city, she came around at the right time?” And how did you come to cast Julia Stiles in your video?

MI: It’s more about who you meet when you are feeling depressed about past relationships. People come into your life for the right reasons and the right time.

LAC: Would you say most of your songs on this most recent album are love songs. Or lost love songs? 

MI: Yes. Definitely.

caveman11Left to Right: Jimmy Carbonetti, Stefan Marolachakis, Jeff Berall, Sam Hopkins, Matthew Iwanusa.

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LAC: Your first album, CocoBeware, was said to be an allusion to art – and rhymes with a name of a pro wrestler. Why did you guys choose to have a self-titled album this time around? Is this a statement of you guys reaching a new level of seriousness about your music?

MI: It felt like us right when we finished it. We were being extremely honest and had done so much together for 2 years, so it felt right to name it after us.

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LAC: You’re are headed to LA in September. Where do you crash while you are here?

MI: Last time we stayed at the Standard. But we got a lot of friends out there. It’s fun to stay with them and catch up.

LAC: Any go-to fast food joints you hit up?

MI : Well, we obviously go to In-N-Out. But we’re open to anything.

LAC: Do you feel like a stranger when you come here? Too much wide open space and strip malls compared to NYC?

MI: LA has always been good to us. I never feel like a stranger.

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LAC: Name your ideal friends-start-a-festival line-up.

MI:

Caveman

Sinkane

War on Drugs

The Walkmen

Har Mar Superstar

Rogue Wave

Pure Bathing Culture

And the French Kicks Reunite.

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LAC: What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened onstage with you?

MI: I sang the opening of a song out of tune. Jeff’s bass fell off and made a huge noise before our set at ACL. Stefan fell off the stage during a set in LA.

LAC: What’s Caveman’s current motto?

MI: Are we not men?!
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{ PHOTOS & TEXT: Faith-Ann Young }
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