In the year 2011, it’s pretty rare to hear of a band that’s been pushing heavy and doing anything they can do make it while still playing music. Caretaker has been doing this music thing since 1998 and with no sign of ever stopping; Seb, Sam and Harry, are ready to lace up those sneakers, strap into the seats of a very tough vehicle and never look back. After several line-up changes and struggles that only the three members know, it’s been a hard road but at the end of the day, they still believe in this music scene and support it because they love it. Recently, we sat down with Seb, one of the two original members still left in Caretaker and he had some pretty interesting things to say about several subjects.
First off, let's talk about Caretaker and the struggle it's been throughout the years, overall. How has the line-up changes and everything else helped you guys progress to where Caretaker is today?
Well initially we started as a four piece, and we were making discordant post-rock, but while Harry and I wanted to get more "mathy" and heavier, our drummer's heart wasn't in it, so we ended up parting company.
We soon got a new drummer in the form of Reuben front man Jamie Lenman, who was an old friend of ours. Despite all being on the same page musically, his commitments to Reuben sometimes left us weeks, even months without practicing during which time we'd end up re-writing bits of songs, or scrapping them, and just generally not getting a lot done. Jamie decided for the sake of Caretaker that he had too much going on, and left the band (and soon after disbanded Reuben too). Soon after, our guitarist John Hibbird decided he was also going to call it a day so that he could go and see the world.
Harry and I decided that we would carry on and the first step along the way was to recruit a new drummer. We asked my cousin Sam, who was 19 at the time, to try out and we haven't looked back since. After a few practices we decided that we could carry on as a three piece, and since then we've found it a lot easier going. We're writing songs a lot more efficiently now, and with Sam's busier style drums, plus me and Harry pushing ourselves, the sound is more dense and richer now than it's ever been!
As long as you guys overcome stuff and keep pushing is all that counts. Along with the members leaving and finally being happy with the line-up, what's the next couple moves for Caretaker? Do you even know or does the band just go from one step to the next?
I don't think we ever really plan too much. We've never been a full time band; Harry and I both work full time and he's married, and I will be too in a couple of weeks (!), and Sam's busy being a lazy student. Caretaker is what we do in our spare time, because we enjoy it. I think that lack of pressure is why we've been going so long - there's none of the usual stresses of constantly being on the road which often causes bands to split up or hate each other.
That being said, we have an album recorded called "Providence" which we will be releasing early next year. We're super pleased with how it sounds, so I expect there'll be a full tour of the UK to accompany it's release.
We've also got a lot of material for another album already written. It'd be great if we could get that recorded by the end of 2012 but life does seem to get in the way with us!
Congratulations on the upcoming marriage! So, how long have you guys been together and how did you two love birds meet?
Oh, thanks! We've been together for about 7 years. We met through some friends that I used to work with. She's not a big fan of rock music, but she's very supportive and will come to see us play sometimes (although the heavier the line-up the less likely she is to come!). It seems to be a recurring theme that everyone in our families asks if Caretaker are going to play at the wedding reception. No. We're not. I don't think my Grandmother is ready for that!
Again, congratulations and hopefully she'll come around to making more shows. So, with you being in Caretaker for years now, where did your musical journey begin and what kind of music did you grow up on as a child?
Well, to put it in context, I was born in 1980, so I was a teenager through the 90s when I was getting into music. Back then I was more into indie or grunge. Bands like Nirvana, Pixies and Radiohead were my staples. The Britpop scene was huge while I was at school, and while there's some stuff from those days that still sounds good (Longpigs, Elastica), a lot of it was pretty silly and twee.
I think my first dalliance with the metal genre was "Troublegum" by Therapy? I must have been 15 or 16 and I remember getting home from the record shop and putting it on in the living room while my mum was reading the paper. By the time it got to the first chorus of "Knives" ("I'm gonna get drunk, come round and fuck you up") I'd decided that my mum probably wouldn't appreciate it, and I went off and listened to it in my room instead. I was pretty considerate for an angsty teen! It wasn't until my early twenties that I started to get into "metal". Bands like Tool, Isis, Botch and Mastodon were my gateway.
On the other side of the previous question, what's your opinion on the riots happening in the UK right now and has it effected shows at all? If so, in what ways?
The riots are crazy. My own personal opinion is that the people who are rioting have no cause. They're just fuck ups who have nothing better to do with their lives that to break stuff because they feel they can. There's been a lot of debate about whether it's because of declining family standards, lack of access to further education, whether it's a race or class issue, and I really couldn't tell you the answer. I don't think there's any justification for their actions though, innocent people have been suffering because of it and it's wrong. Any cause behind the riots has been lost due to mob mentality.
We've not been personally affected, as we're on a brief hiatus (due to my impending wedding), but I've seen various gigs that friends are playing have had to be canceled. There was a CD warehouse that got torched as part of the riots that had a lot of stock for various indie labels, which was a real shame.
I couldn't agree with you more. Self-centered people are all over the place, sadly. To this date, have you always had the same favorite records or have they switched up over the years? Also, what are your favorite records of all-time and why?
My favorite albums are usually the ones that have been with me for years, that I can listen to over and over or the ones that introduce me to a new way of doing things. Off the top of my head: “Inutero” by Nirvana, “Ok computer” by Radiohead, “Oceanic” by Isis, “Spiderland” by Slint, “Low” by David bowie, “Times of Grace” by Neurosis, “Luxury Plane Crash” by Scarfo, “The White Album” by The Beatles & “End Hits” by Fugazi.
That’s what I’m talking about, you had me at Radiohead and David Bowie, sir. I’ve been asking all the UK bands I interview and they all seem to have different answers when I ask. Being a band from the UK, how do you feel about the metal scene in your neck of the woods? Also, how could it be improved?
Well, in our immediate neck of the woods, Winchester, there isn't really much of a music scene to write home about, let alone a metal scene, things have really picked up in London over the last few years in the DIY scene though. There's a glut of promoters and bands putting on cheap or free entry shows with fantastic line-ups from the underground scene. It's a really exciting time and we've made a ton of friends over the last couple of years because of it. In fact that's how we met Mike from Thumpermonkey who provided the guest vocals on our split EP with Undersmile.
That split is ready to be unleashed. So, I’ve been wondering for the last couple months, where did the name Caretaker come from or did it just stem from you guys talking about things one day?
It's from the play of the same name by Harold Pinter. "The Caretaker" was one of the pieces I was studying at college for my Drama A-Level when we first started the band. It's a pretty weird and dark play about two strange brothers who bring a homeless guy to their apartment. It's full of choppy dialogue that's frequently interrupted, sudden violent outbursts and long pauses. It just kind of seemed appropriate! We called our first EP "(Pause)" after the stage direction that appears so frequently throughout the text.
Interesting. I'll have to look into that. So, coming to the end of this interview, I have two more questions for you, Seb. If you could tour anywhere in the world and tour with any three bands, Who would it be and why?
I'd love to tour in Japan, I think that'd be nuts. It's such a different culture over there I'd just like to see it full stop.As to who I'd most like to tour with…hmm…I've always thought Shellac would be good fun to be on the road with. I saw them three days straight once and there sets were completely different each day, they're such an entertaining band to watch. I'd love to play some gigs with Envy, they're a real experience to see live, the intensity is almost heartbreaking. And lastly, how about The Melvins. I bet we'd come away with some pretty crazy stories if we toured with those guys - If we survived the experience!
Well Seb, thanks a ton for doing this interview and we wish you guys the best in the future. We'll also be watching for future stuff from Caretaker so keep in touch. Lastly, is there anyone you would like to thank or bands you would want shout out for being with you throughout the years?
No problem, it's been fun! Massive thanks go out to Undersmile who are on the split with us and Thumpermonkey Lives! for lending us their singer for a day. Also to Umair at Blindsight Records for sorting the whole thing out.
I also want to say some thanks to some of the fantastic DIY promoters out there. If you're in a band in the UK, check some of these guys out: Rip This Joint, End of Radio, Genin, Jimmy Evil, Li Grand Zombi to name but a few. As for bands, check out Silent Front, One Unique Signal, Ivys Itch, Ternary, Orders of the British Empire, Three Colours, November Fleet, Djevara, It Often Takes a War and Art of Burning Water.