Seaside Caves on their brand new, self-titled EP and evoking emotions

The first time I heard Seaside Caves was on a compilation of Asbury Park bands called The Vinyl Heart. They stood out from the other guitar-oriented bands with their hypnotic groove—if the other bands were like waves crashing, Seaside Caves were more like the tide methodically rolling back.

The influences of the 1980s are apparent but there is something Velvet Underground in “Heroin”-mode about them too. The guitars don’t screech and the vocals never get as frantic as Lou Reed pining for a life on the darkened seas, no—what they share is the ability to create a trance-like state with just a few chords. The songs fade in and pick you up, cast their spell, and then gently put you back down.

Regretfully I missed them at the Vinyl Heart release party but finally caught them a few months later at the kick off show of their spring tour at the Watermark in Asbury Park. The Watermark isn’t necessarily known for hosting shows, but the venue fit them perfectly. If you’ve never been there, it’s kind of like someone knew their millionaire uncle was going out of town for the weekend and decided to break into his ocean-front townhouse and throw a party. Under red and white lights with the Atlantic Ocean framed behind them, they drifted through their set, each song sliding seamlessly into the next.

The band is back in Asbury Park on July 16th to celebrate the release of their self-titled EP available on 10” vinyl from Chunksaah Records. The next night they will be at the Starland Ballroom with the Bouncing Souls, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and the Screaming Females. I recently spoke with lead singer and songwriter for the band Todd Gustav Wacha about how they got together, their sound, releasing the EP on vinyl, and what to look for next from them.

You guys have such a specific sound, it seems hard to think you got together through want ads. Did you all know each other before starting a band?

We definitely didn’t get together through want ads. Those days are long gone. I’d rather play with a drum machine and tape loops then go down that road again. Seaside Caves began like that and then became a two piece shortly after with me and a drummer, a friend of many years. We had a falling out and he left the band. I was honestly relieved. I mean we totally had a sincere connection, yet he just didn’t have the same vision as I did musically.

I’ve always craved someone more innovative and focused and that’s when I met James. Sparks flew from the first few notes we played and it immediately took off from there and we’ve become friends as well. You can learn a lot about someone quickly when playing together. I couldn’t be happier. I’ve tried to get Matt in the Caves for a while but he was always busy with other projects. We went through several different guitarists and synth guys, all whom I am fortunate to have had in the band. There were no bad breakups or anything like that, we just wanted more of a constant line-up to move forward and the older bandmates understood my decisions. We wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for them, so I give credit where credit is due.

But James knew Matt also and got in his ear. We played him some of the demos we were working on and eventually he accepted the offer. I saw Matt play keyboards in a band years ago and had a longing desire to work with him. He gets it completely—musically, socially, politically, and he is fun to be around. He makes me want to be a better person. I would say the three of us connect in some weird way that brings out the unusualness in us all, and it works.

So you do most of the songwriting?

Everyone has been bringing more to the table over the last year. I write the songs and they kind of decorate them and help arrange things. James is kind of the muscle behind us. Matt also brings a lot of the visual to fruition. And then we brought Ryan into the band to fill in the sound for a few of our bigger shows. He fit right in. He listened and applied himself appropriately. I’ve known Ryan for a year or so. We did a Stone Roses set for a Halloween show with some other fellas—Ryan on drums and me on guitar. So I’ve worked with him before. Matt, James, and Ryan all hang out together, so he naturally got the call. He joined us for our spring tour and everything went smoothly.

When you’re recording do you take into account how the songs will play live?

I don’t think about if we’ll be able to perform the songs live or not when recording. Most of them we’ve been playing anyway. Some songs I feel don’t have to be played live. Usually if I can play the entire song on an acoustic guitar and sing it, then it can be played live somehow. It just takes some work and arranging.

The design for the EP came out so cool—what lead you to release it on vinyl? Was it just an aesthetic choice or did it have anything to do with sound?

I’m still not sure how this went down. I know someone from Chunksaah likes our band and they wanted to release the EP on vinyl. I am very pleased and thankful for what they have done. So thank you Chunksaah. Matt did the sleeve design and Chunksaah chose the colors of the vinyl, which are very cool.

I grew up listening to vinyl, so obviously that has become part of what I do. The songs on vinyl have their own character and are a bit more dirtier. And plus…records are cooler than digital downloads. You get to actually hold the product.

I agree, and I think the packaging and art really captures the vibe of the band which is a dying art form in and of itself. Do you think that helps draw people in?

Yeah, the artwork is cool. Matt and Chunksaah really did a great job with that. I connect with it emotionally. And I like to think of ourselves as an art-rock band, so it’s not always necessarily about the music. The visual side is equally as important to us and people are drawn to that for sure.

In addition to the release of the EP you guys have been prominently featured on some compilations this year like the Vinyl Heart and the upcoming Everyone Knows I Plays Favorites Vol. 2. How did those projects come about? Seems like a great way to reach a new audience.

Those comps came about from people who make records that wanted us to be on vinyl. Chunksaah again, was involved with them. I know Zak Kaplan (Smalltalk) had the idea of the Vinyl Heart project and came to us. We were glad to accept the offer to reach a new audience. He put it together nicely and we did a show Valentine’s Day Eve with all of the featured bands, which was fun. The upcoming compilation (Everyone Knows I Plays Favorites Vol. 2) has bands that played this year’s Home For The Holidays Shows (Bouncing Souls). It will feature a live track from several of the bands. So yeah, we are stoked to be on both of them.

So what’s next? Are you working on a full-length follow up?

As far as the new material, I’m not sure when and how that will be released. We have a ways to go. The basic tracks are done. We’re working with Pete Steinkopf (Bouncing Souls) at Little Eden in Asbury Park. I love the enviorment and Pete is super cool to work with. So far everything sounds amazing. The new stuff is a bit more decadent than the EP. Lusher and fuller.

Ryan will be laying down guitar tracks on the stuff we are currently working on, which we hope to be a full length. I played a lot of the instruments on the EP and I have no problem doing that again, yet I’d really like to have everyone bring their own ideas and style to the band on this record. It’s always a learning process which helps me become more of an understanding and sharing person.

And that’s what it’s all about to me in the end. Our sound is all of us sharing and evoking emotions with each other. It’s kind of like a spiritual kiss.

Seaside Caves will be at Asbury Lanes on July 16 to celebrate the release of their EP. Doors at 8pm, $10. They will also be at the Starland Ballroom July 17 with Bouncing Souls, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and Screaming Females. For tickets you can go here.

Seaside Caves Facebook | Bandcamp

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