The Cave Singers’ Pete Quirk Introduces A Benevolent Spirit Named Naomi
By Cynthia Orgel; Photos by Kyle Johnson on April 26, 2013
Though their moniker suggests they perform underground or in seclusion, the Seattle indie folk four-piece, The Cave Singers, have been playing in venues all over the country this spring, in celebration of their newest LP, Naomi, released in March.
This is precisely why on a Wednesday morning in April, the New Jersey-bred singer/multi-instrumentalist, Pete Quirk, finds himself in an eerily-‘80s Hilton hotel room in Tucson, Ariz.
“It’s like Magnum, P.I. designed it or something,” he observes, after another successful night of performing Naomi alongside Marty Lund (drums), Derek Fudesco (guitar) and the band’s latest addition, bassist Morgan Henderson (Fleet Foxes/Blood Brothers).
When asked how The Cave Singers’ fans have been responding to the fourth full-length—the follow-up to 2011’s indie blues album No Witch—in a live setting, Quirk’s reply is concise and telling: “Pandemonium.”
But when he speaks of his own experiences onstage, Quirk gushes with ease.
“Recording our record is great, but there’s something that really happens when we play live, which is kind of what keeps the band going in a lot of ways,” he admits. “As we’ve been doing this for six or seven years, there’s just a lot of electricity and energy going on that we get back from the audience…it [also] feels very free and liberating, and obviously it’s celebratory and sometimes [even] transcendent for me—that happens mostly when [The Cave Singers and the crowd] are sort of in this together, so there’s like this unanimous spirit.”
This time around, the “unanimous spirit” has a name: “Naomi”. According to Quirk, “there were a few alternate titles, but once [Naomi] sort of materialized, I thought that was a good title,” particularly for its poetic sonic appeal, he says.
This incorporeal being—Quirk doesn’t even know anybody named Naomi—maintains a wide spectrum of sonic presence throughout all 12 of the album’s carefully crafted tracks, from those that are thumping and buoyant (such as “Canopy” and “No Tomorrows,” the latter of which Quirk boasts “I’m done with sorrow”), to those that are wild and fierce (“It’s a Crime,” “Early Moon”), in addition to delicate and somber songs like “Evergreens.”
The album’s commanding, aforementioned temperaments reflect trying times, according to Quirk.
“With the record, for me there was sort of this level of attainment of other people; there are different romantic relationships [and] trying to attain happiness through them. [Naomi] was almost sort of like this spiritual word that represented that pursuit, but also maybe letting go of that pursuit on some level too, and just sort of letting things be the way they are.”
He continues, “There’s like a fantasy of this perfect person, or this perfect way, or this perfect way things are going to be—if you could get this one thing, or this one person, or this one way of life—which to me doesn’t seem like that’s how things are going to work out. But I also just like the name, and the record seems like it’s for that [fantasy] person that exists in many other people.”
Given the solidity of Naomi, and the philosophies elegantly infused throughout, it comes as no surprise that Quirk is unable to choose a certain track that he cherishes most.
“For this new record, I really look at it as a whole—more than I ever have [with earlier albums],” he says. Quirk then compares the LP to a timeline, and how by singling out one track—or one life event—that seemingly small act has the power to change the course of the entire album (or the totality of a person’s life).
“To take one [song] out would be like, ‘okay, here is the sort of timeline of my life, and I’m just going to remove this one time that I broke my nose or fell in that lake or whatever—like, would it still be the same if [you] took out this time you went to your brother’s wedding?’ That seems a little heavy-handed, but I do feel that way about the record. There are all these big snapshots. I’m [just] glad that everything’s in there.”
And what does Quirk hope listeners take away from Naomi? That The Cave Singers aren’t the only ones who can be uplifted by her presence.
“[Whether] someone is having a hard time or having a great time, if [Naomi] seems to fit in as a soundtrack to them and they gain some sort of joy from that, that’s all I could hope for.” F
The Cave Singers perform at the Bootleg Theater tonight: Friday, April 26, supported by Bleeding Rainbow. For more information, click here.