Cavashawn
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Cavashawn

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Band Pop Rock

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This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Apr
23
Cavashawn @ Illinois College

Jacksonville, Illinois, USA

Jacksonville, Illinois, USA

Apr
23
Cavashawn @ Millikin University

Decatur, Illinois, USA

Decatur, Illinois, USA

Apr
19
Cavashawn @ Saint Mary of the Woods College

Saint Mary of the Woods, Indiana, USA

Saint Mary of the Woods, Indiana, USA

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Music

Press


Jesse Feister was calling from picturesque Santa Monica, Calif., speaking on the telephone while taking a break from recording an album that has been too long in coming.

The Cavashawn drummer was taking in the West Coast scenery as the Chicago pop-punk band was taking its time and doing it right. His California dreaming is becoming a reality.

"We've never been out here as a band," Feister said. "I've come out a couple times to see family and always thought about how great it'd be to come out here as a band."

A few months back, this didn't seem to be anything but wishful thinking. Cavashawn was halfway through recording an EP in Chicago, but things weren't going as smoothly as Feister and bandmates Scott Salmon (vocals), Chris Hellman (guitar) and Benton Kubicki (bass) had hoped.

So, they decided to drop everything and start over.

"We sat down and made a list of dream producers, guys who we wanted to work with the most," Feister said.

The band members hit the streets, contacting their top picks, and, to their slight surprise, heard back from every one of them. Atop that list was Jim Wirt, who produced some early Incubus tracks and has worked with genre superpower Jack's Mannequin. A few short weeks after speaking with Wirt, Cavashawn was in a Santa Monica studio, making the album on the group's own terms -- something that hasn't always been easy for the foursome.

"I think we had our act together, so to speak, earlier than most, but we'd work with people who wanted us to be something we aren't," Feister said. "Being in our genre -- a pop-based band -- lots of people wanted to package us to fit their ideals."

Whether in the form of meddling in the song-writing process or in the overall sound, Cavashawn believed there were too many other voices -- and not enough of their own.

"At some points, it just wasn't authentic," Feister said. "We passed on a lot of opportunities when we were 19, 20, 21 years old. We thought, '[Forget] that, we have time. Let's stick it out and make it our own way.'"

It hasn't been easy. The band lived on collegiate staples such as ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese, moved from Oxford, Ohio, to Chicago and rented a place together in Koreatown. With their communal back up against the wall, the band got a large dose of real-world motivation.

"It's literally like a marriage," Feister said. "I wouldn't be in a band with anyone else after everything we've been through. There's a certain energy when it is make or break, a certain level of angst and emotion creeps in and fuels some of the creativity."

That's not to say Cavashawn is music to shuffle your shoes and lament to. It's high-octane, melody-based pop with a punk edge that is best embodied in a frenetic live show, which can be seen tonight at Beat Kitchen. The band attacks its promotions with the same ferocity as a concert, peppering the town with flyers before every show and capitalizing on the newest telephone pole to poster -- the Internet. Band members are Twittering, Facebooking, MySpacing and doing everything they can to get the word out. They do this, as Feister points out, because the local music scene isn't a one-way street.

"I've always been quick to jump on trends and discover new ways to interact with fans," Feister said. "When you're on your own without a label, you've got to take every medium by storm. If you're not giving 100 percent and putting all you have into it, then why do it?"

It's that philosophy that's helped Feister and Cavashawn stick to their guns, do it their way and grow. That perseverance has them recording with the guy they wanted most.

Their new album is slated to be released in early spring, and Feister & Co. have big plans for 2009.

"We'd like to see more of the country, to become more of a force in the Chicago music scene and, above all, roll with the punches," he said.

For a group that's seen its share of setbacks -- and has overcome them -- these California dreams are a very real possibility. - Chicago Sun-Times


Like many modern musicians, local quartet Cavashawn relies heavily on the Internet to get its name out. Unlike most, however, the band approaches its online strategy as relentlessly as a competitive eater bearing down on a platter of chicken wings. Front man Scott Salmon typically spends the first couple hours of each day fashioning responses to accumulated MySpace messages (the group now has in excess of 29,000 “friends” on the social networking site).

“We try to make it personal with our fans,” says Salmon, phoning in from California, where the band spent a week earlier this month recording tracks for a forthcoming EP. “I’ll look on their profile to see what their interests are and try to mention something about that in my response. [The Internet] gives us the ability to communicate quickly and directly.”

Even when Cavashawn hits the road its fans remain in the loop, receiving frequent Twitter updates on everything from the group’s geographic location (“Just waking up in sun soaked California”) to its love of In & Out Burger (“It’s just a delicious place. Good burgers. What can I say?”). Indeed, the crew is so reliant on the ‘net that it’s little surprise to hear that the band members work side jobs in data entry whenever they need an influx of cash.

Otherwise, the four musicians, who moved to Chicago together in 2002 after graduating from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, dedicate virtually all of their time to rehearsing and touring, cramming themselves into a three-bedroom apartment in Albany Park to keep living costs to a minimum. “[Cavashawn] is a full-time job,” explains Salmon. “If we’re not playing shows, we’re in our [Ukranian Village] practice space 40 hours a week.”

With all that time spent in close proximity—both at home and at rehearsal—it helps that the band members, who first met at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, get along like brothers. Says Salmon: “It’s kind of sick how well we know each other.”

Initially, the four bonded over their love of the bands they discovered while raiding their parents’ record collections—the Beatles, Steely Dan and the Rolling Stones chief among them. In fact, an early incarnation of the group played strictly cover tunes. “We were 17-years-old and playing three hour sets of everything from Steppenwolf to The Who,” says Salmon. “It was painful.”

Once the group progressed to writing its own material, steeped in heartfelt lyrics and poppy guitar hooks, things gelled rather quickly. “They may not have been the greatest songs at first,” continues Salmon. “But even in those early days we knew it was the start of something.” - Chicago Tribune


Discography

"Cavashawn" (black) - March 2008
"Cavashawn" (white) - June 2009

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Photos

Bio

"If you're doing what you love with best friends, working hard at it and seeing it pay off, well, I don't think it can really get any better", explains Cavashawn's lead singer and songwriter Scott Salmon. As the Chicago 4-piece preps for the release of their new EP Cavashawn (White), the guys are enjoying themselves. It's confidence they've earned by putting the time in. It's an assurance that comes from spending dozens of months building a committed fan-base, years honing their musical craft, and a lifetime studying the rock greats.

"The Beatles are the foundation for everything, as far as we're concerned", explains Salmon, who spent hundreds of obsessive hours this past year polishing his songwriting chops. "We've worn the needle of our record player thin playing Meet The Beatles, Abbey Road and everything in between. They set an incredible standard for melody, stardom, and experimentation that never ceases to amaze us."

This is a quartet that knows their musical roots. Salmon's classic, infectious melodies, accompanied by Chris Hellmann's soaring guitars and the pounding, uber-tight rhythm section duo of Benton Kubicki (bass) and Jesse Feister (drums) create a modern pop/rock sound with a nod towards the past. While the music is clearly steeped in the tradition of great Beatles-worshiping rock groups like Badfinger, Cheap Trick, Oasis, and Weezer., this may or may not be lost on the growing hoards of teenagers pushing their way to the front at concerts in cities across the Midwest. After walking on stage to a sea of screaming girls at a recent headlining Chicago date, Salmon went as far as to jokingly introduce the band as "The Jonas Brothers".

But unlike the assembled "top-down" pop stars of the Playstation Generation, Cavashawn has made a name for themselves in the Midwest by becoming one of the hardest working, most effective social networking bands in the country, amassing a staggering number of fans across a variety of platforms, MySpacing, Facebooking, Twittering, and blogging their way to notoriety. The group is persistent and driven, and major media outlets are starting to take notice. MySpace recently named Cavashawn one of the top unsigned bands in the country, and their impressive work ethic has been praised by both The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times. Milwaukee's massive music festival Summerfest named them one of the festival's emerging artists of 2009, featuring them prominently on their widely distributed festival compilation disk.

While these are hefty accomplishments for what has barely been 12 months, Cavashawn's roots run a bit deeper. After years of cutting their teeth playing cities and college towns across the Midwest under various names, the band moved from college-town Ohio to Chicago in late 2007. They got to work immediately, recording over the winter and releasing the 4-song Cavashawn (Black) in March of 2008. After a year of toughing it out on the road and building fans across the Midwest, the music managed to find it's way to the West Coast. When their tunes caught the ear of Santa Monica-based producer Jim Wirt (Incubus, Hoobastank, Jack's Mannequin) the band headed to California and recorded their forthcoming EP Cavashawn (White). The result is an upbeat pop/rock gem full of sing-along choruses and big guitars, making it a perfect succinct summer soundtrack.

Despite a healthy buzz and what is undoubtedly a blossoming future in the making, Cavashawn seems content to keep working hard and enjoy the ride. "We started doing this together when we were teenagers in high school, too young to care about careers or where it would go. And somehow we're still at it", explains drummer Feister. "If you follow your gut, you never know where life will take you."