Hospital stay didn't keep Cave Singers frontman down

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      It’s only been a few months since the Cave Singers’ frontman, Pete Quirk, was forced to trade in his tour bus for a tiny hospital room, but he’s already making light of the situation. “The new album will be about the Cleveland hospital system and how thorough they are,” the singer-guitarist jokes on the line with the Straight from his Seattle home.

      Quirk blames “three months of epic nights” for landing him in the ER. Understandably, he seems relieved to have the ordeal—and, hopefully, his binge-drinking days—behind him. After all, there’s work to be done. Despite having released No Witch in February, the band is already focused on its fourth record and is busy trying to jell with a new collaborator, Cameron Elliott.

      “It’s different playing with another person,” says Quirk of adding a fourth man to the creative process. “But this local Seattle guy is our friend, and I like hanging out with him, so we’ve got him playing some bass and some other stuff and it’s kind of groovier now. We’re broadening our horizons.”

      Bringing bass into the mix should be nerve-racking for a band that’s been so guitar-focused, but Quirk treats it as a minor footnote in the group’s four-year evolution. After recording No Witch with studio wizard Randall Dunn (Black Mountain, Sunn O))), Boris), the Cave Singers aren’t shy about experimenting with their throwback folk-rock vibe.

      “That was the most production we’ve had, working with Randall,” says Quirk. “Like in terms of someone else being, ‘Maybe you should try this?’ Or, ‘Okay, how about I get this guy to come down and play viola on this track, or I can get my friend to come down and play Rhodes [piano] on this.’ ”

      Dunn also helped the Cave Singers tap into the fired-up energy that fuels the band’s concerts. “No Witch is the closest re-creation of what we do live in front of an audience, and I think if you went to a show, then listened to that record, you’d get that crossover,” says Quirk, clearly excited to see his band moving forward.

      It’s hardly surprising, then, that the guy never considered quitting the Cave Singers when he was sucking back no-name applesauce on his hospital cot in Cleveland. Doctors can caution you about the pitfalls of having a profession that demands steady drinking, but what other job allows you to get close to a genuine legend—and maybe even do him a favour?

      “We got to play the Newport Folk Festival this year, which is where I saw Pete Seeger,” explains Quirk. “He was getting hounded by everybody but I wanted to get a photo with him to send to my mom, but I didn’t ’cause everyone was talking to him and he looked like he really wanted to leave. So my gift to Pete Seeger was to not ask him to get a picture with him. So I hope he knows that.”

      The Cave Singers play Venue next Thursday (September 22) as part of the Olio Festival.