Cave Painting didn’t flinch. The studio lights were firing ten times a second and the cold colour rained down on their heads from the buckets above, yet the five members of the Great Escape’s most hotly-tipped Brighton band stood there and took it all without even blinking. It’s a good skill to have because there’s plenty coming right at them right now. Just a year after taking the name, Cave Painting have signed to a major, recorded an album, decided they’d rather not be on the major after all, picked up great reviews and headlined the Pavilion Theatre. If it keeps going like this the cameras are going to continue to flash but the boys look ready to take it, without flinching.
So where’s this excitement coming from? Put simply, Cave Painting are masters of that ethereal quality known as ‘atmosphere’. Angelic plaintive vocals soar above strings and simple melodies on latest single ‘Gator’. It’s widescreen and epic while retaining a fragility that lets you connect. ‘Rio’ meanwhile is as soft as a whispered lullaby with shimmering guitars and tiptoeing bass before gradually building up to a bittersweet fuzz guitar climax. Every song sounds like it’s being played in a stadium inside your mind. It’s epic but personal.
“I think naturally we’ve just found a space in the tracks, says singer Sam. “Our tracks are not really minimalist, but we definitely don’t overcrowd them. Nothing is there for no reason and everything has a place.”
“We don’t want to overdo that epicness,” adds Adam. “It has to be subtle and understated.”
“It has to be epic,” continues Sam, “but for a very natural reason.”
The band now have a handle on what they’re doing, having knocked out their album with apparent ease in a couple of sessions either side of Christmas.
“We’re really happy with it,” says Sam of their September-slated debut. “We’re lucky enough to have lived with it for a while, just because it came in on track and on schedule. “
“We’ve had time to consider which songs are going to go on it because we’ve got more songs than we need really,” says Adam. “We’ve got a big shortlist.”
It really does seem to be going so easily for the band. Signed after a handful of gigs as Cave Painting, they found themselves with a major label deal at a time when most big labels were being extremely careful about who they signed. So it’s slightly surprising to hear that they’ve spent a bit of time recently wiggling out of the deal, instead going it alone with Keith ‘Hideout’ Wozencroft, the man who signed them originally to Mercury. “We just really believed in his morals,” Sam explains. “Mercury is too big for us.”
“When you’re signed to a major label it’s a huge machine,” says Adam. “To get one thing done you have to go through eight different people. So things have become a lot simpler, the way we wanted it to be in the first place.”
It’s not the first bold move they’ve made. Before their Cave Painting incarnation they went by the name of Rob The Rich, the extremely popular tropical arm of the Communion clan. Things were going pretty well for them and then, poof, they disappeared. Despite the fact that Rob The Rich never seem to get mentioned in the mountains of press that Cave Painting are building up, they say they’re proud of those days.
“I think we just grew up,” says Jonathan, “That’s essentially it. You get a bit older and you grow out of things the same as anything else. We just matured and our music matured as well. It was a fresh start.”
They were going strong as Rob The Rich and released a debut single before heading into the studio to write more songs. But after a couple of months of writing and not playing shows they felt like a different band. They embraced it and locked themselves in the rehearsal studio for six months, emerging as a butterfly that the music industry was interested in before they’d even played a gig.
“I don’t think we would have had the experience to handle that if it was our first show as a band,” admits Sam. “So having that in our back pocket, when it came to crunch time, was great and we wouldn’t have succeeded if it wasn’t for that.”
“Cave Painting is more inward than anything Rob The Rich was,” Harry reckons. “We were concentrating on songs a bit more for ourselves, a bit more for our own enjoyment. Hopefully without being massively self-indulgent.”
By the time they get to The Great Escape they’ll have played their first gig abroad, and the rest of Britain seems to be falling into line too, with packed-out gigs in places like Manchester’s Church venue.
“Its always nice when you go so far away from Brighton and play to a full crowd,” says Adam.
“It was weird cos there was the crowd in front of us and then there were some bell ringers, but there was no noise.”
“And it was nice the vicar came in,” remembers Richard. “He was a pretty hip vicar. He wasn’t a normal vicar – he was selling ales down the front.”
“I was surprised by how much he swore,” says Adam. “In church as well! Wasn’t he from the same place as you, Richard?”
“He was yeah,” confirms Richard. “We high fived. It was cool.”
Cave Painting’s Great Escape gig will be their first at the festival, but being local boys they’ve had their adventures as punters. After failing to get into a roadblocked Dog Is Dead gig in the same slot that they’re playing in this year they instead hit Queens Hotel looking for action.
“There was meant to be a big party in one of the penthouse rooms,” recalls Adam. “It wasn’t very good, just people sat in the room listening to music on Teletext.”
“We tried to get on the roof,” says Sam. “We were determined to get to a door that would lead to it. We couldn’t get there so maybe this year we will finally find our way out there.”
It’s good to have ambitions. After all, everything seems to going Cave Painting’s way so easily that they’ll be running out of things to aim for soon. Success is coming for them and they’re not going to flinch.
LIVE: At Great Escape, Sticky Mike’s Sat 11pm
SINGLE: ‘Gator’, out now – download for free
Photo By Kenny Mc Cracken
Assisted By Matthew Ring, James Perrolls, Sam Hiscox and Matt Martin