Interview: The Long Dark Road
Jeremy Cavan, the heart of Canadian punk/hardcore/metal band The Long Dark Road, shines a light on the difficult journey to deliver his self-titled album
Heya Jeremy! It’s so good to touch base with you about your highly anticipated self-titled album which arrives April 7th. It’s your debut record as The Long Dark Road and you mix a potent blend of musical genres on your songs. Before we go into that, can you please list who is in the band and what instruments you play?
On the album it’s Jeremy Cavan (vocals and guitar), Rufus Cavan (bass), Toby Cavan (drums), and Vanin Ferrall (guitar). The touring musicians are Jeremy, Rufus, Liam Frith (guitar), and Quinn Henderson (drums).
You’ve described your sound as “blackened Punk”. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Well, the music incorporates blast beats and a lot of drone with the messages and melodies more likely to be found in punk. I think the attitude in general is of DIY where everything stems from punk, but the sound is darker. Basically punk with blast beats – haha.
I’m also hearing post-hardcore, post-rock, and progressive rock elements in your punk/black metal music. Why did you decide to explore all of these genres and not narrow it down to one style?
Well compared to my other band, (U) the band, this project felt pretty homogeneous. I didn’t take the same degree of risks that I usually would. That being said, I wanted it to crush, so anything that would be angry and heavy was on the table. The degree of specification in music has become really crazy; the most minute differences dictating entire genres. People really hate on diversity in albums these days. That has been a constant complaint from our critics; that we aren’t focused enough. It makes me wonder if I should just call us a rock band.
Jeremy, you are the core of The Long Dark Road, and it has been a long, hard road for you to get to the point of releasing this album. What aspects of your life’s journey led you to form this band?
General crumminess. Between a strange amount of suicide and death of my friends and divorce, losing my home and custody of my daughter-the year, it was a bit trying. I wasn’t able to play as much as I used to because, you know, people get old and get jobs and families, so (U) the band wasn’t playing as much. So I did some tour work for Arkham Awaits and then realized I need to just start writing more with more bands, that way I was never on hiatus. It’s hard to find people willing to go through the work to do such a thankless job. The Long Dark Road burned through a lot of great musicians in this first year; that’s the way she goes. I’ve always want to do a really heavy project and this was definitely the right time for that.
What were the inspirational seeds that brought The Long Dark Road album to fruition?
I was really into Deafheaven when I decided to make this band; like hugely! So blasting and shoegaze were definitely on the table from that. Generally beyond that, the other aspects have been around as long as I can remember. Some of the parts were bucket list stuff; I’d always wanted to do a dual guitar solo, I’ve always wanted to hear hardcore that wasn’t just screaming, and a lot of “What if we did this?” sort of thing.
What themes do you delve into with your lyrics? Is what you write a way of processing (and maybe moving on from) your specific past, a way of tackling deep social/economical/political issues (poverty, power, discrimination, illness), or a way of connecting with others who have faced such adversity in their lives? Or maybe all of the above?
There is no doubt that I write to keep sane. I’m compelled toward it; the less I do, the worse I feel. I feel like most socially conscious white men should feel; awful. I know I’m not responsible in any direct way for regressive politics, sexism, homophobia, and racism, but I feel terribly guilty about it. I can’t participate in social media because it just piles on the guilt. People also have very little sympathy for those who are different than they are; it makes for a lot of finger-pointing.
As far as connecting, I’ve always felt a really deep connection to other people’s music. It is a mild comfort to know that you are not the only person who has experienced something. I would be so awkwardly happy to know that someone else identifies with me; hopefully it would be positive.
From what I’ve read, you were going to record the album with the renowned Steve Albini at one point. Why did that fall through?
We didn’t do it because our drummer’s arm failed and that was why we had to cancel. That was all the money I had to my name, so by the time he was better, I was broke and living on his couch – Haha.
You ended up recording, mixing, and engineering the album yourself to riveting effect. Where did you record and who contributed to the process?
My friend Tav, who played in Jerrycan and Sinister Trailerpark Magic with me, started a studio, so I started working there periodically and he lets me use the place. I think he’s calling it Jerrycan Studios or something. Anyway, we were the first project ever in his studio and I have a lot of experience in analog recording (I suck at digital), so it seemed like the right thing to do. It ended up being a really fun, albeit thoroughly consuming, experience. If anyone needs recording, we’re super cheap!
This project was my first attempt at composing, so there really wasn’t much input beyond people saying “That isn’t possible” and me rearranging to make something work. Usually I write and then get together with other musicians and shatter the song and recreate it with all sorts of influences. I should say that my collaborators all spent hundreds of hours working on these songs and that the music would have sucked horribly without them. Such ridiculously awesome and talented dudes. It’s a good thing I have brothers – Haha.
Cool! Are you based in the heart of the metropolis of Toronto or on its outskirts, or further out from the city? Did your environment directly impact the overall mood of the album?
We all live in Guelph just outside Toronto. The recording studio was in the middle of nowhere; Belwood, Ontario. It’s an old farm that hasn’t been renovated since the seventies and looks the part. I spend a lot of time in Toronto, Guelph, and Ottawa, flopping from couch to couch, trying not to overstay my welcome. So I’d say that constantly changing environment would definitely affect the sounds. Analog is also just darker in general than digital, so that would also have an impact.
You and your bandmates are no strangers to the music scene and have been part of other bands before The Long Dark Road. Which bands and are any of them still running?
(U) the band is my absolute favorite project and I hope it never stops. Got Social is recording their first album this Monday. It’s a skate punk thing for people who want to sing! Arkham Awaits is no longer around. Jerrycan (probably my most successful project) no longer exists, but really (U) the band is its continuation. Sinister Trailerpark Magic is no longer a band; we just took the band name and made it into the name of the first (U) the band album (legal issues).
I’m not sure if this is correct, but did you tour throughout Canada last year, and if so, were you playing all of the songs off the forthcoming album, and maybe other numbers? What were the gigs like?
We toured Canada with both (U) and The Long Dark Road at the same time, which was a bit exhausting, but saves on costs. TLDR was playing the new album pretty much in its entirety; we were touring with two sweet bands filled with sweet dudes called Like Animals and These Colours Don’t Run. The gigs ranged from great to nobody; every night was a blast for me, but that can bring some of the guys down for sure. Touring is not glamorous and you hemorrhage money.
I can’t help but ask, since you live in Canada which borders the US, if the shockingly awful results of the US elections and the current divisive and destructive President and administration have had any detrimental repercussions for you?
Other than having to hear about it on social media? Not yet really. It will though. I remember thinking that Hillary Clinton was the wrong choice for the Democrats, not because she is a bad politician, but I thought (the whole world thought) that Bernie Sanders was going to finally change the US to be more socially progressive, which would really make Canadian politics a little easier. I think that Canada uses the excuse of American influence to avoid a lot of social responsibility, especially on the environment.
I’d like to point out that Canada and the US both utilize a first past the post electoral system, which is directly to blame for our electoral results. I know that in the US, Hillary Clinton received more votes than Trump and yet look who’s in office. In Canada we have Justin Trudeau who seemed really promising at first, but now just seems like Harper on steroids. He was elected even though 61% of Canadians voted for someone else.
You’re playing your album release show on April 14th with special guests Scorn. What else do you have planned for the (near) future?
We’re going to hit the road in September for sure; hopefully do Canada and Europe if possible. We shall see. We will also be doing a new (U) the band album and a project yet to be named by Toby. Should be a killer year!!