Philly’s CACCIATO comment on climate change and captivating new record “Retreat”

Listening to CACCIATO‘s debut album is like taking a leap back in time to at least a couple periods of music history. Amid the intensity of their reinterpretations of crunching riffs of screamo, there are long, meditative, ambient sections and more artsy experiments with multiple vocals that aren’t afraid to go a little crazy. CACCIATO’s work will absolutely appeal to those fans of experimental, imaginative and dramatic approach to post hardcore, and marks one of the more purely enjoyable, genuine record in a long time. This really is one not to be missed. Listen for yourself and scroll down to learn a lot more about the band, and see our conversation on the climate change and political components to modern punk bands.

CACCIATO is: bassist/guitarist/vocalist Dan Leinweber; vocalist Dylan Molloy; drummer Keenan Lyons, and guitarist/bassist/vocalist Kendall Sharpe, and guitarist/vocalist Vince Dejesus.

The album cover is three images of Grinnell Glacier taken over a 75 year period in Glacier National Park. These images exemplify climate change’s disastrous effects on the landscape.

Black and white live photos by Casey Kallen Photography.

Hey guys! First off, congratulations on your new record! I must admit that from the very moment I first listened to this album, my curiosity was aroused. I believe you have managed to create something quite unique within the well explored genre of post hardcore. Please walk us through the mentality that went into making this music.

Vince: Thanks for the kind words. We tried to find some balance between raw feeling and also trying to invoke some kind of calculated emotional response in anyone that listens. A lot of if came our own personal hells, its therapeutic.

Dylan: Once, when I was working on vocals I got the cops called because people thought there was someone in distress within my house. That’s now the level of anger and sadness I try to approach my work with, the standard I have to attempt to match.

Kendall: I set out to write music that was aggressive and dynamic. Calculated is a good word. Like controlled chaos, that’s my mentality.

Keenan: my goal was to craft something abrasive and heavy, but most importantly emotive. I can say for sure that all of us brought a considerable amount of dedication and passion to the final work.

What sort of energy did each of you guys contribute to the final work?

Vince: Keenan tracked all the drums live with Kenny Eaton at Mystery Ton Studios because we really wanted to capture the energy he brings to the shows at least in part on the record.

Keenan – This was the first chance I’ve had to record drums in a studio with the support of someone with a considerable amount of recording experience. It really made me feel like the music I play had a chance to live and breathe instead of being muffled in the mix.

Vince: Our guitars were overdubbed running through a literal wall of amps so that we could capture as many sounds as we could possibly want at once without interrupting the energy, Then Dylan threw down vocals.

Kendall: I tried to come in and play my parts with the same energy I do at shows and hope that translated to the record. Mostly I tried to stay out of Vince’s way. It was my first experience recording anything more than a demo.

Dylan: Living in Pittsburgh with all the other guys in the band living in Philly meant that I had to bring nonstop energy into weekend-long recording sessions, with short breaks for diners, sleep, and hot beverages with honey in them.

Vince: After that, I mixed and mastered the album over the final two months and definitely started hallucinating from sleep deprivation by the end.

Photo by Anthony.

Ok so, what were some of the biggest inspirations to form CACCIATO in the first place? How did this project come about?

Vince: Kendall and I lived together a block away from Dan and Keenan. We started jamming for fun and it kinda just organically fell into place.

Keenan The main inspirations for my playing in this band are personal as well as worldly happenings. I’ve always found music to be my best way to combat depression, anger, and a world of other shitty feelings.

Kendall – Guitar: For years I had been trying to start a group that could bridge the gap between bands like ORCHID or PG.99 and bands like COHEED & CAMBRIA, AT THE DRIVE-IN, or ALEXISONFIRE. I think we all had a similar, overlapping vision for what we wanted CACCIATO to sound like, so it works.

Dylan – Vocals: Kendall was the reason I joined. The guys were already a band before me, and asked me to be their vocalist so they could focus on more complex instrumentals, and I’m very thankful it worked out. I’d like to think it was mutually beneficial.

Vince: The thing that we’re all grateful for is that it happened organically and that all of us individually write and bring stuff to the table. Its not a thing where one of us does all the writing and we build off of that. Everyone’s voice is on Retreat. It’s more like we all throw a bunch of shit at the wall and see out what sticks. All of us have grown up playing music and have different influences and backgrounds to drawl from.

Compared to your other bands, how is the experience different this time around?

V: The most noticeable difference is that I forced myself to write parts that are way more complex than I had before. Trying to use big chords that have some weird counterpoint melodic lines in them is something I really like about bands like Caspian and Deafheaven.

D: This is the first time I’ve ever not played an instrument for a band. As a vocalist who lives far away from all the other members I have to practice in my car by listening to demos of practices the band records, in order to write parts and memorize lyrics. It’s interesting in how it creates both freedoms and challenges for me.

K: In a lot of my previous bands, the vision wasn’t as uniformly shared so there was a lot of conflicts. I think I also had an ego when I was younger that stopped me from compromising. This band is a lot of compromises, but they almost always result in a better final product.

Can you tell us more about your backgrounds? What first attracted you to hardcore?

K: In high school. I found a CD of KID DYNAMITE’s self titled album at our local record store. I had been listening to 80’s hardcore punk and 90s/00s pop punk for years already, but something about that aggressive and aggressively different sound connected with me immediately. I listened to half the CD in the store before I had even realized what happened. That was the same summer I discovered REFUSED’s Shape of Punk To Come. Those two records probably had the most influence on getting me into hardcore.

V: I grew up playing in punk bands and seeing shows, which lead me to pursue recording and video editing. I hope to open the doors to my own studio full time some day in the not super distant future.

D: I’ve mostly been into org-core, indie rock, and punk so cacciato is a little heavier than what I typically listen to. I think being in this band has given me a greater appreciation for hardcore as a genre and has pushed me to further explore other heavier genres as well.

How does CACCIATO fit into the Philly’s thriving punk scene? Can you help us draw a map of your local scene and tell us a bit about how you see it from the inside?

V: There really aren’t a lot of post-hardcore sounding bands in Philly that I can think of at the moment.

D: It seems like we’re a little niche compared to the groups we tend to play with based on my limited anecdotal experience.

V: As of late its seems to be much more of a garage punk rock kinda thing, with a bunch of riot grrrl and math rocky influences surrounding them. But its hard to generalize Philly musically, any given night you can see pretty much any type of music you want to somewhere in the city.

K: We’re definitely niche. There’s not a lot of people doing the stuff we’re doing, or even really interested in it in the city. Plus,we’re not really on the level to play with seriously recognized hardcore bands like PAINT IT BLACK or Soul GLO. The surrounding areas outside the city we’re lucky enough to play often seem to be more receptive to us, though.

Ok guys, back to the record, the cover art for the record presents images of Grinnell Glacier taken over a 75 year period in Glacier National Park. You stated that ‘these images exemplify climate change’s disastrous effects on the landscape.’ How does this message link to the lyrical content of the record?

K: When we were in the final stages of readying album for release, I got a new job working with the National Park Service doing research and writing about the various parks. It ended up really influencing the art direction on the album.

Lyrically, a lot of the album is about dissolution. For example: the last song on the album, Paintings For Dogs, is about painfully cutting ties with a long-time friend.

But there’s a little more word play in the relation of the album title and song titles. Cacciato is an Italian word that means “hunted.” We took it from a book from the 1970s called Going After Cacciato by Tim O’ Brien. It’s about a soldier who decides he wants out of the Vietnam War and leaves his platoon to walk to Paris. That soldier’s name is Cacciato. Additionally, Jaeger, the first song on the record, is German for “hunter.”

So you’ve got the word relation of Hunter, Hunted, and Retreat relating to the band name and the novel we took it from, while also having the relation of Retreat with the glaciers themselves, which are disappearing or “retreating.”

Sounds like a reallyb interesting plot actually! So, now that you have a president that believes the global warming is a great hoax, I guess it will be a bit harder to deal with the subject and combat our negative impact on nature. It certainly seems that there is a gap between scientific facts and public opinion when it comes to the real status on climate change. What are your sources of information and what do you base on when adding your own contribution into the education about climate change?

V: For me, the scientific community is the absolute source. I’m a huge follower of Neil Degrasse Tyson and Bill Nye both of whom are incredibly active regarding climate change. It’s surely not a mistake that part of Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot speech is sampled on our first record.

D: Ever since being shown an inconvenient truth, I have tried to become more and more conscious of environmental causes. I’ve tried to reduce my own carbon footprint and part of that was becoming a vegetarian, where I did a lot of research into how the meat packing and fishing industries are very large contributors to global warming that humanity has accelerated.

We are at a particularly trying time as we witness the transition between two presidents who have widely different views on the issue. While Obama may not have been perfect or as forceful with climate change as maybe progressives would have liked, new regulations and participation in the Paris climate accords were encouraging. Now this is all at risk and I’m more committed than ever to learning more and organizing to prevent what progress that has been made from being undone. We’ve talked about making our lyrical content more political than the songs on retreat contained, and I intend to follow through on that. The picking of the album cover seemed to solidify that sentiment and serve as a point where we agreed as a band that this issue is important to all of us.

K: It baffles me that there are people who deny man’s impact on the climate. Dylan said it very eloquently, and the only thing I can really add is that part of “contributing” to the education of Climate Change is shutting down any kind of conspiracy talk. I have a co-worker who doesn’t believe climate change is man made. He tried to talk to me about it one day and I just couldn’t. It’s real and it’s caused by society’s energy and technology use. End of story.

What can we do about it?

Dylan: On a personal level: Use less electricity, carpool/utilize public transportation rather than driving when possible, walk or bike more, eat less products that are associated with the fishing and meatpacking industries.

In a more political sense: protest new pipelines like keystone and Dakota access, urge congressmen to: do away with oil subsidies, maintain/expand solar and wind energy subsidies and tax incentives, invest in public transportation, uphold new emissions standards set through executive order.

Perhaps most immediately, do all you can to encourage others to actively protest Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier, to head the EPA. Cabinet positions matter and this is a possible and effective way to let the new administration know we will not simply lie down until the 2020 elections and will demand to have our will represented by our government.

You mentioned the Dakota pipeline issue. The struggle over the oil pipeline intensified in late 2016 with protesters joining the Native tribes who are obviously opposed to the project. We have similar situations around Bayou Bridge and the Trans-Pecos pipelines, which is the sign of these movements being extremely inspiring activism across the US. Do you feel regular citizens are starting to really care about environmental issues and it can overcome the great powers of your administration? There are signs of the ultimate decision lying with your new president, Mr Trump. How do you see this issue getting resolved?

Dylan: I feel since the no oil spill and the keystone xl pipeline, citizens have used the informational sources available to them to become more informed and more involved in environmental causes. We are seeing climate change being paid attention to much more seriously and intimately by people, and the continuation of this trend is seen through things like communities standing up against fracking, city and state governments doing things like banning plastic bags in favor of recyclables, further protest against new pipelines, and much more. Even companies are taking notice, where we’ve seen Exxon even declare that they agree climate change is a threat and they will work to come into compliance with regulations of the Paris climate accords (which are now at risk, please pressure lawmakers to continue to support these regulations!)

Vince: If I’m being quite honest I’m hopeful but don’t expect it to get better anytime soon. There needs to be a coinciding legal battle to really push the fight forward. The only way to fight greed and blatant disregard for humanity like this is by lighting their wallets on fire. Protests are super important for visibility, but inevitably these companies only respond to legal actions. Even that is a stretch more and more frequently. Some small solace can be taken from how ego-driven trump is. We’ve seen him shift policy based on backlash before and he’s gone from initially saying climate change was a hoax created by the Chinese to now saying he thinks climate change may be at least partially caused or at least accelerated by human activity. These half measures cannot simply be accepted. We must continue to push to change his mind through vocal dissent of any new policy or De-regulation that would endanger our planet further.

There are already hundreds of thousands people displaced from their homes because of climate change. It’s a fact. In this specific field, what do you think could play a huge factor in adding more people’s voices to the climate change cry and, in result, change the world?

Dylan: We’ve already seen irreversible damage from climate change, this is indisputably true. Our only hope now is to do everything we can to minimize future damage, and that will absolutely need to include stories and reporting of those who have already been effective. It is up to everyone to ensure we don’t move backwards as it means more and more erratic weather patterns, more natural disasters, and more rising of sea levels that will displace millions. It’s also in our best interest economically to avoid this damage to our infrastructure, housing supply, and will save us from relief efforts. It is absolutely a myth that environmentally friendly policy negates the possibility of economic growth. Decarbonization and economic growth have gone hand in hand in many states in our country for multiple years over the past decade thanks to new regulations and emissions standards for vehicles, buildings, and power plants.

Vince: We, as a civilization won’t have a choice soon enough unfortunately, it’ll be make changes or perish on the whole. Grim perhaps, but I’m certainly not the only one thinking it. I suspect the strongest tipping point will have to be the fact that renewable energy reduces our carbon footprint drastically, and ultimately is lucrative, so we will see traditional capital focused energy companies migrate to this avenue because of outside pressure and declining resource accessiblility. Those that do so early will undoubtedly shape the future. Look at Tesla if you want a good example. Also, “Ethical meat” will probably play a huge role too. Giving people an easy avenue to reduce resources used on animal farming by producing lab grown meats, and thankfully end animal suffrage.

As regards these issues and kind of back to CACCIATO, do you feel there is a political component to this band?

Dylan: Art is inherently political. The writers’ world views, whether consciously or not, inform the content they create. We may not have written many songs with overtly political lyrical content on this past album, but you can bet we will from now on and continue to use what little platform we have as musicians to speak towards injustices of all kind that we feel need to be acted upon.

Vince: I think early on we tried to avoid overt political messages, but you can’t possibly exist in this new order without a strong opinion on the subject. A few new songs we’ve been working on definitely have pretty in your face political messages and ideas behind them. We certainly don’t exist in a vacuum.

Kendall: We’re political through our actions. We won’t play shows with bands that express views we find abhorrent and we’ll speak out against people within our scene that we think hold racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic etc, views.

Alright, so lastly, have you continued to write new music now that the Retreat is out?

Dylan: Yeah, currently in the process of finalizing writing for songs that we are hoping to put out on an EP in the near future. We also would like to put out a split so our plan is to work on 6 new songs in total at the moment. We’ve already begun playing two of these new songs live.

Kendall: The new songs go in a lot of different directions and I think we’re having a lot of fun writing them.

Vince: Yeah, adding to that all of them so far are vastly different from one another but in a cohesive way (we think). We’re always stewing on stuff and like the two we play live have been written mostly since before we even released Retreat.

We’ve tried our hands at writing a two part complimentary pair of songs that we’re getting very happy with.

Any plans to support it on live shows? How do you guys go about touring?

Dylan: Given that I live in Pittsburgh and work a M-F 9-5 job we often only play weekend shows. We’ve been playing about 2-3 shows per month for a while, mostly in PA. Sometimes we are able to string together 2 or 3 shows in a row on certain weekends that the cards fall our way. We’re in the process of trying to get retreat released on vinyl and hope to do a late spring tour of about 10 days to promote that.

We do still play sets that largely comprise of content that is on retreat.

Kendall: Once the vinyl is pressed we’re going to do as much giging and touring as we can to support it. We all have jobs or in my case, are looking for a job, so we do what we can.

Vince: Totally we play songs and promote it locally now, and we’ll definitely do it much more so once we have physical wax copies. We just got added to Spotify, Apple Music, etc. too so that’s exciting and something to talk about at gigs.

Cool! Ok, so I gues that’s it guys. It was a pleasure talking to you. Please feel free to wrap it up with your final message and take care!

The only last thing we’d like to say is thanks for taking the time to talk to us and for listening!

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