Ohio based 90s infused post hardcore act BRAIN CAVE formed in the winter of 2017/2018, starting with Matt and Michael Bellis, who had worked together in a kitchen and had similar musical overlap. They added Josh Snyder (an old friend of Matt’s) on bass shortly after, and it clicked.
We didn’t have a gameplay for the sound right away, which is evident from our demo, but I feel like semi melodic, hardcore adjacent, confused rock has been our vibe throughout our output. We love writing music and have been continuing during quarantine, so we have a few new songs to record at the end of June. I do not want to slow down at all. We would love to play out and support this album, but with the Covid live music situation still looming, we figure we’ll just press on and keep making and releasing shit. – comments vocalist/guitarist Michael Bellis.
Today, we’re giving you the first listen of the band’s debut LP “Stuck In The Mud”, slated for a June 19th release on their drummer’s label Tiny God, Inc along with a special track by track commentary, BRAIN CAVE’s commentary on missing live shows, pandemic lockdown, and Cleveland music scene.
This album was recorded at Obese Studios in North Ridgeville, Ohio. We have recorded most of all of our music there, except for our demo. Our friend Matt Novak runs the studio, and is kind enough to give us semi- free reign there. We took our time on this album, popped in and out through January – March, right as Covid-19 was really starting to ramp up in the US.
Matt and our drummer, Matt Ducey, engineered the album, with helpful instructions from Jonathan Nuñez, from Torche, who mixed the record. We played with Torche last year and built a relationship with him, because we are big fans of his band and his recording/producing output. It is important to us to sound and feel loud, vibrant, noisy, but not over- produced, so it was a perfect fit. Will Killingsworth mastered it, he is the king of mastering/ working on seemingly every hardcore, punk, and adjacent band out today. He did a great job.
This album is coming out on tape as of now, on Tiny God Inc., our drummer, Duce’s label. We like doing things in house and its fun building up the label over the past couple of years.
Track by track rundown
Words by Michael Bellis
This record is a bit of a window into some of my thought processes when it comes to situations in my life, as well as just observing others. Judging people can be easy, but turning it on yourself is not always easy for everyone. Being self aware and appreciating life is cool, I’m not trying to make it harder for myself or anyone else. I’m also trying to make the most of this nonsense, which I don’t always think I’m the best at. I think that can be relatable, but who knows. My communication with others can get a little jumbled and my lyrics give a bit of a snapshot of that. The lyrics and the music compliment each other well though, I’m pretty sure. We’re a three piece, so letting the instrumentals do some of the talking is nice. This is our best material for sure, we wanted to write a cohesive batch of songs and we accomplished that in our own way. Sure, we are a small band, but this is the best representation of the band yet, and we don’t plan to stop putting music out, so anybody hopping on at any point is swell.
1 Erosion – Intro and tone setting for the album. Not many lyrics, pretty straightforward, resetting something about yourself, for your own good and own health.
2 Night Work – Again, kind of pulling off the weight put on yourself, focused around wrestling with your thoughts late at night.
3 Assigned Seat – You can try and fail, due to many circumstances, you don’t need to stay in that assigned seat.
4 Country – Roll of the dice, things could be worse, psychedelic style reflection on being a farmer in Russia or a school of fish in polluted water.
5 Sideline To Rot – People cast judgement, they want to control, but most people who want that shouldn’t be in control of shit
6. Bar Seat No. 1 – Small talk, being sold something, selling yourself on something, having no substance at all. Not into salespeople.
7. Salt Lick – Forgotten places, humans forgetting each other/ their environment, my place. Inspired by a city of 300 people in middle of nowhere Kentucky. They govern themselves, I guess.
8. Ahead Thought – Advice from people you care about, but who wants that? Later on, you might be like, ‘maybe you were right, but who cares’. Good to figure things out for yourself. Expectations can get out of hand.
9. Your Own Group – Learning a lesson, without a god, a teacher, or a group.
10. Moved Obstacle – Self doubt, but being self aware. Have to have a little humor about reflection.
Missing shows and grappling with Covid-19 pandemic
Like I kind of just said, we feel like this is the best the band has ever been, and is kind of a new starting point for us. We wanted to do some shows supporting the album and small runs, but that will come in due time, I’m sure. No timetable, but hopefully fall we can do some solid playing out again. We have a four way split planned that should be out at the end of Summer, or so.
It has been a large bummer, honestly. One of the few things I miss is going to and playing shows. So it goes, though. I have gotten a lot done and the band has some new songs that are great, I think. We just finished vocals for the album right when the shutdown was coming in early March. We took a few weeks off while the quarantining and fear intensified. During that time, the record was getting mixed and mastered, and I put some effort into doing some solo demoing and recording, mostly for fun. We got back to jamming and writing together in person in April and it felt great. Just playing music with my friends improves my mood quite a bit. I know releasing music during the virus has been a tough issue for some people, but for a small band like us, its like, what do we have to lose? I noticed other local bands have still been writing and releasing some stuff sparingly. I think the virus is serious, but at this point, people are getting back to acting “normal” even though its not really much improved. I miss shows, but don’t want to go right away if its gonna be half capacity or full of guidelines, and I definitely wouldn’t go to some goblin-filled house show right now.
Cleveland independent music scene
Cleveland has a pretty fragmented music scene, for how small of a city it is. There is a lot going on, but it seems like people are on different pages at times. The punk scene remains in its own zone, the heavier hardcore or pro core stays in its own zone, and the indie or softer bands stay in their own zone, and so on.
We feel like we fit somewhere in the middle of everything, but I don’t think everyone would see it that way. I’ve played in a lot of punk bands, but feel like we wouldn’t really play those shows. I try to play with hardcore bands a lot, because I associate us with that and that’s what I love. We have played on some odd bills, softer bills a lot (earlier on), and the past year we’ve gotten mostly appropriate shows with bands we genuinely like that are in our vein.
I think we have found our lane with bands that may not really sound like us, but fit. Some friends that we have played with or will soon enough are Honeymoon(grungey Hum-ish post hardcore), Wallcreeper(straightforward moshey hardcore with a tinge of metal), Yambag(fast and unrelenting hardcore punk), Stalemate (melodic 90s alt rock style), Self Loathing (heavy death metal w/ hardcore bits), LastGasp (new band w/ members of a lot of other past bands, early 2000s style core), V–Trigger (young dudes with a ton of energy, fast screaming adjacent hardcore, wrestling themes), MedicatedRobots (our studio buddy’s grandiose shoegaze frankenstein). The list could go on, but there is a ton of variety locally, I just think there could be a bit more cross pollination.
Regarding other bands, so far in 2020, we’ve been digging the new Truth Cult, Arbor Labor Union, Jeffrey Silverstein, Shiner, Eerie Gaits, Fyzical, Buggin, Peel Dream Magazine, Rope, Regional Justice Center, Militarie Gun, Self Defense Family singles, Midwife, Disheveled Cuss, and a lot more.