The recipe for true musicianship: mastery of one or more instruments, the ability to compose good music, hard work, the ability to sound good both as individuals and as a group. Harry Darling, Huxley Rittman, Emerson Gonzalez-Park and Haadi Moochhala – collectively known as The CAVE – are only 16 - 17 years old, but they have definitely mastered the art of music.
The CAVE. From left: Harry Darling, Haadi Moochhala, Emerson Gonzalez-Park and Huxley Rittman.
I happened to chance upon one of their gigs at Cineleisure Orchard and I was instantly hooked. They had amazing stage presence, their original songs were actually really good and if you didn’t know who they were or how old they were, you would’ve thought that they were music veterans.
I caught up with the band earlier this week and I learned what makes a band, a great band.
Firstly, their friendship is, for the lack of a better word, amazing. Although they all hail from different backgrounds – Harry is British, Huxley is American, Emerson is Japanese-Mexican and Haadi is Pakistani-Singaporean – they all attend the same school and they have managed to forge strong and solid friendships with one another. Plus, Huxley and Harry have been friends since they were three years old! They know one another like the back of their hands and a strong connection like theirs is a vital part of making good music as a group.
Secondly, The Cave has a unique sound that you cannot pin-point to any genre. The genre that best describes their music is probably alternative-rock, but yet they don’t really sound like alternative-rock bands like All Time Low or Nirvana. Oh, and Nirvana just so happens to be one of their biggest musical inspirations!
Thirdly, they all love music. Duh. When asked where they saw themselves in 10 years, everyone replied that they wanted to do something related to music. Huxley was recently accepted to a 5-week summer programme at Berklee College of Music in Boston, which is perhaps the most prestigious music institute in the world which has produced world-famous alumni such as The Click Five (♥♥♥), Karmin, Gavin DeGraw and two members of Aerosmith.
The fun-loving boys also did some accents for us – Huxley did an Indian accent, Emerson did an American accent, Harry did a Kiwi accent while Haadi… didn’t do any accents. There were also Swedish and Irish accents involved! They admit that they did like to imitate accents which, according to Harry, “more or less has something to do with going to an international school”.
We also talked about two contentious topics: One Direction and Justin Bieber. Huxley revealed that “Little Things” changed his perspective on One Direction and when asked which member of The Cave was the most likely to be a closeted One Direction or Justin Bieber fan, Emerson immediately pointed to Haadi.
How did the band get started?
Huxley: In Grade 6, me and Haadi decided that it would be cool to start a band because I played guitar and he played drums, so why not? We had a couple of members come and go after that.
Haadi: We played like, once a year.
Huxley: Yeah. Eventually, we realised that I wasn’t a great singer [laughs] so we recruited Harry. Then, in 8th Grade, we were without a bassist so Emerson came along and then… voilà. We’ve had this line-up for three years.
Harry: It’s our most successful line-up.
Why “The Cave” and who came up with the name? Does it have any significant meaning?
Haadi: We’ve gone through loads of names.
Huxley: We started as Blackout and then for three days, we were Band Control.
Harry: We were Band Control for one gig! That was the point where we were trying to decide on a good name.
Huxley: The Cave… Basically, first of all, it sounds cool. Also, that year – the year we came up with the name, where we would sit at lunch was spaced between a wall and some lockers and it kind of resembled a cave so we referred to our group of friends as The Cave and we figured that it would make a pretty good band name so, yeah. It was Harry’s idea.
What’s a typical day for you guys like when you’re together as a band?
Haadi: We usually practise after school on Fridays and when we come here (the studio), we practise for a few hours and get a drink or something downstairs and talk about the band.
Huxley: Practice usually starts with jamming and not really working on any of our songs, we’re just playing whatever we feel like playing.
Harry: We have two kinds of practice. It’s either when we have a gig we go through the set-list or when we wanna write a song.
Huxley: But regardless of the purpose, it usually starts with mindless jamming.
Harry: It usually ends with it as well.
What runs through your minds when you’re on stage performing a gig or setting out to win a competition?
Huxley: It really depends on the setting of the gig and it changes from person to person. For me, it used to sorta… I wouldn’t say it seemed like a chore but I used to be worried while I was onstage about how I looked, how I was playing… But then one day, I realised that I didn’t need to care about that – we’re on stage and the mind-set just changed to: we’re onstage, we’re the shit, everyone loves us. I thoroughly enjoy playing gigs. We get gigs in really small bars and we just have fun with it because nobody’s really there to watch anyway. But then, at bigger competitions and such, the pressure’s on so I’m conscious of everything I do and try to impress everyone.
Emerson: For me, normally when we’re playing gigs… I don’t think there’s ever been a gig where we’ve started out not happy. All the times when we played gigs, it’s really in a good mood in general with everyone. When things go wrong in the gig which, sometimes, it does, we move on past that and we just enjoy it the whole time regardless of whether it’s a competition or a gig in a pub. But sometimes, there’s a bit of nervousness when you're playing in front of people you know but at this point, it’s kind of gone now so it’s just fun the whole time.
Harry: When we started, every gig was very nerve-racking especially singing because I felt like I was holding something I don’t really want to in my hands. I was just very bad. Competitions are always definitely going to more nerve-racking because you have to perform well but, not that we don’t want to perform well, but when we’re in pubs at a gig where there’s no pressure and we’re not trying to win anything, it’s a lot easier – you can just relax and do what you want to do.
Emerson: We used to have pretty horrible stage presence and we got compared to girls so… yeah.
------The band members proceed to show us ‘the Box’, which is how Harry used to move while performing onstage------
Harry: I had no idea what to do. It’s improved – it can still be improved but sometimes… the bigger the stage, the easier it is to act bigger, because in small stages you can’t really move that much anyway.
Haadi: I think we’re always in a good mood when we perform. We’re always pumped up beforehand and we play well and we’re a lot better than we were before so our confidence in ourselves are better now. I enjoy performing.
Emerson: Yeah, I don’t think we’ve ever regretted going to a gig. Well, sometimes some of these gigs can be pretty inconvenient because we get slots on Sunday nights and there’s school the next morning… So on the way to those gigs, or in the lead up to those, we’re not in as high a mood as we would be if we were to play on a Saturday night, but when we’re playing it’s always good.
Harry: The crowd is very important as well – you can get bad crowds.
Huxley: For example, we played at Avalon (Harry: That was a good gig and a bad gig!) for a private event and we played two sets. In the first set, it was pretty early in the evening and everyone was sort of just settling in, getting their food and stuff and honestly, no one was paying any attention to us. The vibe was generally that they wanted us to get off stage as soon as possible and that made it hard for us to be confident and good. But when the night progressed, everyone got drunker and started dancing and that was fun.
Harry: I’d say a bit of the motivation was the fact that we were getting paid [the rest of the members laugh and nod in agreement].
Haadi: They offered us $2000.
Harry: We were paid before that but we didn’t even see the money because it went straight into recording something.
Huxley: We’re straying from the question quite a bit…
Describe each member of the band in one word.
Haadi: Harry - “annoying”. Emerson - “mysterious”. Huxley - “fun” and myself? I’m “the best”! (Huxley: Hey, that’s two words!) Yeah, I get two words.
Harry: Haadi - “nerdy”. Emerson - I’d have to go with “mysterious” again. Huxley’s a difficult one, because “fun” is too little… I’d just have to say “a really really good mate”. (Huxley: Aww shucks, that was beautiful). And myself – genius.
Emerson: Haadi - “static”, as in still-moving. Harry - “projecting”. Huxley - “adventurous”. And myself? I don’t know where to put myself. (someone: Stupid) Yeah I’ll have to go with “stupid” for me.
Huxley: Haadi - “level-headed”, he’s usually the logical voice. Harry - I honestly don’t know, there’s just so many things. (Harry: We’ve known each other since we were three so it’s a difficult question to say what you think of someone you’ve known for that long.) Emerson - I could say “mysterious” or I could say “deep” or I could say… “absolute asshole” sometimes, kicking soccer balls at children’s heads and such (Harry: That was an accident, though). And I would call myself “flamboyant”.
If you could perform anywhere in the world or at any music festival, where would you perform?
Haadi: The Reading Festival. That is the ultimate music festival.
Harry: I’ll have to go with the Lollapalooza.
Emerson: I would pick the Rock in Rio.
Huxley: Man you picked all the good ones. I’d say Rock in Rio sounds pretty good.
What’s your favourite song at the moment?
Emerson: “La Villa Strangiato” by Rush.
Haadi: "Everlong” by Foo Fighters. It’s always been up there in my list of favourite songs.
Huxley: A consistent favourite has been “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles.
Harry: If I had to pick the one I listen to the most, but not necessarily like the most, it would be “Even Flow” by Pearl Jam.
If there were any closeted One Direction or Justin Bieber fans in The Cave, who would it most likely be?
Huxley: Honestly, I have no problem with One Direction, I’m not gonna lie (Harry: See? He already is. Your question’s answered). They seem like OK guys, they’ve got pretty cool hair. Their earlier songs like “What Makes You Beautiful” – that one’s kinda shit but “Little Things” was good, that one changed my opinion.
Haadi: I think I’ve moved on from hating them. Two or three years ago, I used to be like, “Oh, Justin Bieber, One Direction… I hate them." But now, I’m like, “Okay, my hatred’s gone.”
Huxley: My hatred for Bieber has kind of subsided but it fired up again when I heard the song “Girlfriend” – no wait, “Boyfriend”, the one where he’s like “eating fondue SWAG SWAG”. I just despise that.
Harry: I’m just glad he’s having a little bit of a break now. Did you see the stuff where he was fighting the guy in the limo? (Huxley: Did you see the one where he was two hours late for a gig?) Yeah, he’s gonna end up like Britney Spears and when he does it’s going to be fantastic.
Emerson: I don’t really listen to One Direction so I can’t say anything about their music but they just look quite… on the feminine side.
Harry: The thing I dislike about One Direction is all their music is just Simon Cowell paying someone else to write, they don’t write their own songs. They don’t have any creativity.
Where do you see yourselves ten years down the road?
Huxley: Unfortunately, our futures aren’t exactly going to be involved with The Cave anymore since we’re probably going to have to split up for college.
Harry: The way we’ve always seen it, though, is by the time we finish school, we’ll take a look at the band and see how far we’ve come and if we think we can take it a bit further and do it as a career…
Huxley: If it looks as if it could become something else, we could agree to either postpone or… ditch college?
Harry: I’d say postpone because my parents wouldn’t let me just not go to college unless we’ve gotten to the level of Led Zeppelin.
Huxley: It really depends on exactly where we get to in our time. I’d say if we stayed in the same place we are now in the next year, then we’ll probably have to call it off. (Aww!) But it really just depends, I wouldn’t be able to say no.
Haadi: We have a lot of plans though, we have our music video and we have our EP so…we don’t know what will happen.
Huxley: Regardless of whether it’s with the band, I hope that I’ll still be doing something with music.
Harry: I think everyone else has an Option B that isn’t really involved with music.
Huxley: I’d probably still have music there but it probably won’t be the focus.
Harry: Then again, we just really don’t know. Every time someone asks what I wanna do in the future, in my mind I’m just thinking “I wanna be The Cave”.
Check out The Cave on Facebook and their official website, where you can find more pictures, videos and the latest updates about the band! You can also purchase their latest single “Light Years” from iTunes or Amazon.
Photo credits: The Cave / Facebook, Rachel Ho