With their new single, “Never Going Back Again,” Caveman has been gaining acclaim with the critics. Their new album Otero War will be out on June 17th via Cinematic Music Group, so I caught up with Matt Iwanusa to get a little person and find out about his latest project. New York indie rockers Caveman will be playing with Frightened Rabbit at St. Andrew’s Hall in Michigan on April 30th.
Author Marisa Williams: How did you get started in music? Did you come from a musical family? What were your biggest musical influences?
Matt Iwanusa, guitar player and lead singer of Caveman: I came from a musical family. Growing up, I sang opera. Both my parents are musical. My dad is bass player and composer. My mom is a saxophone player. My sister and I both did music growing up. There was a lot of opera, The Beatles, jazz, but then I broke away and got into Peter Gabriel, Tears for Fears and stuff like that.
MW: What instruments do you play, and how old were you when you learned to play them?
MI: In the band, I play guitar and sing, but I started as a kid singing around six or seven. Around 10, I played drums, which was my main instrument for a while, before I went on to play guitar and do singing. I started guitar at 12 or 13.
MW: What was your first concert that you attended, and how did that compare to the first concert that you played?
MI: First concert I ever attended was REO Speedwagon, and that was a little different. Our first ever show played was the day I graduated high school. That was a lot different. There was like no one there. I had played random shows at street fairs, but we were not REO Speedwagon, obviously.
MW: What was the first album you purchased?
MI: Well, great question. I don’t really remember the very first one I purchased. The first one I remember is Foo Fighters, Color and the Shape. That was the first one I bought and was proud that I bought it, but I don’t remember the very first one I purchased.
MW: How do you go about writing music? What comes first for you: drums, guitars, vocals or something else? Has the process of writing changed for you over the years at all?
MI: It’s always different. Usually, it starts with a drum beat. Every record, part of the songs star with drum, while some start with a chorus on guitar and going from there.
MW: What is your favorite musical technique?
MI: For me, it’s like to write, getting like sounds that maybe I’m really into and changing it after that.
MW: What is something people might not expect on your latest album?
MI: The voice is a lot more up front. The record’s a lot cleaner, which we were trying to make sure happened.
MW: What is the scariest thing about being on the road?
MI: For me, I’ve got tons of things I deal with, but people driving crazy. I’m paranoid. We almost hit a deer yesterday, but somehow Sam, our keyboard player, did the most amazing move to avoid it.
MW: Best or worst tour moment?
MI: Best tour moment ever, Bonaroo, sneaking in to see Lionel Richie play in the VIP section for sure. Worst? There’s a lot of ups and downs.
MW: What’s your favorite way to travel and why?
MI: I spent a few days on a tour bus. That’s my favorite way. I had my own bed, could walk around and wake up in next city. We just found a new Sprinter, which is kinda nice. I can stand up in it.
MW: What’s your favorite place to travel to, and is there anywhere you have not been to that you would like to go to?
MI: My favorite place is the Bahamas. We did the Weezer Cruise, a cruise to the Bahamas, and that would be my favorite place. I’d like to go to Hawaii. Never been to Hawaii.
MW: What’s your biggest musical fantasy?
MI: It would be to sing a song with Frank Sinatra; that’d be my biggest musical fantasy.
MW: If you were an unicorn, and you could be any color but white, what color would you be and would you have any special powers?
MI: Very good questions. I’d probably be a nice light blue. Probably time travel would be a nice special power to have. We have been traveling for three days straight without playing any shows, and it would be nice to just be there and play.
MW: If you were yogurt, what flavor would you be and how would you be served?
MI: As a kid, I always thought I was allergic, but I’d be dairy free, a disgusting BBQ flavor or something, because I don’t want anyone to like yogurt. I’d be served in a massive tray that people have to scoop out of.
MW: Describe yourself as either a dog, a cat or a cartoon.
MI: Dog, obviously, I’m a good champion. I’d say dog, six pack, looking like a champion. Definitely all the other dogs, cats and cartoons would like me.
MW: Do you collect anything?
MI: Not off the top of my head, just a collection of old Star Wars toys and Nintendo games. I have a ton of Nintendo games that I would never get rid of.
MW: What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
MI: Video games. I play multiple video games a week. I should probably be writing music, but I play video games.
MW: Do you have any hidden talents or special skills?
MI: No. I put it all out on the table.
MW: What’s the most important thing to remember?
MI: My wallet and my cell phone.
MW: What was your most influential moment?
MI: Probably getting stuck on an elevator as a kid, getting freaked out, not forgetting it, so I try to stay close to the ground and have been influenced by that.
MW: If you were not doing music, what would you be doing?
MI: Playing in the NBA, professional basketball player, and I’m not the only one who would say that, too.
MW: What are three things you must have with you when you are on the road?
MI: My Epi-pen, my dudes, and probably like a beer would be nice.
MW: Any advice for musicians starting out?
MI: Yes, just do it. Don’t listen to anybody. Basically, people think they know everything, and they’re wrong, so don’t believe them. It sounds negative obviously.
MW: Closing thoughts and additional comments?
MI: Tell people to check out the record; it comes out June 17th.