Track Premiere: Cabana Wear — ‘Scaredy Horse’

Posted: by The Editor

Photo Credit: Gianna Vadino

Cabana Wear, formed by old friends, is the newest group building a buzz from the New Jersey/Philadelphia DIY scene. Featuring members of Crucial Dudes, It’s A King Thing, and By Surprise, the group is a powerful mix of their collective punk and indie influences. We are pleased to premiere the band’s latest single, “Scaredy Horse”. With fuzzy hooks and feel-good melodies, the track is an uplifting ode to making the best of life even when everything else can seem extremely dull.

After playing together in various bands throughout the past decade, Cabana Wear has skipped the awkward stage, immediately finding their stride. Plunging back into the scene feet first, they are set to release their self-titled debut album on March 15th (now available for pre-order on vinyl and cassette). We took some time to chat with guitarist, Alex McVey about the foundation of the band, inspirations behind the album, and more. Listen along as you read our interview below, and unlock the true meaning of the phrase “scaredy horse”.

The Alternative: What made you guys want to team up together?

Alex McVey: Eric and I have played in bands together on and off for the last eleven years. At one point, a few years back, he was playing in a band and they needed a fill in guitarist for one show and they had asked me to step in. After said show, Eric and I had both realized that we missed playing music together and he mentioned the idea of starting something up together again. It worked out pretty nicely because about a month or so prior to that show I had written a few songs that I had no real plans for. Eric asked if I had anybody in mind for a singer and Brian was 100% the first person to come to mind. I met Brian probably around 2011 through his band, It’s A King Thing. Before Brian and I were friends, I was just a HUGE King Thing fan. Brian has this really fun and quirky way of writing songs and I thought working with him would be awesome. Dan has been a really close friend of mine for about the last ten years and he’s just a great musician and songwriter so he was a pretty obvious choice for a bass player. That being said, we all have played tons of shows together with our own bands and we’ve just been in the same local circle of friends for quite some time now. It was really just a matter of recruiting some good, like-minded folks.

I’ve never heard the term, “scaredy horse” before this song, and honestly it rolls off the tongue. Can you tell me a little bit more about this track?

This is where Brian’s “fun and quirky” way of writing songs comes in. Somewhere around 2015 we were at a house party where Brian came up with this so-called “game” where you flicker the lights in the house on and off really quickly and the first person to scream or really react in some sort of extravagant way loses and they’re deemed the Scaredy Horse. It’s complete non-sense and it was something we got a good laugh out of. So we play the game and this one person in particular at the party got in Brian’s face and yelled “STOP MESSING WITH THE SUN”. It was incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. Fast forward two years and we had started practicing together and writing the album. I wrote the music for this song and sent it over to Brian. I got a text back asking what the song should be about and I half-jokingly told him it should be about Scaredy Horse. An hour or so later I had an email with the first vocal take over the demo I had recorded and it still makes me laugh that we got away with writing a song about it.

What was some inspiration behind the album?

The main goal was to write a batch of really poppy and hooky songs, with a good energy but without being too fast. I think we pulled it off pretty alright. “Amateur” by Nada Surf was the song that made me want to start Cabana Wear. That song kinda captures everything that I wanted this band to be. Big guitars and super-hooky melodies.

Can you tell me a little bit about what the recording process was like?

We made the record at the Gradwell house in Haddon Heights, NJ. Long time friends of ours own the studio and it’s a bit of a home base for us. The studio has rehearsal rooms on the bottom floor, so that’s where this band started essentially. We pretty much made the record top to bottom there, with the exception of any home-demos. Dave Downham, one of the owners of Gradwell, engineered and mixed the record for us. We all have worked with Dave in our own bands prior to this and we have a great relationship with him. We wanted to make the task of writing a full length LP seem a little less daunting, so we broke it up into two halves. We wrote six songs, went in and recorded all of the music for them. Then we wrote the next six, went in and put down all of the music again, and then we just tackled all of the vocals and any extra instrumentation at the end. I think Dave hated us for it, but I think it turned out pretty awesome.

How do you each collaborate when creating? Who brings what to the table?

Most of the time, the music is either written by myself or Brian. And then regardless of who writes the song itself, Brian will always cover the lyric/vocal duties. Except for one of the songs in the middle of the record called “Least Comfortable Me”. That song, lyrics and all, was written by Dan and we just had Brian sing it. Six songs of the songs on the record are Brians, five of them are mine and one song is Dan’s. I think it all feels pretty cohesive.

What’s different about Cabana Wear in comparison to other bands you’ve been in?

We didn’t have to go through any weird growing pains of learning to write and play music with each other. I’ve never had a band that I was in feel this natural right off the bar before. It’s always gotten there eventually, but it felt like the four of us were all on the same page right from the first practice. Which was great and was a cool thing to experience. We were able to hit the ground running as far as writing the record went.

What’s something special about your local scenes that you’re appreciative of?

This one feels like a bit of a tough answer. Over the last few years I’ve felt pretty disconnected from the local scene. I’ve spent more time writing and recording than I have playing shows. But I can say that all of the people and the other bands that I find myself playing music and shows with, are people that I’ve either been friends with or they’re people that I’ve seen around at shows since I was just a kid. I’d go see bands play in the south Jersey area when I was in middle school and years later some of those people, whose bands I would flip out over, are some of my closest friends. So it’s pretty special to still see all of these familiar faces still working at it.

Could you give some advice to people who want to create more but feel like they have too much on their plate as it is?

Make sure that the music that you are making excites you. Make the type of music that you’d want to listen to. If you don’t, it’s going to be really easy to push to the side and not think twice about making time for it between your full time job or anything else in your life that might be eating up any down time. Most importantly, make music with people you enjoy spending time with. That seems like a bit of a no-brainer.

Any goals or plans for 2019?

We are going to play the record a whole lot. We have three 3-day weekend runs booked with our good friends in the band Sleep In. They are releasing a record the week after us so we are trying to get out together and tackle all of this crap at the same time. Those weekends will be up and down the east coast. We will be opening for Shy Boys (Polyvinyl Records) at Boot and Saddle in Philadelphia on April 9. There’s talk of other touring in the near future, but I won’t say too much about that until it’s properly sorted out. But yeah, we are gonna play a bunch. Come hang out.

Emily Kitchin | @deathnap4cutie

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