“A lot of guitarists can play a lot of stuff. I want to FEEL something.”
– Tim Reynolds
A crisp, January evening. Cold enough to freeze snot to my mustache. I was in the Elucidator offices pacing the floor. Rumor has it they just brought Dustin Schoof on staff and that could only mean one thing: Sayonara, Carter.
I know Schoof. He’s a legit journalist. He’s a nice guy. He turns in his assignments (like the interview with comedian Dave Attell on page 16) on time and without coffee stains and gum on them. There was clearly not room enough for BOTH of us on this magazine. Which meant only one…which meant a SECOND thing: Dustin was going to have to engage me in single combat and take my head in order to assume his proper place. It’s how I won the Column from Ryan Woodring. It’s tradition. Like hiding the Bugler behind a giant phallus every year. Or complaining about parking. It’s what we do.
I am no fighter. But I am of Scots-Irish decent which means if I get drunk enough, I can be convinced that I am much braver than I truly am. So, I opened a bottle of Yamazaki 12 and went to it. Schoof didn’t stand a chance.
The phone rang. It was my intended adversary.
“Schoof, I am preparing to kill you. Why are you calling me?”
“Um, Carter, I need your help. You see, there’s this Goat. And. He. Well, he’s kind of untrustworthy. I am in a bit of a bind, buddy. Wait. Why are you going to kill me?”
“Because you want to take my Listen column away from me.”
“I assure you, I want no such thing. I’m calling to give you your assignment.”
“Wait, I thought you were calling about a goat?”
“Never mind that now. I need you to go to Havana.”
“No. New Hope.”
“Is that in Jersey?”
“No. That’s Hope.”
“Why am I going there?”
“You are going to interview Tim Reynolds.”
Clearly this was a ruse. A ploy. A bit of flimflammery designed to get me out of Easton long enough for Schoof to have me bumped. Was The Goat just a code name for his hired assassin? Was Tim Reynolds part of the Plan? There was only one place I could go to find my answers. Havana.
If they wanted to back me into a corner, it was going to be one messy corner. And smart to choose New Hope. Keep the mess out of Easton. Very clever, Schoof.
Either way, this was another in a long line of great interviews set up by my Editor Dawn. Meeting the mastermind lead guitar player for Dave Matthews Band, would be a very nice feather in my cap, even if I was risking life and limb to get it. The Elucidator sent our intern Cassie along as a photographer. I assumed that they warned her of the danger. Despite her pixie-like appearance, I have heard she can kill a man with a swizzle stick. I think that’s what happened to our old intern, Merv.
Sitting on a couch in the lobby of Havana when a sudden wisp materializes like Nightcrawler.
DC: “You can’t be here. They’ll see you.” CL: “Uh, hey Dave! Yeah. I was just thinking the same thing.” DC: “Oh, this is my friend Tim. Let’s find somewhere we can talk.”
The three of us dodge past security and find a secluded corner of the room.
CL: “Ok, Dave, I need to know. Why are you here? How are YOU a part of this?” DC: “About 10 years ago I forced my way onto the stage and opened for Tim. We’ve been friends ever since.”
CL: “You certainly run in some pretty serious circles, man. You hang with Alex Radus, Tim Reynolds, you are surrounded by some crazy talent.” DC: “I like to make friends with people I look up to.”
CL: “But, honestly, Tim, people call you a genius, a wizard, how does that make you feel?” TR: “How about just ‘asshole’?” DC: “Or Trans-species Inter-sphinctorial Moon Muffin?” TR: “Yeah, that’s good.”
CL: “Aside from the 30 dates you have booked through March 2016, what else are you up to?” TR: “I’ve got an acoustic record in the works, I’m recording it when I’m not playing.”
CL: “How do you like touring?” TR: “Well, you have to work. It’s good to travel, and to play music. There are all kinds of things you can complain about. But, that’s just life. I get to make mistakes all over this flat earth of
CL: “What are you listening to now, and you do you find new music?” TR: “Random discovery. I just found this band called Rival Sons. But mostly I’m listening to Guantanamo Bay Torture Music. Also, Shostakovich, and Bartok string quartets.”
CL: “So, what are your influences?” TR: “Well, every decade there’s like five of them. I listen to all kinds of stuff from the 70’s, the 90s, Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, Industrial Metal, Aphex Twin. I’m really into Indian music. ”
CL: “I read about how you taught yourself to play sitar, how did that happen?” TR: “I was in a room and there was a sitar with one string and I played around with it. Randomly, a friend of mine had one and gave it to me and I taught myself to play. But, I was poor then so I had to sell it to buy something else. Probably another guitar.”
CL: “How do you continue to stretch, to grow as an artist?” TR: “Music is food. You absorb it. I like to write parts that I can’t play so I have to work it out.” DC: “Melody is just mathematics. It’s a balance of the science and the soulful.” TR: “A lot of guitarists can play a lot of stuff. I want to FEEL something.”
CL: “So, what’s next?” TR: “I just want to do what I’m trying to do now. Just make up music on acoustic (guitar). Maybe five years from now something else will happen.”
With that, Dave Cahill blew a cloud of vapor in my face and they vanished. Except for a pair of glasses and a single fingerless glove.
I looked at Cassie. “Did you get any of that?”
She tapped her camera and grinned.
A bit later, Dave Cahill took the stage and unleashed his Mad Scientist / Gypsy Punk / Guitar Robot Porn on the world. New Hope was stupefied. Soon after, Tim Reynolds stepped up and played the night away with virtuosity and humility. A man and a guitar creating more than the sum of the whole. I had a Dewars, neat. There was no Goat…yet.
Dave Cahill first opened for renowned guitarist Tim Reynolds in November 2006.
Nearly a decade later, Cahill tonight will find himself in a similar, though familiar, situation. The Frenchtown-based guitarist will open for Reynolds at Havana Restaurant & Bar in New Hope, Bucks County.
“I remember I was so nervous the first time I opened for him,” Cahill recalled Tuesday during a phone interview. “Even after 10 years of opening for him, I still leave my jaw on the floor.”
What started as an opening set has turned into a friendship and camaraderie between the two musicians. Cahill said Reynolds — best known for his collaborations with the Dave Matthews Band — is his favorite guitarist and praised the latter for being a “normal dude who is really, really good at guitar.”
“He’s very inspiring,” Cahill said of Reynolds. “I’ve learned (by watching him) that, at the end of the day, if you’re not playing music from the heart, then why are you playing it in the first place?”
In 2009, Cahill traveled to Ohio to attend a guitar workshop being taught by Reynolds at the Fur Peace Reach performance venue and instructional center. (Fur Peace Ranch is owned by Hot Tuna guitarist Jorma Kaukonen.) There he met other Reynolds fans, most of whom he had only interacted with years earlier through an online message board. “All of the board members who never met each other went,” Cahill said. “It was a magical experience … It was like band camp for acoustic guitar nerds.”
Cahill returned to Fur Peace Ranch in 2011. “It was really neat to experience that and asking him (Reynolds) questions and hearing his thoughts,” Cahill said.
Cahill is also scheduled to open for Reynolds at Havana on Feb 11. That show will feature Cahill performing as part of the group Hot 4 Robot. Hot 4 Robot is rounded out by singer-guitarist Alex Radus, Evan Straley and Andy Janowiak.
The two Havana performances are part of what his shaping up to be a busy year for Cahill. Cahill, formerly of local favorites The Almighty Terribles, is one of four area acts slated to perform Jan. 23 during the “Easton Rocks!” fundraiser concert at the State Theatre in Easton. That concert will feature Cahill sitting in with the Alex Radus Trio, as well as sets by singer-songwriter Carter Lansing, acoustic rock duo Blue Jean and the band Roi and the Secret People.
Cahill is also busy working on his next solo album. The record is a concept album collaboration with musician Kalma. Cahill said the album’s storyline centers around a husband/soldier, who loses body parts during an overseas mission. The soldier decides to have his limbs replaced by robotic appendages — just as a singularity event occurs and humanity and artificial intelligence find themselves at odds.
“I’m playing the acoustic, natural humanist part of the story. He (Kalma) is the digital robot (voice),” Cahill said. “It’s really amazing and hopefully people will like it … without (Kalma), it never would have sounded the way it does.”
Guitarist Dave Cahill performs 8 tonight with Tim Reynolds at Havana Restaurant & Bar in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Tickets cost $35. Information: havananewhope.com
Local, homegrown music continues to flourish in the Lehigh Valley, while showing no signs of slowing down in the new year.
With inevitable snow and the bitter cold of winter looming on the horizon, the coming months will be prime time for local musicians and songwriters to hole up in the cozy confines of a recording studio and begin the process of creating and releasing new music.
Here are 10 local acts to keep an eye on in 2016:
DAVE CAHILL | The guitarist-vocalist and former Almighty Terribles frontman has lined up not one, but, two upcoming dates opening for nationally-recognized guitarist Tim Reynolds. (The latter is best known for his collaborations with Dave Matthews.) Cahill recently released the electrifying single, “Future Shock.” Between a promising solo career and his work with the band Hot 4 Robot — which includes fellow guitarist-vocalist Alex Radus — Cahill is poised to turn even more heads in 2016. davecahill.com
The Almighty Terribles: WE’RE NOT THE ONLY ONES
Terrible Name–Awesome Band
By Jason E.R. Hedrington
The Almighty Terribles were obviously infused with a sense of humor, irony or self-depreciation to pin such a label on themselves, for this guitar power trio and their activist Truth Movement messages are anything but terrible.
Their live shows are the aural assault of madmen on a righteous mission–a mix of guitarist and brainchild (songwriter, producer, album artwork) Dave Cahill’s metal showmanship and Adrian Belew-esque squeals fueled by the airtight bashing polyrhythm drum work of Ryan Decker (who often delivers as a Neil Peart disciple) and bassist Nathan Powell who stands rock solid as The Terrible’s own John Entwistle feeding the melody and foundation beneath the cozmik chaos.
Dave handed me WE’RE NOT THE ONLY ONES at a recent show. My curiosity to see if their live fireworks could transfer to the studio was multiplied after gazing at the dark CD layout with its mix of brain, nebula, fractal geometry and TV-digitization images taking eyeball and human form. That curiosity was multiplied ever further by the fact that the Terribles had recorded, mixed and mastered the album in NYC–a move that proves not just seriousness and dedication of craft but a willingness to load their political messages into their rebel ship and fly directly into the heart of the Death Star to produce their product.
My curiosity was soon quenched with the noise-guitar loops and Punk-meets-Prog drive of opening track “Algorithm.” And with more brainiac titles like “Methodology,” “Optical” and “Immunity,” The Terribles have higher-mindedness at work here. Especially when track 3, “Blood for Fuel,“ begins with a FEMA camp soundbite and a dedication to “all our We Are Change brothers and sisters around the world.” When Cahill sings “soldiers lay down your arms and open your minds…your blood is the fuel–the war machine can’t run without you” and then turns to us to warn of the TV “they call it programming for a reason,” he is sounding the cavalry call–wake up! Rebel Rock is here to save you from The Matrix.
The album trades extended live jams for blistering power bites of knowledge. The experimental guitar solos are still here but come in rapid-fire mode, for the mission is more THE MESSAGE instead of the music.
But that’s not to say the high-musicianship doesn’t shine through. It’s just finely crafted to put the priority in the proper place: educate the public to various atrocities of our leaders and lead the charge in turning this ship of fools around.
Plus, in tunes like “Escape,” The Terribles still know how to bring the fist-pumping groove rock. They are also not beyond pausing for some love within the troubles of the world in the beautifully crafted “Medicine” which showcases Cahill’s many guitar talents: sweeping acoustic finger picking, tight riffing and melodic noise. Fast forward to “Loaded Gun” and feast your ears on a cornucopia musical mash-up.
With a short total running time (the 13 tracks average a radio-ready 3.5 minutes each) and seamless genre-jumping like Clash-worthy ska elements in “Something Ain’t right” and the power poppy “Tongue tied” which sounds like The Smithereens meeting System of a Down, WE’RE NOT THE ONLY ONES is easy to get through despite its heavy music and heavy messages–including the title track tackling the UFO phenomenon.
The Terribles bring the noise this weekend at the truth and freedom festival FREEDOMPALOOZA (check it and other activist acts out at www.freedompalooza.com), and the album, lyrics and song previews are available at www.thealmightyterribles.com which states they are already working on the next album. So now’s the time to catch this “Post-Apocalyptic Progressive Rock” band hitting its stride.
They had jumpsuits and original foam proton packs! A light weight alternative definitely needed while playing instruments.
When you combine the post-apocalyptic stylings of progressive rock band The Almighty Terribles with the pre-apocalyptic story of Ghostbusters, you’re bound to get something special. And the Almighty Terribles provided an experience that went beyond special.
They came into a packed house with Proton Packs made of foam, jumpsuits and an LED lit up guitar. Providing avant-garde sound effects, original music and the theme song, the Almighty Terribles brought something new to something that they all love.
“We all grew up with,” shared drummer Ryan Decker. “Its just one of those movies that we understood and in a way changed our lives.”
“[Frank Banko Alehouse Cinema] asked us to do ‘Soundtrack Comes Alive,’” frontman Dave Cahill stated, “and we wanted to do a movie with something with characters and this is the first thing that came to mind.” It was a mutual agreement right away for them, as they got their plan ready that involved packs, jumpsuits and a soundtrack listing that would work best with the film. “We wanted to get cases of Ecto-Cooler for the audience, but we didn’t have enough time.”
Their set list included some of their own songs such as “Banshee” and “Bomb in the Bedroom,” as well the Ghostbusters theme song and “Saving the Day.” “We knew right away that we had to do the theme song,” Cahill said.
When deciding what song to place where, bassist, Nathan Powell, said right away, “I thought that was the easiest part!”
The Frank Banko Alehouse Cinema, part of the ArtsQuest Center in Bethleham, PA, has had experience with performances like this in the past. Ryan Hill, Programming Manager of the theater, spoke about the “Soundtrack Comes Alive” program at the theater. The Almighty Terribles’ Ghostbusters performance is the fifth in the series, following Point Break, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sin City, and Baraka.
“The Almighty Terribles approached me with Ghostbusters,” Hill says. “If a band picks a movie, they’re passionate with it.”
“It’s been a lot of thought and work into this. We’re excited to do it,” says singer/guitarist Dave Cahill. “We wanted to do the soundtrack, incorporate parts of it. It’s very, very ’80s.”
Cahill says the band plans to put their own spin on the film’s soundtrack, including reworked versions of their own original tunes. He says the group — rounded out by bassist Nathan Powell and drummer Ryan Decker — also plans on suiting up for the occasion, with proton packs possibly included.
“We got some custom-made material for the show to make it seem authentic, you could say,” Cahill says. “I think it’s going to be really good.”
Cahill says the band first started kicking around the idea about a year ago, but didn’t realize the complexity of putting on such a performance until they started rehearsing.
“To me, it was funny how challenging it was. It seemed like such an easy idea (at first), but it was definitely a challenge,” Cahill says. “It’s been quite a journey since we started talking about this a year ago, to coming down to the one show.”
Cahill says in preparing for the show, he was surprised at how well the film held up.
“I forgot how funny the dialogue is. Watching it over and over, I still laugh at some of the stuff they say,” Cahill says. “When you’re a kid, you miss all that.”
Tickets for “Soundtrack Comes Alive” cost $13 and $10.
On “We’re Not the Only Ones,” Frenchtown-based The Almighty Terribles concoct a potent hybrid of funk, hard rock, punk and jam music — the results of which sound like the musical equivalent of a back alley rumble between the members of Incubus and Moe.
The Terribles’ strength lies in the laser-guided precision of their instrumentation — at times sounding off-the-cuff yet terse and intricately connected. Singer/guitarist Dave Cahill lays down slabs of distorted guitar crunch, complemented by a tight and bouncy rhythm section — rounded out by bassist Nathan Powell and drummer Ryan Decker — that keeps the momentum of the album chugging along at a brisk and even pace.
On “Don’t You Know,” Cahill offers up one of several ridiculously catchy guitar hooks that will stay with you long after the album comes to a close. Another fretboard workout comes later on in the opening riff to “How Could You.” Powell and Decker push the album along with a heavy, in-the-pocket swing on “Blood for Fuel” and “Escape.”
With “Ones,” the Terribles deliver an overall solid and well-crafted album that proves originality in music is still very much alive.
RW: What can you tell me more about the latest album?”
Dave Cahill: “We’re Not The Only Ones is a hopeful call for peace and unity on this planet and all the others. I am sure that we are not the only ones, and that this current reality is just a small slice of what is actually real. It wasn’t until I realize how truly small we are that I found pure happiness and love for everything around me.”
“Brian Herman and I are putting the final touches on it now. Brian is a true genius at what he does, I am sure he would disagree if he knew I said that, but believe me, it’s true. I have spent the majority of my life recording music, and this project by far was the most enjoyable, experimental, and mind altering experience I have ever had. It is as if we tapped into another dimension somewhere, and listened to the music they had and took some of it home with us. It is hard to describe this all in words, but I can honestly say, my life has been forever changed after recording this album. It’d kind of like a near death experience packed into wave of audio. I cannot wait to begin the next album. I cannot wait to do this forever.”
“…RW: Any thoughts on how this album will be received?”
“Dave Cahill: I never thought I would experience the feeling I have while listening to these final mixes. I feel empowered and joyful that we were able to create something so powerful, so beautiful and really capture the late night metaphysical experiences we lived through. I hope people all over the world get to hear this album. I am also going to be beaming the album into space with radio waves at the speed of light, hoping that someone out there will hear it. Or perhaps, when we die, we just wake up on another world somewhere else. In that case, perhaps I will be able to recapture this work in the next life. If there were no other life beyond, it seems like it would be a terrible waste of space. Of course life in the Universe is abundant, but really this experience we are having right now is just a hologram, there is no end to what we don’t know. We have much to learn and I hope we make it through the growing pains of being human. Only a very small portion of nuclear weapons must be detonated before everything is washed away, as if it never happened. Everyone you ever knew, every song ever written, every paint-stroke, every novel, poem, letter, conversation would be wiped from existence in an instant, forever. Of course, no one wants this, but we need to be ready to fight until our last breath to prevent it, it is our destiny to travel to the stars and share our stories with the others out there. We Are Not The Only Ones.”