Cage9
Cage9 Ė Illuminator

By Dave Schwartz 

Itís a long way from Panama to the streets of Los Angeles but if you have your eyes fixed on the music industry and believe you have ďitĒ then no journey is too far.  Cage9 is the brainchild of guitarist Evan Rodaniche.  Born nearly 10 years ago in Panama, Cage9 has released about a half-dozen albums and toured extensively all over the U.S. and Central America.  Their latest album is called ďIlluminatorĒ and Rodaniche, together with Leslie Wyatt (bass, backing vocals), Matt Borowski (guitar) and Brian Sumwalt (drums) have just unleashed it.  I recently spoke with Evan Rodaniche to get the inside scoop on the new record, new video and touring. 


DB:  Congrats on your new record, "Illuminator,"  I know that itís been out only a short time and Iím interested in hearing all about it.  So please, if you would, share. 

ER:  This has been a bit of a journey.  We put our last album out, I just realized, 4 years ago.  Itís surprising when I think about it.  Itís kind of like, how have we not put out an album in 4 years?  So really, it was about 2 years of actually working on the record.  The year before that we spent a lot of time touring and stuff.  Weíve also changed up band members.  There are a couple new band members on this album.  So a lot of things had to come together.  We went through probably a good 40-50 songs.  My drummer just texted me yesterday and asked, ĎWhy didnít we put this song on the album and what about that song?í

So there is a couple more albums worth of songs that we bypassed while choosing the songs for this record.  I feel like all kind of gelled in terms of the meanings of the songs, the vibe and the vision that the band wanted to put forward for this record.  So thatís ĎIlluminatorí on EMP under David Ellefson from Megadeth Ė his new label.  Tomorrow it actually comes out in Japan and in a few weeks it will come out in Europe.  These are all separate release dates that weíre all excited about. 

DB:  I understand that the staggered release isnít exactly new to the industry.  The good news is you can have three release parties.

ER:  Yes, exactly.  We havenít had one so weíre going to have to catch up. 

DB:  I have to admit that Iím a little astonished to hear you say that there wasnít enough room on the record,  I mean itís the Internet, you can do anything you want. Kidding aside, Iím actually amazed to hear you say that you wrote 50 songs.  Youíre left with an amazing backlog.  Youíve accomplished an amazing amount of work, not only to write the songs but them to go back through them and have to choose. 

ER:  Yeah, but honestly itís actually not that hard.  We have a lot of songs but when you go back and listen you have one thatís about 95% awesome but itís missing that 5%.  Or obviously you might find a lessor percentage of awesome.  So generally you say, this song is awesome right up to that one point and then I donít know what weíre going to do right there.  So, the 13 songs that we did choose I think are my favorite.  They all work together even though theyíre a fairly diverse group of tracks.  But I think they all still sound like the same band and they kind of portray or put the right foot forward that we were trying to illustrate as a band. 

DB:  So how did you record the album?

ER:  Yes, we did it in our home studio.  On my own Iím a producer and mixer.  I just recently did (ex-Flyleaf vocalist) Lacey Sturmís new solo album.  Itís her first solo album since Flyleaf.  We may go out on a tour with them in the next few months.  So I have that sort of work in my arsenal of things I can do.  The good and band of that is that in my band, when it comes to rehearsal we record just about everything.  Thatís a lot of material obviously and sifting through it and choosing the best of it is definitely part of the challenge and part of the fun.  All bands have that moment when you just have to walk away from your record.  We always say that the album is never done but itís time to walk away.  So basically, over the past few years weíve been recording pretty much non-stop.  We havenít really toured that much of played that many shows over the past two years so weíve had a pretty serious dedication toward finishing this album. 

We did all of the album artwork ourselves as well.  If you look at the cover it looks like hundreds of people on the beach worshiping the sun or whatever but actually thatís just the band.  Our last two videos we did ourselves.  We edited them ourselves and shot them. So weíre pretty self-contained, itís way more work but at the same time we have way more control of our image, what weíre trying to say and what we put forth to the world.  Itís actually really freeing but at the same time really a lot of work. 

DB:  Yes, I think that control is vital for most musicians and bands these days.  Itís something that all bands fight for and rightfully so.  No one wants someone showing up and telling you to change what you feel is the perfect vision.   

Youíve mentioned that you spent time working with other bands.  You mentioned Lacy Sturm and I know that you spent a few years on guitar with Powerman 5000.  How does working with other bands affect your approach to music? 

ER:  I learn something from every person that I work with.  Thereís no right way to make art and everybody approaches it in some different way.  Keeping your mind open to that is awesome.  I love when somebody comes in and does something that I never wouldíve done on my own.  So essentially, when you hear our new Cage9 record, you are absolutely hearing a little piece of Boy Hits Car, a little piece of Powerman 5000, and a piece of everyone else that Iíve worked with over the past few years.  There is definitely some element of the way they were looking at the world that gave me a chance to see it in the same way.  I absolutely use that. 

DB:  I know that your first single is ďEverything You Love Will Someday Die.Ē  Iíve read your comments that the song has been around for a couple years.

ER:  Itís about a year and a half old. 

DB:  Youíve put a tribute at the end of the song to your father and his passing.  Itís a very fitting song for the dedication and Iím sure youíre proud of the work and of course having his memory associated with the song. 

ER:  Actually the song will always remind me of my dad.  Obviously this is a super bittersweet thing.  One thing Iím happy with is that he had a chance to see the video for the song.  My dad was an artist, he painted still life.  He was also a big classical music fan.  He liked opera, totally didnít like heavy metal and that kind of stuff but he was very supportive.  He tolerated it and would come to shows.  He approved of this and so for me that really meant a lot.  I think he really liked the song and the video and obviously that means a lot to me. 

DB:  I understand.  You mentioned the video.  I think you took a really cool approach to it.  You took a very simple yet effective approach of using a couple Canon DSLR cameras, a black sheet for a backdrop in your rehearsal room.  You put some friends and family in front of the cameras and just had fun.

ER:  Thank you so much.  Iím amazed that we were able to pull it off.  Essentially we built up the nerve to make our own video about a year ago.  We shot the song ďIlluminatorĒ which at the time, the song wasnít even really done.  But me drummer was just adamant that we needed to shoot because my bass player and I both got cameras.  We were playing around with them and he was like, ĎAlright, were going to shoot these videos.  You guys are going to put it together.Ē  We told him that we couldnít do it, that we had no business trying to make our own videos.  But he rode us until we said that we would do it.  So literally, in just one day, we rented a Home Depot generator, went up to the mountains outside Los Angeles with a couple girlfriends and basically played it by ear.  We made up a storyline and shot it and ultimately we ended up finishing the song about the same time the video was put together.  We put the cart before the horse but at the same time we were able to build this theme together at the same time across a couple of mediums.  It kind of inspired what is the rest of the album and ďIlluminatorĒ and obviously gave us the strength to go one and make another video which was for ďEverything You LoveÖĒ  Iím super thankful to everyone who showed up and faked their way through the song and I think the video conveyed the idea of the song very well. 

DB:  You hinted earlier that a tour might be in the works.

ER:  We absolutely have a tour planed.  Iím a couple days away from announcing it.  But the fans can see us now as we are playing some dates.  Weíre opening for Asking Alexandria and Ill Nino which is a great opportunity for us.  Weíre also playing a show with Bobaflex and some other friends.  So were heading out for a couple days and then in July it looks like weíll have a nationwide tour. 

I want to thank Evan Rodaniche for sharing a moment with us here at DaBelly.com.  More information on Cage9ís new album is available online now along with all of the bandís latest news and more at:

Website: http://www.cage9.com     Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Cage9     Twitter: http://twitter.com/cage9 

EMP Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/emplabelgroup/      EMP Website:  http://www.emplabelgroup.com/ 

EMP Merch:  http://empmerch.com/

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