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