Music News

Slow Caves on Coming of Age at the Mall

Slow Caves looks back at mall culture in its latest music.
Slow Caves looks back at mall culture in its latest music. Evan Olea
Listening to Slow Caves’ lush, intelligent music, it’s easy to forget that the band’s members are all in their early twenties.

Inexperience might hamper some groups, but Slow Caves is an exception. Although its songwriting reflects suburban ideals and millennial angst, the Fort Collins band — made up of singer/guitarist Jakob Mueller, drummer Jackson Lamperes, singer/guitarist Oliver Mueller and bassist David Dugan — shuns many of the musical clichés used by younger artists in favor of intelligent compositions and complicated time signatures generally seen in post-punk acts that rose to prominence in the mid-’90s, when these guys were just kids.

The band’s new seven-inch, which comprises the songs “Poser” and “Rover" (which we're premiering below) is set for release on February 23 at Lost Lake. But Slow Caves is also in the process of recording a full-length album. We spoke to Mueller about the decision to release a seven-inch ahead of the album, how hanging out at malls inspired the group’s new music, and what, exactly, constitutes a poser.
Westword: You’re in the midst of recording a full-length album in Austin with Chris “Frenchie” Smith (Slayer, Residual Kid, Dandy Warhols). Why the decision to record and release “Poser” and “Rover” separately?

Jakob Mueller:
We’ve had those songs for a while. The opportunity came up over a year ago to record them in Fort Collins at the Blasting Room, this legendary punk-rock studio, with Andrew Berlin, who we really like.
We had these songs, and then two weeks before the recording date, [Berlin] is like, “Hey, you guys want to record a [full-length] album?” And we were like, “No!” [Laughs] We didn’t have enough material at the time. It’s been a while since we recorded these two songs; we just didn’t want to let that opportunity pass us by.

Do the two songs differ much in theme or style from what will be on the album?

Yeah, both “Rover” and “Poser” are a bit about, I guess, trying to find identity and the process of trying to fit in. Growing up, we were trying to hang with the skateboarding crowd. We tried to fit in with the clothing, and then you get called out on being a poser, so you go through that same process in different cliques. You get tired of it, so you just start to embrace it: I’m just trying to find my identity. Sure, maybe I’m a poser, but I’m just trying to be happy.

With “Rover,” it’s kinda the same thing. I’m not really into, like, going out, hitting the town and partying, that kind of thing. I’d much rather stay home. So it’s about finding my own kind of lifestyle that way.

The artwork on the seven-inch shows drawings of abandoned malls. Growing up, we used to hang out at Foothills Mall [in Fort Collins]. We grew up hanging out at [malls], walking around with skateboards under our arms. Now those places have kind of died out. So that idea ties into these songs and us still trying to find our identity.

Is the suburban mall culture uniquely American? You were born in another country; do you see it there?
My brother and I were born in Denmark. We grew up [in Colorado], but we go back there every summer; we have family over there. There’s definitely a Danish version and an American version of what we’re talking about. In Denmark, most of the shopping areas have been updated, so things have changed with the times. It’s definitely more of an American thing to hang out at the mall.

You seem to remember these types of malls fondly, but not everyone feels the same way. Does the decline in mall culture make you sad?

I’m not necessarily sad about the decline. [Foothills] was just, like, a fun place to hang out when we were kids, and it was the place I most remember trying to fit in and where I tried to find my identity. So [the songs] were kind of a throwback to that imagery in my mind.

For kids from Fort Collins, recording at the Blasting Room had to have been a pretty significant moment.

Yeah, for sure, that was pretty incredible. Andrew Berlin hit us up and said that a band from Japan that was supposed to record for some reason got sent back to Japan as soon as they arrived at DIA. So they had this whole chunk of time to record someone. Again, we weren’t totally ready, but we knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to record there. There’s so much history there; they have all the Descendents and Black Flag stuff hanging on the walls.

Also, the drummer of those bands works there!

Yeah! Bill Stevenson did show up in the middle of the session. He’s such an inspiration on rock and punk music, so that was really cool.

Slow Caves EP release
9 p.m. Friday, February 23, Lost Lake Lounge, 3602 East Colfax Avenue, $12-$14, 303-296-1003.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Andy Thomas is a music journalist who hopes other music journalists write nice things about the music he performs. He lives in Denver with his wife, their two cats and a massive pile of unfinished projects.
Contact: Andy Thomas