Cold Cave Curates His Own Life

Cold Cave's Wesley Eisold will take his band on the road for a run of dates with Adult. and Sextile. We talked Poetry, American Nightmare, visuals, and more
Wesley Eisold and Amy Lee

This winter Los Angeles/New York City based Wesley Eisold and his band Cold Cave will hit the road for a run of dates with legendary electronic duo Adult. along with Sextile, and super-special guests Psychic TV, joining for the Brooklyn, NY date. The triple bill kicks off on February 17th in San Francisco. We had the chance to chat with Eisold about a number of topics, including poetry, visuals, American Nightmare, and more. Cold Cave’s latest release You & Me & Infinity, is now available via Eisold’s Heartworm Press.

Northern Transmissions: You’ve released two books of poetry through Heartworm Press—one made up of song lyrics from your musical projects and one of your somewhat darkened worldview reflections. Have music and poetry always gone hand in hand for you or are they two distinct entities?

Wesley Eisold: I wrote poems before I wrote lyrics and parts of the poems have often been the foundation of my lyrics. If something I’ve written fits the feeling of a song I’ll go from there. Often my favorite poets were musicians. Leonard Cohen, Jim Morrison and on from there. Music is one thing but it’s the magic that accompanies it that keeps me coming back. There’s different elements of poetry. Sometimes the look is poetic. Sometimes the feel. But songs that say nothing give me nothing.

NT: I have always considered Cold Cave to be a very lyric-driven band, but do you think of yourself as more of a lyricist or musician?

WE: Until recently I considered myself a lyricist first who just fulfilled what I wanted to say with quick songs. The music came pretty easily to me and it wasn’t my priority. For better or for worse I learned how to make music through that blitz and I take my time with the music now. It’s still a slave to the words but there’s more of a relationship between the two now.


NT: We were surprised and delighted to hear a new American Nightmare LP in 2018. What brought that on? Did you decide you weren’t quite done with hardcore?

WE: We broke up in 2004 and started playing periodically again about 8 years ago now. Making an album wasn’t always the plan but then it just made sense. We like playing and we wanted to play some new songs that fit us really. I’ve never felt done with hardcore. There were times when it wasn’t the music I wanted to make but it’s a massive part of who I am and what shaped me. Without punk I couldn’t have done Cold Cave and certainly wouldn’t keep it going the way I have in our own DIY way. Hardcore wasn’t a phase to me and it’s really so much more than music. There’s a definite disconnect between me and other musicians who didn’t come up in punk. I’m not saying one ways better, I’m just saying they don’t really get me.

NT: You’re certainly is a strange position with being the frontman of two very distinct bands in their own distinct genres. I think the coolest aspect to that is maybe bringing darkwave/synthpop fans to hardcore and vice versa?

WE: The crossover before was very small. When AN started in 2000 people would mock me for wearing Smiths, Joy Division, and Sisters shirts. Then it became almost uniform for hardcore and now just it’s pretty basic all around. Those shirts were not easy to find then in America. I did find that people who connected with AN were often open to other genres in general, and it’s insane that music was so secular not that long ago.

NT: Specifically with Cold Cave, visuals have always been a huge part to the live performance. How do you decide which ones coincide with each song?

WE: The visuals are interpretations by my partner and collaborator Amy. I love her minimal and natural approach to the live show and our presentation. She just gets it, but then again what do you expect from someone who had a Cocteau Twins leather jacket in 1987?

NT: Cold Cave started off as a solo project with periphery members for tours, but now your partner and bandmate Amy is a full “member.” Is the songwriting still all you or is Cold Cave a more collaborative effort now?

WE: Its not one way or the other at this point. Usually I’ll get to where I can with the music and she’ll make it better. Sometimes we start from scratch together. I had part time collaborators in varying roles but only Amy has really shared the heart and soul and creative process of this with me.

NT: With this recently announced tour you’re hitting the stage with ADULT. Sextile and Psychic TV for a few dates. Do you have a big involvement with picking the bands you tour with? I ask because all those bands make sense in terms of switching up genre while not drifting too far off.

WE: I think about the show I would want to go to and then try to make it happen. Curate your own life. ADULT. is totally crucial to me and influenced me to start making other music. Gibby who co-runs Dais used to DJ their early singles in 2000 and they’ve been a part of the make up ever since. Sextile has great energy, great records and a great name. Psychic TV of course needs no introduction but we are honored to have them in NYC. On the last tour we brought Black Marble and Choir Boy, similarly, those are the bands we wanted to hear every night. It’s really nice there are so many great bands right now when it was feeling stale not that long ago.

NT: Are we ever going to hear that Sunflower LP and is the You & Me & Infinity a good example of what’s to come next?

WE: We’ll make an album eventually but really we wanted to live by example and show that you don’t have to subscribe to a certain music model and that there are other roads you can take to grow your art.

NT: You’ve always been very open about your influences—the obvious ones being New Order and Morrissey—which is refreshing, because I feel musicians are becoming more and more dishonest in terms of influence. Do you have anything to say about that?

WE: Really people should be more honest in general. Those are kind of my go to’s because they sort of umbrella all that they influenced as well. They’re kind of airport stranger answers but they work.

Cold Cave
Live Dates

2/17 – SAN FRANCISCO – The Chapel
2/18 – PORTLAND – Wonder Ballroom
2/19 – OLYMPIA – Capitol Theater
2/20 – VANCOUVER – Imperial Theater
2/22 – CALGARY – Marquee
2/23 – EDMONTON – Starlite Room
2/26 – MINNEAPOLIS – Turf Club
2/27 – CHICAGO – Metro
2/28 – DETROIT – Majestic
3/01 – PHILADELPHIA – Underground Arts
3/04 – BROOKLYN – Brooklyn Steel
3/05 – WASHINGTON DC – Union Stage
3/06 – CARRBORO – Cat’s Cradle
3/07 – ATLANTA – Masquerade
3/08 – TAMPA – The Crowbar
3/09 – WEST PALM BEACH – Respectables
3/10 – ORLANDO – The Abbey
3/14 – DALLAS – Not So Fun WKND
3/15 – SANTE FE – Meow Wolfe
3/17 – TUCSON – 191 Toole
3/19 – SAN DIEGO – Belly Up
3/20 – TIJUANA – Black Box
3/21 – PIONEERTOWN – Pappy & Harriet’s
3/22 – LOS ANGELES – The Theater at Ace Hotel