When we met Meg Walsh and Jeffrey Prosser of Cavale at their preferred bar in Washington, D.C., they remarked at how loud and crowded it was for a weeknight, so at Walsh’s suggestion, we walked over to a salon where she’s a co-owner, cracked a few PBRs and American Spirits, and set to work.
Cavale is D.C.’s post punk duo that plays “electro gutter blues” and is influenced by “stoop drinking,” according to the duo’s Facebook page. The band is soulful and powerful both on stage and on recording.
“It’s funny,” Prosser said, “I’ve made some noise about how the idea of this band started off at a party where—”
“Ivan’s party,” Walsh added. [laughs]
“—Ivan’s party. Meg and I didn’t really know each other. As I had a few drinks, as I’m wont to do, I sort of exclaimed, ‘You know what I wanna do, is have a band that sounds really bass heavy but is kinda bluesy vocals and stuff,’ and Meg popped up and said, ‘I’ll do that.’ I mean, literally, that’s—and it’s not like she and I were friends.”
“I was jonesin’ to make music.”
“Yeah, which was just completely serendipitous.”
Describing how things came together that way will come back in later. But first, Prosser and Walsh had a lot to say about being true to themselves and what Cavale is about.
“Meg and I have had a lot of conversations that have come to the conclusion that—and it’s kind of reflecting the original idea that we had—that we want this to be a 50/50 collaboration between Meg and myself,” Prosser said. “And there were times obviously when we decided to bring other people in for various reasons [like Khilko, for example], but the original idea and the current idea is for it to be Meg and I totally collaborating, purely together, 50/50. And I found that to be really exciting because she and I come from very different places, different writing perspectives, different playing perspectives, and it’s become very rewarding to me to set my ideals and my ideas aside and embrace hers. And it always ends up being far more a true Cavale product than if we just realized my ideas. It’s good to bend a little bit toward what she has in mind, and I’m think she probably feels the same way.”
Walsh continued: “Yeah, and I think a lot of times we’re usually on the same page about things for whatever reason, and any time we’ve tried to have input or help from another person, we’ve both … gotten off our track (Prosser: “absolutely,” “exactly”), and whenever it’s just the two of us, we’re just like, ‘Oh yeah. Yeah.’ … We always seem to be in the same direction.”
“But I gotta say the way we are this minute is completely in line to me with that first idea we had,” Prosser said. “We find that when we embrace that original idea and stick to it, we’re at our strongest.”
Meg revealed that “I was trying to recall the first time that we actually communicated outside of [Ivan’s party] and then set up a time to like get together and make music. I can’t recall that happening.”
Prosser: “I don’t think I’m stepping on Meg too much by saying I think she’s shy in the same way that I am, and not the kind of person who is like a total Type A personality (Meg: “absolutely, yeah”), so after we originally said ‘Let’s do this,’ it was probably a number of months before we actually got together. [laughs] And it’s been so, I always say serendipitous—I wish I knew a better word, but it’s always so [pauses] I dunno, it’s heartening that once I presented her with my very raw, rough ideas, she immediately turned around and presented her own ideas on top of them, and it’s like, ‘This is exactly what I had in mind. This is better than what I ever expected. This is a true collaboration in the way that I always hoped it would be.’ And it’s been that way since then.”
The Record Release
Prosser said, “And we’re kind of excited to acknowlege that the cover photograph is by a guy named Peter Alan Lloyd who famously, what I like to say is, famously shot what became the cover art for the Smith’s Meat Is Murder cover.” Walsh found one of Lloyd’s photographs and “presented it to me one night after we were banging our heads together trying to think of something, and it was absolutely perfect I think to what we want to present ourselves as. We, y’know, cajoled each other into eventually just sending an email to Peter Alan Lloyd, the Vietnam-era photographer, and he was like, ‘Absolutely. Why would you—yeah, of course, use my photograph.’”
Walsh explained, “Yeah, I saw the photograph in the Corcoran War/Photography Exhibit, and I was just like staring at it for fucking ever, just fascinated with this photograph.”
Prosser added, “When I sent it to the guy, I was like, ‘Dude, we’re nobody. You’re not gonna fuckin’—I’m embarrased to even ask,’ but he, I think appropriately, granted us permission.”
A D.C. Band
“This is an incredible aside, so forgive me, but one of the things about this project with Meg that I’ve really come to embrace as being magical, for lack of a better word, is that a lot of the things as time goes on reveal themselves to make sense, even though we had no idea at the time.
“Just bear with me, but, you know, D.C. is built on a swamp. We’re a D.C. band, and we talked from the beginning about whether we wanted to be known as a D.C. band, and we kind of agreed, like, D.C. is our home, we’re D.C. people, this is us, and we’re not going to shy away from being a D.C. band. This is who we are. Our music is very swampy in vibe and feeling and sound, and layers of percussion and swimming mosquitoes and all that stuff, so that we used this image which is specifically, um—”
“Literally a swamp.”
“—literally a swamp, people lifting others out of the swamp to bring them up, to bring them health and life, that’s kind of who we are. That’s kind of what this project is all about. And we’ve only talked about it in drunken conversations, but it’s just funny how we kind of keep coming around to—it’s funny, one of the things that we’ve begun to listen to recently is the early Dr. John stuff, which is psychedelic swamp music. This dirty, rotten, psychedelic, hot, sweaty—”
“Yeah, oppressive—that’s us! That’s what this thing is. And it’s just funny how things keep coming back around and making sense when we had no idea at the start, y’know? It’s just, uh, serendipitous.”
We swung back around to Cavale being a D.C. band, and Walsh clarified Cavale’s embracing of D.C.
“It was an observation of how so many bands leave, and then they’re like, ‘Cool, we’re from L.A.!’ It’s like, ‘No, you’re not. All of you are from D.C.’ …. Just because you moved to a different location, doesn’t negate all the music you created in D.C. and your roots in D.C. I think it’s annoying that D.C. gets so much hate for whatever fucking reason. but I feel like people try to shed the D.C. thing as soon as they leave, and it’s really irritating,” Meg said. “It bothers me.”
“I completely agree with Meg.”
“I think what it boils down to is people think they’re gonna make it or whatever, but that’s not how it works anymore. For some reason—obviously we haven’t done that; that’s why we’re talking about it—people apply geographical shit to their sound or something, and I don’t know why people are so put off by D.C. sound, even though there’s not one, but you know what I mean? But people want to shed it for some reason.”
Prosser added, “For me, being an old fart, it has a slightly different theme in that I’m proud of go-go music. I mean, I’m a white, middle-class kid … but we are go-go. Even though we don’t sound like go-go, our heart is that percussive pulse. That’s us. We’re Urban Verbs. We’re Slickee Boys. I know it doesn’t sound like it, but we are that—dare I say Bad Brains?—we’re a continuation of that idea. We’re [pause] making music that’s meant to reflect where we are.
“We spend a lot of time out in D.C. you know? And being out in D.C. informs everything we do.”