Mass guitar great raps about rocking with Cave In, Converge, Quicksand, and Mutoid Man
Old school fans will always associate Stephen Brodsky with Methuen rock act Cave In, but he’s not one to stick to just a single project. He’s also part of the progressive metal trio Mutoid Man, sludge metalheads Old Man Gloom, and the amplified duo New Idea Society.
Along with all of that, he’s a former member of the major Salem hardcore outfit Converge and a current collaborator of theirs. To put it lightly in layman’s terms, Brodsky likes to get loud with a guitar and microphone in myriad ways.
With rhythm guitarist Adam McGrath, drummer John-Robert Connors, and bassist Nate Newton (who is also in Converge), Brodsky will lead Cave In to the stage of the Sinclair on Dec. 5, with local metal quintet Lesser Glow opening.
We recently spoke about him being part of a certain YouTube series, touring with one of his influences, critical scheduling, and of course what the future holds.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, you started getting involved in the YouTube series Two Minutes To Late Night which features a bunch of musicians performing a cover while each being in remote locations. How did you get involved in this series and what do you like most about being part of it?
Jordan Olds, the show creator and host under the name Gwarsenio Hall, and Drew Kaufman, who is also known as Kevin the Sound Guy, are just genuine, real, creative comic forces. I feel like they do what I feel is very difficult in the world of heavy music which is blending in an element of humor and they do it very well. That kind of appealed to me because I feel like I can take some silly ideas that I joke about with my friends but it never sees the light of day and they actually make it happen. Like doing an Alice In Chains cover and then throwing in a bit of Soundgarden’s “Spoonman” for the bridge, it somehow works. Beyond just being creative comic forces in their own right they’re also some of the hardest working people that I’ve come across in a while where they have very ambitious ideas and they actually make them a reality.
It’s kind of rare, especially given the scope of the ideas that they sort of put forth. I just love being involved simply on that level, I really get fired up by people who set out to do something and then actually get it done with all the parts involved being greater than any individual aspect. I think COVID-19 sort of helped elevate that whole operation because we were all sort of staying home being confused about what was happening and not really quite understanding the science behind it. The show provided a sense of normalcy because music was still happening, people still wanted to make it and people still wanted to get together in some shape or form to collaborate. A lot of touring musicians were in the same boat—we wanted to be doing stuff, we wanted to be busy, and Two Minutes To Midnight provided an outlet for making that happen so I feel fortunate to be a part of it, for sure.
Have you and the folks behind Two Minutes To Late Night talked about how to have the show coexist with musicians currently being back on tour?
I think the creators are very much interested in bringing the series into some sort of live setting. They’ve done so in the past by making a few festival appearances but it is pretty tricky given the number of moving parts involved in the show in order to make something like that happen. As far as filming content on the road and such, I guess certain fans or artists would probably fare better in that realm than others just given the nature of traveling in a van or a bus and barely having the space for a backpack or something. Also, you’re driving all day from one place to the next and when you get to the venue you’re pretty pressed for time to get through the requirements of the day in order to play a show. I think Jordan and Drew have a vision for how to make Two Minutes To Midnight work in a live setting and it’s definitely been a conversation that we’ve had but making it a reality certainly brings a whole checklist of logistics. It’s definitely possible but maybe for something down the road.
You recently just finished touring with the New York City act Quicksand, right? How has it been being on the road with them and who approached you about joining up with them as a touring member on guitar?
The tour was great and I’ve been listening to Quicksand since I was a 14-year-old townie metalhead. I’ve had a bunch of their albums in my possession for more than half my life now and it was a bit of a trip. Learning the material was such that I kind of knew all of the songs in my head and me and my friends growing up definitely did air guitar and air drum to all their stuff numerous times so I felt pretty in the pocket as far as learning these songs and owning them. It felt really good just to kind of go there I guess.
A few years ago these guys were considering ways to move forward as a four piece and we jammed together briefly, then I didn’t hear anything else about it for a few years. When they got back together to start touring on their new album, Distant Populations that came out in August, they wanted to change it up a little bit. I think Walter Schreifels especially felt like as much as he enjoyed trying to cover all the ground as the lone guitar player in the band, he wanted to free up some of the bandwidth that was necessary to do that in order to just deliver in a more forceful, focused way in a live setting. Handing off stuff on the guitar to a second guitarist made sense for him. I felt that it was a nice departure for me because in a lot of the bands I do I assume the frontman role or an integral one as part of singing the songs or leading the songs. It was nice just to focus on mainly being a guitar player and playing all these great songs that I’ve loved for years.
Speaking of the other bands that you’re in, how do you manage being in all of them? Do you find yourself planning stuff out a couple years in advance just so you don’t get too overwhelmed?
Scheduling is everything, a well-managed calendar is the way to go. Everything just happens further and further down the line at this point and I’m sure five years from now we’re all going to be planning out 10 years from then on where we’re going to be, what we’re going to be doing and which band is active. A lot of it just depends on whose record is coming out at the time and who’s available for what. Again, scheduling is number one.
After this run of shows with Cave In, what are your plans for the beginning of next year?
I’m so used to going day by day, week by week that I’ve sort of blacked out the calendar beyond what is right in front of me at the moment. There is talk of recording a new Mutoid Man record and we’ve been sitting on some really great riffs and songs now for several years. It’s probably about time to just bite the bullet especially now with Jeff Matz playing bass in the band, he’s been a game changer and a great addition so I think it’s time to honor that to have a closer listen to where things are headed. I was involved with Converge’s new album Bloodmoon that just came out and we’re going to be doing some shows to celebrate its release. Everybody in our camp is really pumped about it and it’s such a wild, twisted turn for that band.
Those guys for years now have been making these cool, deep-cut experimental album tracks and for them to start focusing on that part of Converge and make a whole release is really, really exciting. As a fan, it’s great to see them switch gears and really own it so I think as that record gains more traction there will be some shows happening to ring it in.
It was also recently Caleb Scofield’s birthday and I feel like as a gift to us we just finalized the master for a brand new Cave In recording. It’s funny how things sort of collide in that way from the spirit world to the world that we’re in now and even with Caleb no longer being on this earth his spirit is still very much showing itself in very, very cool ways. To finalize a master on a new Cave In record on his birthday was just so cool and it was like a gift to us from him, so he’s still out there checking in with us and I hope it’s that way from here on out.
He’s always invited to let us know that he’s here and we’ll continue celebrating his life as well as his work through Cave In and beyond. There’s lots of exciting stuff in the works for next year.
Cave in with Lesser Glow at the Sinclair, Cambridge on Dec. 5. 8pm/18+/$25. axs.com.
Rob Duguay is an arts & entertainment journalist based in Providence, RI who is originally from Shelton, CT. Outside of DigBoston, he also writes for The Providence Journal, The Connecticut Examiner, The Newport Daily News, Worcester Magazine, New Noise Magazine, Northern Transmissions and numerous other publications. While covering mostly music, he has also written about film, TV, comedy, theatre, visual art, food, drink, sports and cannabis.