As guitarist for the brilliant Remy Zero, Jeffrey Cain established a reputation as a creator of sparse, yet beautiful instrumentation. Upon the messy dissolution of the band, he set out on a journey to create music without allowing his heralded past to his advantage. Sending out anonymous demo tapes to radio stations, he created a buzz purely based on the music. Whether it’s using Tobias Stretch as a video director or reacquainting himself with the works of Bukowski, Jeffrey Cain strives to challenge while entertaining. Sania talked to him about his latest project, Dead Snares.
TDOA: How did Dead Snares come to be a full blown entity for you instead of one of many small side projects?
JC: Dead Snares has definitely taken on a strange life of its own. Even though I work on many different records, nothing is ever a “side project” to me. If I’m working on something, I give every ounce of myself to it. I take my work home with me, it follows me in my sleep ….. until the inevitable time comes when I have to let it go out into the world. Things seem to keep breathing life into this record and I have no plans to abandon it.
TDOA: How does this feel headspace wise and creativity wise vs. your role in Remy Zero?
JC: Remy Zero is five artist chiseling away at an idea. When you bring in a song to the group it is best to detach and let it turn into something that is way beyond what you had planned for it. My role in Remy is to create the most interesting setting or backdrop to Cinjun or Shelby’s lyrics. In Dead Snares everything is on my shoulders, there is absolutely nothing to hide behind. I killed the record so many times and I’m still amazed it exists.
TDOA: Remy Zero recently played some west coast shows together in memory of the unfortunate passing of drummer Gregory, what was that experience like for you? Is the book written and closed on the band, or is it going to remain an open ended thing?
JC: The tour was incredible in every way. I was aching to play those songs again, and every night I felt Gregory in the room. With Remy I just absorb every moment as it happens and try not to look at the future.
TDOA: What were your expectations in the beginning with Dead Snares? You mailed out a few demo CD’s to local LA radio stations, KCRW and KROQ, labeled simply with the projects name, which was an offbeat way to go about it all considering you came from a background of an established band with much recognition. Simply a fresh start?
JC: I truly had no expectations, but I was looking for a real experience. I had seen all the machinations that go into getting music heard in this world. After a while you begin to feel it is all a false reality and start to wonder if something out there on its own can still purely connect.
TDOA: You recently moved back to Alabama from LA, what prompted the move back home? Much to our surprise, we’ve been hearing a few new up and coming bands here at TDOA from that state with a lot of promise, what is your opinion on the music scene there? How has the change in scenery effected your music and creative process, if at all?
JC: I left home at 18 and within a few years I began touring and recording constantly . I’m not sure why I decided to leave Los Angeles. It was probably because someone told me I couldn’t. And yes, there is amazing music coming out of Alabama. What other state could bring you both Sun Ra and Jimmy Buffett? Sorry ….. I am deeply inspired here. I’m surrounded by people who make music because they need to, it’s how we cut through the chaos and truly communicate with one another. Come down, I’ll play you some amazing things.
TDOA: On the debut LP, Speak The Language, you get the best of many worlds. Acoustic instrumentation gives the songs a simple clean honestly, while atonally edged electronics give a haunting and unknown quality. It reminds me of surrealist art a little bit, something very familiar presented in a an unexpected way. What was the writing and recording process like with these songs? Any favorite things to play with in the studio?
JC: The record was started with an old surrealist trick. I turned on the tape machine without a song in my head. no lyrics or chord progression prepared … and I just began playing automatically. When you get the mind out of the way it is amazing what comes through. The first three songs were born that way, then I was on the path and had to discover the rest of the story. The tape machine became a real instrument for me. I would vary speed, everything. Slowed down guitars started to sound like pianos, pianos like voices, and cymbals turned into deep dark drones that became the backdrop for the record.
TDOA: The new video for the song ‘The Language’ was done by stop motion artist Tobias Stretch, how did you end up working with him? What do you think of the finished product?
JC: I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time. I contacted him about a year ago and we eventually began sharing ideas for our next creations. I wanted our video to be an opportunity for him to freely take his work where it needed to go. I didn’t explain the lyrics or impose my will on it. I knew something was burning inside of him and that it would be beautiful. I love the finished film because I was completely surprised by it . Thank you Tobias.
TDOA: Thinking about how the different layers of sound presented with Dead Snares would come together in a live setting is pretty exciting, are there any considerations for a tour?
JC: Yes, I want to perform live. I’m rehearsing right now.
TDOA: What artists are you listening to at the moment?
JC: Kurt Vile, The Great Book of John, Odd Future
TDOA: We’ve noticed a few references you’ve made on the internet about one of our personal favorites, Charles Bukowski. Has his writing influenced your songwriting or he just someone who’s work you admire?
JC: Bukowski caught me off guard and blew my mind. He reminded of many things I used to know.