Cave Paint isn’t gunning to be the next supergroup.
“Our goal is definitely not to be the most popular band ever,” founding member and main composer of the band, Travis Shirk, explains over the phone. “It’s more so hopefully people can listen to it, and take it home and apply it in their life, and hopefully it moves them in a way.”
Ask Shirk about his work and he’s willing, as he says, to “talk your ear off.” He jokingly refers to the band as the “best glorified hobby we all have,” but the respect he has for his fellow musicians, both in Cave Paint and outside it, is obvious as he speaks.
The linchpin of his musical philosophy is collaboration – between the artist and the listener as well as between musicians. He speaks with great enthusiasm about his time spent with various other bands, including playing with Marathon, then Changing Light (now Navigator), and later, drumming for Stonewall Vessels. He lists a veritable who’s who of local acts, and explains that he enjoys networking with folks both near and far.
“Last year we got to meet these guys in Ohio called Narrow Arrow and played with them,” he explains, in a litany of cooperative work with other artists. “It’s just really cool to connect with everybody… There’s a lot more DIY stuff going on. It’s like a close-knit community. Everybody’s helping out, it’s so much fun.”
The latest collaborative effort is WAKE 2.0, a kind of secret overnight music festival somewhere in Millersville, run by Cave Paint’s manager, Dalton Bauder, and Ryan Davis, both of Animal House Productions. Cave Paint contributed to a compilation record for the festival. Their exclusive track, “3/28,” is featured on the release, alongside songs from both local bands and folks from as far away as New York City. “I’m extremely excited to see what everyone throws our way live,” Shirk confirms. WAKE 2.0 is on June 25, and takes place in some mysterious barn in Millersville… but that’s a topic for a different piece.
This spirit of unity and joy in creation extends within the band as well as outside it. Cave Paint is influenced by American Football and the Kinsella brothers, but it builds itself as much as anything else. In fact, Shirk, who does most of the composing, insists none of his songs are intentional.
“Honestly, I write everything accidentally. If I sit down and try [to write something], I fail miserably.” He’ll “noodle around” on a looper and an acoustic guitar until something clicks, though hearing their featured track “Vulpe” on Bandcamp makes that slightly hard to believe. The song is so well composed, flows so well, that it’s hard to imagine its creation was spontaneous – but it was.
Their sound a mixture of ambient vibes and steady strumming; it’s influenced by the experiences of the members themselves. Shirk confirms that their tracks may relate to “any emotional rollercoasters any of us are going through at the time.”
If you haven’t heard them live yet, you will get the chance to soon. Cave Paint is surging forward in their own creative efforts. In the coming weeks, they’ll be progressively releasing their first EP as a band. The record will consist of 9 songs. Shirk plans on releasing three at a time at live sessions around the area. The first three songs will be released at a live session in the works at Rude Wood. Of course, they’re also helping others along the way: “We just finished up with a local band called Spherehead and we got to help produce something of theirs,” Shirk says, clearly enthusiastic as he describes the process.
In all, Shirk says, he wants folks who listen to Cave Paint to take more than those tunes home with them: “I just wanna spread the message that it’s not about sitting down with people and saying you wanna be like a band or write like a certain band. It’s about bringing the musician out in you, about seeing what you want to be in life and apply it.”
“It’s not necessarily emotional, but taking it and spreading it to other aspects of your life.”