By: Matt Woodford
What is it about certain songwriters that when they begin to strum or sing it feels like they are speaking directly to you? Do these artists set out to tug on your heartstrings? Or are they just breaking down grand ideals into a sequence of notes and phonetics? Upon speaking with Andy Cabic (pronounced kai-bik) of the San Francisco band Vetiver, I realize his affinity for interpreting life’s wavelength is actually quite simple.
Drawing from a pool of influences that anyone growing up in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s would have swam in, Cabic credits his early interest in music to those around him. “Not being from a musical family, I got my start like everyone else—by loving music, hanging out at the record store and eventually teaching myself to play guitar,” Cabic tells me from his home in San Fran. “Those steps manifested into bands in high school and eventually moving into the Bay area to play and write more of my own material”.
Playing locally around the Bay area and making lasting connections with people like Thom Monahan aided in Cabic’s aspirations for forming Vetiver. “Hooking up with Thom and having him produce and play on all the Vetiver records was great because we have similar influences, which makes it easy for us to communicate during recording.”
Pulling inspiration from every corner of his life, Cabic draws captivating imagery, using Vetiver as his canvas. “Lyrics come from all over the place,” Cabic says, chuckling. “Being on the road, hanging out with friends or just listening to tracks as I walk the streets—it hits me at anytime really.”
During the life of Vetiver, Cabic has enlisted several players to aid him in transforming the recordings into live shows. He says it’s “more about having the live show be able to translate into a recording rather than the other way around”. Being that none of Cabic’s band mates live in the same city, “it takes a couple of jams to get ourselves situated, but with the professionalism these musicians possess it doesn’t take long.”
Cabic has released five full-length records with Vetiver under a variety of different labels. Vetiver’s first two releases came out of the San Francisco label DiChristina, with a third—a record of covers—out of Cabic’s own label Gnomonsong. The legendary label Sub Pop, which released the latest Vetiver record, “The Errant Charm,” as well as 2009’s “Tight Knit,” provided a certain security for Vetiver. “The move to Sub Pop was pretty natural actually. I had some friends that worked there and they were excited about getting on side with Vetiver.” So with numerous records in the bag, this young optimist and humble musician doesn’t desire that his fans bleed from their hearts, but it sure is a sweet side effect.
Matt Woodford hosts Strep Throat Radio on Mondays from 4:00 – 5:00pm.