Highly influential Singapore-based emotive punk band The Caulfield Cult celebrate the ten-year anniversary of their awesome debut full-length ‘Leaving Cemetry Junction’. We took this opportunity to catch up with the mastermind behind the band, Nicholas, to talk about that specific time and place that birthed this collection of music that still to this day, totally stands the test of time.
Yo! We’ve all been in the game long enough to see a lot of bands celebrate important records they’ve released. Cave In is about to play their Until Your Heart Stops record in its entirety soon. Today marks the day you released your debut full length with your highly influential band The Caulfield Cult! Congrats! Take us back to that time and talk about where you were in terms of headspace, music you were listening to, what goals/dreams/hopes you were aiming for with this band.
Hey buddy. Man, we were literally teenagers then and had no clue what we were doing. We recorded most of it in a jamming studio called Beat Merchants. I never sang before this album and had no idea what pitch was. I wanted to sound like Hot Water Music and I wanted the band to sound like Hot Water Music. We were also listening to a lot of Jawbreaker, The Get Up Kids, and Alkaline Trio. We wanted to go on tour, that was always the goal. Go out and throw ourselves into the world and try to take it as far as we possibly can.
Damn! For someone who has never sung before, you pretty much killed it on this! The songs fully stand up today. What was going on in Singapore at the time? Were people receptive to this when it came out?
That was something we were nervous about. We were all hardcore kids and I’ve only played in hardcore bands on hardcore bills. We didn’t think we’d fit in anywhere. I think we took a long time to grow on people. It wasn’t until a good number of years that people paid attention to us and the opportunities started coming in. None of my peers from the hardcore scene at that time were listening to the bands that inspired me to make this record. But emo eventually got more and more popular by the mid-2010s. I do feel like we were a little too early with this.
Help set the stage though / what we’re the big bands locally and internationally at the time. Was this Backtrack-era?
Hardcore was moving away from that fast melodic bridge 9 sound (think Verse, Have Heart, Comeback Kid). Yes, I believe it was bands like Backtrack that were making waves during that time, swoop hair metalcore was also a big thing – A Day To Remember, Asking Alexandria, etc. I can’t remember who the big local bands were at that time. We were opening for pop-punk bands like The Wonder Years and Man Overboard which I never thought we fit in with.
So this was definitely not a time that the more gruff style of punk rock was a thing. Was finding people easy for this band? And how soon after forming did this record come along? Also, this record is such a lovefest to Small Brown Bike!
Yeah man, we were too melodic for a hardcore show and too “rough” for a pop-punk show. We’ve played them all – with hardcore bands, metalcore bands. We even did DIY punk shows with power violence bands. It was maybe 2-3 years later where bands like Title Fight and Basement grew on people with the whole 90s revival, gruffy clean vocals, melodic hardcore thing came about but the actual 90s bands were never a big thing here. We really only found bands alike when we went on tour at that time. We became good friends with bands like Cavalcades, Hey Joni and Hot Damn from the UK, Disembarked from Sweden, Rollergirls and 52 Hertz from Germany who were more our style and the scenes there definitely suit us better musically. And in the Philippines, Tani Carino and his dozen bands as well. We felt like we connected with them and they understood. It was the mid-2010s when local bands like Forests, Subsonic Eye, Xingfoo & Roy, Long Live The Empire, and Seasight came about and the whole emo revival scene really blew up then. I do feel like we missed that boat but it is what it is.
And yes I love small brown bike man haha…
When you went in to record this were you already anticipating a bit of a cooler response given what was already going on at the time?
Yeah, we definitely expected not to be well received. Especially with the very rough budget recording quality
And looking for a studio to record this – was it a hassle to try and explain the sound to the engineers on deck?
Not really, we went with a friend and recorded it in a practice studio. We were broke teenagers with 0 budget, so literally went with the cheapest option and we weren’t fussed about sound at all. We knew we wanted a raw and rough sound so that worked out I guess.
But the rawness in this recording totally works for this type of music. Even listening back now it’s frickin perfect. Is there anything you would’ve done differently in hindsight?
I would have tried harder to sing in key. Some of the singing on certain parts really makes me cringe. I would have taken better care of my throat and health in general as well, I’d have no ability to speak at the end of nights every time we play
Totally – even to this day when I listen to early king Ly Chee songs I have no idea how I sang like that. I know I can’t do it now. What about the artwork – what went into this creation and again do you feel it represented a certain time and place.
This was a photograph of a rather isolated dead-end road where we wrote all our songs on acoustic guitars. It was almost always empty at night and we’d hang out for hours and play music. They’ve built buildings and structures over that area now so it’s no longer the same.
And then all the layout was you dudes or someone helping out?
It was all us. Photograph, design, everything done by us terribly.
So when this came out it wasn’t received well, but now that many many years have passed, are there any tracks that did go over well or became staples in your set?
“Burden” is probably our best-known song and besides a couple of sets that we were experimenting with, we always play it. It’s also the last song we ever played. The title track and “Everyone But Me” are also staples for our sets. My 2 favorite songs are probably the openers “White Pills” and “Withdrawal Symptoms” but for some reason, we never played them in the last few years of our existence. The member changes make it difficult to learn every song we have.
Tell me your all-time favorite lyric on this record and what it meant to you then, and what it means to you now.
“I’m thankful for the open door and a chance to breathe.
But we’re measured by this distance within these four walls
And we’re reduced by this screaming and the slamming of doors.
This distance is too far for our hands to reach”
This is from Burden.
It was a difficult song to write about problems I have in my family. It sounds weird to read now that I live away from them and only get to see them once in a while and ironically that improved our relationship a whole lot.
Thanks for the time with this! Any thoughts about bringing the band back together?
Haha I actually have not been in touch with most of them for a couple of years now but I won’t say never. I just want to thank everyone who listened to the record, it really is hearts poured out onto songs. Thank you, Riz for the chat!
Now go enjoy the full record streaming below. Such a DOPE band! Further below check out the band’s excellently shot and edit final show in their hometown of Singapore from a few years ago.