For some reason, the first time I listened to Macavity's debut EP, Falling Hard in the Key of E, I imagined a world ruled by 13-year-old super-geniuses who worshipped Macavity in between updating the theory of relativity and repainting everything in sight in glittery pinks and purples. That said, this isn't more bubblegum for prepubescent girls, something to fill the gap between 'N Sync and blink-182 on TRL. No, this is rock--thick, lovely and colorful, with layers upon layers of swirling guitars (the band has three guitarists), dollops of keyboard in all the right places and, wait, is that a glockenspiel? (Yep.) Plus, it's got just the right amount of catchy pop hooks to make sure you'll be singing these songs for days, and you don't need to be a 13-year-old braniac to appreciate that.
Look underneath the layers, however, and you'll find something quite unusual, at least for a rock record: innocence. And not a drippy, fake, puppy-dog innocence; this is the real deal, genuine and oddly comforting. It's a hot cocoa record in a world of black coffee and carrot juice. There's no cynicism here, no jaded commentary from seasoned veterans, no experimentation simply for the sake of being different, no political agenda. Just that feeling you get when you give your heart to someone else for the first time and she throws it back at you, delivered by five guys who are young enough--only one of them is old enough to buy a beer--to know what that feeling is like. It hurts, you swear you'll never do it again, but isn't it beautiful in a way? Isn't that living? Don't you kind of want to do it again? Yes, yes and you do.
Perhaps Macavity's most notable trait is its ability to work as a group. When you listen to Macavity--guitarist-keyboard player Seth Bohlman, guitarist-bassist Marshall Read, drummer Brian Rodriguez, guitarist Ryan Shaw and singer-guitarist-bassist Beau Wagener--you don't hear just a great riff or one talented member. Everything stands out. There is no head songwriter or main lyricist, but the sound isn't fragmented. Everyone works together, and things blend together seamlessly. What stands out is the whole song.
With Chomsky, Valve and The Filthy Reds; December 1
"I think we've pretty much decided that outside of Macavity we all suck," Shaw says. "Well, we don't suck, but going to a guitar store, for example, and sitting there plugging in and just rocking out, it's not the same as when we are together. That's when the magic happens."
Despite the modern, textured spacey-ness of its sound (think Radiohead, back when it remembered to bring guitars to the studio), it seems like all Macavity wants to do is get back to the basics of rock and roll and write songs for the sake of writing songs, and make them pretty while they're at it.
"I see Macavity as a band on the verge of maybe becoming something cool," Rodriguez says. "Maybe changing people's views about music and just playing what we all enjoy and what comes out of our hearts."
They might not be changing people's views just yet, but the members of Macavity appear to finally be getting recognized for who they are rather than who they know. For a while, the group has been known primarily as the rock-and-roll little brothers of bigger bands around the area like Chomsky and Valve, opening shows and learning the ropes. Lately, though, they've been growing up and getting ready to go out on their own. They're going through what Shaw calls "rock puberty." In their two years together, the band has grown drastically both musically and as a group. But the band feels that its biggest turning point was the addition of Rodriguez to the group.
"We weren't whole musically until Brian joined a year after we started," Bohlman says. When he came along, we were set. We matured and began to create something that we all were proud of."
Opportunity seems to be coming quickly for Macavity. Recently, it was chosen to appear on the Buzz-Oven IV compilation with Hi-Fi Drowning and South FM. Now, Falling Hard in the Key of E (recorded by Valve's Casey Diorio) is being released on Idol Records. But the Macavity boys aren't taking their bit of success for granted just yet. According to Shaw, "Just to have anyone notice us and want to help us out is a feeling that is impossible to convey. It's kind of like that funny feeling you get when you've just found out that the really cute girl that sits at the front of the class actually likes you--you're so happy and excited and surprised and nervous and overjoyed all at the same time--except it just doesn't go away."
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The young men of Macavity have the potential to make that feeling last quite a bit longer. Maybe even that whole world-ruled-by-13-year-old-genius-Macavity-fans will happen. For now, though, they have pretty modest goals. "To do some sort of tour and see the country would probably be a reasonable next step," Shaw says. "Personally I would love to go play in Europe. Now that would be simply amazing."
Wagener adds, "I just want to take our craft to the farthest lengths possible. Europe would be a cream dream. I think we've got some touring to do, and if the luck keeps coming like it is, I'll be happy forever."
It's not hard to believe Wagener. Macavity is not one of those bands with a "success time line," that claws at the door of any A&R rep it can find, desperately trying to latch onto any indicator of success as quickly as possible. They've worked hard, yes, and they're certainly grateful for what they've got, but they're not about to act as if they are entitled to anything more than what they have now. Which is not to say they don't want it.
"I have no official 'goals' with this band," Bohlman says. "I think that when you set goals for yourself you open yourself up to that much more failure and disappointment. Everything has come to us by luck, and I would hate to jinx us and say what will come next. I just want to continue playing in this band and creating something. I honestly don't care who listens to us or how far we get in terms of success. I just want to write music and be proud of it and to have someone who has the same tastes as myself understand it and congratulate me on doing something, anything."