So, today, I’ve got a real treat for you. I had the chance to chat with Evan Rodaniche (Evan9) from the band Cage9. Evan is an awesome guy with a great sense of humor and is an incredibly talented musician. Evan is the lead singer as well as guitarist for Cage9. There new album Illuminator just hit the shelves recently as in incredible album. You can read our review of it HERE. Check out my interview with Evan below:
XSROCK: Hey Evan! What’s the latest with Cage9? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Evan: Yup! We’re happy to announce that we’ll be the opening band on ex-Flyleaf singer Lacey Sturm’s August tour, hitting up dates throughout the Midwest!
XSROCK: How long has Cage9 been together?
Evan: Depends on how you measure time…haha. Our current line-up has been together for about three years – but this band has essentially been my personal musical outlet since high school under many different amalgamations. And I graduated high school in the 90’s – so it’s been a minute. I still think of Cage9 as a ‘new’ band though – every time we write and release a new song or album!
XSROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Evan: My best friend growing up’s dad was a guitar player in a band. He had aspirations of his son becoming a guitarist…but I’d sit in on his lessons and somehow picked it up quicker – so he became a drummer instead (breaking his dad’s heart) and we started a band. I was 14 at the time but I’ve been on that path ever since.
XSROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Evan: That’s a hard question to answer because it depends on your mindset and where you are in your life at the time. I’d be tempted to say I enjoy playing live more but I’m also racked by stage fright and get major anxiety before going on stage. Once I’m playing I’m kind of in this euphoric trance that I guess you could describe as joy, but it’s hard to pin point what it is depending on the song you’re “channeling” and how lost you are in the moment. After the show, you’re either completely on top of the world if you think you played well or totally depressed if you think you sucked. It’s a goddamn roller coaster ride!
Writing and recording music can also be either a complete awesome drug trip when you get into a zone and successfully write something that completely does everything you hope music can do to enhance our human experience…OR, you get writer’s block, can’t complete a sentence or musical idea and hate everything about your life and my god, HOW LONG HAVE WE BEEN WORKING ON THIS ALBUM??? Etc.
To summarize, music is like life. When you’re up – you’re UP and when you’re down…oh what’s the point of anything!? haha.
XSROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.
Evan: Clears throat. So we thought we’d live on the edge and book a show in Tijuana last year. See where this is going? We figured no heavier US rock bands play there so mayyyybe we’d draw a big crowd just from the novelty of it. On our way across the border – the first red flag arose: no you cannot enter with that trailer full of gear, you need to go to such and such tourism office in the daytime tomorrow to get this form etc etc etc. “Go home!” It was like 10 pm and we were due onstage in like an hour. Anxious to not let our legions of Tijuana fans down, we did the honorable thing. We dropped our trailer nearby in San Diego at a friend’s house, grabbed all our important belongings, computers, guitars, cameras and with justice on our side, barreled back across the border with no delay. The venue was not in the “tourist-y” part of town. Rather, it probably USED to be the tourist-y part of town…but no more. A bunch of long haired gringo rock dudes in a big van carrying guitars and gear through the police barricades, drunk people and taco traps…you get the picture. There was approximately 4 people at the bar. The PA system was for bingo night, which had been cancelled. We got up on the table…I mean the stage, and delivered 45 minutes of blistering alternative rawk-metal awesomeness that probably sounded not unsimilar to a jet engine roaring down a long metal hallway for said 45 minutes, much to the chagrine of the 4 people who were still wondering what happened to bingo night. We got paid our 40 pesos (equivalent to 0.0000040 cents US) and RAN for the van. It was still there! Whew. We were feeling pretty good. I paid a few bucks to the drunk guy who had been “watching it” for us, backed it out of it’s dimly lit parking spot and was about to hit the gas to soar back across the border on the wings of freedom. “Wait.” Said the drummer. It was about 1:45 a.m. “We came ALL THE WAY to Tijuana to NOT go out and get f**ked up????” After a guilt trip of epic proportions as only a drummer can drum up, we yielded. We re-parked the van in some completely unsafe spot, went in to the nearest dive bar, did a bunch of shots, ate a bunch of tacos, fell down in human excrement, returned to the van and it had been cleaned the f**k out. Thousands of dollars in gear GONE. Sorry. I’m not sure if that was a good story. But it’s hilarious just how stupid it was looking back now. Remember…the drummer is always wrong.
XSROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Evan: Can you play at our wedding? Best gig ever.
XSROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Evan: Totally. Though I sometimes wonder how my life might’ve turned out if they hadn’t been so supportive. Maybe I’d have a house, a vehicle that is not a van, a bank account…haha. My mom was a huge Beatles fan and my father was a big into classical music so my childhood home was a very musical place. My dad was a marine biologist by trade, but was a still-life painter – the two of them were very into the arts were happy to see me pursue something that I was inspired by.
XSROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Evan: Drugstore Cowboy off of our last album is a really high-tempo song with a killer fast-picking double guitar solo that’s really fun. All the songs off of the new album are little more complex musically which makes them more of a challenge to sing and play…so the pay off is bigger when you nail it. Which we do…on occasion. Really loving Open the Sky and Starry Eyes, but I look forward to trying to pull off the weirder songs live like Black Horse or Ghost, which is mostly electronic on record, but could probably come across in a unique way with live instruments.
XSROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Evan: Metallica and Guns n’ Roses were my first real crush. But really it was my friend’s dad who taught us to play in the first place that I credit with lighting the fire. I can clearly remember the night he brought us over to a drummer friends house for a jam session. They were just messing around. But at one point he handed me the electric guitar and I just started making stuff up and everyone was just playing along…my 14 year old brain exploded. He’s no longer with us, but thank you Clark Bristol.
XSROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Evan: Actually, I’d like to go back in time and be the opening band at “the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance” in Back to the Future. Give the whole “your kids are gonna’ love it” speech. And then Freddy Mercury-era Queen would close. Yeah.
XSROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Evan: I could say opening for Ozzy Osbourne, Bad Religion or even Asking Alexandria last weekend. Getting signed to David Ellefson of Megadeth’s label is a huge thing for me. Playing on Shiprocked a few years ago and seeing both Geoff Tate of Queensryche AND Vinnie Paul of Pantera/Hell Yeah in the audience. But probably the greatest accomplishment so far is just not throwing in the towel. I’ve watched plenty of friends bands quit. Plenty of bands that I swore were going to be the next big thing, just give up. It’s hard doing music. There’s a little glory, and then there’s lots of olympic athlete level dedication to your craft to try to be the best you can be…mostly accepting that you’ll never be as good as you wish. It’s hard on your psyche. But I’m proud to still be here, trying to become a better musician, a better songwriter, a better performer…even if I never get there, I’ll never look back and say I didn’t try my ass off.
XSROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Evan: I think I’d be a haberdasher. “What size shoe do you wear?” You say the size and I’d be like “no we’re all out of that…do you wear black?” That kind of thing…depending on the hours though. Had to reference Spinal Tap somewhere. Seriously though, my dad was a marine biologist and spent most of his life in a wet suit scuba diving off the coast of Panama checking out fish all day. I could definitely get used to that.
XSROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Evan: Marshall amps, Line6 guitar effects, Michael Kelly Guitars, Ford E-350 15 passenger van and the everlasting power of Taco Bell.
XSROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Evan: It’s a little messy. People take their sub-sub-genres way too seriously. Especially in metal. Which is strangely enough, probably the most hard-core and unified scene all around. Metal heads are about as close to tribal as our modern culture comes musically. But the scene gets a little fractured by people ONLY getting behind “whatever-core” they happen to think is superior at the moment. I mean realistically, most of us LOVE one particular band in a scene and swear allegiance to that sound…but then you’re chilling at your friends BBQ one afternoon and Bob Marley comes on your gonna’ be like “f**k yeah, turn it up!” The internet has kind of bred people this way now – you can surgically pick and choose what you like and not get exposed to anything that doesn’t fit your bill. But music is supposed to be the great unifier…maybe only second to death. We should strive to let it bring us together, not the opposite.
XSROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Evan: I love Ren & Stimpy. I speak Spanish. I am only 2 feet tall. I got a degree in Astrophysics. The last two things are not true.
XSROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Evan: I would ask this hypothetical person: what is your absolute favorite band in the whole wide world? Whoever it is…we sound exactly like that…except times 1,000,000. True story.
XSROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Evan: Thank you, from the bottom of my soul, for supporting Cage9 whether it’s by buying our music, bringing a friend to a show, sharing our videos or letting us sleep on your couch…you guys rock. We’re proud to give you this new album Illuminator, that we’ve spent so long working on and hope it improves your day, if even for just a split second. The honor is ours.
XSROCK: Thanks Evan for taking the time to talk with XSROCK!
Evan: Thank you!