Cassavettes ready to bid farewell to Boston

Band members recall their favorite memories with BMS

, Staff

After five years together, the Cassavettes are parting ways to pursue other interests. The Boston rockers by way of Texas have been a longtime favorite of everyone at Boston Music Spotlight after delivering truly awesome live shows and releasing a couple of great releases, including the stellar 2009 album Shake Down The Sun. The band will play their final show at the Middle East Upstairs on Saturday with help from The Luxury and the Autumn Hollow Band. With that in mind, we asked the guys to submit some of their favorite memories together:

Glewn Yoder (vocals, guitar):

Best Show: Opening for Kings of Leon at the Paradise, July 31, 2007. At the time, Kings of Leon were big but they weren’t huge, like not on the cover of Rolling Stone yet. They were on the cusp of that mega-fame. But through a series of weird, unbelievably lucky-for-us occurrences, they ended up doing a free makeup show for the Phoenix at the Paradise — our favorite room to play — and we were put on the bill by WFNX’s Dave Duncan as the only support. People were in a festive mood, too:  not only was it totally free (they gave away tickets on the radio, so the crowd was excited to be there), but people were looking to party heartily. The crowd was in a state of delirium that’s only attainable in Boston, because Boston is a sports town, first and foremost, and hours before that show, the Celtics traded for Kevin Garnett and the Red Sox acquired Eric Gagne (at the time, it looked to be a shrewd move). So, in short, it was the dream gig. We played to a packed room of people who were very, very happy to be there. And we played well, too. Furthermore, KOL were in a foul mood — they had just lost all their equipment en route from Japan, and were jetlagged/pissed off the whole night — and it showed onstage. They did a very brief set before storming offstage, which just ended up playing to our benefit. We came out of it looking like heroes. The crowd, still mostly smiling, issued choice words about Kings of Leon to us as they passed our merch box on their way out the venue. Stuff like “you guys should have been the headliners,” which obviously wasn’t true, but it was nice to hear since oftentimes when you’re paired with a far bigger act, your main concern is “I just hope the crowd doesn’t completely hate us.” On this night, the crowd treated us like the headliners. It was like we were right there. It felt like we, too, were right on the lip of the cup and with just one more push all of our rock and roll dreams would be realized. For that one night at the Paradise, they came true.

Best Tour Stop: There are a lot of funny stories over the years which the other guys will definitely touch on (Matt getting poop in his mustache in the van, a very drunken/naked night in Dewey Beach, Scott trying to pee on a club door in Austin, Matt and I’s lost night at Ted Drozdowski’s house in Nashville, inviting ourselves to some yeah-dudes party in Cincinnati/Mike skateboarding during a guitar solo, accidentally absolutely destroying a deer outside Rochester and splattering our “U8DUST” license plate with blood), but I am feeling particularly reflective today, so I will tell you a sweet one with a funny ending. We did our first extended tour with Girls Guns & Glory and it was their first tour, too. They had a solid lineup at the time (Ward Hayden, Jeff Katz, Tad “Bruce” Beagley, and John Graham), and we were about as close as two bands can be. On the tour, we took a two or three day sabbatical at my parents’ house in Virginia Beach and we lucked out, as we got a slice of summer weather even though it was mid-October. The GGG guys (particularly Bruce) were far more manly men than we Cassavettes weiners, and they took to the beach to catch their dinner on a fishing line. Sure enough, they landed several fish and brought them back to the house where my father was grilling. Bruce pulled off a fish eye and ate it as if that’s not a big deal. Crunchy, and salty, he said as he challenged us to eat it. My mother stepped forward and threw a fish eye in her mouth. Not to be emasculated by my own mother, I too accepted the challenge and ate the fish eye. Sure enough, it was crunchy and salty. Later that night, still proud of myself for having suppressed my gag reflex, I told this story to my girlfriend on the phone. As she listened, she paced the house and walked into the living room to find a roommate kneeling on the floor and a girlfriend laying on the couch (use your imagination). Stunned, she blurted out, “Glenn ate a fish eye!” to cut through the awkward silence. When I relayed this story back to the band members in Virginia Beach, we howled with laughter, and Scott pulled off perhaps the greatest one-liner I’ve ever heard: “Well, I guess you both ate something gross tonight.”

Michael McCullagh (guitar, vocals):

Best Show(s): I agree with the KOL show. That night was the closest we’ve ever felt to being real rockers, and the set was well played. To my memory, we actually killed it, which is reason enough to have great memories from a show. The crowd was betrayed and literally spit upon by the headliners, and our tiny merch table in front of the coatcheck was in the perfect spot to hear everyone’s kind words for us and bitter ones for the Kings.

I would also nominate the first time we opened for The Toadies(Paradise again). Many parallels to the KOL show, only this time the headliners did their job and rocked the house down. With 3/4 of us having grown up in North Texas (native Toadie territory) and all of us being of prime alternative rock appreciation age when “Rubberneck” came out, it was really like opening up for your icons. A surreal experience to say the least. I mean, when I was first learning guitar, I would turn things like “Away” full blast on my boombox and jump around my room pretending to be Darrel Herbert wailing away. Little did I know that, like 13 to 14 years later, I’d share a stage with those guys. It was my first experience with being star-struck. Fun and absolutely strange.

Best Tour Stop: Thinking back, it always seemed that when something great happened to our band it must have been the result of some fortunate accident. It might not be the case (who knows what forces are at work behind the scenes/on Creamer’s cellphone), but to a young and naive and half-drunken band of youths, everything good came with that happy anxiety of serendipity. When we traveled out to Cincinnati for the first time to play Midpoint Music Fest, we were completely surprised at how fun the city and festival actually were. We checked out the club that we were to play in later that night and our hearts sank a little. The venue smelled strongly of new paint, and there were about 20 people on a dance floor that could hold 200 or so. We all decided to say “Aw, screw it. Let’s go have some fun and come back later”. When it came time to actually play, the place was packed and the crowd was seriously ready to party. We went with it, and we got down. At one point, Scott and Glenn were standing on the speakers and I was riding some guy’s skateboard around during the last guitar solo on “Carolyn…”. After the show we proceeded to carouse around Cincy and catch some more great music (including a set at Mr. Pitiful’s by our main men Girls, Guns and Glory). We woke up the next day to read an awesome review of our record in one of the Cincinnati weekly magazines and wander down to the museum to record a live demo of “Valley of Gold”.

Final Thoughts: I guess I never really sat down and purposely thought about all of it, but for a long time it felt as though Cassavettes were a sure thing ticket to the pros. We were always just about to catch a break. Not that any one of us is sure what that break would have entailed. Just some ethereal and unknown fantasy life of pseudo rock stardom and we had been training ourselves since childhood to desire it. Well, we never “made it” in those terms, I guess. We definitely tried the best we could, and we sure as all hell had a blast. All in all, the best 5 years of my life. I love Cassavettes and I’m going to miss playing with these dudes.  I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have been a part of this. There’s that luck thing again.

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