Michigan’s Cavalcade Talks New Music and a Thriving Indie Scene


Image of Michigan rock band Cavalcade

Cavalcade – Story by Anne Erickson, photo by John Carey

Local Music Beat: Brad van Staveren of Michigan band Cavalcade talks about the group’s new album, “Evergreens,” the thriving indie scene and more

Lansing, Michigan-based Cavalcade have been making music since 2005. The band’s first practices were in 2005, and their first live show was in 2006. A lot has changed over those years, but one consistent is the band’s passion for both writing new music and playing high-energy live shows. They’re part of the thriving indie scene in not only Michigan but across America.

Cavalcade release their new, double album, “Evergreens,” on Nov. 4. The album is choc-full of raging musical numbers, with hints of post-punk, horror-punk, grunge, sludge and more. With so many musical styles, this album is an exciting listen.

In the latest edition of the Local Music Beat column, Brad van Staveren of Cavalcade checks in with Audio Ink Radio to talk about the new record, the state of local music, having a thriving indie scene and much more. For more on the band, visit their Facebook page.

Audio Ink Radio: Congratulations on Cavalcade’s new album, “Evergreens.” This album took three years to finish and get ready to release. What was that journey like?

Brad van Staveren: Yes, it did indeed take three years to complete. We had started writing it a bit before the pandemic, but once lockdowns started in mid-March of 2020, we were sharing a lot of ideas and writing back and forth through various kinds of sound files. One night, the idea of a double album entered the text thread. It was probably a late Saturday, as everyone was home, a tad buzzed and bored. We decided to go for it, since we didn’t know when we would have this amount of material again for an album.

By fall of 2021, after doing a few shows after things were opening up and finalizing up the arrangements, we started tracking instruments. We felt we had enough quality songs and some noise ideas to help with the overall atmosphere of the album.

Tracking didn’t take too long. But, mixing took more than a year in itself with our vocalist, Sean Peters, putting in God knows how many hours trying to get things dialed in. Jeffrey Knol from the Grand Rapids based-band Rip Van Ripper assisted with mixing and ended up mastering and was an immense help getting the project complete. With this amount of material, it took forever to get everything dialed in on top of life and shows. We finally signed off in July of this year and sent the album to get pressed.

When did Cavalcade get its start, and what were the early days like?

We’ve been around since 2006, so almost 20 years. When we started, it was a way to make noise with no boundaries outside of other bands we were currently in and have fun. I was amazed it lasted more than a couple years with the downright asinine, noise shenanigans we were doing in the beginning. It’s truly a massive pleasure that it’s lasted this long. It’s a blast writing music with your friends and seeing each other grow in their talents and abilities as we get older.

What’s your favorite song to perform live off the new album and why?

My favorite song so far of the newer songs is probably “Demons For The Truth,” the first single. It covers a lot of ground and has a fun, thick, almost grungy big guitar chorus. It starts so moody and quiet. It’s a treat to see people’s faces in the crowd when it kicks in.

“Seems Like a Nightmare” is one of my favorite songs off the album. Tell me about the story behind that song.

I’m glad you dig “Seems Like A Nightmare” so much. I’m stoked to see people’s reactions to that one. We took two ideas we were working on separately and put them together into one song. As eccentric and crazy as it gets, it worked. It’s difficult to play correctly, so it’s always a challenge. I’m hoping it gets into the live set more often.

Cavalcade is having a Lansing, Michigan, album release party on No. 4 at The Avenue Cafe with Locust Point, MI and Cult Therapy. What makes this lineup great for the release?

Our last album release in 2019 for “Sonic Euthanasia” was a full carnival extravaganza at Mac’s Bar in Lansing. We had popcorn, circus games and five other bands that ran the gamut of styles as us. That was a lot of fun but a ton of work. It paid off and did really well, but we wanted to do something different this time.

The Avenue show will be a focused, killer evening with the aforementioned Locust Point and Cult Therapy. We are massive fans of both acts, and they each bring a different vibe to the evening that work with us. We also have two other release parties scheduled that include other bands we massively respect. One is Nov. 17 with Drink Their Blood, Blind Haven, Lucius Fox and Slugchild at The Up and Under in Kalamazoo. The other is Nov. 18 with Rip Van Ripper at Speciation Cellars in Grand Rapids. None of the shows have the same band twice, which was on purpose to make sure we got to have very different lineups. Also, both towns are like second homes to us at this point.

Do you feel that live music has returned to where it was before the pandemic yet?

I definitely feel like things have returned to where they were pre-pandemic. I go to a lot of shows that vary in capacity. Across the board, things seem healthy. I was at two sold out shows at Pine Knob this summer, which feels crazy. 15,000 people is a lot of tickets to sell. It’s not just big shows, either. Most local shows and mid-size touring acts have stellar turnouts, as well.

Do you think music fans are more appreciate of live shows now that they went through that drought during the pandemic?

I feel that the memory of not being able to do things during 2020 and early 2021 will stick around for a while, and people will go out and support live music. I hope the appreciation will not die out, but you never know. Also, I have always felt a very strong connection with local music and its significance. I feel its very important to the community. Many local shows are where people meet up, socialize, discuss various local events or issues and just be a real community and enjoy each other’s company. On top of that, some of my favorite shows have been local and regional shows where the band is playing like it’s Madison Square Garden sold-out and baring their entire soul.

Many musicians, locally, are hungry to connect and leave their issues on the stage. It’s very easy to connect with, especially if you had a bad week and are having relationship, work, or any kind of stressful situation in your life. You can go to a basement show, see bands, cleanse your soul singing along and have the best night ever. Then, you can go about your life less stressed the next day.

It’s also downright inspiring to see people that you run into on the street making music you love. You start to believe in yourself more and think about what art or music you can create or what business you can do that would give you more satisfaction. It gets the brain in a more positive thinking situation, overall.

What are your thoughts on the state of heavy metal music?

I feel, in general, that metal is thriving, especially with all the large metal and hard rock festivals that have popped up over the last 10 years. Many extreme bands have almost become household names. Local and regional metal shows do really well. It’s kind of weird in a way, since there are still people that don’t get how big it is and how many fans are heavily into it.

Do you feel independent music is in a good place? Is there a thriving indie scene right now?

I feel independent music is thriving. People want to go see a killer show and not pay $75 all the time, so there’s a demand. We have tons of talented musicians in Michigan across many genres. Everyone seems excited about going out and playing and supporting artists.

For another indie band’s take on the local music culture and thriving indie music scene, go here.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Local Music Beat, Michigan News, Music, Rock, Rock News