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The Cavves contemplate loss, friendship on 'Settle Down in A Guest Bedroom'

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Baldomero Plata

The latest album from The Cavves focuses largely on loss and friendship while the music continues the quartet's tradition of self-described "land locked surf rock."

“Settle Down in A Guest Bedroom” is the latest album from Wichita’s self-described landlocked surf rock quartet The Cavves. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Sophie Emerson, guitarist Matt Clara Bennett, drummer Jackson Relph and bassist Cale Gubitz, the quartet swiftly earned a reputation as one of the city’s most potent live and recording entities soon after its 2016 formation.

The band’s previous effort, “Venture Out” (2019), was notable for Emerson’s deep-cutting lyrics, whether tackling depression (“Holy Water”), gender inequality (“Noise Will Be Noise”) and the bonds of friendship (“Soil Mates”), as much as for the high-energy and deep-reaching musical accompaniment. At times, one could be forgiven for overlooking the dark tales and deep emotions lurking in the lyrics because of the frequently uplifting, often insistent quality of the music.

Like many bands before them, The Cavves have figured out that people will come to the party to dance but stay if their hearts can find nourishment in deeper emotional layers.

For those who have grown accustomed to this from The Cavves, “Settle Down in A Guest Bedroom” doesn’t disappoint. The musical trademarks are there, from the soaring, searing first single “Hollywood” to the shimmering, bouncy “Somersault,” to the utterly buoyant “Mavericks.”

Throughout, we’re reminded of both the joys and frustrations of friendship, the aches of aging and loss, and other bittersweet rewards that living brings. Witness the “Guest Bedroom,” with its observations about the kind of living that one experiences primarily in their early 20s as adolescence becomes a distant post in one’s past and many of the fears of the future become reality — friendships ending, disappointment settling in, the future not seeming so much bright as slightly faded, the colors sometimes duller than expected, the reception chillier.

And yet Emerson manages to find some sense of celebration in this, singing about a place where, at least for a time, the worries may erode ever so slightly, if one keeps their head about them.

“Settle Down in a Guest Bedroom” is out May 19. The Cavves will celebrate the release of the album with a show at Midwest Drum and Percussion on Thursday, May 18, followed by a short regional run and a 21+ show on May 27 at Kirby’s Beer Store.

Emerson recently spoke with KMUW about the new album and her approach to the record’s lyrics.

Interview Highlights

“Settle Down in A Guest Bedroom” is a collection of songs that appears to be about friendship. 

The songs we had for it were probably written over the span of two years. We hadn’t released anything in quite a while so it was just a collection of all our latest and newest stuff. I was a little bit nervous for it because it is a lot more personal. I was, lyrically, saying what was on my mind. We had a really hectic last couple of years. Like everybody did. [This record] is a lot more personal. I talk about one of my friends specifically in two songs. Another one of my friends, she has a song about her. It definitely is a lot about friendship.

It seems like there’s a lot about people leaving in the physical sense but the memory of them staying with you and the bond of the friendship still being there. 

Definitely. That’s a good way to put it. Better than I could have done.

So, it was a little scary to open up and put yourself out there? 

Pretty scary. Writing everything out, keeping it to myself, that wasn’t scary. In the [initial stage] I’m just journaling. But once it becomes a song and you show it to your bandmates and then your bandmates learn it, and you show it to a crowd there’s a lot of anxiety. For me, at least. “Was this too personal? Are people going to like this? Are people going to be able to relate?”

At the end of the day, I’m really happy with how personal these songs are compared to [our last albums “Learn to Swim” and “Venture Out”]. This album is closest to us. Throughout the album, there is a common theme of loss. We’re going through tough times so we wrote about tough times.

I apologize because I don’t have the exact line memorized. 

[Laughs.] You’re totally good.

In “Guest Bedroom,” there’s a line about the difference between being 23 and 22. 

Twenty-three hurts, I’d kill to be 22.

I’m 50, and I felt that. 

It makes me happy that that’s a relatable line. I was trying to get my feelings out there but you always want to be relatable. That was just something I was thinking about. Sydney Darnaby, the friend who “Guest Bedroom” was written for …. She had passed shortly after she had turned 23. Our birthdays are two months apart, I think. I had just turned 23, and she had just turned 23. I remember when everything was fresh, I was, like, “Man, 23 hurts. This blows. Is this going to be

the whole year? Is this going to be all of 23?” I was just, like, “Dang, I would kill to be 22 right now.”

I’ve had other people say to me over the years that songwriting is the best therapy there is. 

Probably! Honestly? Yeah. For sure, for sure. One lyric of the song “Guest Bedroom,” “Write out your day/my mom says it’s a start.” My mom, at the end of the day, just writes out, “OK, this is how I felt. What can I do about it?” She writes all that stuff out in her journal. I remembered that and started doing that and it really, really, really helps. But … I forget where I was going with that.



Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.