- Kevin Schwitters
Cade Eastham Talks About Turning Stranger And A Debut EP
A new musical project, some new songs, and an old love of music. "What Drives" Cade Eastham? Let's find out.
Cade, at what point did you realize you wanted to be a songwriter and not only a musician?
Drums were my main focus for about 10 years, but around that benchmark, I shifted a lot of my energy toward writing songs. I found it more enjoyable than seeking out, or waiting for someone else’s (songs) to play drums on. Performing in various environments and groups from grade school through high school nudged me toward that realization, and the ability to rely on myself in the creative process played a pivotal role too. At home, practicing drum rudiments morphed into creating new parts for songs by my favorite artists, which morphed into making covers, to finally making my own music. Consuming and creating from the perspective of a songwriter opens everything up a bit more, and returning to the drummer’s perspective begins the curating process.
“...the ability to rely on myself in the creative process played a pivotal role too. At home, practicing drum rudiments morphed into creating new parts for songs by my favorite artists, which morphed into making covers, to finally making my own music. Consuming and creating from the perspective of a songwriter opens everything up a bit more...”
How do your songs begin their existence? In other words, what is typically the first step in your songwriting process? At what point in that process do you write lyrics?
The music comes first, then the lyrics find their place within it, almost always. A melody will appear and I’ll whistle it for a few days, which sucks for everyone around me, but if it seems worthwhile, I sit down and write a song with it. I do pick up the guitar, or sit at the piano with a blank slate sometimes, but chipping away at an existing theme, or idea, tends to work better.
I usually draw lyrics out through scat, or mumble singing along with a melody. I do write some (lyrics) without music in mind, but bringing the two together can be a square peg, round hole situation. Music is always happening in my mind, but finding words that fit it can be tough. The best way for me is to listen to the chords and structure, and try to extract a feeling from it. Once something of a theme is there, I work with the music to find the words.
The arrangements of your songs have lots of twists and turns/stops and starts, but you also create plenty of space to allow each line to land patiently. I find myself thinking of each line carefully as I listen. If you had to pick one line from these songs that you are most happy with, which one would you choose?
From the third song, Catching Up: “When you come back, the clouds hang low, we’re kids again, bickering beneath the kitchen table”. The line fits in the context of all the lyrics, and it’s pretty cool anyway, I think. At different moments, the song is directed at the listener, the narrator, and a third party, and the lines between them blur at some points. The intro and outro are pointed pretty clearly, but to me the main section weaves between the three.
“At different moments, the song is directed at the listener, the narrator, and a third party, and the lines between them blur at some points.”
I find the imagery to be strong in these tracks. Specifically, in “Reflection Song” you mention the Smoky Mountains, Lake Michigan, sand dunes, and a moth near a salt lamp. Are these remembrances of moments from your life, or would you say it's more about storytelling?
I’d say there are some slices of life and some storytelling in all three songs. I have visited those landmarks and they’re important to me, for sure. Also, I saw a moth hovering by a salt lamp and laughed at neither of us understanding the reason for its existence.
You play a great deal of the instruments on these songs by yourself. Do you have pretty specific ideas for all of the parts in your head, or do you experiment until you get it right?
I definitely have to experiment until I get it right. Once I identify a general theme or direction, the crafting and curating of parts begins. This is both the most time consuming and enjoyable step of the process. Trying different tones and applying various textures until it’s right is where I lose track of time. It all depends, though. I’ll spend hours and hours on one part, then go with the first thing that comes out on another.
Tell me a little about the recording process for What Drives You.
Everything was recorded at Underground Squirrel Studio with Micky Torpedo this winter. I brought in a demo of guitar and vocals for each song, and we built everything around those. With the structures there, we shaped a lot of the parts around them as we went. Micky plays bass and keyboards on each track, plus vocals and lap steel on track three. I covered the rest and it was a great experience.
Do you have any plans to perform these songs live?
I’ve now come full circle and I’m the one with songs looking for people to play them with. I’m not against acoustic, or solo performances, but I kind of am. So, not at this exact moment, but I would love to.
Do you have any more songs in the works? And what can we expect from those?
(I have) many more in the works. Since I started writing, about five years ago, these are not the only songs I’ve completed, I’m glad to say. They seem cohesive as a group, so I put these three out together. From future tracks, you can expect improvements on all facets, plus a deeper look into this thing we call life. Or complete nonsense. We’ll see.
Kevin Schwitters is a guest writer for Black Squirrel Underground and Underground Squirrel Studio.
© 2022 Black Squirrel Underground