BACKSTAGE: Born Cages
Creativity in the NYC Indie music scene might not seem as much as it used to be. But the band Born Cages' creativity and complete freedom to just "do them" sets them apart from other #EdgarAllanFaux type bands. With influences ranging from Bob Dylan to The Killers and LCD Soundsystem, their sound is at a place that no band sounds like them. We met up with the band – Vlad Holiday (vocals/guitar), David Tantao (drums), and Matt Maroulakos (brass/keys) - before their showcase at the roof deck at the Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District to get more info on their beginnings, unique sound and where we can find them on tour this summer.
Labeling Men: Tell me how you guys got started from the beginning.
Vlad Holiday: We met at a recording studio and it was very music-centered, we all liked the same things so we got together and this is Born Cages.
Labeling Men: Did you meet at the studio because you were all doing something separately?
Vlad Holiday: At the time, we were recording something that was kind of a different carnation of the band, and David and I met Matt through there. That's kind of where it all started.
Labeling Men: And what year was that?
Vlad Holiday: Well Born Cages has been around since 2012 and we were called something else before that in 2011, but it was a different chapter.
Labeling Men: That was actually the next thing I was going to bring up but you answered it, it’s really not who you were...
Vlad Holiday: It’s not the same, you grow up and you find yourself. We also changed our name because there was another band called Electric Sun in the 1970s and they were like, "Hey, this doesn't sound like this band.” Then we got a record deal and said let’s avoid any lawsuits we may encounter and change our name. I'm excited that we did because it feels more right.
Labeling Men: And who came up with the name Born Cages?
Vlad Holiday: It was David.
David Tantao: The name Born Cages means that everyone is put on this earth with their unique situation that may feel too negative or too positive and they want to change it, and it’s your own cage. The cage isn't a specific thing, it could mean anything to anybody. We all have our troubles to deal with and this life isn't perfect because we're human and we aren't perfect, but we try our best and figure it out, a lot of the songs revolve around that message.
Labeling Men: How would you classify your type of music?
Matt Maroulakos: I would like to say we're a rock band with synthesizers and guitar solos.
Vlad Holiday: I guess the really easy, broad thing to say is that we're Indie-Alternative Rock, something like that, but it’s such a broad thing to say. We have guitar solos, it’s synth driven, kind of Indie-Rock. It’s hard to describe.
Labeling Men: It’s just you guys.
Vlad Holiday: Yes! It’s very us.
Labeling Men: What do you feel makes you guys different than other Indie-Rock bands?
Vlad Holiday: That's a hard question. The truth is sometimes we feel that - we're a New York City band and sometimes it’s hard. I don't mean it in a pretentious way. [Other bands] that sounds like us or exactly like us to the point where it’s like, "I feel like they're doing the exact same thing we are or sound like we do," or feed off each other. I don't think it’s a bad thing, we just do our thing and what happens, happens.
Matt Maroulakos: I also think our live shows separate us from some of the other New York City bands. I think the band really brings it during the live set.
Vlad Holiday: I also think when the songs are written, the live set is always in the back of our heads, we always consider what song will be like playing it live. We're always writing for the show.
Labeling Men: Who are some of your musical influences?
Vlad Holiday: I've always been a fan of Bob Dylan and his music and lyrics. He's been kind of one that’s been with me all the years.
David Tantao: It’s a hard question for me. As a drummer in the band, I've been influenced a lot by a lot of other indie artists that I wasn't even aware of when I joined the band. Now I listen to Joy Wave, Metric a lot.
Vlad Holiday: Metric's a great one!
David Tantao: The Killers, I take a page out of their book because they sound a little bit like us.
Matt Maroulakos: I think LCD Soundsystem is another one. I love their use of electronics.
Vlad Holiday: The way that they blend rock music with electronic and those synth-y aspects.
Labeling Men: Tell us about your single, "Rolling Down The Hill"?
Vlad Holiday: Our single we released last year, I think last September or something, and our fans have been really liking it and we went to radio with it and it got to the Top 10 alternative specialty radio. We're excited about it, we close the show with it. Its’ a fan favorite and it’s fun!
Labeling Men: Awesome. I'm going to ask you about fashion. What you're wearing today, does it differ from what you wear everyday?
All: [laughs] This is it!
Vlad Holiday: It’s funny that you ask that because we are playing at this swanky ass hotel [The Gansevoort], we talked about trying to dress up and no, we didn't! I think that would be a bit funny.
David Tantao: I do my side job with these clothes.
Vlad Holiday: This is us!
Matt Maroulakos: We own it.
Labeling Men: For sure, otherwise you can come off as unauthentic.
Vlad Holiday: Granted when you're on stage, you have a certain type of energy that you wouldn't have off stage, but for the most part, we try to just go up there and be ourselves.
Labeling Men: Is there a go-to piece that you grab before going on stage?
Matt Maroulakos: I like the jean jacket.
Vlad Holiday: Yeah man, Matt does the jean jacket all the time, I like it.
David Tantao: I play in these Doc Marten boots. A lot of drummers like to take their shoes off before they play. It doesn't really matter. These jeans are H&M and I can kind of do this in them [stretches out his legs].
Vlad Holiday: I think the main point of what you wear on stage is that you don't think about it too much because if you're focused on it and feel uncomfortable, it'll eat away at your live performance.
Labeling Men: Can you tell me one tour or show that stands out in your mind?
Vlad Holiday: I don't know, we always love playing New York, we're excited for tonight. The Rough Trade show was cool, our last show. We played at this cool venue in Brooklyn called Rough Trade where they have a venue in the back of the record store and I've always wanted to play there in NYC. We played for the Empire Records 20th Anniversary screening and it was fun, good times.
Labeling Men: What can we expect from you in the future and on the album that’s due out June 2nd?
Vlad Holiday: Songs.
Labeling Men: [laughs]
Vlad Holiday: It’s cohesive. Sometimes we lean a lot of synth-y, like the new single we put out, "I Just Want the Truth Baby", sometimes it’s a little more raw and in general all the songs we released are good representation on what this album will be.
Labeling Men: Are you guys going to go on tour?
Vlad Holiday: Yeah, we're leaving in a little bit, we're going to be out all summer all over America, we're doing "The Warped Tour."
Labeling Men: Is that your first one?
Vlad Holiday: Yeah it is, we're excited! It’s not exactly our type of music, but I think people will dig it. If you're at Warped Tour and things start to sound a little monotonous, come see Born Cages!
Find out more about Born Cages at www.borncages.com
Interview by Nisim Frank