June 5 2013 12:00 AM

Local group transcends rocks genres on Pantera singer's label

Photo by Tiesha King

Metal groups usually stick close to a specific sub-genre — speed, thrash, doom, death. The rockers who make up local outfit Cavalcade don’t seem concerned with the parameters set by their metal forefathers or fitting in with the hardcore purists. Instead, the Lansing-based five-piece prefers to meld heavy riffs with a mishmash of psych-rock and alt-rock tones. 

Bassist Craig Horky describes Cavalcade as “self-indulgent music nerds playing Cure-influenced, Fugazi-meets-Black Sabbath bastardization … in three different tunings — with black metal vocals.” Last year, the band even worked out an ‘80s dark New Wave cover set — not a typical move from a gang of headbangers. 

After laying low in 2012, Cavalcade released two digital albums in April: “Dear Entrails” and “15 Year Dog Plan.” The albums feature guitarists Cale Sauter and Brad Van Staveren, vocalist Zak Warren and drummer John Bruce. Warren and Bruce both left the band after the albums were produced; now the band is moving on with vocalist Sean Peters (formerly of local bands Summon and Wastelander) and Christian Urabazzo on drums. The band is also featured on a 2009 compilation by Housecore Records, a label founded by former Pantera lead singer Phil Anselmo – who the band is in talks with for a future release. 

How did Phil Anselmo find you guys in 2008?

Sauter: He came across our “Into Bolivian” album and contacted us on MySpace to tell us it blew his mind. At the time, he was looking for deconstructionist metal and we hit the nerve. Our relationship with Phil is still excellent. Anything we do with him has to work around a ton of variables obviously, considering how busy his schedule is. We wanted to get these two releases with the old lineup out and into the public.

Cavalcade formed as an instrumental band in 2006. Why did you decide to add a vocalist?

Sauter: We added Zak in 2007 after playing some weird shows without a singer. We played these insipid, 20-minute jams no one watched. At one point at a house show, a drunk bum even slapped Brad while he was playing because he was so offended. Then one day, Zak put up a Myspace post requesting a "fashion-grind" band to sing for. I told him that was stupid and he should come try to sing like that over our crap. 

Horky: Cavalcade had been playing together without a bassist or singer for a little while. When I moved to Lansing, I was informed I was playing bass for it. At the beginning, I didn’t even own a working bass and I really didn’t know what I was doing. It could be argued that I still don’t.

Sauter: Craig had recently been playing bass in a similar band with Brad and was living on my couch when he first moved to Lansing, so it was pretty easy decision to add him.

What´s the story with the recent lineup changes?

Horky: People move, things shift. John moved away for college and Zak moved away for a career. Logically, these moves are better for them. Christian was basically handpicked by John as his replacement and has been with us for a while. We’ve just started writing with him and it feels very natural. Sean was a no brainer for us — he’s recorded all of our albums and gets the band as much as anyone possibly could. 

How do you feel Cavalcade’s sound fits in to the scene? 

Peters: Cavalcade’s sound is horror and beauty, harmony and discord, hope and despair. It’s a constant contrast of anything you know about music. It almost feels the black sheep of the metal scene at times, and other times completely at home.

Urabazzo: When people ask me what Cavalcade sounds like I usually tell them, ‘It’s metal, but not really metal.’ If you listen to the bass, drums and one of the guitars, they’re all playing what could sound to be a different song — and not necessarily what one would consider a metal song. The vocals and the second guitarist bring the heavy metal feel to the music. (If they’re still confused), I tell them it’s like stoner metal.

with Cavalcade, Shackle the Giant and Dozic
9 p.m. June 7
Mac’s Bar
2700 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing
$10 for 18 and over