Summer Stars: The Black Cadillacs
“Europe is something that we had always joked about, never really thinking that we would get to cross this off of our list so early in our careers,” notes Will Horton, vocalist and principal songwriter for The Black Cadillacs. “So far, we’ve been amazed by the crowds and the support we’ve received.”
The singer is conducting this interview from Kortrijk, where The Black Cadillacs—Horton, lead guitarist Matthew Hyrka, bassist Philip Anderson, rhythm guitarist John Phillips and drummer Adam Bonomo—have made yet another stop on their extensive tour through the western side of the continent. The Belgian city is a far cry from the disheveled Knoxville living rooms where he and his Tennessee-bred bandmates—the group claims members from all three of the state’s major cities—honed their craft just a few years ago, but making the jump to greener pastures always was the plan.
“Matthew and I are first cousins and have been very close all our lives, and he and Philip were neighbors. Whenever he would visit Knoxville when we were younger, we would always trade music and show one another what we were into at the time,” recalls Horton. “Then one day, when I was 14, I got a CD in the mail from Matt and Phil that said, ‘Play Loudly (Because of bad recording quality)!!! The Black Cadillacs.’”
Horton, Hyrka and Anderson threw themselves into the project, regularly crisscrossing the state to visit each other and writing songs over the phone until they could finally link up in college. It was then, at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, that the band rounded out its lineup. From there, The Black Cadillacs forced their way up the ladder, as the raucous grit of their live shows carried the group from boozy house parties to drunken local clubs before eventually landing them slots at festivals like the Voodoo Experience, CMJ and SXSW.
“Over the past few years, we have taken the ‘weekend warrior’ approach to getting on the road: touring four or five days out of most every week, gaining fans by word of mouth,” says Horton. “It sounds crazy but it has paid off in many ways.”
The band’s aggressive brand of indie-rock, which puts a lot more emphasis on the second half of the term, has reeled in all types of live music lovers. With their bluesy, often bombastic guitar riffs and a pulsing rhythm section that perfectly complements Horton’s disarming, Chris Robinsonesque vocals, it isn’t surprising that a slew of festivals have sought to add their propulsive sound to the bill.
“As a band from Knoxville, finding out that we were going to play Bonnaroo was very exciting,” says Horton. “I’ve been there four times. Every time was great but I just wanted to be playing…You can expect us to put on a hell of a show on The Farm this year.”
Yet, the festival scene isn’t the only place that The Black Cadillacs are looking to make their mark this summer. A new album is on the horizon, and the band hopes to find a producer that can help bring their vision to light in a studio setting.
“We’re always working on new material. Touring constantly gives us the opportunity to test new music on a different crowd every night,” notes Horton. “Up to this point, everything that we have recorded has been us in a live room, playing together the way we do on stage. We plan on keeping that ‘live element’ to our recordings, but on our next album, we really want to give all we can to these new songs.”