You don't need Merriam Webster to tell you that a band often equals best friends in business together. It starts off great, and everybody loves everybody. But then with success, things change. That's where the communication begins to break down; where punches get thrown; and where second albums are stunted. Band-of-brothers bonds are tested and often break before they bend. St. Louis, Missouri’s Cavo experienced an incredible measure of accomplishment with its Reprise Records debut, 2009's Bright Nights Dark Days, which yielded the No. 1 single, "Champagne," and the Top 5 rock track, “Crash,” and then found itself in the aforementioned position. The rise to the top of the charts nearly tore them apart, leaving their relationships with each other and as a unit tattered.
Cavo didn't experience anything different than that which most bands endure. Life on the road is where you learn about the people you are in a band with. You never truly know someone until you live with them, and when you are touring for two years non-stop, you live with your band mates 24/7/365. It's like a marriage, only intensified. Cavo singer Casey Walker acknowledged, "Even in a marriage, you don't actually see your wife for most of the day. When you’re on tour with your band, you’re away from each other for about as long as it takes to eat lunch. It never ends."
Toward the end of 2010 it was a do or die situation for Cavo. It wasn't just about needing a break. It was about either giving up the gig completely or giving in to each other and making a conscious decision to start again. It was not lost on bassist Brian Smith that few bands get the opportunity to play their music in front of thousands of fans or to hear their songs on the radio nationwide. “To give up on this band would make everything that we did sacrifice along the way seem in vain," he mused. "I love the guys that I am with. They are my second family and for a minute, I forgot that."
The other half of the Cavo rhythm section, drummer Chad LaRoy, wrestled with the idea of being burnt out on a dream job. "I was fried. And we had a tough time when we started getting together again to write," LaRoy said. “We had a lot of meetings where we all kind of laid our feelings and issues with the band and each other on the table, and it actually started
to make a difference.” Guitarist Chris Hobbs added, "We had to get back to basics and be four guys who like to play in a room together. We each had to let go of all the personal gripes as a group and then figure out if we wanted to move forward."
Cavo was hovering in limbo when, after this careful examination of their internal relationships, they realized that anything worth having is worth fighting for. They split with their major label, regrouped as a unit and came out swinging once again. The bonds of band brotherhood and friendship ultimately could not be broken. Walker summed it up best, saying, "[The major label] can take our album or take the song rights, but you can’t take our ability to write good songs or to enjoy playing together. And you can't take our ability to be friends."
Obviously, this story has a happy ending, since the band has regrouped and is releasing their new album Thick as Thieves, on Eleven Seven Music. Those refreshed methodologies, coupled with the "strength-in-numbers attitude" helped produce this eleven song effort which trumps everything that came before it by a landslide. The first single and title track, “Thick as Thieves,” cements the band's position as solid hitmakers. Walker said, “The genesis of the song was about taking back our own career and making it better. One of the lyrics that sticks out to me is the part about being so sick of waiting for something to change in my life. It was time for us to take matters back into our own hands and do what we knew we were capable of."
LaRoy even joked that the “Thick as Thieves” single shows that the band is like a "four man wolf pack" thanks to their knack for trudging through the trenches and clearing the many hurdles of the eats-its-young music business and life on the road. "We're stronger than we've ever been and we have a 'take no prisoners' approach now,” he said.
But band unity aside, it’s really all about the songs. And Thick as Thieves truly delivers the entire spectrum of real emotion with each passing track. Walker penned the dark, moody, and memorable "California" just days after his father’s unexpected passing in early 2011, and he likes to say that the song was not as much about his father, but about how he was
dealing with the loss.
The track "Hold Your Ground" traverses similar lyrical terrain as the first single but with an even more urgent sentiment. Walker commented, "No one takes our place in our fight. We fight the fight or we lose the fight," furthering the notion that things are now tighter than ever in the Cavo ranks.
Smith calls the album the unveiling of who Cavo truly is. “It's a collection of vastly different songs with varying tones and tempos, kind of like we’re four completely unique people with different backgrounds coming together to tell one common story,” he said. There are high’s, like “Last Day," which is a potent, up tempo sing-along, while there are low’s, like "Never Gonna Hurt,” a relatable ballad that will yank at your heartstrings. There's "Celebrity," a chunky, guitar-driven song with escalating tension, while "Circles" boasts a fiery riff that refuses to be extinguished…sorta like the band’s spirit.
Overall, writing with Cavo allows the band the chance to work out his life on paper and to say something without having to wait for a response; this is precisely why the fans connect so deeply with them. Walker commented, "You get to say something to someone, and for three-and-a-half minutes, they listen and they take it with them. 'California' is me telling my dad what I’m going through since he passed away. In reality, he’s not here, but that's not important. I get to say it out loud every night."
LaRoy summed up Cavo in 2011 and beyond by saying that this is band is the most successful relationship he has ever been in. "That's the coolest thing about it," he admitted. "We are four guys who hang together, play together and actually want to be friends again."
The road to this healthy place could have been littered with a huge casualty. With their relationships repaired, Cavo is armed with a new album that finds the band where they need to be. With Thick as Thieves, there is nowhere to go but up.