Caravels stick together to fight another day

Caravels: (From left) Foskaris, Shines, Van Cleef, Frantom and Mike R.
Photo: Beverly Poppe

Winnemucca. It even sounds like it could swallow up young bands passing through, and that's nearly what happened to Caravels there last summer.

Four days into a planned two-week West Coast swing, the Vegas quintet found itself stuck in the tiny Northern Nevada town halfway between San Francisco and Salt Lake City. Their van busted beyond repair and their tour plans squashed, the discouraged musicians considered drastic measures to reboot their band. "It was a big morale-killer, and we were pretty down," guitarist Matt Frantom says. "We started thinking maybe we should relocate to Portland, that it might be a better environment for us."


with Weatherbox; Look, Mexico; Lester Freamon.
May 21, 8 p.m., free.
Yayo Taco, 262-0201.
Caravels' Floorboards EP costs $5.

That move never transpired, but two of the group's members, bassist Cory Van Cleef and drummer George Foskaris, nearly left for Portland on their own — a decision that would have splintered Caravels and likely meant the end for the potent progressive-hardcore outfit. That's when Frantom spoke out, about sticking together and giving it one more shot. "He rallied us," vocalist Mike R. says. "In large part, I would attribute our revival to Matt."

Frantom says that while he understood "why some of us wanted to go, at the same time I couldn't understand how we could abandon this dream that we had. We have the rest of our lives to move somewhere else; you don't always have a chance to pursue something that shows promise."

And so, Caravels remained intact, stayed in Las Vegas and intensified their efforts. The results will be on display May 21 at Yayo Taco — the release show for new EP Floorboards and the kickoff of a five-week, 30-show tour that will take the band Northeast to New York, Boston and Philly, Southeast to Florida and back. "We're covering the most ground we've ever covered, and going to a lot of new places," Frantom says.

And this time, Caravels won't have to stress about transportation; the five 20- and 21-year-olds will just hop in the 15-seat van of Salt Lake band Reviver, experienced "road monsters," in Mike R.'s words.

Floorboards was recorded in San Diego, at Mike Kamoo's Earthling Studios. It features new versions of three cuts from last year's home-recorded Demolitions EP — "Iceland," "Greenland" and "Meat Wave" — along with three new tunes, "Buddy System," "Sixty Acres" and "Safety Jobs." The songs sound powerful, professional and more far-reaching than anything Caravels has tried before. "The new tracks are pretty experimental for us, more swelling," Foskaris says. "I'm excited to have been part of the band that created this material."

Can that excitement carry past the upcoming tour and fuel Caravels long-term? Frantom says the band isn't looking too far ahead, though he's quick to add post-Floorboards songwriting is already under way. One potentially looming issue: guitarist Dillon Shines' membership in another talented local group, indie six-piece Twin Brother, though so far, Caravels members insist, his two-band pull hasn't caused problems.

"We're doing better than we ever have, and everyone's really comfortable as far as their expectations go," Frantom says. "For us, it's really all about having fun."

And Winnemucca? Just a speck in the rearview mirror at this point. "Our spirits were broken, and our band almost broke up, but something made us stay together," Mike R. says. "I think I speak on behalf of everybody when I say I'm pleased we stayed put and stuck it out."

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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