Growing up as childhood friends in Ohio, the members of Cavashawn were exposed to the thrill of small-time success at an early age. Then described by The Cincinnati Enquirer as the city's "teen icons", they quickly gained local notoriety as their band scored slots opening for Jason Mraz, John Mayer, and Edwin McCain while still in high school. Into college these pals stuck it out, living together at Miami University of Ohio while branching out first regionally and then nationally under the name "Marking Twain". In the summer of 2007 the group made the move north to Chicago, determined to continue their lives as musicians together. Now 21 and 22 with years of experience under their belt, a large loyal fan-base across the Midwest and a team of top industry professionals backing the band, Cavashawn is quickly gaining a reputation as a buzz band with true career potential.
"We didn't grow up in LA," says primary songwriter and singer Scott Salmon. "We have never had a choice but to make our own breaks." A strong Midwestern work ethic has undoubtedly played a significant role in Cavashawn's success. The band has tirelessly booked themselves hundreds of shows across the U.S. over the past 2 years, from great cities like New York, Atlanta, and Philadelphia to the most humble of college towns in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Indiana. All while full-time students, Salmon and crew also managed to write and demo almost 100 songs.
As a songwriter, Salmon manages to balance pop sensibility with a sharp intuition for authenticity, something that is not lost on Cavashawn's diverse fan base. His thoughtful lyrics often focus upon the common struggles of self-discovery that are encountered in one's coming of age. Cavashawn's unique sound, however, seems to come from each band member's individual musical perspective. "Our tastes are so different that it's kind of bizarre we're all in the same band" says guitarist Chris Hellmann. But it is exactly this tension that makes for the band's distinctive blend of pop, rock, and funk. "We've never really played with anyone that sounds anything like us," says Hellmann. "But at the same time we share bills with a variety of bands across genres and feel completely comfortable."
The group considers musicianship critical to being a believable band. "We have a strong distaste," explains bassist Benton Kubicki, "for bands that sound great recorded but put on cheap, lackluster live shows. Its poor form." Energetic and passionate live performances, an absolutely vital component of the band's success, are highlighted both by Salmon's wild and dramatic presence as a frontman and the skilled, mature musicianship of the rest of the group. "We strive to be tasteful, but exciting musicians," explains Kubicki. "We all appreciate the simplicity of say, 'Blackbird,' or a lot of Oasis songs, but also the musicianship of a Sting solo record, or Steely Dan."
A shrewd business sense certainly hasn't hurt the group either. "We consider ourselves lucky to be able to sustain ourselves with our own original music" says drummer Jesse Feister, who along with Hellmann has undertaken many of the day-to-day responsibilities of the group. The band's hard work traveling and writing has literally paid off, as touring revenue and strong digital sales allow them to live modestly together in Chicago as full-time musicians, a rare situation among independent bands. "The goal has always been to make a career out of music," says Feister. "At this point, we're finally starting to do that on our own. Being the type of band we are, I think we will certainly benefit from working with a label of some sort, but it's comforting to know we can always fall back on ourselves."
As Cavashawn continues to develop and grow, the future is bright for this young group. They recently have earned opportunities to play in front of larger crowds, grabbing opening slots for acts like One Republic, Better Than Ezra, and Ingram Hill and being selected for regional festivals, including Milwaukee's Summerfest. The group is building on that momentum, selling out small venues in Chicago, Cincinnati, and Columbus, and building in other large Midwest markets as well. Cavashawn released their 4-song EP, produced by Marc McClusky (Ludo, Farewell, Powerspace) in February, with heavy Midwest touring to follow.