Discovery: Everest Cale


Brooklyn’s least “Brooklyn” band, Everest Cale, is dedicated to the classic rock-‘n’-roll its members grew up on. “As far as being hip and trendy, I think it works against us,” says lead singer and rhythm guitarist Brett Treacy. “But I don’t think that’s what we’re going for. We’re going for a career, and we’re going for happiness and self-satisfaction.” For Treacy, who grew up in South Carolina, part of finding that self-satisfaction meant avoiding cover songs at all costs. But after re-discovering John Lennon’s “Mother”—and getting an introduction to music producer Parks Valley—he and his bandmates decided that a cover song might work for them after all. “For someone whose biggest tool as a singer is to hit notes in a more yelling register, ‘Mother’ really appealed to me,” Treacy explains. “It was something I wanted to go after.” We’re pleased to debut the cover below.

AGES: 26 (Aaron Nystrup, bass); 27 (Nate Becker, drums); 29 (Brett Treacy, vocals and guitar; Jeremy Kolmin, guitar)

CURRENT CITY: Williamsburg, Brooklyn

HOW THE BAND GOT ITS NAME: There’s a Sigur Rós song called “Ára Bátur,” and it’s perhaps my favorite song of all time. I’ll listen to the song and I can’t help but want to write after I do it. The way that the song moves me, it just flows and it goes to the huge climax at the end and there is just so much orchestration. And then the song is over and it’s quiet and I’m sitting on my bed and I’m staring at a piece of paper and it feels like I’m standing at the bottom of Mount Everest. Like, how do you even create what I just listened to? Where does that come from? And I’ve written a lot of songs, so I know how to create, but still I’m in awe of that song. The Cale comes from J.J. Cale, and he’s like a more bluesy, stripped-down musician. Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd all performed his songs, but he was never really famous. As raw as music gets, he was. For me it’s a fight between simple and grandiose. Everest Cale is both.

ON DOING COVER SONGS: We’re not a band that has really ever done covers. In a way, it is something that I kind of despise. Back when I lived in South Carolina, I played this same bar every Wednesday night for like two and a half hours. I’d try throwing in some of my original material in there and I’d get drunk people going, “Play some Skynyrd! Play ‘Brown-Eyed Girl.'” Then I take this trip up to New York City while I’m still living in Charleston, South Carolina and still playing this regular gig and I end up opening up for this band in this little garage in Williamsburg—this is probably 2007, 2008—and so I’m just playing acoustically and I’m playing my original music. The whole crowd—there were like 40 people there—they were just silent, not a person talking. And I was used to having to end my set with cover songs, so I go to play “House of the Rising Sun,” but I’m kinda getting the vibe that they don’t want to hear it, so I tell them that I can either play “House of the Rising Sun” or a new original song, and they opt for the original song. I was like, “Holy fuckin’ shit, I am moving to New York.”

RECORDING “MOTHER”: The idea of actually doing a cover song was that when I first heard this song I was with Jeremy, and we were just taking a day trip to Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. We decided to bring CDs that each other had to listen to. And he goes, “Dude, just wait for it, you’re gonna love this song. Just wait for the end.” And John Lennon just starts screaming his balls off. I mean there are Beatles songs where he screams, like “Don’t Let Me Down,” but it’s the first time and only time I’ve heard an outro scream like that. It’s what the song is about.

Then one day we were just messing around the rehearsal space and Jeremy started playing the chords and I know all the lyrics by heart. It just felt so good and we were like, “We need to play this for people.” And so then we weren’t thinking about recording it, we just rehearsed it a couple times and started playing it at shows. This October we were playing at CMJ Music Marathon and we saved it for the last song and I guess I did a pretty good job with the outro and afterward this guy comes up to me, his name is Parks Valley. He says, “I just got done doing a tour with Eminem, I’m doing projects with Robin Thicke, Passion Pit…” And I was listening to all of this stuff and it was pretty impressive, but he didn’t have me, because people talk and I don’t really care. He was like, “I really love what you did with the outro and I have an idea. What if you did it as a slow build to the outro? And then in the outro, the drums come in and you’re yelling.” And I was like, “Dude, you got me.” So then we went into this studio, Headquarters, which we rented out for six hours. It was important for me, as a person who is really a fan of people who can yell, to be able to do the yell live. If I’m gonna do this song, I’m going to be able to do it live. I read that it took him months of trying to perfect the outro. And I did it in one take. It’s like fighting a boxing match, but you’re fighting yourself. Or maybe you’re fighting the microphone. Either way, you know what you have to do and you do it.

EVEREST CALE’S SOUTHERN ROCK ROOTS: We’ve tried to shed the twang—there’s a little Southern soul in there still, born and raised, I can’t get away from it. I think where we’re at right now and from reviews we’ve had of our newest record, it’s dark, it’s lyrical and the most reccurring theme is that it’s dynamic. It’s loud, it’s quiet; the songs usually build. Whereas when I was younger I felt like I had to scream all the time to get people’s attention, now I use it as a tool to capture an emotion or [to indicate] the climax of the song.

ROCK-‘N’-ROLL, THROUGH AND THROUGH: Without a doubt, we’re rock-‘n’-rollers for sure. We grew up with rock music. We love rock music. When we put on our iPods, it’s going to be rock music. You don’t want to proclaim yourself that you have soul, but…