A Loving Reader Tribute to Caleb Scofield
Perhaps inspired by our own tribute, MetalSucks reader Louis Gaudet emailed us to share his memories of Cave In, Old Man Gloom and Zozobra bassist Caleb Scofield, who tragically passed away in a car accident last week. Like us, Louis never knew Caleb personally, but the man’s music touched him in a profound and lasting way. We were so moved by Louis’s letter that we asked him if we could publish it; he happily obliged. Below, we present Louis’s letter uninterrupted and edited only slightly for clarity.
Hey, just wanted to share this with you guys in case it means anything. Much like you’ve expressed on your site, Caleb Scofield and his music have had a great impact on my life and musical trajectory/influence. It does have a profoundly sad effect to lose someone whom you’ve never met, yet has shaped certain experiences of your life.
For me, I found Cave In in 2009. Though associated bands such as Converge, Isis and Neurosis were amongst some of my favourite, funnily enough I found Cave in under the influences section of Misery Signals’ MySpace account.
Expecting some of the tech-metalcore that Misery Signals were delivering, the first album I listened to was their (at the time) last, Perfect Pitch Black. Though crushingly heavy in moments, mostly it was far from what I expected, leaning more in the vain of alternative rock. As it wasn’t what I had in mind going in, I thought it sounded maybe like a heavy band that had taken a creative left turn, so I went backwards through their catalogue.
Well, naturally, Antenna and Jupiter only furthered my curiosity as to why this band was one of the very few bands listed as an influence for a technical metalcore band like Misery Signals. And yet, though far from what I’d been hoping for initially, something about what I was hearing stuck with me.
Then, finally, I got Until Your Heart Stops. Still to this day it seems unrelenting and crushing, as though the emotional and depressive sonic heaviness of a band like Neurosis was transposed to the early tones of Converge. I loved it, it’s what I’d been searching for, and even went beyond my expectations. But what mostly made me particularly interested in this absolutely devastating record was that the band that could write such crushing heaviness and follow it with ventures into space rock, alt rock and radio rock. It only deepened my interest in the following albums in their catalogue.
Long story short, next thing I know, I was deep in. Not only did two of their records very quickly become two of my all-time favourites (UYHS and Jupiter, and they also achieved the seemingly impossible by having their comeback album, White Silence, equal those records in greatness and top spot among my favourite records), but my love for them could and would not cease, so when I ran out of Cave In records to explore, I sought comfort in the records of side projects, of which there were many.
I won’t delve too far into how far that reaches, but I will highlight one particular record, that being Caleb Scofield’s Zozobra output on Harmonic Tremors. Though at times brutally heavy, this album and project I think is greatly underrated for how understatedly experimental it is. Though every song is huge in its production, there are a good deal of songs that manage to be quite nice, ethereal even, with hints of influence from cited favourites of Caleb’s such as Townes Van Zandt (“Silver Ghost”) and Failure (“A Distant Star Fades”), just masked under layers of distortion. There’s also a very subtle bit of experimentation with electronic beats that fits within its heavy production quite comfortably. This is an amazing record, as I think all of Zozobra’s records are, and I think it’s hugely underrated.
But there’s a personal side to this too. Living in Brisbane, Australia, though there is a thriving hardcore and metal scene today, I was a little more on the outside of this scene back in 2009, and so my finding these bands was very much a solo endeavour. But I had to share the experience, as I did with my brother Andre, and soon he too was a devoted member of the church of Cave In and associates. We both waited eagerly for preorders of White Silence and dreamed and hoped that maybe one day we’d see live what had become our favourite band.
The closest I ever had to that was Old Man Gloom touring with Converge, though Caleb sadly couldn’t make that tour to Australia. Steve Brodsky filled in; he did a great job, but I still hoped to see Scofield one day.
Sadly that day will never come. I’ve no personal association to this man at all, and I cannot imagine the grief of his family and friends, for whom I feel immense sympathy for. The grief I feel is different, and it’s a grief for the loss of a man who has in many ways shaped aspects of my life, my musical trajectory, times shared particularly with my brother as well as other friends, and has satisfied me immensely. So amazed was I by the output of this man — and thinking he had the greatest roar, the coolest bass riffs, and a huge presence amongst other greats — that when my brother and his wife were pregnant for the second time and trying to determine a good name for a boy, for which they were struggling, I suggested Caleb. Andre knew immediately what I was referencing, but they both liked it. It’d be disingenuous to say my nephew Caleb is named specifically after Caleb Scofield as they had a few names to choose from, but when he was born they deliberated for a few days until realising that no other name suited him better. And so my nephew wouldn’t have his name if it weren’t for Cave In, OMG or Zozobra.
And so much like you [MS co-founder Vince Neilstein] had posted relating to your own sense of loss, I send this as a fellow fan who too feels a loss. My brother and I quickly recorded a cover in tribute to Caleb Scofield, that of his song “A Distant Star Fades” from the first Zozobra record. This song, much like all of his music, has a personal memory tied to it. I recall listening to Harmonic Tremors one day in 2009 getting to know the album amongst the newfound fandom I’d acquired while waiting for my at-the-time girlfriend to finish up in class at university. This was the first girl I’d ever truly loved, and though that has long been gone it wasn’t a bitter ending, and I’m glad to have felt it. Hearing that record now, especially this quite lovely song that closes it, always reminds me of waiting by the lakes on campus, in love for the first time. Another memory thanks to Caleb Scofield.
In honour and tribute to him we recorded this cover. It was quick, and just of demo quality, so hopefully we will one day re-record it with more time at our disposal. But the heart’s there.
Thank you to Caleb for all the memories you’ve provided to so many who never even knew you. My heart goes out to his loved ones who did.