Hosannas (formerly Church) had been wanting to shoot in the Ape Cave since forever. They'd been down in the lava tubes with friends a few times and always fantasized about playing a set within them. They originally propositioned us with the idea in 2009, right as we were starting this site, but we were only able to collect the gear and crew to do it a year later, in the fall of 2010. And now another year has passed, and finally we present the final edited piece along with a new series entitled “Favorite Places,” in which musicians take us to the spot they’ve always dreamed of playing.
At 8:30 pm on Tuesday September 14, 2010, I got a premonition that our shoot with Hosannas at the Ape Cave-- located at the base of Mt. St. Helens-- was a bad idea.
I hadn't slept in two days and the thought of illegally sneaking into a lava tube at midnight seemed like a recipe for disaster. Yet, apart from the very real known risks we'd no doubt encounter in the 2000-year-old bowels of our volcanic lady-- and the visual rewards waiting on the other side of the danger coin-- there was a turbulence in my gut predicting something unknowably awful. It’s the kind of feeling that's ultimately ignored before the cops show up or someone breaks their leg or some other act of God occurs, causing you to think, “Why the did I do that?”
A half hour later I walked into my sound guy's living room where the whole crew was meeting. I announced that I didn't want to do the shoot because of a premonition that something horrible was going to happen. I was promptly told I was a pussy and we continued on with the shoot.
To this day, I'm amazed that nothing catastrophic happened on our 8-hour journey to the Ape Cave with two generators, a handful of amps and lights and keyboards and guitars and wine jugs and recorders and cameras and lenses and kerosene soaked torches. We owe a lot to Quinton Gardner, who showed up at the base of Mt. St. Helens with some chick's CRV to haul in the aforementioned equipment he somehow materialized, most likely from his employers and friends. That dude worked into the night liked some kind of crazed canine, making sure we had lights and power.
Despite the cold and general bad attitude of the sound department, the camaraderie that was shared between musicians, audience, and documentarians was amazing. The boundaries melted away as we all toiled towards a common goal of bringing light and sound to a cave (but not so much to attract the rangers). And as strange as it may sound, I'm honestly convinced that the success of this shoot is more likely a direct result of the state’s budget cuts and poorly funded parks department than it is any craftiness on our end.
Luck or poverty, whatever it was, this shoot really changed the course of how I wanted to pursue future music documentaries. There's something awesome about documenting real struggle and cold and hardship. And yeah, sneaking into a cave at night isn't like welfare problems or other economic maladies, but its fucking tough, okay, so just back off. But above everything, there was something inspiring to setting out for another person’s crazy goal; navigating the cave with candles and torches and collectively talking each other into it, each step of the way.
I feel like as children of the 90s we were brainwashed by logos like No Fear and Big Dogs and Abercrombie & Fitch and Quicksilver into believing some perverted idea about how being an individual is the coolest and most important thing ever. So we as a generation have veered away from organizing ourselves in this way-- it makes us feel uncomfortable, kinda like being in a sauna with your dude friends. It goes against these big group efforts; the deep down urge to resist being a sheep in the herd, to resist a common goal, rather than going by yourself to the mall and buying a chain wallet (which, don't get me wrong, may or may not be the coolest activity in the world). In my recollection of the shoot, which is mostly fractured and forgotten, it was this sense of collective struggle towards a goal, however knotty or meaningless on a large scale, that struck me the most.
I'm realizing that by this point in the article I probably should have said something about the music, because I guess that's what the words are here to do. There's not much to say about the song except for the fact that everything about it was perfectly suited for the journey and the cave. They played three songs, all of which were specifically design to use the natural reverb of the cave. Sonically speaking, the bass line and textures of the keys and guitar expand and billow throughout the lava tube. Phrases like “awesome” and “really fucking tight” come to mind. The lyrics seem to be a celebration of the space between "dark fallen trees and newly sprouted things"-- that stretch of time between our infancy and our demise where the fire is still within us; that time where we've mastered eating and shitting to the point that we can actually begin to try and make something of our life and relationships.