In the dark

Plastic Caves

Hidden from the sun: John “Voldgren” Ludwick, Shandra Celeste Rivera and Darren Barnes are Plastic Caves.

Hidden from the sun: John “Voldgren” Ludwick, Shandra Celeste Rivera and Darren Barnes are Plastic Caves.

Photo By Allison Young

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Some might say that the days of Goth are gone. It might have peaked in the ’90s when it got popular enough to warrant a Saturday Night Live skit, featuring Chris Kattan’s Azrael Abyss as the Prince of Sorrow in “Goth Talk.” When it comes to the music style, defined by the likes of such British acts as Bauhaus and Siouxsie and the Banshees, other than a few current mainstreamers with segments of Goth appeal—Nick Cave and Esben and the Witch, for example—the genre seems to have died out.

On the local front, most semi-Goth bands have long since disbanded, opting instead to perhaps go work on their tans.

Yes, Goth had been lying dormant, waiting to be resurrected … until now.

Plastic Caves may not fit the stereotype of black nails and smeary eye make-up associated with the subculture, but the local trio’s inception last year brings a revival of the formerly stale style. The fast-paced bass lines and ambient, atmospheric sounds highlighted by dark lyrics and heavy vocals characteristic of the genre, are at the forefront of Plastic Caves’ composition.

To put it simply, they’re spooky. And they wear spooky well.

“I wanted to play some moody stuff,” says singer and guitarist John Ludwick. “I like it because it’s more expressive. It’s more true to how I feel lately—the passage of time is depressing.”

The emerging band is Ludwick’s latest project, coming on the tails of two previous bands—punk based Thee Indoors, for which he still plays, and recently disbanded garage punk act Cathedral Ghost.

“I was playing in three bands, working, and trying to keep my wife from putting my stuff on the sidewalk,” says Ludwick in reference to his recent split from Cathedral Ghost, a decision he also credits to finding a better fit for himself musically.

“I’m not that fun anymore,” laughs Ludwick. “I’m sober now … and this isn’t a party band. [Plastic Caves] is a more honest representation of what I want to get across.”

Ludwig isn’t the only one in the band practicing his balancing act, drummer Darren Barnes sits behind the kit for both the pirate punk band Scurvy Bastards, who recently had a reunion, and art rockers Alphabet Cult.

The only relative newbie to the local music scene is bassist Shandra Rivera—who quickly found the darkness to be her guiding light in learning an instrument.

“I told John I wanted bass lessons,” Rivera recalls. “I just really wanted to play music. He said, why don’t we write some songs together instead? I was surprised at how well [it] matched the way I felt—at how much I related to it. It kept my interest.”

With interests piqued, the threesome delves into the depths of reverberating soundscapes and depressing lyrics, creating such tracks as “Suicide Floor” and “Cold Remains,” of which their idols The Sisters of Mercy could be proud.

While the band name itself may have a blurry rationale behind it—Ludwick says he chose it mainly for the aesthetic—one explanation could always be related to their practice space. A dark side room in the basement, illuminated only by the light of a few strands of Christmas lights—and a lone animal skull on the side table.

“It’s the perfect way to spend summer days—getting pasty in the basement,” Rivera says with a shrug.

And on that note, as Azrael Abyss would say, until next time … stay out of the daylight.