GENRE IS DEAD! Interview with Cane Hill’s Elijah Witt

Live fast and die young. It’s an old adage for the rock and roll lifestyle, one that Cane Hill was too happy to live out. After the release of their successful debut album Smile, the band fell deep into the world of drugs and excess, a world they almost didn’t make it out of. Now, the band is back with their second album, Too Far Gone, written during that dark time. Cane Hill frontman Elijah Witt chats with Genre Is Dead! about the new LP, life and death, and learning from their past mistakes.

GID: The new album Too Far Gone was written on a lot of drugs and previously you mentioned you guys went too far with it. Looking back at this time do you regret going overboard with the drugs?

Elijah Witt: There’s definitely a part of us that wonders what would’ve been had we not. We aren’t the same as we were back then, that’s for sure. But we wouldn’t do it any other way I figure. It had its reason and its time, and it was necessary. We got some of the best songs we’ve ever written out of those experiences.

GID: What was the point that you guys realized maybe you overdid it?

EW: We hit that “mortal wall,” if you will. We had honestly forced ourselves so far that we knew if we didn’t stop we would die and almost did a few times. There’s always going to be this moment where your mentality shifts and it’s fast. You start losing your humanity to a substance you decided to take in the first place.

GID: Was it difficult to revisit a period of your life that you now know wasn’t your best?

EW: Absolutely. We wrote songs that we could never ever release because they were too personal and we couldn’t stand to hear them ourselves. Still, it was imperative to visit those moments as a necessary evil to get the quality of tune we wanted.

GID: The first album was about living recklessly and laughing at death. The new one is the realization that death haunts you and life is finite. What caused such a dramatic shift between these two albums?

EW: We lived the life we preached to the fullest.

GID: It sounds like you guys spent a lot of time thinking about life and death while recording this album. Has spending so much time on the topic changed your outlook on the subject?

EW: If anything it’s made us appreciate life more. We were so close to losing it so many times, and that really puts it into perspective. No, we still aren’t afraid to die, that’s a futile effort, but we aren’t in quite the same rush to get there anymore.

GID: What would you say was the biggest challenge for Cane Hill when recording this album?

EW: The mix, honestly. We had the songs, we had the passion, we just wanted the final sound to be perfect. And even though Drew Fulk might have hated us during the process, were incredibly happy with how we got it to sound and I’m sure he is too.

GID: You’re preparing to head out on a UK tour with Motionless in White followed by a US tour with Of Mice and Men. How do you guys prepare for long treks on the road?

EW: We sleep in our own beds as much as we can. We see our family as much as we can, and we eat hometown food as much as we can. We just embrace our home lives with every minute we aren’t rehearsing, which is pretty much every day we’re home.

GID: When Cane Hill’s debut album dropped, it was like a whirlwind with the massive festivals you played on and touring with bands like Bullet for my Valentine. What was going through your mind during that hectic time?

EW: We just didn’t want to fuck up. We were opening for epic bands left and right and we didn’t want to step on any toes. It was weird because it was overwhelming nervousness mixed with pure unadulterated excitement.

GID: How has the band changed ever since the first album dropped?

EW: We’re a little wiser, I’d like to believe. We’ve moved on, far away from the insanity we started with. We forced ourselves to grow up much faster than anyone around us. It seems strange since we’re in a band and there’s this formulated image of how you’re supposed to be living off the edge and binge drinking and taking drugs. We fell into that idea, and we fell hard, but we made it back.

Too Far Gone is out now. Pick up a copy of the album and see when Cane Hill is headed to your town here.

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Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Illinois Entertainer. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Creeper, and Green Day.

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