Introducing the Loveable Laurie Cave
Get to know the UK-born, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter and his powerful debut single
Image credit: Casey Horsfield
Laurie Cave is not a melancholy guy.
You could be forgiven for assuming as much, with his debut single, Nobody Could Ever Love You, a tender reflection on his “misspent youth” and the trauma that followed. When Laurie speaks, he’s bright, bubbly, and unabashedly reflective, all of which goes some way to explaining just how the 32-year-old UK-born singer-songwriter can write such a powerful debut single.
“I haven't done a proper show in a long time,” he tells me the morning after his single launch at the Brunswick Artist’s Bar. “It kind of felt like the first show in earnest, kind of like the… I guess the new and improved Laurie Cave!” That Cave is no stranger to the stage, having played guitar since the age of 11, but he’s only recently stepped to the centre of it. “I've played a lot of bands, I've written a lot of songs, I've written for other people,” he explains of the long road to Laurie. “I've kind of flirted with the idea of becoming a rock star for a very long time.”
That flirtation lasted years, with the tension only coming to a head on an otherwise unremarkable day in lockdown. “I remember the exact moment when I realized,” says Laurie of taking that leap to solo artistry. “I'd gone for a real long run around Princes Park and Royal Park and Brunswick, and I was lying doing my post-yoga stretching, and just looking up at the sky, and it just sort of hit me.” The clarity wasn’t calming. “It was not a great feeling. It was like, ‘Oh, shit, like, you actually have to do this, win, lose, or draw. You have to throw your entire life at this thing, because there's nothing else that you want like this.’” Laurie’s revelation came on hard and fast, but for all the doubt, there was no passing up the call: “whatever that thing is inside us that just lets us know when we're not on the right path, that just became too strong.”
Laurie answers that call on Nobody Could Ever Love You, an anthemic slice of heartland indie that flares with urgency and intent. He hits the ground running, the propulsive kit and uptempo guitar spurring a tale of regret, remorse, and hard-earned growth. “I got shadows that haunt me from a distance and I never have been free,” he admits at the open, feelings of suspicion and self-loathing giving way to a kind of closure: “I am grateful for every single lesson that I had to go through hell to find.”
The track packs Laurie’s lessons into a tight four minutes, but the perspective within took shape over the course of a decade. “My 20s were a bit of a shit fight… it was a really hard time, my mental health was really poor,” says Laurie. In the chorus, he recalls the “twelve long years [he] pulled his limbs from body” a reference to the long, patient process of therapy. “That's kind of talking about breaking yourself down in therapy, and just taking the whole thing apart, just looking for like the root cause, and ultimately, there were a lot of things that just needed to be processed.”
That body-rending image speaks to both transformation and pain, with therapy — the journey to the centre of the self — an arduous undertaking. “If I’m being honest, you’re gonna have to fight,” sings Laurie on the cresting chorus, “it sure as hell ain’t painless when you face your scars, ‘cause you know it’s gonna be alright.” It ain’t easy, but the easy paths can lead you astray, as Laurie reflects: “the drugs will tell you lies that you thought were truths / nobody could ever love you.” It’s a picture that can only be sketched in retrospect, a portrait of pain constructed in the wake. “It's so nice to have a song, something to share with people that encapsulates, at least in part, that whole process of going through my 20s.”
Time gave Laurie the means to write honestly about his trials, but it also helped him sharpen his musical palette. The style invites comparisons to The War on Drugs and Brandon Flowers, two acts Laurie counts as both inspiration and influence. “Brandon is… I wouldn't say the biggest influence, but he is one of the majors for me,” he explains. “I'm obsessed with bands with huge sounds like The Killers, obviously, and Brandon's solo stuff.”
“I think there's an alchemy to it,” says Laurie of the powerful cathartic release in those arena-sized anthems. “The exhilaration of it, it just feels like something that's coming up, that absolutely has to come out.” There’s a subjectivity to lyrics, but broad strokes are easily felt, described by Laurie as “understanding that energy exchange of, ‘Ah, I feel that this guy has released something, and that makes me feel like releasing it’... that is absolutely the best feeling on Earth.” That feeling comes courtesy of close collaborator James Seymour, who Laurie says “can really bring it to life exactly as it is in my head, and then add some.”
“I think the guy that kind of showed me that it could be done now is Sam Fender,” he says, praising the UK singer-songwriter. “I really only got into him recently, and I just heard it and I was like, motherfucker… it was like he was playing my songs… I was just like, ‘Jesus, this is it, this is exactly the kind of music that I would write.’ It’s that heartland rock, Springsteen, big ‘80s jangly guitars, with those more produced elements and just real raw lyrics that are totally unafraid.”
Laurie’s new musical journey has just begun, but now that the wheels are turning, he’s indulging his “superpower of being relentless.” “I'm just taking a wee rest after the first single, and just gathering up my energy, but I think [the next single] will be out in the next couple of months,” he says, comparing his next release to Bon Iver. “My plan is to be releasing a single probably every couple of months, and maybe do some kind of record at the end of the year.”
In the meantime, you can find Laurie loitering around the North, writing and working in his new home. “You kind of find these places, and instinctively you just know that you’re home, even though it literally couldn't be further away from where I started,” he says, tenderly. “Brunswick is absolutely my home from home, my soul home, and I just feel so unbelievably lucky to live here.” It’s a feeling of belonging that’s mirrored in Melbourne’s bustling music scene, with Laurie praising the famous creative community. “I'm still pretty new to the scene, but already I’ve been welcomed with open arms, by people that are doing really well. Everyone seems to support each other and go to each other's gigs and help out where they can.”
If the drugs told Laurie lies, then he’s finally cut loose and found the truth in his present: living in his “soul home”, moving with a supportive community, and making the music he’s always wanted to make.