I've written it before and I'm writing it again: I have a great job. Besides writing about music (which is cool in itself), I am often granted the opportunity to meet amazing people, who I am then fortunate enough to call friends. After having heard Sasquatch and the Sick-A-Billys perform here in Boise last summer, I hoped to add Dave "Sasquatch" Caetano to that list. Seeing them perform on stage is like a religious experience and I wanted the opportunity to talk with and meet the man responsible. After about a month of e-mails and missed calls, late one Thursday night, my cell phone rang. At the other end, a deep voice said, "Amy? This is Dave," and started a conversation I hope leads to a long friendship.
Thirty-two-year-old Caetano hails from Providence, Rhode Island, and with Johnny Custom, who shreds an upright bass, and new drummer, Pete Yorko--who left Cleveland just a few weeks ago to become a Sick-A-Billy--embarked on a 42-city tour that started June 24 of this year and is scheduled to end August 13. He told me that as grueling as the schedule is, it's easier and cheaper not to have any down days between shows. If they have a day off, they play too hard and spend too much money. Since last year, they learned it's better to just get right back on the road and head toward the next city and the next gig. So what is it that drives this man to work so hard? If ever there was a man on a mission, it's Caetano.
Caetano is an interesting person to say the very least. He is an only child, a Leo, and considers himself one of the luckiest guys around. He's never sent out a press kit and he played over 200 shows last year. He spouts off a lot, has been tagged by the Secret Service as a troublemaker and would give you the Western-cut shirt off his back if he thought you needed it more than he does. And he knows how to turn a negative into a positive.
The name Sasquatch (which is Caetano's preferred moniker) started as a joke. As a big, tall, loud-mouthed Italian guy with dreadlocks, the kids in his school thought it was funny to send mail to his house addressed to "Sasquatch." Not one to be bested, he did a little research and discovered that in some American Indian cultures, Sasquatch symbolizes the connection of man to the earth. That tapped into Caetano's strong feelings about his own Cherokee blood and he appropriated the moniker completely. So it's no surprise that a man with a big name puts on a big show.
Caetano performs like a man possessed and, based on the lyrics he writes, very well could be: Hell-bound, Satan saved all his curses for your grave/Social zombies walk the day to stop my voice, hide my face/They're never gonna capture me/Something's wrong with the human race/Some deserve to be erased.
Caetano's voice is guttural with beautiful tone and near-perfect pitch and the melodies in his songs are compelling and completely addictive, with God, the Devil, booze and women playing major roles. Burnin' Miles of Sin is a CD full of gut-wrenching lyrics and sick guitar licks centered around a man battling demons both inside and outside of his control. His biggest fear, though, is not the supernatural, but the very natural and what he perceives society is doing to it.
"I want to be a sounding board for the world," he told me. "I want to channel everyone's negative energy, make it positive and give it back to them." It's sometimes tough to reconcile that statement with the man who walks into a show, head held high, with nary a hair out of place who, while on stage, screams at the audience to "Fuck off!" He says he hopes the audience will reply in kind, forming a relationship between him and the show-goers albeit a seemingly rough one. But don't take it too far. Just because you see him live, don't think you know the man. Layered right on top of all the roaring and raging is a decent guy whose only real weapon is his music.
If you've never seen a Sasquatch show, describing one is like trying to explain how something tastes. I can make comparisons to other musicians and other music, but the energy and raw emotion and talent displayed on stage aren't easily put into words. Suffice it to say, there's sometimes fire, usually vomit, and always passion. Caetano is a complicated, furious, funny, humble, confident guy. Understanding him is like trying to hold on to a cloud: he's real and he's there--just hard to get a grip on. And keep in mind, his onstage persona is just one part of him.
After the July 13 show, where he and the Sick-A-Billys will share the stage with Wilson St. Pub & Sluthouse Band (who were so generous to the Sick-A-Billys when they were here last year, that Caetano said he would not have come back if it weren't for them) buy him a beer and sit down with him for awhile. You'll be chatting with one of the nicest guys around.
Thursday, July 13, 9 p.m., $2, with Wilson St. Pub & Sluthouse Band, the Bouquet, 1010 Main St. Check out Sasquatch and the Sick-A-Billys at www.sickabilly.com.