Vetiver - Biography
Vetiver is an indie-folk/rock band formed by Andy Cabic in San Francisco in 2004, who since that time has developed a considerable following and critical accolades for their unique brand of naturalismo/West Coast country. Originally from Virginia, Cabic attended college in Greensboro, North Carolina—where he played in an indie rock group called The Raymond Brake—before relocating to the Bay Area in 1998. With a long history of collaborative work with freak folk artists such as Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, Cabic has assembled an all-star cast to play a brand of often-emulated, never-duplicated glowing indie folk. Since 2004’s debut album Vetiver (DiCristina), the band has released three more full-length albums, had toured with the likes of Morrissey, The Black Crowes and The Shins, and has performed on stage with everyone from Bright Eyes to Juana Molina.
Although he dabbled in DJing and other music acts such as the loose experimental outfit Tussle—which was gaining momentum at the same time—Cabic’s true outlet was Vetiver. He had been working on songs for the project for a couple of year’s prior while living in San Francisco, and, no longer in possession of an electric guitar, he performed them acoustically. He casually looked for bandmates, and met the blooming yet still largely unknown artist Devendra Banhart. The two began playing together, before enlisting New York-based girlfriend and photographer Alissa Anderson (cello), along with My Bloody Valentine’s Colm Ó Ciosóig (trap-kit) and Carmen Biggers (violin). They would later involve other freak folk luminaries like Hope Sandoval and Joanna Newsom. Using a collaborative method with the Spanish-speaking Banhart on songs like “Los Pajaros del Rio” and “Amour Fou,” Vetiver recorded its debut album, Vetiver, with Thom Monahan of the Pernice Brothers behind the knobs. Though it is the most simplistic indie songwriting of Vetiver’s catalogue, the pop leanings and acoustic warmth had a lulling effect which endured through time.
After touring extensively in support of the album, Cabic reconfigured the band by dropping the cello and violin in favor of electric bass, guitars and amplifiers. The next two Vetiver releases—Between (2005 Di Cristina), which featured a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Save Me A Place,” and To Find Me Gone (2006 Di Cristina)—reflected the switch, leaving behind the sedative, drony nature of their first release. Now featuring key indie musicians such as Dave Scher (of Beachwood Sparks), Kevin Barker (of Currituck County) and Otto Hauser (of Espers)—as well as the collective production team of Cabic and Monahan—the new sound was nearer Sonic Youth and Neil Young than its previous material. The shift in sound brought Vetiver new attention, much of it critical.
After recording in Sacramento in late-2007, Vetiver returned in 2008 with Things Of The Past (FatCat Records), a collection of 1960s and ’70s cover songs that were instrumental to Cabic’s life, performed in a soft rock style. Tracks like “Blue Driver” were made all the more poignant with a cameo by Hurley himself, while Townes Van Zandt’s “Standin” was a highlight in what Rhapsody called one of their favorite cover albums. Cabic and company paid further homage to artists of influence with a follow-up EP, More of the Past.
Vetiver signed to Sub Pop Records and put together an album of original material called Tight Knit (2009). Again with Monahan co-producing the album with Cabic, it was a return to the midtempo roots of 2006’s To Find Me Gone, with contributions from Hauser (drums) and Kevin Barker (guitar).
Given the underground success of many of its players, their subtle yet well-stated folk and a correlative connection to Vashti Bunyan (who has appeared on Vetiver albums), the band has become a sort of supergroup of innovative indie artists.