Former Sin in Space leader Cassidy Meijer kicks the dust off in The Cobwebs
At the start of the present decade, things were looking bright for local vocalist/guitarist Cassidy Meijer: His indie rock band Sin in Space was one of the most popular bands in town, and there was a sense among Santa Cruz audiences and music journalists that the group was going to make a big noise in the national college rock scene.
That never happened. Throughout his time in Sin in Space, Meijer was living with a heroin addiction stemming from an auto accident he was in at age 18, which left his left hand and pelvic bone broken. “Instead of dealing with the trauma, I got drugged … and liked to stay drugged,” he chuckles. Meijer’s habit led to the demise of Sin in Space in the mid-2000s, after which the vocalist and his girlfriend Sky ended up on the streets of Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, living in bushes and “doing whatever we could to make money to get drugs and stay well.”
“It’s like someone’s got the electrodes on you: ‘OK, do we begin the torture, or do you do what you have to do and come up with the money?’” Meijer explains. “I believe that opiate withdrawals are absolutely a form of torture, and I believe that torture is something that just about no one can withstand for too long.”
In March of ’07, while Meijer was serving four months of jail time for torture avoidance, Sky died of an overdose. Though this painful event made Meijer want to kick the habit, the lure of heroin proved too strong to resist. “I did a lot of dangerous combinations that would have killed most people, or most elephants or something,” he states. After using for almost another year, he finally overcame his addiction with the help of methadone.
Destructive as Meijer’s drug dependence has been, the musician has gotten one good thing from it: a collaboration with vocalist/guitarist David Sada, whom Meijer met at the methadone clinic. Out of this partnership has emerged Meijer’s latest band, The Cobwebs. If the name evokes images of a musty, spiderweb-filled garage inhabited by dark characters playing a hybrid of unpolished indie rock, ’60s pop and macabre folk a la Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads, it’s not without reason: That’s pretty much what the band’s all about.
Unlike Sin in Space, which was indisputably Meijer’s baby, The Cobwebs are half Meijer’s group and half Sada’s. The two musicians take turns singing lead and playing lead guitar, and the songwriting is very much a collaborative effort. Meijer says that in the early days of the group’s formation, he and Sada would stay up until 4 a.m. composing songs. After playing together for about eight months, they realized they’d come up with so many songs that they’d forgotten many of the ones they’d already written. “We had to stop ourselves from writing so that we could rehearse the songs that we already wrote,” Meijer laughs.
The Cobwebs recently added a rhythm section, starting with drummer Taz Palumbo, who put up an ad for a band immediately after moving to Santa Cruz from Upstate New York. “He was one of The Cobwebs before we even met each other,” Meijer states.
Rounding out the quartet is bassist Gideon Naude on bass, formerly of A Burning Water and Songs for Snakes. Given Naude’s professional experience, Meijer was slightly intimidated to approach the bassist about joining the band, but these reservations were erased when, after playing with the group for the first time, Naude enthused that he’d never in his life been so excited about being in a band. Meijer explains that on the night Naude first played with The Cobwebs, Meijer’s landlord had gotten into a car accident with another driver. The landlord’s car was turned sideways, and the other car had knocked a telephone pole over, causing a power outage on the street where Meijer lives. Rather than canceling the rehearsal, the group lit candles and played acoustically in the garage in which Meijer lives, making for an intimate, informal feel.
There was a sense of magic to the entire gathering. “The rest of the band showed up before I did, and walking right up on them, it looked like a band photo right away,” Meijer recalls. “I definitely don’t believe in destiny, because of what happened to Sky, mainly. I don’t believe in karma—I think bad things happen to good people, and the cards just fall wherever they do. But I’m just really lucky to have found these people.”
The Cobwebs play with Finn Riggins and El Olio Wolof at 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23 at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $8. For more information, call 429-6994.