Caleb Nichols has got that dogged attitude unique to those seasoned individuals who have devoted so much of their life to music. At some point I imagine these types of people have a realization: there’s no turning back to a lifestyle of water coolers and W-9 forms. And that kind of dedication, or maybe entrapment, is riveting. This steadfastness gives Grand Lake’s music a backbone that keeps it chugging along into a future that can only be bright. And part of Nichols’ charm is that he always seems game to try anything. That's why we asked him to take his music up to Indian Rock Park, a high-altitutde outpost nestled in the Berkeley hills.
Nichols cut his teeth as an original member of the semi-nomadic, semi-Oaklandic indie band Port O’Brien. He left the group and started Grand Lake, featuring the musical talents of core members John Pomeroy, Jameson Swanagon, and Danae Swanagon. Grand Lake released the critically-acclaimed debut Blood Sea Dream earlier this year, and by that point the water motif was starting to seem pretty significant. So as we stood there, looking down at the San Francisco Bay, the whole thing pulled together in a neat panorama, the scene struck me as entirely appropriate.
That afternoon, Nichols was accompanied only by Jameson Swanagon (who is also an entrancing solo artist), in a musical formation they refer to as “Soft Lake.” We hopped up the rock together, braving the spiral stairs hewn deep into the rock, guitar cases and equipment in hand, as folks stopped to scrutinize our presence. In the end, this first shoot was a team effort, surviving through botched takes and the occasional, overpowering gust of ocean wind. But it was Nichol’s enduring wit and positivity that drew in a motley handful of hikers to contribute to their rendition of Pavement’s “In The Mouth Of A Desert.”