drummer J.R. Conners of Cave In“I’d always heard Phil Collins was a good drummer, but I never really believed it,” admits Cave In drummer J.R. Conners. “But Taylor Hawkins of The Foo Fighters turned me on to Phil, and now he’s become one of my favorites. He could pull off all sorts of amazing things that were so creative.”

No disrespect to Collins, but rarely these days do young punk drummers cite him as a primary influence. After shedding most of their hardcore persona a few years back, however, Cave In set out to redefine themselves, morphing into more of a prog-rock act, complete with epic compositions. Jupiter, released on Hydrahead Records in 2000, saw them embracing the technicality of Rush and the experimentalism of post-punk experimentalists Fugazi, with Conners’ drumming following suit.

With this year’s RCA debut, Antenna, fans are experiencing yet another shift in Cave In’s gears. This time the direction is more accessible and melodic. The band also attempted to create songs that were more concise. “Short and sweet instead of long and drawn out,” is how Conners explains the direction. “I decided to make my drums the backbone of the song instead of trying to outdo everyone else.”