Interview: The Catheters

The Catheters
interview by Thomas Cooper

Maybe you haven’t heard any of The Catheters albums but most likely the name has made it’s away across a conversation of yours. That is because The Catheters have toured with a few of modern rocks greats. One of the largest (and possibly most influential on The Catheters) is Mudhoney, not to mention others like Motorhead, and a one-week tour ending tonight with A Division of Laura Lee from Sweden.

I received a copy of The Catheters new album “Howling…it grows, and grows!” within a week and quickly checked it out. These are not the same Catheters that I heard on their first record. Keep in mind that The Catheters also have another album on Sub Pop, and several other releases on various other labels. The band has learned a lot, changed several members, drank a shit load of whiskey (some with me) and rocked a lot of stages. Their latest release is more diverse than the root albums, it’s easy to tell there’s been some experimentation in the studio. Other instruments have been brought in to the mix as well as various effects and layers. All mixed in with the same burning energy that made the previous releases so successful.

It’s true that The Catheters are not the same, but after adding experience after experience, how do you just walk out of it without having a new viewpoint? Bands are like wine, they change with time. Some bottles get exposed to too much air and become very sour while some age perfectly and come out ten times better than when the bottle was filled. I don’t know if the new record is 10 times better than the first but then again the aging process isn’t quite over, they may get there.

I drove my ass to the Troubadour in LA one sunny, fair-weather Thursday afternoon to talk to The Catheters before their final show of the one-week tour with A Division Of Laura Lee. The album has not yet been released to the public and the band is not quite sure what the public reaction will be. I can tell you what; I heard quite a few of the new songs played live, and they kick ass. As always the music is intense and energetic, but there are new hooks, and different ideas. All members of The Catheters were good peeps. From sharing my whiskey, to taunting girls that walked by the tour van, to helping correct my name that was misspelled on the list preventing me from entering the show. I had a cool time talking to The Catheters, and a blast watching them tear up the stage with rock possessed souls. This is where The Catheters are right now.

So where do The Catheters call home right now?
Brian: Seattle.

That’s where it all started? Where everyone is from and what not?
Everyone: Yup.

How are you guys feeling right now? Pumped?
Leo: Tired, I need some coffee.

Where did The Catheters play last night?
Derek: In Anaheim, um, Chain Reaction.

Was there a good crowd?
Brian: Not really.

The new album is a lot different than say the first album, what’s taken the music to where it is now?
Brian: We take it a lot more seriously than we did when we first started out. A couple people quit after the first one, and as we’ve been working on stuff, people’s differences and tastes came to a head. When Leo came aboard, we had similar goals in mind. Besides, after the first album we hadn’t been touring before. When the first album came out we were just finishing high school. Once we started to tour it made us better players and we started taking it more seriously.

I know you guys went on tour with Mudhoney, did that influence you guys at all?
Derek: That was really cool because we had gone to see them when we were in middle school. It’s always really cool to play with bands that you look up to.
Leo: One time I called Steve Turner and left a message for him to call me back. Anyways, two days later I was walking around this street fair in Seattle with some friends of mine. The phone rang and it was Steve Turner we talked for 10 minutes, and then my friends asked who it was. When I said it was Steve Turner they were like “Holy Shit!”
(Everyone gets a good laugh)

I have a multiple-choice question. Does being on Sub Pop:
A. Help with the Ladies?
B. Help with the cover art?
C. Make you feel grungy?
D. All the above.
(Almost instantly everyone says “none!” I insist that they have to answer with one of them.)

Davey: (Sarcastically) It makes me feel grungy, like I want to sing “Even Flow”
Brian: It does suck to get token comparisons to all the grunge bands because were from Seattle and we’re on Sub Pop. It really doesn’t mean anything.

It seems like Sub Pop has opened their doors to a wider range of music lately.
Derek: Yeah, they’ve got Beachwood Sparks, The Shins, The Postal Service, and stuff that’s nowhere near grunge.

How has the tour been so far? Anything cool happen yet?
(Everyone looks around and starts to laugh)
Brian: Did the “give us your tits” sign work?
Davey: No! It might as well say “Give us a stern look” That worked for me once in Utah. All the hard up Mormon girls, they’re like “Just give us coffee and we’ll trade.”

I noticed that you guys have been touring pretty sporadically.
Leo: We’ve done like three West Coasts since we finished up the album, and that’s like our warm up. We are trying to get our live show together for when the record comes out, then I’m sure we’ll do at least a couple US tours and then we’ll get over to Europe.

The album hasn’t come yet?
Brian: No, in a week. We’ll be doing the bulk of the touring then. We’ve just been getting ready for it.

So you haven’t had much feedback from the new album yet. How do you guys feel about everything now that the album is about to be released?
Brian: It’s pretty exciting. It’s been a long time in the making, it’ll be nice to have it out and see what people think of it.

How long were you in the studio working on “Howling…It grows, and grows!”
Leo: This album took about a week and a half.

How was it taking more time in the studio? Was it something that you asked for?
Brian: We had a bigger budget, so we wanted to take our time. It would have been nice to have even more time. We could use as much time as money allows.

It seems like you brought in more to this recording, more layers, different style instrument tracks, there’s more depth.
Brian: We tried to put more thought into this record that older ones.
Leo: Like Brian said, when we started the album it was all pretty rough. We had just finished a lot of the songs and we didn’t really have a feel for
them, we needed to record them because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to. And it had been two years since we recorded. We recorded in December and it took three months of straight practicing just to get everything tight. When we released the other albums, I had only been in the band for 8 months, maybe a little longer. I’ve been in the band for a long time now so I know everyone a lot better. I know how they play. I think that having that time to bond as friends and as musicians gave us a better feel for everyone’s taste in music and motivation.

What do you think of modern day pop music, and culture? When you see MTV what do you think?
Davey: I think, “Isn’t this supposed to be a music channel?” There’s a bunch of shitty shows, but it would be cool to get the van on “Pimp My Ride” but all the music stations are boring. Like MTV2 isn’t quite what it was intended to be. Now it’s just for MTV reruns. If people want to find new music, I just don’t think that MTV is the place to find it.

Where is the best place to find new music?
Derek: Just going to record stores, talking to people, reading zines. The bands that I usually hear about are from friends. Go to the record store
and take a chance on something.
Davey: Find out what bands influenced the bands that you like. Do your research. Who influenced who.

Who are you guys feeling musically right now?
Derek: I like Comets On Fire. They’re really cool. The play fucked up rock music and use an Echoplex to make crazy sound effects. Their album will be coming out on SubPop.
Davey: (Laughing) There’s someone I just can’t think of who it is! We listen to a lot of old punk, 60’s psychedelic stuff and anything with a beat.

On a political note there are some major issues going on in the world today, what do you guys think of what’s happening?
Davey: Were not active in everything, but even though we’re a small band, it would be good if we started. We shouldn’t be ignorant. We should pay attention to what’s going on because it’s some fucked up shit. At least everyone should get registered to vote, for the right person.

So you guys are going to vote?
Davey: Yeah, I’m already registered.

What’s your guy’s opinion on George W?
Davey: Same as everyone.
Derek: I think he may go down in history as one of the US’s worst presidents.
Davey: He’s a chode ass douche bag.
Derek: He got us involved in a war we didn’t need to be a part of that has been taking more and more casualties,and really hasn’t made a difference in the scheme of things.

So it’s either Bush or Kerry, what do you think of Kerry?
Derek: There’s going to be a lot of platforms. The parties aren’t going to be that different between the two. But what Bush has done in the last four
years is completely unacceptable. Debt has gone through the roof, and the whole war on terror seems to have everyone on edge.
Davey: He puts sanctions on countries, and had all his shwag; you know t-shirts, and stickers, made by the countries that he put sanctions on.
Derek: I’d rather see our presidents getting blowjobs by interns than starting fights across the country. That doesn’t need to happen.