Band You Should Know: Catcher


Photos by Lauren Massie, Julia Austin, and Kevin Allen

Catcher is a band with such palpable recklessness that one can sense them in the crowd before the show even begins, like a low rumble—omens of a raucous evening to come floating through the audience on sociable air, raised by good smiles, white shirts and black coats.

Formed from the remnants of an Austin, Texas-based band that they’d prefer I not name, Catcher is a member of New York City’s new, undefinable musical generation, unrestricted by genre and instrumentation. Their music is as visceral and engaging as their performances can accommodate, pushing the stage forward through nihilistic, unimpressed lyrics and reassembled guitar tones that strike and compel.

With music matching performances so delightfully enigmatic, Catcher is a band that presents themselves specifically in their way, sometimes polarizing spectators into either true believers happy to indulge, or helpless bystanders with nothing more to do than get out of their way; inspiring, at the very least, something in each and every listener, which is considerably more than most acts can say for themselves.

The band has had an interesting 2021. A North American tour, a developed and dedicated fan base here at home, and a new album set to release on February 18th, it is no surprise that they’ve been named one of NME’s 100 Essential Emerging Artists in the coming year. Catcher impacts, leaving audiences wanting more. Having been in the audience, we asked them for just a little more.

Helloooo, Catcher. Do you mind introducing yourselves?

We’re Austin, Jack and Wilson.

How did you all meet? 

Austin: I met Wilson in college back in Austin where we had another band. We moved up here and met Jack on Tinder, and our other guitarist Christian on Craigslist.

Wilson: We met our violinist just through mutual friends, and I’ve known our bassist since the second grade, but we only started playing together in college.

Do you mind, for the sake of this being a typed interview, if I condense your answers and refer to you as just ‘Catcher’?

That’s alright.

Why’d you all move up here to NYC?

I think we’ve always wanted to live here, even though all of us never really had a direct discussion about it. We were initially going to move to London before Covid because our old band had some traction out there, but then the world shut down. We stayed in Austin for a while, but we had to get out of there, and the best place for us to go was New York, and it’s gone really well. We wanted a fresh start with our new band and a new sound, so if we aren’t going to London, it’s between New York and LA, and we don’t like LA.

Agreed. How was that transition?

At first it was pretty desolate. We were spending a lot of time just drinking in our apartment, writing music, not knowing anyone. It was lonely, but it was a good time to write music. We put a band together when we first got here and that kind of didn’t work out, but we kept the songs, and the lineup that we have now works really well together.

Earlier you mentioned a change in your sound, how does now compare to before and why’d that change come about?

It was pretty organic. We had two EP’s and a single with the last band and if you listen to them chronologically, you can hear the gradual transition to now—you can hear the direction that we were growing toward. It felt like when we moved here, it all came to fruition. We are more experimental, which is a reflection of learning more about music and just… learning more music.

I can hear some post-punk, some noise, some gothy sounds. What have you guys been listening to?

When we were writing, we did an experiment where we didn’t want to have any influences like post-punk or rock, so we started listening to a lot of noise music and African music and free jazz and dub, all kinds of music. We thought it’d be better to try and have more interesting influences, or at least to try and branch out and learn about other kinds of music outside of our own genre. When we first met Jack, they were telling us that they listened to The Sundays. Jack listens to more production-heavy things. Catcher records from more of a live angle than a pieced together work.

I’ve seen you play and listened to your music, but I’m interested to know how you’d describe your music to me.

I think if we had to compare genres, it’d be art-rock? Or maybe more post-punk. We were talking about how this music sounds drunk, which sounds really lame, but the songs on this album sound very loose—drunk and visceral—like you’re wandering around New York City on a night out. That probably sounds very lame. We also hear the mindset that we had when we were writing it, which was based on trying to prove ourselves, have an immediate impact and an intense live show, and I think that comes through really well on the recorded tracks.

Is that what your songwriting style was going for?

Kind of. We often wouldn’t really reflect on songs once we had written them, they’d just kind of be there, and we wouldn’t question them, we’d move on. They came out pretty coherent in the end, we definitely have a sound. I don’t think we ever started writing a song with intent, or wanting a specific sound. They usually come from some part of a jam session, piling onto ideas as they come up.

That’s a very expedient writing strategy.

Yeah, and that’s actually something we are trying to avoid in the future. We are trying to think more about structure. We were talking about how a lot of these newer songs feel a little more classically composed, because parts move into other parts and sections, and we are trying to think more about how these songs are put together.

That’s interesting that you’re looking to put more structure because you were describing a kind of visceral sound that reflects how you are live.

I think we definitely are a live band. We feel very comfortable on stage in front of people. But I want to be a great recording band, too. The ultimate goal is to make an album that lasts and I think that production plays a huge role in that. We’ve never had the finances to spend a lot of time in the studio, but that’s where we are trying to go in the next record. Focusing on composition and mix, and making it its own experience. You can see us live, and that is a whole experience, and us recording is another half. I also think that in the past, our songs have been based on moods, but if we are more intentional and have better structure, we can be more articulate about what we are expressing, rather than only having an energy about it. A little more refined, more focused on what we are trying to say.

Articulate is a really good word. I saw you at The Sultan Room a few months back…

… Ah, man. That was a rough show.

Was it? I love me a rough show, you really get to see what a band is made of. You were very committed to your stage presence, and I like a show where I, as an audience member, have to buy in a little bit in order to enjoy it and engage with it.

That probably is about crowd engagement. I will say that that show was interesting because it was right before we had left for tour so we were a little on edge, and that was also coming out of Covid and was probably our fifth or sixth show playing live on stage together as a band. That one’s always interesting to me because now when I meet people around the city, they’ll tell me they saw me at that specific show. That tour, though, is when we came together as a group. We played 20 or something shows in a month, that was a crash course in being in a band. The shows now after that tour are a lot different because we are way more connected. I mean, I think we felt like we had to prove ourselves. We felt like we were doing our own thing on stage and did it how we wanted to do it. I think we are better at playing together now. Maybe more accessible?

Is accessibility the aim? You were all committed. I like when a show is a show and not just people on a stage doing a thing. What are your goals when you set out to play?

Experience is important. If there’s someone fucking around in the pit that’s hurting people then we will address it, but for the most part, I don’t think we are paying that much attention to what the audience is doing so much as what we want to do and what’s fun for us. You know what I mean? Whether people are in the room or not, it’ll be the same show. We are doing our thing and not worrying too much about how we are being seen. At least, that’s what we are trying to do. Another big part of the mindset is to not fuck up. You should see us now, it’s a different show from back then. We also do a lot of practising as if we are performing. Especially if we have a show coming up, we will literally go into the bathroom of where we practise and do a walkout as if we are walking out on stage, just to get in the mindset.

You absolute geniuses. 

Well if you don’t practise, realistically, you’re going to run into problems. If you don’t practise a little in that mode, you’ll probably run into technical difficulties that you did not anticipate because you weren’t used to moving around and doing all this stuff on stage with your guitar plugged in. A lot of that also comes through on the album, because we’d be recording it as if it were live.

A question from a fan: what are your thoughts on pessimism in art and music?

I do like pessimism in writing and music more than optimism. When songs are blatantly optimistic, that seems a little suspect.

What do you mean? 

If lyrics aren’t realistic, sugar-coated or whatever. That’s also something that’s changing with us, though. Our songs weren’t very happy, the subject matter was rarely positive, and that’s changing, probably in large part because our mindsets are changing. We aren’t as pessimistic as we were, we were pretty negative, and we leaned into it because it is a quick road to easy writing, but now we are more comfortable and reflective, and I think that’s turning into positivity.

Well, being a little art-rock requires a little pessimism, doesn’t it? Is forced positivity really positive?

It hasn’t even been a conscious thing where we are setting out to write happy things or think happier, more positive songs. We’ve just been writing new music for the next record and it’s been more tender, and the tempos are different. A lot of the tempos on the first one was sort of breakneck, guitars clashing, etc. In this new record, our songs have gone to a sort of different place that’s as exciting and engaging, but a little more reflective.

What’re the aspirations for Catcher?

To be subsidized. Just to be able to do it without day jobs. World domination.

How are you releasing this record? How’re you recording now?

I think we are going to put this record out ourselves. We recorded it in September and had it mastered by the end of October. We were shopping it around but it’s our understanding that if we put it out with someone else, it wouldn’t actually release for quite some time, and we are sort of ready to get it out there now and progress forward from it. As far as recording, we have a pretty decent demo studio in our place that we use a lot, but are looking to spend more time in professional studios.

 

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What’s the best way for a fan to support a worthwhile band like yourself?

Hmmm… if you can’t actually come to a show? Tell your friends? If you like us, at least. We are putting this record out on our own, and it’s too expensive to press our own vinyl, especially considering the shortage, so we will probably put out cassettes. Merch is a big one, on the website and Bandcamp. Spotify is the all-important one, I love a stream. You know what, just come to the show. We don’t need all the other stuff, we aren’t here to sell you anything, just come to a show and see us. Come to a show, give us a listen, keep an open mind. We are incredibly grateful for all the support we’ve gotten and the people who have come out for us. We’d love more of that. The best thing you can do is to give us a chance.

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