Finding a scene was just as important to Toronto’s catl. as reshaping their lineup. As catl. transformed into a two-piece they’ve honed in their Deep Blues sound into a fiery rock sound and show. The latest album from catl. Bide My Time Until I Die sees them exploring this concept while looking introspectively at where they are. We caught up with catl. ahead of their North American tour to discuss their changes and fitting in. We’re also premiering their video from “I’m On” below.
Northern Transmissions: How did you want to explore meaninglessness and holding onto hope in your album title, and what events inspired you to title it in such an extended way?
Jamie Fleming: We’ve had a lot of wordy titles in the past, although there’s no real reason for that I suppose. Our fifth record seemed like a good place to sum things up as a band and see where we were. There’s that hope that people can do what they want with their time, but working in the arts can feel a little meaningless at times.
Sarah Kirkpatrick: We were talking about the album title, and Jamie gave me a dual-meaning of the word “bide.” It can be biding my time to just sit around and wait, but also using your time well or at least for what you want to do. It’s also our tenth year together as a band too, so we can’t help but look back at what we’ve accomplished and what we want to accomplish.
NT: How did you find Mississippi played a role in your writing this time around?
JF: Musically Mississippi shapes all the music that we do. We started going down there to see where the music was coming from and it made more sense when you’re around the people and places it’s from.
SK: As a band there’s such a strong influence from that city, so for us going there was so important. When we transitioned from a three-piece with me on the organs, to a two-piece with me on drums, it felt that much more important to go to the source. We wanted to make sure people dug what we were doing, and assure that we weren’t ripping something off in an insulting or disrespectful way. It was a kind of musical pilgrimage for us to see the roots of the blues, and we spent so much time in Clarksdale.
JF: It was also interesting to go down there, playing down there as white people in the blues scene. There’s largely black audiences there, and they were so accepting of what we were doing so we saw those racial barriers melting away.
NT: What guides you to have such explosive rock shows between you two and why do you reject the term artist?
SK: Catl. started as more of a low-key house band. We’ve gone through some incarnations as a band and it was Andrew that pushed us to be louder overall. When Andrew left he was pushing us to go more. It was Jamie’s idea to have me on drums, which took a break. Then it was this aesthetic choice to have more of a stand-up drum-kit so I could be at the front of the stage, which lent itself to more of a chaotic live show.
JF: Musicians are kind of precious of who they are and what they’re doing. I generally don’t care what musicians have to think when they start weighing in on political topics. Our job is to be entertainers, and that’s why the music is out there. When Ike and Tina Turner put on a show, they PUT ON a show, they were working 350 nights a year. That’s what I want to see, it’s not an art project to me. It might sound good on record but when you go out, you want to see something exciting.
SK: We love that artists like Lou Reed can bring an art angle to their music, but on the whole that’s not us.
NT: On this note you are a Canadian band, so what’s pulled you out of the country so much?
JF: A lot of it was out of necessity with the big cities so few and far between here, and the states are so much closer together. When we started in Toronto people noticed but we scrambling to find a lot of bands to play with that sounded like us. We had to move to the states to find peers, and we found it easier doing that in the states and Europe where there’s more of a scene around it.
SK: We didn’t know what to call ourselves until we found these Deep Blues communities. We’ve played a lot of blues festivals but Deep Blues is much more like punk rockers playing the blues. We realized we fit in with these people.
NT: What led to you recording with Sam Phillips, Revolution and Sonology throughout the recording process and what did each engineer bring to the record?
JF: That was more about diversifying the sound of the record rather than seeing any one engineer’s approach.
SK: We’ve done that in the past on records, where songs will be recorded in Jamie’s house, or we’ll have the amped up version and an acoustic version. This Shakin’ House was our first record that was recorded all in one place and now we’re going back to that feeling of getting more sounds into the record.
JF: That was much more about necessity than design, we wanted that more diversive sound so our songs didn’t just all sound the same.
Words by Owen Maxwell
catl. Tour Dates:
10.11 – SANDUSKY, OH – HALO Live
10.12 – CHICAGO, IL – Montrose Saloon
10.13 – DETROIT, MI – Theatre Bizarre at the Detroit Masonic Temple
10.14 – CINCINATTI, OH – Urban Artifact
10.16 – NASHVILLE, TN – the 5 Spot – $2 Tuesdays w. Derek Hoke
10.17 – CLARKSDALE, MS – Shack Up Inn
10.19 – MEMPHIS, TN – Bar DKDC
10.20 – PADUCAH , KY – Maiden Alley Cinema Oktoberfest
10.27 – TORONTO, ON – Dakota Tavern – catl’s 4th Annual Hallowe’en Spooktacular
11.16 – SARNIA, ON – Refined Fool
11.17 – MARYSVILLE, OH – Dalton Union
12.7 – BUFFALO, NY – Mohawk Place
12.8 – ROCHESTER, NY – Bug Jar