Catbite on Mental Health and Van Theft - Tunes Tuesday Interview Transcript
Maud Mostly: Hello, I’m Maud Mostly, my pronouns are they/them, and welcome back to Tunes Tuesday, a weekly series where I sit down with Queer/2SLGBTQ+ artists and bands to talk to them about their music, their experiences in the scene, and more. Today, I am joined by Philadelphia-based ska power pop band, Catbite. Hello folks, would you like to introduce yourselves?
Catbite: Hi! Hello!
Brittany: Hello! Okay I’ll start, my name is Brittany. My pronouns are she/her, and I play keyboard and sing for Catbite.
Tim: I'm Tim. I use he/him pronouns, and I play guitar. And do also some singing, not as much, but a little bit of singing in Catbite as well, and we're half of the band, there are two more.
MM: I’m so glad to have you here today. And I kind of just wanna point out to people, we did not plan this t-shirt thing.
Tim: Oh I called you way ahead of time, I was like, make sure you wear that shirt, if you don't, I'm canceling the call. Quick plug, though, ah Jeremy…
MM: Yes, I can also link their interview at the end of this video, to go watch that Jer special. But now to get more into you folks, so the first thing I wanna ask is your debut self-titled album, Catbite, came out in 2019 and features great songs like — Come on Baby, Midnight Eyes and Scratch Me Up. Lyrically, this album talks a lot about mental health as it brings up self-destructive tendencies and fears around losing people who were or are important to you. What inspired these themes and how do you know or think these lyrics resonated with other people?
Tim: Do you want to start?
Brittany: I’ll start. I think when we wrote that album, at least for myself personally, and probably for Tim, too, I think we were partying a lot during that era of life, and I think that definitely had an influence in our writing. I think, 'cause that's just what we were experiencing in that time. Both of us were in a relationship with someone together, and that ended up being a little bit of a toxic situation. So I think maybe when we — in some of the lyrics where we're like — maybe we missed someone, but I think that period of time was like, not, I think like, not the healthiest for us. So I think hopefully, if anyone is or did go through something similar in their life, hopefully that they could recognize themselves in those songs? Or in those lyrics. But yeah, you wanna?
Tim: Yeah, like we, the two of us do the lyrical songwriting in the band, a lot of it separate and a lot of it together, I guess. Probably half of that record, I instigated the lyrics or wrote the lyrics for, and then same with her, and then we just kind of would collaborate and make things fit, and kind of fictionalise it and stuff. And at least at least for me, when I write lyrics, it's like little tidbits and I don't really go into write a song ever. I usually, I just have either a notebook or my phone. On my phone, there's just the notes app, and it's just like stupid phrases, little stupid rhymes. Like, shit that I'm feeling and yeah. Pretty much all those songs were written in a two, three-year period of time where I was just like — like she said, we were partying a lot, we were in a weird toxic relationship with one of our friends. And it was weird 'cause we're happy and also heartbreak at the same time, which kind of influenced a lot, and also I was in a toxic relationship with my old band. Which is weird to say. Yeah, so it's just kind of like, yeah.
It was just kind of a series of thoughts, so I guess it's just kind of a theme for that whole record, but just put into danceable power pop.
Brittany: That's always my favorite kind of song is one that speaks on something maybe more serious, but you wouldn't necessarily think that unless you really listen to it because it's fun and dancey, and I think light-hearted, but really it's not.
Tim: Yeah. I think a lot of people respond to that type of music a lot. Personally, I do. You do as well. It's just, it's the music that I wanna hear and that’s why we made it.
MM: And I have to say I love that music as well, and I think it connects to this idea that you're bringing very real feelings and very real experiences to the music that a lot of people have probably gone through and can relate to. But I think people also know that the toxic things are, the harmful things that they've been through is not like all of who they are, so I think that up beatness kind of encompasses more of that where if you wanna have fun, they still wanna find that joy, even if they are relating to these more difficult situations.
Tim: Yeah, exactly.
MM: Absolutely, yeah. So then moving on to something that's a bit of a mix of fun and interesting, but also the situation that it was around is kind of sad originally. So you were recently given some recognition outside of music because you were able to find Mannequin Pussy’s, stolen van, a great feat. But it builds off an unfortunate circumstance, so how often do you see this kind of theft in the music scene, what's the impact of it, and why should people be more wary of this issue? Because I have to say, I didn't really even know how often vans got stolen until I started paying deeper attention to artists, and I feel like a lot of people aren't aware of how much it happens.
Brittany: Oh yeah.
Tim: Yeah. Well, it — so I was the one that found the van. It was actually a weird. Quick story about it. So I work in a near where they practice and I've seen their van before, and I'm like, “Oh cool, that's a band van”, and I was leaving work and I saw a notification on Instagram that they lost their van. And I was on my way home, I'm like, I'm gonna find that van, there's just this weird thing that I thought that just came in in my head, I'm like, it was just like a fact. And then the next morning — the first thing in the morning — as soon as I get to work, there’s the van. And I hit them up on social media. But anyways, this whole thing, it hits home because my old band, we had our van stolen with all of our gear in it, and it was right before a tour. This was back about five or six years ago, when I feel like it was just rampant. Every major city in the country, it was like —
Brittany: Yeah, it was crazy. We had so many friends that were posting up on social media like, “Please be on the lookout”. I think The Suffers had their van stolen.
Tim: The Suffers, The District.
Brittany: Yeah, it was crazy.
Tim: Yeah. Just like so many. It was all in that same level of band. You know like, not super big, just in starting to tour full-time basically. Which is the worst, the hardest, because you're barely making any money, everything that matters to you is in the van and stuff, and it's just like, it's so chaotic. You're starting out, and I think just like — well, it turns out there's a lot of strategic planning behind these van thefts and stuff. I think it was down, there was somewhere in Texas, I I believe, I wanna say Texas, but somewhere, there was a whole organization that was busted and it was like a whole chain of people robbing vans and they would bring all their stuff to this place and they were selling stuff out of it. And they recovered thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars worth of music equipment, but that usually isn't the case, at least when my stuff got stolen I never saw any of it ever again. We saw the van, though! We got the van back, which was cool.
Brittany: But just any gear.
Tim: It just keeps happening. And it doesn't seem to stop. I definitely think the awareness is helping a lot of, there's a lot more, just the awareness, people being mindful of what they're doing on tour and whether they're sleeping in the van, whether they're backing it up against a brick wall so the back doors can't open, just stuff like that I've noticed, which no one used to talk about before, but now it's like, that's kind of like...
Brittany: You have to think of it.
Tim: It's just like another thing that's just kind of come to the front of touring.
MM: Yeah, and that just sounds, I mean, so stressful. As you say, if you're not making that much money or really any money off what you're doing in that moment and a bunch of very expensive items, when we're talking about gear, we're not talking about cheap things, even if you have the cheapest guitar and the cheapest bass, that's still a lot of money. But yeah, so it's so unfortunate how often that happens, and if I can find the news story about what you were mentioning in Texas, I will definitely link it down below, because I feel like if people see just how big this is and how much money you know people make off of it and who it exactly is targeting, that could be really informational. So, yeah, thank you for bringing that up.
Tim: Yeah, totally
MM: Yeah, and I also, I just wanna mention, I saw the cute Scooby gang art, somebody—
Brittany: Oh my god!
Tim: I like, I lost my shit when I saw that.
MM: Yeah, as a huge Scooby Doo fan, I just saw that and I was like, I mean, that's perfect.
Tim: Yeah, I loved it.
MM: But yeah, and then, so this is the last question I have for you today — because I'm sure a lot of people are getting excited about it — is that you've started to tease your second album and it's coming out later this year! So what can we be expecting from it as far as sound and theme?
Brittany: Well, I've been saying it's a little bit more aggressive, not in the musicality of it, but maybe like the writing.
Tim: I think of lyrics are more direct, whereas the last album, it was a lot more vague.
Brittany: Maybe not even vague either, just like, I tend to write more about my feelings and relationships and things like that, but I think this is, this album, we talked about a little bit heavier things than just feelings and relationships and —
Tim: Yeah, and also probably there's three or four songs that I wrote that were from the same era of the first album, so it's kind of like, still got that vibe of angst and toxicity, all that stuff. Yeah, I don't know, it's definitely, as far as sonically and stuff, it still sounds like a Catbite album.
Brittany: It feels like what this album is like we know what our sound is, we honed in on it, and I feel like it's gonna be *chefs kiss* really good. I'm ready, I'm ready to put it out. I’m so excited.
Tim: Yeah, I'm really excited about it. So, we just, yeah, we just finished tracking everything last weekend, and right now it's off to the mixing…
Tim: …all that stuff. I don't really know what happens there. It just goes in and then it comes out and it’s a vinyl and you're like, “Woah, look at that!”. That's what the stage it is right now. Yeah.
MM: Amazing. Well, it sounds like there's lots to look forward to and per usual, all their links will be down below. So if you would like to stay tuned to make sure you can get right on it when that album drops and follow them along in the meantime, make sure you're listening to their other music, you can do that, all at the links below.
Thank you so much for joining me today. Is there anything you'd like to say as, bye?
Tim: Yeah, thank you so much for having us.
Brittany: Thank you.
Tim: It's cool to uh, it was fun! I guess we never really talk about our lyrics that much, so this is probably the first time in a while.
Brittany: Yeah, yeah.
MM: Amazing. Well, I'm so glad this was fun for you, I always have so much fun with all these artists as well. Thank you so much everyone. And see you next week.
Brittany: Thank you, bye!