Emerald Isle time! Hopping over the choppy waters to the land of leprechauns, warm welcomes and… Catalan!
I’m from the North Antrim Coast in Ireland and live in Belfast. My live band are made up of one fellow north coaster, Allan Starrs on drums and a couple of Derry folks, Ryan McGroarty on guitar and Cheylene Murphy on bass.
How did you meet?
We met through playing in various other bands over the years, the great thing about the scene in Belfast is that genre cross pollination is common and extreme at live shows here. So bumping into Ryan and Cheylene playing in their dreamy synth pop band and Allan in a hardcore band wasn’t strange. The relationship was foster from there.
How long have you been playing as a band?
Roughly 3 years
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
I wanted the project name to reflect how the lyrics and words would be front and centre and a big consideration moving forward. So I thought if I named it after a language this could be an appropriate nod to that approach. CATALAN! sounds great, looks great and and usually prompts some interesting questions and discussion.
What are your influences?
MIA, Why?, Tinariwen, Sleaford Mods, Big Country, A-WA, The Bronx, The Dubliners
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
I like the sound that the tag “World Punk” gives off. Someone recently described it as “Talking Heads meets Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros” I’m happy with that. Ideally its – “Urgent, world music influenced, indie, post punk with plenty of thought provoking poetry barked over the top” Which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue! Perhaps it’s hard describe? Which is hopefully a good thing.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
Lots! The way I approach lyric writing is as a stream of consciousness, so one line could tackle a particular theme and the next line might dive off to totally a different direction. The idea is that it reflects how we are quite literally consuming the world through social media right now. I think of the lyrics as a social media feed, a history book, a geography text, a tourist guide, newspapers of varying bias, a map, some political leaflets and a shopping catalogue all thrown into blender and reconstituted on the other side. At one minute you might be seeing ecological catastrophe or a migrant crisis the next it’s cute cats and latte art.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
We try to keep the live show interesting by straying a little from the studio versions of songs, for something unique, as well as usually having some form of spoken word piece. We enjoy audience interaction and genuinely try to instil some positive collective energy into the room, that electricity that people can create is intoxicating, we’re missing that more than ever. Until now CATALAN! has done in and around 50 shows.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
The area I grew up in on the North Coast, whilst small and rural, was always known for having a vibrant scene. The shows were typically wild and energetic. Playing in an out building on a farm in my old punk band I once watched a stage diver scale the speaker stacks, only to realise how low the ceiling was. He crouched in the tiny space between speaker top and roof tiles, when he leapt off the hands of the audience rose up to meet him and he was forced upwards into the ceiling. When the dust had settled we noticed a perfect human imprint on the roof tiles and plaster board above us. It was wild, spontaneous, sculptural, performance art happening right before our eyes.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
Pearl drums, Vox AC30 amps and a Marshall VBA bass head and ampeg cab. The guitars get swapped around a little: fenders and danelectros.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
Veritas Is the debut CATALAN! album, it’s out next month. For now people can check out some of the preceding singles online and grab a pre order copy.
What are your plans for 2020?
Like most of the world, a lot of the plan for 2020 has been put on hold. But some exciting things remain, particularly the fact that the debut album is out on the 2nd of October! People can pick it up now for pre order on gorgeous red vinyl! We have some clever, streamy, socially responsible live ideas in the works too. Behind the scenes I plan to continue writing and demoing, I have a good chunk of what you might consider a follow up written.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
If this is total hypothetical land I’m going to have The Clash as headliners and Ryan and Cheylene’s Beauty Sleep to open, because they’re amazing but also because we could carpool! I’ve no idea why in a hypothetical world I’m thinking of logistics…. But there it is!