Friday, March 26, 2010
Workin' Man's Soul
All right. After a full week of posts (and we might do it again next week), let's wrap things up with another Deep Blues Friday post. And not only is this a Deep Blues Friday post, but it features our Record Of The Year (to this point). How can you go wrong with that double-shot of love? You can't. You just can't. Let's hit it then.
Our pals up in Toronto, The Speaking Tongues (who we featured a little while ago) turned us on to today's guest, and boy are we glad. If you like music at all, yr gonna love catl.
catl comes from Toronto, also, and we're not sure what's in the water (or the bottle) up there, but we'd like to have a little sip ourselves.
catl's got some nasty voodoo in 'em, a trio of shakers and shimmy-down low. Swamp-bottom surge and cracked-wall shanty groove, a speakeasy stomp and lord let it rain cuz the devil's in the strings and there's fire in them there fields.
Got a hootenanny on wax, then, a band with a wail for a whisper and sour-mashed guts, preaching the circuit and electric mainline juice flowing the darkest veins. Singer/guitarist catl, himself, breaks down banks of mighty Mississippi, mudded and souled, dirt on the strings from the very crossroads, a voice that yowls and drives, swing low sweet Cadillac. Drummer Johnny LaRue is a tribal leader, pounding and fucking the kit like sex-mad demon, all rhythmic pagan-blues ritual. And Sarah Kirkpatrick rattles and cooks, greasy organ, moon-madness maracas on amphetamines, and called-out vocal response and chant.
It's a shimmy-she-wobble, then, amped and driving, straight to the end of times, baptized in the waters of Babylon, and the lord sayeth, repent.
The tune "Workin' Man's Soul", which you can find below, is quite possibly the best tune yr gonna hear all year.
catl main man, and catl namesake, Jamie Fleming, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us, and you should sit up straight and take yr elbows off the table for this.
The BRCM Interview With catl
Big Rock Candy Mountain: Who are catl. and what do you do?
catl: I play guitar and sing and I’ve gone by the name catl for a while now. I’ve played with Johnny Larue for a better part of 10 years so I guess together we make up catl. But it’s also whoever we play with. We’ve had other guest musicians and now that we have sarah she’s a part of catl as well.
BRCM: Who are your influences, and how did you discover them?
catl: I don’t really listen to contemporary music, and all I really listen to is old country blues or 50’s style rhythm and blues. I was in a record store here in Toronto when I was younger and I asked the owner if he could recommend a good country blues player. He gave me a Mississippi Fred Mcdowell record and it was the right thing for me to hear at the time. He’s still one of my favourites, and I loved the way he played outside of conventional blues structures and changed whenever he wanted. I also, love the early recordings of musicians like Charley Patton and Son House. I actually had the opportunity to play one of Son House’s guitars some years back which was a powerful experience for me.
BRCM: What does "catl." stand for? You've been quoted as saying it's a "nonsense" acronym. When I try to say it out loud, it naturally sounds like "cattle". Was that intentional, or are you holding the line at "means nothing"?
catl: Everyone pronounces it like ‘cattle’ and people make up acronyms for it like ‘caustic agoraphobic totalitarian lovers (my friend leslie came up with that one) but whatever people want to think is probably the right thing. It’s easy to sign records that way.
BRCM: You recorded your latest album ("With The Lord For Cowards You Will Find No Place") with Jim Diamond, who's known for his work with a slew of great artists, including Andre Williams, The Compulsive Gamblers (Oblivians), Left Lane Cruiser, and The Dirtbombs/Gories. What was that experience like? Did it add anything to your aesthetic, or was it "business as usual"?
catl: We liked those records as well and that’s why we went to him. Detroit is real close to us and a lot of those bands would play up here on a weekend so it seemed like a natural fit. He was really easy to work with and worked real fast. We like to get things done with as little hassle as possible as well. His studio is a mess of old amps/organs/guitars and other gear and it’s right downtown across the street from tiger stadium. He made it real comfortable and I think the tracks we got from that place are amazing. I really liked the idea of john lee hooker recording and playing in Detroit, so the city holds a special place in my heart.
BRCM: Heard a rumour that one of y'all got to play a guitar once owned by Son House. How was that for ya?
catl: Oh, I mentioned that earlier. That was pretty special. I always play on old guitars and i truly believe they carry the spirit of the people that played them before.
BRCM: Have you ever found yrselves rollin' and tumblin'?
catl: Every fri., sat., and most parts of sun.
BRCM: Is there a devil? Or just god when he's drunk?
catl: There’s no good with with no bad so it’s impossible to think of one without the other.
BRCM: You've added a third member, Sarah Kirkpatrick. Going from a two-person combo to a third, how did that transition work in terms of band dynamics?
catl: It gave me more of a rest. Seriously, she brings another vocal element that I always love about groups like the Carter Family or when a blues guy has a woman singing over his shoulder. The organ for me is the harmonica (an instrument that is always a tragedy when I try and play it).
BRCM: Y'all come from a punk/hardcore background. How did the transition from loud'nfast to the swampier bilge-groove of the (punk) Blues come to be? Did you keep some of your core followers, or do you find yourself with a whole new set of fans (or somewhere in-between)?
catl: It a lot different now. The audience is different but I think the music is the same. To me Charley Patton is a punk rocker from the 20’s.
BRCM: Have you ever put double nickels on the dime?
catl: It’s the metric system up here you know.
BRCM: Why is vinyl better than digital? Or is it? What's the optimal way to listen to catl., other than live?(personal note: as a vinyl junkie, I'm thrilled to get yr records in lp format)
catl: I buy records so for us the vinyl thing is a bit of selfish motivation. As long as people listen to music, I guess that’s the main thing. For me personally, I could give a shit about the cd.
BRCM: What's yr best live experience? Worst?
catl: Every one is different and if it was bad I’d quit.
BRCM: You've said in the past that you'll play for a bottle of vodka. I've got a bottle of vodka with yr name on it (we can add more to the stash if necessary), what will it take to get y'all into the States for a few shows? Do you have any plans for a tour, or are you satisfied with being a "regional band with a scene"?
catl: We can come and play anywhere.
BRCM: Other than vodka, what is the drink of choice for catl.? Does booze make the blooze?
catl: Tequila. Yes.
BRCM: Have you come from the land of the ice and snow? Has the hammer of gods ever led you to Valhalla?
catl: Never heard of it.
BRCM: You recently won the 2009 Toronto Blues Society Talent Search. You're quoted as saying "I think a lot of people wer really pissed off about us winning that...". First, how did you feel about winning that competition? And second, do you see the Blues community as still being a "tad" conservative in its approach to the Blues? We've seen the "trad" element already getting cranky with Fat Possum's "remix" projects . Does this project further into the realm that you occupy?
catl: It made people take notice of us that are caught up in a certain interpretation of the blues. I always think that the more people we contact the better. I don’t feel it necessary to compete with other musicians, but I always play like it’s my last show.
BRCM: What's on the current schedule for catl.? You just released a new record, "With The Lord For Cowards You Will Find No Place". Anything coming up that we should know about?
catl: We have Canadian music week. We have our monthly at the Dakota. And we’ll go whever people want to hear us play……
Thanks, catl. If that aint enough for ya, check out the tunes below. And the video. Their latest record, "With the Lord for cowards you will find no place" can be purchased at Electro_Fi Records. Did we mention it's our Record Of The Year, so far? And a very limited amount of copies of their debut record "¿Adónde vas? A ningún lado", from which the following tune, "Hey! Hey!" can be purchased by emailing folkbrandrecords AT Hotmail d.o.t com. Do yourself a favor, and get 'em both. It's worth it.
catl: Working Man's Soul (mp3)
catl: Hey! Hey! (mp3)
CATL - Working Man's Soul from NOW Magazine on Vimeo.
Country week, next week! In the meantime, hit the record stores and the indpendent label sites!