Over the last decade, psychedelic laser rock band Catacombz has mutated like a comic book super villain. Its current incarnation may be its strongest yet. The Milwaukee band hits Lincoln Hall, June 26th along with Young Man and Mines. Catacombz synth player Sam La Strapes spoke with Our Town about lasers, Miley Cyrus and Unicorns.
Our Town What's the story behind your band's name?
Sam La Strapes The name has taken a new meaning that reflects our style of searching for inspiration; which is to say, by digging through the shallow graves of forgotten (at least by popular standards) sub-cultures to assemble a sort of Frankenstein’s monster sound. Now that I think of it, that description could be applied to a lot of today’s music.
OT Your music is about more than a sound, it’s about an experience. How do you go about providing that to an audience?
SL We have a seizure inducing light show and we’re loud as f*ck. I guess it’s inspired by unremembered nostalgia for the raves and Electric Kool-Aid parties we never got to experience ourselves.
OT Who are your some of your unexpected musical influences, in other words, who would fans be surprised to hear you are influenced by?
SL Speaking as somewhat of an outsider in a band of brothers, it’s no easy job finding the common denominator for our shared influences. But I can say we all love CCR, Big Freedia, The Shirelles, and Twin Peaks.
OT Do you consider yourselves part of a larger cultural scene or community?
SL Our community is comprised of brothers and sisters of the vibe that are geographically distant, but our mind meld is tight. And there’s always the internet.
OT Who’s your dream audience member?
SL I think I speak for everyone when I say it would have to be a clone army of Tommy Chongs.
OT Tell me about your Mother Tongue series.
SL The Mother Tongues are, as of right now, a name for our tour EPs that consist of recordings from our basement practice space. We tend to indulge our desire to just be weird and do whatever we want without recording time restraints, and everyone contributes bits and pieces in their own time so it really showcases the individual parts of our sound before they come together like Voltron. Mother Tongue 2 will have something for everyone. Unless you don’t like music, in which case you can f*ck right off.
OT Your work is issued on cassette and vinyl. Why not CD? What is your artistic intent here?
SL Vinyl sounds better, cassettes are cheap and beautiful, CDs are obsolete, and frankly, just not worth the effort. Plus, anyone who buys a physical copy of our record gets a free download, and not just mp3 but lossless FLAC as well for all the audiophiles out there with an external hard drive the size of Alaska.
OT How do you record? Do you work out a piece and then practice or do you simply turn on the recorder and play?
SL When we’re writing, we record everything. That way it’s easier to catch the synchronous interplay that occurs naturally as we “jam” so we can attempt to write it into a more structured song and re-record it at a later time. If that fails, at least we have a good take recorded.
OT What’s the best way for a band to build an audience?
SL I’d like to know that myself. I think it might have to do with the internet… And touring, that definitely helps.
OT Screw, Marry, Kill: Miley Cyrus, Jack White and Tom Waits. Go.
SL Miley would have to go, I’d screw Jack, and marry Tom Waits. That way I could manage his tours.
OT What can audiences expect from your Chicago date?
SL Those who don’t drop to the floor in a seizure will have their faces melted off, and all who endure will be treated to ice cream and unicorn rides.
Catacombz plays Lincoln Hall June 26th at 8 p.m.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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