Interviews

Q&A: Cat SFX

Cat SFX single “Rodeo” only came out in February, but it has been going from strength to strength. Here is a video premiere

Establishing themselves as a definite ‘one to watch’, the punk-influenced London band have been featured at Alan Mcgee presents showcases and played iconic venues alongside Cast. Lock Magazine met up with singer and songwriter Caterina Speranza to talk about influences, songwriting, and the journey. 

Cat SFX already played a number of live shows. You went on tour with Cast, how much did you enjoy the experience? 

Yes, we went on tour with Cast and joined them for four Academy shows, it was a total dream come true. The band were absolutely amazing. Playing the academy stages with them was an addictive feeling.

It was just after the Covid lockdowns; restriction after restriction. So being able to just go out and play live must have felt special. 

Yes, and Liverpool was like a magical homecoming gig. I love it there, and Cast were so good to us. The really mental one was Birmingham though. It was insane, just the reaction we got there. Of course, when you are the opening act, and you see people getting really into your stuff, it feels extra-special, because you know that’s never guaranteed.

Being on tour with Cast, do you feel you got to know them? What would you say you learned from the experience, as a whole?

We became quite close with them. They are really nice people, and I love John Power. I had some stage nerves, but they were amazing. They checked in with us before each show. It was really beautiful and emotional. I learned so much about how to be calm before a gig. Even though I had been writing songs for quite a while before getting back on a stage with Cat SFX, I hadn’t been on stage since I was 17. Seeing Cast live taught me so much, as we watched them every night. We all learned a lot from that.

Tell me about some of your favourite music, and who inspired you? 

Lyrically, my biggest inspiration is Richey Edwards from Manic Street Preachers. I like all The Manics albums, they’ve got great songs, and the music is strangely upbeat. I love the lyrics, and I can’t believe anybody can write and portray something like “Motorcycle Emptiness”, about survival being as natural as sorrow. Growing up with their music was a big inspiration.

My absolute favourite band is Nine Inch Nails. I first heard “Pretty Hate Machine” when I was a kid, and I really love the quieter songs as well. The lyrics are beautiful, but simple. I also adore PJ Harvey, she’s the queen. I’m a big fan of Bikini Kill, and I love Hole. I love the freedom certain songs have, but I also think I like them because certain songs remind me of Nirvana. That’s it, it’s all interlinked.

How do you write songs in the band? Is there a process? 

I find that Gordon (Gordon Mills) and I work well. If I go down to the studio, I’ll have notes with me. It’s not necessarily lyrics, but it’ll be something that comes into my head, like a phrase, and I’ll write it down on my notes. Then, when I see Gordon, I’ll say ‘this is what I’ve got written down’. Then he’ll get out the guitar, we’ll make a start, and go from there. We’ve always done it that way, and we always come out with a song.

Listening to your lyrics, it is evident that political messages are conveyed. You say things about the world, and it seems natural and unforced. 

Thanks, that’s exactly why I started the project. I was waiting for an opportunity, it just felt like I couldn’t contain myself anymore. Certain things are personal to me, like mental health, and issues like corruption. We’re seeing how big pharma becomes profit, the poor living situation for people right now, and what’s going on in Ukraine at the moment is absolutely devastating. No one sings about protests either.

Also, for me, personally, it’s been interesting, as I’m having DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy). They say that the best thing is to not have pills, as you can get hooked on them, and it’s not real happiness.

“Rodeo” video premiere 

 

There’s clearly passion in the music, and your dedication comes across. Aware of the fact that you had a tough and difficult upbringing, do you think this is why music became so important?

I always wanted to do this, and I don’t ever want to do anything else. It’s just an attitude and more. I’ve been on my own since I was 15. Music has always been consistent in my life, no matter how you’re feeling, there’s always going to be a song to accompany that. There was no support at home. My mum had been married, and she was dealing with our own stuff, she didn’t want me around anymore, so things were difficult at school etc.

She sent me to London, to live with my dad, who was living there at the time. Unfortunately, he was a full-blown alcoholic, and prone to violent outbursts. I stayed there for about two weeks, but I soon realised that this was no good for me. Then, I met a girl in Camden, and she literally invited me to live in her house, with her family.

The release date of your single “Doom Generation” was delayed because of Covid-19. How did the pandemic affect you in more general terms? 

Yes, we were keen to release it straight away, but that couldn’t happen because of Covid, and it ended up being July, instead. Then, of course, we had gigs planned, which didn’t happen. In a situation like this morale goes down. For me, when it comes to writing, I find that writing when I’m in a bad mood doesn’t work, and writing when I’m tired is no good either.

In fact, the best time for me is in the morning. When I get up, and head straight down to the studio, because that way my mood isn’t affected. But during lockdowns I couldn’t go, it was not inspiring at all. It isn’t inspiring when everything on TV is just pure panic, and you can only go outside to walk your dog. A lot of people have been affected by it, deeper than they know. I’m seeing it with a lot of people now.

What’s it like to work closely with Alan Mcgee, how do you see the relationship?

We communicate a lot. I will send music to him, I’ll say ‘what do you think about this?’ Being my manager, we pretty much talk every day. It’s cool, because he has been through the ‘90s and the music of that time, which I truly love. So, I ask him for advice about stuff.

It’s a great musical relationship. He doesn’t understand how someone my age knows so much about music, because it’s pretty much all I talk about. He sends me recommendations, like bands from the past that I won’t have heard of, like strange acts from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s.

That sounds ideal. It’s like having a mentor and a good friend. 

Yes, he has done his drug and drinks things, but he has been sober for 20 years now. I’d say our relationship is built on that as well, as I have been through some of that, too. But the fact is that it’s really helpful to have somebody, who’s got 20 years under their belt and is able to talk to about managing certain situations.

Tell me about Cat SFX’s future goals. What would you like to achieve?

We would like to keep making music, and be very true to ourselves. And I’d like to play a lot more live shows, and go on tour more. Also, just to carry on building our fan base, and then hopefully be able to go to Italy and other parts of Europe.

I’m really excited about the new EP. We recently started working on that, and we’ve come up with a new song that I’m just so in love with. I really feel it, it’s great. It will be more in the vein of “Rodeo”. The new songs are a bit darker, and more like the sort of music that I adore; dark and grungy.

Is the release of a debut album on the cards as well? 

We would definitely like to have an album out in the next year or two. I’ve started these sessions with Gordon, and we’re coming up with material that really excites me. I want to fucking stand up to things.

People are still angry, and music is a great way to vent your anger.

 

“Rodeo” is out on It’s Creation Baby Stream on Spotify

 

Q&A: Cat SFX
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