CATL is a blues / rock band from Toronto that’s made of real life partners Sarah and Jamie. This is the type of band that you picture down in the sweaty South. A couple of lovers playing sexy blues music – it certianly sounds Southern. CATL is that sexy blusey band except they are based out of Toronto so they sound a little grittier. CATL make the type of music that is rare to find these days. It harkens back to a different place and time and yet it doesn’t sound dated or too on-the-nose. It’s great music that makes audiences get up and dance and that’s really a huge accomplishment these days.
CATL have played in Hamilton many times and are back on May 20th to play an intimate show at Live At the Killing Floor. This is a private venue that’s running several shows this spring and fall. These are limited ticket catered shows that will bring you closer to the music than you’ve ever been before. Check out the Facebook page for more information.
Q – We’re looking forward to having you in Hamilton at the Killing Floor. What’s your take on Hamilton? Are there any bands or artists that you like from this city?
Hamilton is great. It’s a big city that’s close to home and the people like to have a good time. Toronto can seem a bit more disaffected. We shot a video for our song ‘F.U. Blues’ there with local production guys and an all-Hamilton cast. We have a bunch of musician friends from there including Frankie and Jimmy, Ginger St. James, SnowHeel Slim, The Noble Savages and Justine Fischer and Matty Simpson. We’ve played with all those guys and they’re all incredibly talented.
Q – How do you balance honouring the musical conventions that are specific to your genre and also being creative and expressing yourself openly?
We like the constraints of our music. It forces us to be creative within certain limits. 2 drums, no guitar pedals, and little extra accompaniment. The music doesn’t feel constrained and we pay little attention to any musical conventions. Just trying to make music that makes sense to us. Kind of an ‘if you build it they will come’ attitude. We don’t write music for the radio even though I (Jamie) think the music is better than much of what’s on the radio. We do make music that makes people dance though. Reactions from the crowd are important. Ultimately we’re there to entertain, otherwise, why would people come to a show. I think there’s a lot of musicians that think they’re above the crowd, and we are definitely not those people. Literally, anyone can make music, that’s why it’s so great, so self-importance doesn’t resonate with us.
Q – Can you tell us a bit about your songwriting process?
Songs come from different things. I came up with a couple songs on the new record away from my instrument, literally in the shower. That was kind of interesting. Otherwise, it’s waking up and saying “let’s try and make this type of song today”. For us, the way the song goes is kind of pre-destined. Don’t fight the groove, and we make it swing. If your audience is struggling to understand what we’re doing than we’ve failed. When we were in Germany the audience would ask about our music after the show, like they were trying to figure it out. We would tell them to not think about it too much and they would be ok. That sounds glib but it’s true. We’re not Radiohead, thank god.
Q – What sort of art do you guys turn to for inspiration?
We listen to a lot of pre-war blues, old rock and roll, and 60’s soul music. We listen to a ton of records when we’re at home and I guess that seeps into what we’re about. People compare us to other things, and I can certainly hear what they’re talking about, but chances are we weren’t thinking about that when we wrote the song. Sometimes I think it’s funny, the types of comparisons we get, but everybody hears things differently. We watch a wide scope of genres of movies when we’re home too. But I think life, in general, should provide enough inspiration. I can only play the guitar one way and Sarah can only play the drums one way, hopefully, that’s enough to produce something engaging.
Q – If someone is just getting into blues because of your band and they want to dig deeper and find other good blues music – where should they start?
My first introduction was Mississippi Fred McDowell. Love him. Hill country blues is kinda where it’s at. Long droning passages with few chord changes. Like old John Lee Hooker or R.L. Burnside. All those old Mississippi guys are good. That’s why we play down there so much, I guess. Slim Harpo, Lightnin Slim, Fury Lewis, Charlie Patton, Son House. all great original rock and rollers. They invented the wheel.
Q – What do you have planned for the summer, musically speaking?
Busy summer, most weekends are booked, I believe. We’ve got a couple Toronto shows, which is rare for us these days so we’re looking forward to those. We head back down towards Mississippi at the end of this month for a slew of U.S. dates with a festival in Clarksdale, MS being our ultimate destination. We have a tour in Germany in July that ends with The Raut Oak Fest in Bavaria. We did Raut Oak last year and it was great. Lots of bands that have similar musical backgrounds to us in a stunning setting. Then we come home and play a wedding and a handful of summer festivals around Southern Ontario. We’re trying to push a record out for a fall release. It’s recorded but we have to figure out all the other stuff like manufacturing and such. takes too long. we should just release the recording on my phone and save some cash.