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By: Daniela Patrizi
If Anything Happens To The Cat is an indie post-rock band based in Ghent, Belgium. They are releasing their debut full length album Sun Drunk Moon and to find out more about these post rockers we send Daniela Patrizi to track them down and pop a few questions.
(((O))): Hi guys. I’ve followed your work for a while, but haven’t had the chance to cover your sound on Echoes and Dust, so I hope we can start at the beginning. Where do you guys come from, what does the project name mean and how would you describe your sound?
Hi Daniela, thank you for taking the time to put together this interview! We’re a band called If Anything Happens To The Cat based in Ghent in Belgium. Our line up consists of Wouter on guitar and keyboards, Pieter on guitar and glockenspiel, Jasper on bass and vocals, Xavier on drums and myself, Filipe, on guitar and vocals. I think our sound is best described as post-rock mixed with shoegaze, indie, pop and screamo influences. The best way to know is to give us a listen of course! There’s actually a pretty sad story behind our name. When Pieter, Wouter and I started this band we used to write songs in Wouter’s student dorm. He had just gotten a little kitten who was always playing around while we were trying to make music, walking over the piano and scratching our amps. At a certain moment, Wouter went for a holiday and left a little note behind saying “if anything happens to the cat” and his phone number for his Chinese housemate who was going to take care of the cat. Unfortunately the kitten ran away during that week and was never found. At the next rehearsal we saw the little note and decided to name the band after it.
(((O))): How’s life in the beautiful city of Ghent?
Easy question, it’s great! I was born and raised here and I really love this city, it’s a very inspiring place with beautiful architecture and full of culture. Also, it’s the most progressive city in Belgium and I think you really notice this in the way the people of Ghent think and act. We’ve got a saying here that Ghent is the biggest of small cities and the smallest of big cities, and that’s a perfect description. Ghent has everything a big city has, but has the relaxing atmosphere of a small town.
(((O))): How is the music scene in Ghent? Do you often play out live?
The music scene in Ghent is pretty good I think, there A LOT of good local bands. There are a few nice bars putting up concerts on a daily or weekly basis. Although, I think there’s room for improvement as well. There’s a few nice bigger venues, but most international bands are still playing in Brussels or Antwerp instead of Ghent. Also, there’s a lack of smaller not too expensive venues where independent promoters can set up their own show. We try to play out as much as possible. So far, we’ve played a lot of shows in Belgium and the Netherlands. Of course, we would love to add more countries to the list in the future!
(((O))): Can you tell us something more about the maxim ‘everything is possible’ I read on your facebook page? How does it apply to music?
It means we don’t have rules when making music. If someone had an idea or if we’re just jamming at the rehearsal space and we all like it, then we’ll try to transform it into a good piece of music. It doesn’t necessarily have to sound this or that way. If we want to add vocals, we do. If we want to add a solo or an instrument that’s not usually associated with post-rock music, we do. I know bands who take three minute songs as a rule of thumb because they want to be easy listening or radio friendly. For us, a song is finished when it feels good, regardless if it’s two, four or ten minutes. We just think it’s more interesting if there’s some diversity in our music.
(((O))): How, would you say, your sound has evolved since you started writing music?
I definitely think our sound became more mature. When we started writing we didn’t really know what we were doing. Now, we think more about how everything sounds together and the role of each instrument in a song instead of just all playing the cool riffs we came up with. Not everything is drowned in reverb anymore haha! Also, we started out as a four-piece without a bass player, just three guitars and a drummer. At one point we decided we needed more depth in our music, especially live, and that’s when we asked Jasper to join the band. He’s also a good singer and has a good screaming voice, which you can hear on ‘Eyes Closed, Stay Quiet’ and ‘… Leave Noting But Pictures’. This gave an extra dimension to our sound. Before heading to the studio to record ‘Sun Drunk Moon’, our friend Jonathan from the band I Will, I Swear (check them out!) recorded one of our rehearsals in decent quality. We really wanted every note to sound right and this enabled us to critically listen to our songs and make some changes before recording them.
(((O))): I discovered you thanks to that stunning song called ‘Jessamine’. I really love it and I’m happy that you included it in your album. Does it have a particular meaning to you?
Yes, we decided to re-record Jessamine, because we thought it deserved better. It is actually the first song we ever wrote as a band and is based on a song I had written when I first picked up guitar. My first version sounded really bad, believe me. But it evolved into a beautiful piece of music.
(((O))): Your upcoming full length debut album has an interesting name – Sun Drunk Moon – what was the inspiration behind the concept and its title?
We had a really hard time figuring out a name for this album. Everything we came up with sounded too cheesy or didn’t really fit our music. One day, in the car on our way to the studio, Wouter showed us a list of album title ideas he had saved in his smartphone and Sun Drunk Moon was one of them and it stuck with us. It describes that moment in the evening when it’s still light outside, but the moon is already up too, so you know it won’t be long before it gets dark. The only reason we can see the moon is because it reflects the light from the sun, so you could say the moon is intoxicated with the sun. I think it’s a good metaphor for this record, as it describes both the lighter melodic side of our music and the darker heavier side.
(((O))): What were some of the musical influences that seeped into this record?
This record is actually a collection of songs we made in the past three years, so there’s a lot of influences. Every song was written at a certain moment and was influenced by that period of our lives, the bands we were listening to at the moment and the stage we were in as a band. A lot of influences come from the bands we listen to ourselves, but I think the biggest influence was probably just the fact we were playing together and growing together as a band. However, there are a few specific influences I could point out, although they are not necessarily musical. ‘An Unexplainable Explosion Of Data’ for example was heavily influenced by God Is An Astronaut. The lyrics of ‘Eyes Closed, Stay Quiet’ are based on the book ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley and the basic riff is inspired by the song ‘Descending’ by Aereogramme, although they don’t really sound alike. Both the title and the sample on ‘How To Walk Through The Fire’ are taken from Charles Bukowski and ‘Khaleesi’ is an obvious reference to Game Of Thrones.
(((O))): The sound on Sun Drunk Moon is even more organic than the previous EP and the recording of all instruments is also superb! What was a particular aesthetic that you attempted to achieve?
Yes, I am very glad you noticed. Our first EP was recorded by ourselves at home with very basic equipment and limited knowledge about recording, while ‘Sun Drunk Moon’ was professionally recorded at Penthouse Studio and MotorMusic and everything was beautifully mixed by Filip De Bot from Penthouse Studio. We definitely wanted the record to sound organic and real, with a bit of a live feeling, and didn’t want it to be overproduced. We all played along while recording the drums, to achieve that feeling. For example, a cool detail: if you listen very carefully you can hear the drumsticks fall on the ground in the outro of ‘… Leave Nothing But Footprints’. We deliberately didn’t cut this out as we thought this ‘imperfection’ makes it sound more alive.
(((O))): What do you think about the use of vocals in music?
It really depends on the song I think. Some songs just don’t need lyrics as the music speaks for itself, others do. Personally, I think the use of well-placed vocals is a good way to keep the listeners attention throughout the whole record. However, the vocals in our songs are mixed in such a way that they become part of the music and are not standing out like you would hear in typical pop songs.
(((O))): What do you listen to when you’re not writing music?
Our wives and girlfriends 😉
(((O))): What are your reactions to music genrefication, and particularly the association of your works with ‘progressive indie post-rock popfusion’?
Personally, it doesn’t bother me. I know there are some bands that despise being called ‘postrock’, which I think is a bit silly. I don’t have anything against the use of genres to describe music. I mean, if it helps people to give a name to categorize the music they listen to, then that’s alright. I just don’t really care I guess! Some music I like, other music I don’t, regardless of what genre it is. The use of the term ‘progressive indie post-rock popfusion’ on our facebook page actually started as a joke, but it does cover what we do.
(((O))): What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a band?
Just start playing together and have fun. Try to write your own songs instead of playing covers. It might be harder in the beginning, but it’s way more interesting and satisfying in the long run. Steal with your eyes from the artists you like. And most importantly, play shows! Anders from Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson once told me that one show is the equivalent of one hundred rehearsals, and there’s definitely some truth to that.
(((O))): Who are some of your favorite bands? Are there current artists that you would like to collaborate with?
There’s so many great bands out there, I don’t even know where to start! My favorite post-rock band is definitely EF. Their music is so well constructed and I really think they have their own sound. Also, their live show is incredible and they are a great bunch of dudes. A few other bands I can think of right now: Sonic Youth, Slowdive, Moving Mountains, Balmorhea, The Appleseed Cast, Mineral, … I could go on for ages! I also like relaxing electronic music like Emancipator, Arms and Sleepers and Baths, original singer-songwriters like Owen, Sufjan Stevens or Bon Iver and love the emo revival scene with bands like Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) and Joie de Vivre. We really live in a golden age for alternative music. Music is so easily accessible nowadays, I love it. There’s a lot of stuff everyone in the band likes, although there are also some big differences, which keeps things interesting as everybody has their own influences and musical background. Wouter loves bands like Maybeshewill, mewithoutYou, God Is An Astonaut, but also Led Zeppelin. Xavier is really into bands like Caspian, Kokomo and Steak Number Eight. Jasper is more into bands like the Editors and psychedelic seventies music. Pieter probably has the most eclectic taste of all of us, listening to obscure Japanese bands and dark drones, apart from the previously mentioned stuff we all like. Taking all these different preferences in consideration I’d say Sigur Rós’ Jonsi would be the perfect artist to do a collaboration with, one can dream right?!
(((O))): What are you listening to, drinking, and reading right now?
I’m listening to the two released new songs of Pianos Become The Teeth’s upcoming record, they sound very powerful, even though they got rid of the screaming. I’m starting to think this will be one of my favorite releases of the year. Meanwhile, drinking coffee and reading ‘The Asylum Seeker’ by Arnon Grunberg.
(((O))): And finally…do you have a message for our readers?
‘Sun Drunk Moon’ was out the 9th of October, hopefully you like it! Listen to it, share it, and let us know what you think. And of course, keep reading Echoes and Dust! 😉