Monday, November 22, 2010
ARMS RACE: THE LITTLE BAND ERA (2001 to 2002)
Frustrated with lackluster performances and overall poor reception, the band considered the advice of their peers- Catscan needed to get a drummer. They were determined to be taken seriously and knew they had to dispel their image as "that little band" by adding another player to the ensemble. Reluctant to conform, they found a way to both satisfy the standard set by 90's rock bands and maintain their artistic integrity by recruiting non-thinking and non-human percussionist Electronic Device, henceforth referred to as E.D., a Yamaha keyboard with pre-set drum loops and license-free auto accompaniment. E.D. provided a steady and reliable foundation for the band's music during this period.
The trio began work on their first compact disc that summer. At the same time, their ex-band mate, Eric Randall, alongside left-handed euphoniumist, Jeff Smith, founded their own rock band, Red. Although they were rivals on occasion, Catscan and Red also worked in tandem. Following the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, the two bands came together on September 12th to record two compositions in an act of patriotic resilience: Ramen and Cup o' Noodles and Kickball. The songs were featured on both of the band's first CDs, Catscan's Cats I've Known and Red's self-titled debut album.
Sadly, the band continued to struggle when it came to live performance during this era. Many of the studio techniques simply proved too complex to be replicated live. An ambitious undertaking, the infamous Thoreau Middle School Generator Breakfast taught Catscan many valuable lessons, including Murphy's law. Faulty sound equipment, squeally microphones, shoddy instruments, and unprepared guest musicians attributed to Catscan's biggest on-stage train wreck of all time. Paul felt the effects of PTSD and crippling stage fright while Mason vowed to learn from their mistakes and move forward. E.D. seemed the least phased by the debacle.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mason and Paul began playing open mic night at a local coffee shop, Jammin' Java. These performances, unlike the nightmarish and Hindenburg-esque disaster that was the Generator Breakfast, found Catscan stripped down to their most basic, all-acoustic elements-- guitar, euphonium, and singing. By eliminating most elements that could go wrong in a performance, little did. These minor victories gave the band some much needed confidence. Catscan began preparing for another larger-scale rock show, with Eric Randall and Jeff Smith, as a four piece collaboration. The Little Band era was coming to a close.