Almost six years ago Catlow from Vancouver released a rather fine indie pop record ‘Kiss The World’. Then to all intents and purposes they disappeared.
Yet a follow-up in the shape of the excellent ‘Pinkly Things’ EP finally arrived only a matter of weeks ago. And I was delighted when Natasha Thirsk, who is Catlow’s prime mover, agreed to do an interview.
Let’s start by rewinding back to 2006 when I “discovered” Catlow supporting the Blue Aeroplanes in Glasgow. It seemed a slightly odd pairing, the art-rock veterans and a much y9oujnger band from the other side of the Atlantic, particularly since the other supports that night were effectively Aeroplanes offshoots. So I started off by asking Natasha how that particular tour had come about.
NT – Shannon Martin, my then Boompa Records label manager (and now super fantastic Aporia label manager) had ties with a UK booking agent. As I recall, we snagged our way onto a “built-in crowd” tour with the Blue Aeroplanes reunion tour. Although I hadn’t heard of them beforehand, I was most definitely a fan within the first couple of gigs. And it was a great tour. Always a full house to play to and that is kind of unheard of the first time around!
Catlow would have made enough of an impression with their performances but they were made even more memorable by the fact that Natasha played the tour with one of her legs in a brace.
NT – It was a tough tour for me, personally. Before we’d even left for tour, I was waiting for knee surgery and it hadn’t happened by the time we had to leave. So, I had to have the guys wait on me – which was nice and hard at the same time. I couldn’t do as much as I wanted when we had time off because I wasn’t mobile.
I LOVED being able to see a large portion of the UK. It was scary driving on the other side of the street but the distances between the cities we were playing were so much shorter than in Canada so it was a breeze.
I remember new fans coming up to us, wanting a copy of the album (Kiss the World) and everyone being so nice to us. Driving all night through Wales and feeling like, at dawn, we were driving through the shire (from Lord of the Rings) was really great.
The ferry catamaran to Dublin was freaky – it was like being in a horror movie! Plates were flying everywhere, people were barfing and the boat was tipping violently from side to side. I hid under a coat, took some Gravol and prayed. Certainly a moment of my life I’ll remember forever.
But Dublin was grand and going out on a Sunday night with my drummer Ian was like going out on New Years Eve. When we were in a taxi the next day, I asked the driver “What was going on last night that there were so many people out and partying?” He answered, “Oh, that’s every day that ends with a ‘y’ in Ireland”. Sweet.
There was a little bit of support for the Aeroplanes for that tour as they had ended up back on a major label so I wondered what sort of impact the tour had for Catlow and for the album in the UK. Not quite what was hoped for according to Natasha.
NT – I separated from that label shortly after the tour and things kind of halted with the album and any of the promo and touring. I did do a BBC radio show while I was there and played on the air. Hopefully, I got some fans along the way.
I did end up with one fabulous fan. A young man named William Brett Prosser, who I found had started a fan page on Facebook for Catlow, is from the UK and has been a tremendous inspiration – he’s now the administrator for the page. He gives me tips and does social media and we’ve really gotten to know each other through this.
As mentioned before that tour and album was a long time ago in music terms. But in the intervening period, another record wasn’t Natasha’s priority.
NT – Life got in the way. I struggled with depression and life events that tended to crop up at the most inconvenient times. It’s been a long road but I saw the “light at the end of the tunnel” and Pinkly Things is what I came out with on the other side.
The new record is only 8 tracks long, which is an unusual length these days. The reasons for such a release are pragmatic as Natasha explained.
NT – These songs were just sitting there, ready to go and I just really wanted to put them out there. I’ve been writing a lot and planning to get into the studio to release another LP in the next year. Just need time to get it together and record!
There was always an accessible side to ‘Kiss The World’ but there are several songs on the EP which really embrace pop music. Natasha ultimately decided to go where her songwriting was taking her.
NT – At first, I struggled to hold back on the pop side but after a while I decided to just let my natural songwriting show through and not be embarrassed by my pop inclinations. I want to be experimental with pop sensibilities. I think you can do both.
There was talk on the Catlow Facebook of an LP later in the year. Given the strength of the material and the fact that Pinkly Things is an EP I wondered if some of the tunes may make it onto the second full length.
NT – No, I won’t use any of that material. I have a backlog of songs and new material that I haven’t had the time or resources to record yet. Now with the support of Aporia Records we’re getting ready to make this happen. The aim is to start this fall. We want to give Pinkly Things the time to stretch its legs and flourish.
With Natasha giving the EP its own life beyond an interim release I wondered what Catlow would be doing to promote the record.
NT- This is still in the works, but hopefully play some festivals and tour. We have to get a feel for what the expectations are, how we can make things happen and what is logistically possible.
As part of these plans, Natasha’s keen to bring the band back over at some point soon.
NT – We have applied to some showcases in the UK. I hope we get in and get there before the year is out!
To wrap things up, as is becoming something of a tradition with MPT interviews I handed the final question over to Natasha – to ask the one question she’d wanted to be asked in an interview but which has so far never cropped up.
NT -What do you do besides music, maybe? I don’t know, ha. Maybe this question since no one has asked it before! Thank you!
Thanks to Natasha for taking the time for the interview and also to Shannon for her help in setting it up.
‘Pinkly Things’ is available online in the usual places but you can try before you buy by listening to the entire EP here:
And here’s a live video: