Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fractal Cat Interview
Conducted by Anthony Servante

Sunday nights I listen to experimental and local Rock and Roll. I was quite taken with the sound of Fractal Cat when I first heard "As You Fly", the video track from their new album, Lovingkind (2014). I tracked them down to Facebook and a message later I was in touch with Miles Gannett, guitarist/vocalist, producer and spokesperson for the band. Never has an interview been arranged so promptly. This time out, I will review the new Fractal Cat CD, "Lovingkind", immediately after this interview. Enjoy.


1. Can you introduce the members of the band?
Jason Armstrong Baker – drums Miles Gannett – guitar and vocals Kim Gravatt – flute and saxophone Keith Jones – guitar and vocals Andy Myatt – bass

2. How did the band get its start?
It started out as a recording project in my home studio. I invited Jason (whom I met through my yoga teacher at a Dalai Lama speech) to play drums on a couple of recordings at first, and then we started assembling the band from people we knew. Keith and I had previously played together in a band called The Supreme Now, and Andy was recommended by a mutual friend. Kim has just started playing with us after recording on the sessions for our new album, Lovingkind.

3. Can you tell us about your music? How do you classify it for the Record Stores?
We think of it as “Psychedelic Rock,” but that could mean a lot of things, I guess. We’re song people, first and foremost. We love so many different styles of music, and try to bring in aspects of various styles as it suits each song. Part of our particular psychedelic aesthetic is this sort of playful mixing or juxtaposition of seemingly disparate genres. I see music as being essentially spiritual, and I approach songwriting and playing from that angle. We hope our music is uplifting and inspiring to our listeners.

4. What are the musical and lyrical influences for your music?
We like a lot of the old 1960’s and 1970’s psychedelic music, especially artists like the Beatles, early Pink Floyd, Love, Gong, and Kevin Ayers. We also love early rock ‘n’ roll, classic R&B, classic soul, classic country, New Orleans music, John Coltrane, etc… I was heavily influenced in the nineties by electronic groups like The Orb and Massive Attack, and I think sometimes you can hear a little of that in my production. Lyrically, I think Keith and I are all over the place. My lyrics tend to be influenced by experiences I’ve had, and by stuff I’m reading.

5. Can you tell me about the song “As You Fly”? It reminds me of the optimism of the early Beatles songs. 
It’s funny that you should mention the Beatles in reference to “As You Fly.” The song actually came to me in a dream, and was sung to me in the dream by a voice I identified as John Lennon. I woke up and realized it wasn’t a Lennon song and wrote it in one sitting on the couch where I had been sleeping! Of course, the Beatles are a huge influence on us in general, but here it was pretty direct. Some of the lyrics came out of the dream, and others out of the haziness of waking up. It just kind of poured out. The song’s title and second chorus are a reference to William Blake’s poem “Eternity.” Several of the songs on Lovingkind were written either in dreams or upon waking, but this was the most memorable dream.

6. How do you divvy the songwriting chores?
Well, I just write songs, or they happen to me it seems. Chores are all the things I have to that aren’t songwriting! Keith always has a handful of songs he’s working on too, and we get together and bounce our songs off each other, to see what’s worth developing. If Keith is really excited about a song I’m working on, that usually pushes me to finish it. As far as the arrangements go, sometimes I have a clear idea for all the parts, or sometimes just a vague idea. Sometimes I know exactly the line I want the bass to play, and sometimes we just see what comes out of jamming on the songs in practice. On most of the songs, everyone in the band is contributing creatively to the arrangement in some way.

7. What are you into when not thinking about music?
I teach yoga, and I’m also in school right now doing an independent studies program. I like reading stuff like Ursula K. Le Guin and Phillip K. Dick when I don’t have to read for school. Everybody in the band has some sort of non-musical pursuit. Jason is a sailor, and he developed a game called Sounds Around the World to teach geography to kids using music. Keith is raising a little boy. Kim is a commercial diver. Andy is into scuba diving.

8. What’s on the horizon for the band? New CD? Tour?
We’re just starting to develop a new batch of songs, which we will start recording pretty soon for a new string of singles and eventually a new album.

Dressed as Lewis Carroll  characters

9. Do you have a concert schedule you’d like to share?
9/19 CafĂ© Nola in Frederick, MD 9/20 Dante’s in Frostburg, MD 10/18 Owen Brown Interfaith Center in Columbia, MD 11/15 Metropolitan in Annapolis, MD (with The Funky Bass and Beat Group Known as F and Voodoo Pharmacology) 12/27 8x10 in Baltimore, MD (with Telesma and Voodoo Pharmacology)

10. Can you give us your Top Ten List of Most Important Songs in your career?
Here are some songs that we like, and that have influenced me and Keith:

Top Ten Song List from Fractal Cat:

1. Beatles “I Am the Walrus”

2. Pink Floyd “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”

3. Gong “Master Builder”

4. Sly and the Family Stone “Sing a Simple Song”

5. Love “The Daily Planet”

6. The Jefferson Airplane “3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds”

7. Nilsson “The Moonbeam Song”

8. John Coltrane “My Favorite Things” (Village Vanguard Live Again)

9. Syd Barrett “Octopus”

10. Kevin Ayers “Lady Rachel”

Bonus cut:
11. As You Fly (from Lovingkind)

Thank you, Fractal Cat, for that nostalgic Top Ten List. It is easy to see where your influences have come from.

It's been a pleasure having the CAT on the Servante of Darkness Blog. Pick up the new album and take in one of their concerts. But before we say goodbye, let's take a look at this new LP.

Fractal Cat "Lovingkind" 
The Review:

Fractal Cat has a new album out, and it's called "Lovingkind". It is a piece of retro Psychedelic Pop in the style of early Traffic and Pink Floyd. The songs are often upbeat jazzy, somewhere between early Split Enz and Herb Alpert (especially in the track Blue Sky), but "Tryptide" sounds right out of the 60s Pop culture, catchy and timeless. It would be my pick for radio play promotion. "Climb that Hill" is playful with both its lyrics and instrumentation. I loved the harmonies and hints of hard rock in the extended guitar and keyboard work. "Caterpillers" is the most Beatles-que song on the LP, with a driving beat and strong vocal interplay. It reminded me of an uptempo "I am the Walrus". 

Fractal Cat does not mimic the '60s Pop sound. It transcends it by bringing the style and spirit to the 2010s. For those unfamiliar with the 60s, the music will be an uplifting experience, but for those familiar with that decade, you be pleased with the nostalgic feel to these songs that you'll want to hear again and again. 

Lovingkind by Fractal Cat can be found on iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp, as well as Spotify. Here's the Bandcamp link, which is probably the best quality download: 
Thanks again!
Miles Gannett, Fractal Cat

Thank you, readers and music lovers, for visiting with Fractal Cat today. Visit again soon when we have more music, books, TV, and movies to discuss. This is the Servante of Darkness bidding vous adieu. 

No comments:

Post a Comment