The song Phenomenal Cat appeared on The Kinks 1968 masterpiece – Village Green Preservation Society – Ray Davies’ homage to what he felt was the passing of old English traditions. Evoking images of the quaintness of the English countryside, the songs and sound of VGPS has been described with words like “shimmering”, “hazy” with pure pop sensibilities. Phenomenal Cat – the band, are named after aforementioned song and there certainly is a distinct “Kinkiness” (sorry) to their sound, but it would be a mistake to paint them with a single brush.
The members of Phenomenal Cat are from a few quaint villages on the south coast of Kent and describe themselves as “power poppers from the seaside”. In 2012 they released a single a month culminating in a fine collection of songs about English life titled – Postcards From The British Empire. The words “shimmering” and “hazy” are apt descriptors for the tracks, but they also mix in some of the psychedelic stylings of The Flaming Lips.
The bands’ latest project, described as “a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack and accompanying graphic novel entitled Pop Wasteland” showcases even more “power” to go with the “pop” – and (much to Courtney Love’s chagrin), contains a wall of rock and roll horns, jangly guitars and catchy choruses. Guitarist and vocalist Samuel Carney was gracious enough to answer some questions for us.
Where did the name come from?
We got the name from a track on Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks. Before we began properly writing and performing we recorded a couple of demos under the moniker Goat! There were concerns that people might think that we were a pagan metal band and be disappointed when they heard us, so we dropped it.
Our sound might be best described as….
We have often been compared to quintessential British bands such as The Who, The Kinks, The Jam, XTC and Blur. A comparison that is probably more down to the lyrical content rather than our actual sound. There are definite nods to classic British pop in our sound and our use of instrumentation on Postcards from the British Empire (mellotron, brass, chord sequences etc…). Someone once came up to me at a gig and said that the band sounded like a cross between and Blur and Pavement, I slept well that night.
Samuel Carney (guitar, keys, vocals)
Mik Peirson (guitar, backing vocals)
Natalie Cocks-Kuroczycki (bass guitar)
Ben Day (Drums)
Dan Whitehouse (Trumpet)
Tim Burden (Saxophone)
We are originally from…..
We all live on the south coast of England, dotted around the county of Kent. The band originally began in the coastal village of Sandgate. There is definitely a loose thematic thread that runs through all of our music inspired by living so close to the sea.
The first time we met was…..
Mik, Ben, Natalie and myself have all know each other for a long time and been in various local bands (Beamer, Loki, The Bufftings). It was inevitable (in such a small town) that our paths would cross and that we would eventually do something musical together. Small towns are very musically incestuous like that! During the recording of Postcards from the British Empire Dan and Tim recorded some brass on a few tracks in a sessional capacity. We loved the extra dimension that it gave the band and they eventually joined us on a permanent basis.
We knew we were going to be a Band when………
We were all in a room together and got on! We don’t earn a living from the band so it was important that we enjoyed each others company.
Before starting the band we were…….
We all have full time jobs and fit the band around those.
The first song we wrote was…….
There are a few songs that date back to the early days; The Volume Police (released as a single in 2012), Song for a fool (never released but often our opening live song), but I think the first track we rehearsed or recorded was V is for Voyeurism. We don’t play it anymore. You never know, it might surface again at some point. Although not if David Byrne from Talking Heads is in the audience as it has been likened to Psycho Killer!
Putting stuff out there and seeing what happens, the market will always decide. We were quite idle as a group to begin with but seem to have gathered real momentum over the past few years. The song writing has definitely clicked and we now have a really committed and exciting line up as well. We will always try and push ourselves and keep experimenting with interesting formats as we are all still passionate about physical products (cd’s, records, tapes, merchandise, posters, comics) as well as exploring and utilising digital formats.
What we are currently listening to…
The new mixes of our latest 3 tracks; THE MONOCHROME ROOM, FADE IN/FADE OUT, MODERNISM!
For fun we like to…..
Play in Phenomenal Cat! As mentioned earlier, the band is by no means a profit making machine so we all need to enjoy it. As long as we keep playing interesting and varied venues and writing and recording new material then it will always be fun. We all have families and enjoy other pursuits but the Cat is a great output for all of our creative yearnings!
The one thing we want you to remember while your listening to us……
We pretty much do it all ourselves. From the song writing all the way through to packaging everything up in jiffys and going to the local post office to send it off to our fans. We do it all. It’s tiring at times and very time consuming but that personal touch goes a long way in the current over saturated market.
Expect……………From us in 2014
We are on course to finish our current project/album: POP WASTELAND ‘a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack and accompanying graphic novel’ this summer. Our next official release is THE MONOCHROME ROOM E.P with accompanying issue #3 of the graphic novel. This will be available from our bandcamp page and to buy at live shows.
PHENOMENAL CAT ON FACEBOOK