Interview: If Anything Happens To The Cat

Hailing from Ghent, Belgium, If Anything Happens To The Cat is a five piece indie post-rock band combining lots of musical attitude over shoegaze and rock influences, wrapped with their characteristic vocal sound. After their first EP in 2012, they came back last spring with their first self-recorded full album “Sun Drunk Moon” to carve their first step in what seems to be a really promising music career. We got in touch with them to chat about their musical inspiration, the music scene, and their future plans.    

Can you tell us how you guys got together to start this project, and I have to say your name was the first thing that got my attention, so any special story behind it?  

It all started with Filipe, Wouter and myself composing with three guitars and sometimes keyboard. We didn’t really have a specific goal or direction, we were just out to experiment with layered sounds and have fun in the process. When a couple of songs had roughly taken shape, and after some rudimentary recordings, we decided to recruit Mikel on drums to see how the songs would sound in a live context. In our first two years as a band we didn’t have a bass player, instead we took turns playing bass on the songs we thought really needed it. Since then we are sharing Jasper on bass and vocals with our good friends in Soeyoez, and have found a new drummer in Xavier.

The story behind the name is actually pretty sad. When we started out jamming, Wouter’s cat  was always very interested in our gear, often interrupting us while we were playing. Wouter was on a trip, so he left a note for his housemate which said “if anything happens to the cat”, followed by his phone number. As you can guess we never saw the cat again.

So besides playing music, how have your lives been so far in Ghent, and how did it affect your musical and artistic directions?

We are very much in love with Ghent! There’s plenty to do and discover, but at the same time it has a really intimate and cozy feeling to it. Maybe a bit like our music?

Can you walk us through the recording process of “Sun Drunk Moon” and some of the aspects that had an influence in shaping your sound and concepts the way it is? I have noticed some interesting ideas going from Charles Bukowski until Game of Thrones!

Both the sound and the concepts themselves were actually shaped in a very organic way. Everyone in the band has different musical influences, from emo to classic rock, from post-rock to punk. We didn’t over think anything while writing the record, it was  a natural clash of all these backgrounds. Furthermore, the songs were written over a long period of time. They all tell a story of a specific moment in our evolution as band, as well as our personal lives.

Personally I believe a band shouldn’t by definition limit itself to one ‘sound’. As long as everything fits more or less into the same concept, we are open to it. I think it makes everything more interesting for both the listener and ourselves as musicians. You won’t hear us playing jazz of course, but we love to put in surprises like the clap-along in Khaleesi, or the synthesizer in ‘An Unexplainable Explosion Of Data’.

There’s a spontaneity about the recordings, we left some imperfections in on purpose to create a live feeling. For this purpose we also recorded big parts with the entire band at once. We were really lucky with our producer Filip De Bot (Penthouse Studio). He really understood what direction we wanted to take with this.

One of the characteristic features of  “Sun Drunk Moon” is its simple yet catchy art work. Can you tell us a bit about it, and it’s connection to the album’s concept?

In the first place we wanted to stay clear of the cliché post-rock imagery of forests, clouds, birds, etcetera. We actually gave the artist (Vincent Lynen) free reign, to give his interpretation of the music. We like a bit of mystery, so there really isn’t much to say about it.

You recruited new musicians in the last record as Lynn Hamerlinck on the violin in Jessamine. What was the experience like, and why did you feel the need to add new sounds in this particular song, and should we wait for such new musical collaboration in the future?

The violin part was actually written years before by a different violinist, Kathleen Denis. It’s always a wonderful experience to work with guest musicians, another part of keeping it interesting for ourselves. You can certainly expect more of these collaborations, but it has to be manageable in a live context. It’s hard using instrumental samples without playing with a click track, and we’ve been avoiding that so far. I’m in love with the trumpet right now, so who knows?

Almost half of the album’s tracks show vocals along them. How do you decide where to add vocal lines, and should we expect this balanced approach towards the vocals in the coming record or would you lean towards either a more instrumental or vocal basis?

As with the other instruments, we always decide to add vocals in function of the particular song. It’s never an obligation, but you can certainly expect a balanced mix on future records.

You were selected lately to play at the BOS showcase and you managed to be the winning act. How did it feel to be selected from over 170 bands, and what do you think the impact is of such competitions on promoting new bands in the scene?

It was actually the first time we were even selected for such a competition. Belgium has a lot of rock rallies, but they are mostly not very open to the more experimental side of music. We don’t think music should be a competition in any way, but we were of course very happy to be chosen from such a big pool of bands. We were offered an interview on the biggest local radio station, a day of studio time and a chance to play a full set at the same venue. Needless to say these things have a big impact promotion-wise, but I find it equally important as a chance for local bands to network and exchange ideas.

So with these long two years of composing and recording behind your backs, where do you go from here?  Any tours or music projects we could hear about in the near future?

Nothing big planned in the near future. Since we had to find a new drummer this year, the ideas for new songs have been piling up. We will probably focus on that for a while, but we’re also always on the lookout for a small tour. Any and all help is welcome! 🙂

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