Interview with Fractal Cat
- by Dawn Reed
The Deli: How did the band start?
Miles Gannett (guitar/vocals/other): It started as my solo recording project. I set up a studio in a house where I was living back in 2007 so that I could start recording my songs. I met Jason, our drummer, on a yoga class field trip to see the Dalai Lama at the National Cathedral and eventually invited him to record with me. We started working together regularly and over the course of recording our first album the band came together. Keith and I had worked together in the past and I knew he would be a great fit. I met Meghan at the annual Powwow festival in Baltimore; I thought it was so cool that she played electric harp! Joe was my former roommate, and an experienced laptop musician; I asked him to join the band to bring the textural richness of our recordings to our live shows. Andy was recommended by a kung fu teacher Jason knew.
What's the story behind the band name?
Miles: I was in New Orleans on Halloween with a good friend and we had been hanging out in this part of the French Quarter where there were a lot of feral cats. Later on in the night he started hallucinating cats in my hair and declared: “Miles! You have fractal cats in your hair… you’re a fractal cat! The name sort of stuck around for years and when we needed a band name it seemed to be the obvious choice.
What are your biggest musical influences?
Miles: The Beatles, Syd Barrett and early Pink Floyd, Gong, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, lots of 60s and 70s psychedelic stuff, Bach, Coltrane, 90s trip hop and electronic music.
Keith Jones (guitar/vocals/dishes): The psychedelic 60s. Folk music, flower power, Woodstock, Motown, Dylan. And of course the Beatles.
Jason Armstrong Baker (drums/percussion): Global rhythms and dance inspiring music from all corners of the earth.
Meghan Gwyer (harp/keyboards/vocals): Bernard Andres, a harpist & composer.
Joe Clark (samples/synths): The Who, Rolling Stones, and Frank Zappa
What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently listening to?
Miles: I work at a used bookstore/record store where I can put on CDs… recent favorites are Ray Charles, The Hollies, Santana and Mahavishnu, and Marvin Gaye. I’m just starting to get into Beach House… I guess I’m a little late coming to them. I liked the most recent stuff I heard from Fiona Apple and My Morning Jacket… Hmmm. I don’t listen to much modern stuff! Kind of embarrassing… Felix Fernglare is a singer/songwriter out of PA that I like a lot. Delicious Pastries from Pittsburgh… Local acts I’ve been listening to: The Megadrives, Plaeground, Arbouretum.
Keith: The psychedelic 60s. Folk music, flower power, Woodstock, Motown, Dylan. And of course the Beatles.
Joe: The Megadrives cuz they rock so god damn hard.
Jason: TV on the Radio.
Meghan: Gunwife Gone, Cat Empire, Juno Reactor, Of Monsters & Men.
What's the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?
Miles: My first concert was Primus with the Meat Puppets when I was in 9th grade. I’m not sure what the first album I ever bought was… when I was little my parents used to take me to the mall to buy Beatles albums. I also had a tape of Buddy Holly songs when I was little that I wore out.
Jason: 1st concert - aside from symphonies, Bad Brains at The Rage in Baltimore. 1st Album - Van Halen 1984
Joe: Weird Al at Merriweather Post Pavilion and MC Hammer was my first album.
Keith: [1st album:] Born in the USA when there was still a vinyl section at Kmart; first concert is best kept secret.
Meghan: First live rock concert: Scorpions at Merriweather Post Pavillion, year unknown. First album purchased: Siouxsie Sioux Peepshow, excluding horrible things I bought when I was a little kid like the Lion King soundtrack, which had a great instrumental score by the way!
What do you love about DC's music scene?
Miles: Well, honestly I haven’t spent too much time in DC yet. My favorite thing about Baltimore’s scene is how much of a sense of community there is. When we play shows it feels like we’re playing for family.
Andy Myatt (bass): I grew up in DC and the local music scene was HUGELY influential to me. Go-go, bluegrass, but especially the local punk scene (mainly dischord stuff). I learned a lot from Joe Lally (fugazi's bass player) and his dub/punk lines have wormed their way into my own playing.
Joe: That the people really love to get out and are ready to have a great time.
Meghan: The wide variety of music and talent.
Jason: International Influences.
What would you like to see change in the local music scene?
Miles: I’d like to see more collaboration between artists, more mixing of music, theatre, and other kinds of performance art… That sort of thing is already going on in Baltimore, but I’d love to see more of it.
Jason: More local support.
Meghan: More venues for bands to play in settings more accessible to wider audiences. The death of the Grog was sad. DC has a lot of nightclubs and rock clubs, but to play bars you often need to leave the city. Additionally, more collaboration across bands. The Baltimore music scene feels more open, with bands working together to put on shows and supporting each other by attending each other’s shows and being guest musicians on each other’s albums and shows. I've never seen that in the DC music scene.
What are your plans for the upcoming year?
Miles: We’ve just released our first album and we’re trying to get it out there as much as possible. We’re trying to play as man regional shows and festivals as we can! The songs are all already written for our second album and we can’t wait to start recording again.
Joe: To survive the apocalypse…
What was your most memorable live show?
Miles: For me it was probably our CD release party last month at the Metro Gallery. We had a great turn out. Lots of friends and family came out, and we were joined on stage by Sean P. Finn on French horn and violin, and Rufus Roundtree (who plays with the P-Funk All-Stars!) on trombone. Everyone got dressed up, there were photographers and video people there; it was a great vibe! kataStatik (Chris Mandra from Telesma and friends) played a beautifully freaky opening set, and the Megadrives got the bodies moving at the end of the night.
Jason: Our show at the Red Palace.
Andy: Looking back, I think Powow was sort of a turning point gig.
Keith: Agree about Pow Wow...
Joe: When we rock a rave and drop a slow song. The ravers didn’t know what to do then. We just played a Halloween show at Paradox where we were the only rock band amongst several DJs and computer groups.
Is there someone who has helped your band grow through support?
Miles: So many people! My family has been really supportive, actually. My father, my sister, and my brother in law are our video crew, and my mother sits at the merch table sometimes. The Baltimore art scene has been great to us, too.
Joe: God, he's been there from year one.
Is there a piece of equipment you couldn't live without and why?
Miles: Not sure if there’s a particular piece of equipment I couldn’t live without… I need a guitar to work my songs out and to perform with the band. The studio and recording equipment have been essential, too, since they allow me to record and produce our songs without paying for producers and studio time.
Meghan: My electric harp. Without it, I wouldn't be able to play harp in the band. When I started playing with bands I was using an acoustic Irish harp and my acoustic pedal harp with a soundboard pickup and neither could be miced loud enough to be heard without feedback due to the bass/drums causing the soundboard to vibrate. The electric harp has made it possible to use the harp live even with metal bands.
Jason: Rhythm - it isn't a piece of equipment - but equipment is just a vehicle for I would be doing on any given surface. Music can be played on anything.
Joe: My bag of cables because someone is always going to need something from it when it comes to show time.
Catch Fractal Cat live at Joe Squared in Baltimore on Nov. 29.