Despite the band only being 2 years old, Catbite have made a huge impact on the ska scene. And there is one reason for that…Catbite are awesome. You are going to read this interview and think they are even more awesome. You are going to want to be their best friend and simultaneously ask if you can be in their band (or roadie for them or be president of their fan club). Enjoy!
Since you so prominently put it on your Facebook and Instagram, let’s hear the Guy Fieri story.
TIM: So I love food. Like a lot. When I was touring a lot I would watch Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and take notes so I’d know where to go eat on tour. Guy never let me down with a recommendation. So anyways, I saw that he was doing a meet and greet at the local Fine Wine and Good Spirits to promote his new Tequila. I was beyond thrilled, so I marked my calendar! Brit and I waited like 2 ½ hours, but it was worth it. The previous Halloween, I was Guy and she was a Cheeseburger, so I printed out a picture for him to sign and he was so amazed by it, he was speechless; he also loved both of our hair. Then when we were walking away he said to his assistant, those guys are my favorite.
Brit: Also, Guy Fieri donated a bunch of money to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF) which is so amazing and generous and really awesome to see a “celebrity” actually doing something for people who need it during this time. WE LOVE HIM.
The band seems to have had a nice ascension and great respect from the scene. What do you think contributes to the level of admiration you’ve received?
Ben: I think a lot of the speed of the success can be attributed to the band being made up of ska veterans, so there isn’t much of a learning curve and there’s already some familiarity between us and the ska landscape. The rest comes from having the most talented vocalist in ska period. Goodbye and goodnight.
Brit: WOAH! Thanks Ben! LOL! I agree with him on the part about Tim, Ben and Chris all being ska veterans and the fact that they are some of the best musicians I know! I don’t really know what to say about the admiration but maybe it’s because we all are just having a lot of fun when we play together and people can see that? Or at least that’s what I hope they get from it.
Does your hometown city of Philadelphia play at all into your identity as a band?
Ben: Philly itself has a chip on its shoulder; there’s a lot of push and pull between wanting to step to the plate with the heavy hitters and deciding not to be held to anyone else’s standards. The band carries that spirit: if you try it out, you’ll probably like it. If you don’t, we’ll still be here.
TIM: I think Philadelphia’s biggest role in this band is that it is a fresh reminder that you don’t have to stick to one genre. Whether it’s the songs we write or the lineup of bands on a bill. There is not much of a “Philly Ska Scene” anymore, which truly is a blessing in disguise. We’re always playing with punk bands and rock and roll bands and literally anything that makes sense. We’re constantly exposing our music to people who might not go to a ska show, and at the same time exposing our ska fans to music they might not be as familiar with.
How did you get hooked up with Bad Time Records?
TIM: I knew Mike from when I was playing in my old band, The Snails and had been good acquaintances for a few years. Luckily for us, right when we started the band and put out 3 demos, Mike was hard at work at creating Bad Time Records. He quickly reached out and gave me the rundown about his new label. We were like uhhhhh yeah! Lol and turns out Mike is a genius and really knows how to run a label.
You have a new split coming out with Omnigone. How did the record come about?
TIM: I think I randomly messaged Mike from Bad Time Records one day and brought up the idea of doing like a 7” w/ a cover and like a dub version of an old song. He said “thats coooooool, but hey I just had an idea, (he literally always has ideas, it’s ridiculous) I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but Omnigone covered your song ‘Scratch Me Up’ and it’s so good. Wanna cover one of their songs and that other cover you were talking about and we’ll make it a split?” So obviously this sounded so cool, so we did it.
Why did you pick the Clash’s ‘White Riot’ to cover for the record?
Ben: Our last show in 2019 was an anniversary tribute to London Calling, where we played White Riot for an encore. We chose that song in particular for it just being pure distilled punk, which is slightly removed from our wheelhouse. Speaking for myself playing that song was the most fun I’ve had onstage in a while, so when the opportunity to record a cover came through it seemed obvious.
TIM: Ben kinda nails it on the head there. We collectively love that song, it’s so punk rock, it’s so timeless (unfortunately), also we didn’t have any time to get together to put together a different cover. So we went with White Riot. It came out so damn rad, no regrets at all.
As a younger band, what other up and coming ska outfits are you enjoying?
TIM: Everyone on and involved with Bad Time Records for starters. Here are some that I can think of right off the top of my head while my dog, Nacho, is whining and stressing me out: We Are The Union, Kill Lincoln, Grey Matter, Thirsty Guys, Omnigone, Stuck Lucky, Matamoska, Los Skagaleros, Skatune Network, Stop The Presses, The Scotch Bonnets, The Abrupters. There are literally so many right now and they’re all soo good, it’s ridiculous!
Brit: Yes!! To all of those amazing bands Tim mentioned!
In your bio, you refer to power-pop. Who are some of your biggest power-pop influences and how does that play into your songwriting?
TIM: I’m a huge fan of a lot of the semi-punky semi-poppy rock and roll stuff that was coming out in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Elvis Costello, The Jam, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Knack, Blondie, and a of bunch others, but also some more modern bands like The Exploding Hearts, The Cute Lepers, and many others have a HUGE influence on how I personally write songs.
In this time of COVID-19, you seem to have adapted quite well by utilizing YouTube as a creative outlet. What prompted you to start those sessions and what can we expect next?
TIM: We definitely lucked out a little bit since Brittany and I live together. So right off the bat, I was thinking of fun things we could do to A. Keep creating content and B. Still stay relevant on the world wide web. We started by doing nightly acoustic covers of our friends’ songs, and then started doing full band videos as well. It really helps that everyone is talented AF and also that Ben knows what he’s doing with audio mixing.
Wonders or Oneders?
Ben: Oneders all the way. Wonders are sell-outs.
TIM: I gotta say Oneders or else everyone will beat me up
CHRIS: Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters
First Favorite Ska Band
Ben: Westbound Train
TIM: Op Ivy
Brit: The Slackers
Favorite Album When You Were 16:
TIM: Lets Go by Rancid. I bought it by accident shortly after my 16th birthday and fell in love with it
Brit: Oooo! Probably Paramore’s Riot! Still consistently listen to this album
First Show You Attended
Ben: Panic! at the Disco
TIM: Anti-Flag/Bomb The Music Industry/The Code (technically my mom brought me to 2 bon jovi concerts and 2 elton john concerts before, but that was the first I went to on my own)
Brit: *NSYNC (heart eyes)
Last Show You Attended (not counting your own shows)
Ben: Daniel Romano
TIM: The Whips (last show)/Dark Web/Lil Bambino
Brit: I was also at that Whips show so I’ll go with something else, Queen Vice when they had their Royal Residency at Ortleibs! They are SO FRIGGIN GOOD!!!
Favorite Op Ivy Song:
Brit: Sound System
You Can Go On Tour With 3 Artists of Any Era
Ben: The Beatles after they got back from Germany but before Beatlemania; Led Zeppelin so they could steal our songs and set up lucrative lawsuits for us to cash in on in the future; Pantera so we can save Dimebag
TIM: The Clash right when they released London Calling. Elvis Costello & the Attractions on their first US tour in 1978????? When they were super punky and Elvis was doing a butt ton of speed + Against Me! with their current 2020 lineup & sound because damn.
Brit: Amy Winehouse!!!!!, Paramore from Riot/Brand New Eyes eras, and Michael Jackson during Thriller era.
Check out the split 7″ with Omnigone on Bad Time Records right now! Visit their Facebook page for updates.