RSVP HERE: Catty Play Alphaville + MORE

Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.

Catty is a Brooklyn band lottery success story. After their names were drawn out of a hat, they quickly churned out a couple songs to play at a show that night with Ana Becker on vocals and guitar, Manny Nomikos on bass and vocals, Bryan Thornton on guitar, and Don Lavis on drums. Rosie Slater (also of New Myths and Delicate Steve) took over drummer duties after Don moved to Minneapolis. They’ve released a collection of demos in July called Scratch, recorded at Cavebird Gallery and their small practice space. Catty plays Alphaville on January 31st alongside Gorgeous, Drummers Can Achieve, and Feral Scouts (it’s Benji’s birthday bash; he’ll be playing with Feral Scouts and Drummers Can Achieve). We talked with all the members of Catty about how they’re actually bird people, what Prince song they would cover, and they even wrote us a couple poems.

AF: You met at a band lottery. How was that first time playing together and what made you want to continue to play together?

Ana Becker: The first time we played, we were grouped together completely randomly; our names were quite literally pulled out of a hat. We didn’t even really know each other very well, though we knew of each other and the bands we each played in. There was immediate chemistry, both personally and musically. We wrote a couple of songs and learned a cover and played it all six hours later, along with the rest of the groups of the hat-pulled. It was really remarkable how much fun we had, how well we got along and how happy we were with songs we wrote absurdly quickly. After the show I felt like I’d just had a super-promising first date – I was really nervous and excited. Was it all in my head? Did they feel the chemistry too? Or was it just me? Could it be the beginning of something very special?

Since then, our original drummer Don Lavis moved to Minneapolis (we miss you, Don!) and we’ve been super lucky to have tricked the inimitable Rosie Slater into joining us! We lured her with promises of Beatles jams.

Manny Nomikos: Everyone was so generous with their creativity. At first I was really intimidated by each of their individual talent, but the support everyone was showing made it less scary to play music with them. Almost immediately, I felt like I wanted to be with these people all the time.

AF: At your first official show as a band you had everyone vote on band names – what were the other band  names that were almost chosen?

AB: I still have the poster board in my room! I’ll have to check it. We wrote down a bunch of options, and gave people post-it notes to write their favorites on. At the end post-its were everywhere so it was pretty hard to count votes, but we did our best. Wrong Legs was one option (I hate snakes, my sister Laura hates spiders, both of them have the wrong number of legs). Our moniker from the band lotto was another choice (“Hayyy Saylor” – not the worst, but probably too whimsical for the vibe of the music). People kept writing THEIR first names on the post-its instead of their favorite band name option… I still find green post-its with random names on them from time to time.

MN: I was just really hoping we didn’t end up being Wrong Legs. I liked Hayyy Saylor, but that would require us write only nautical themed tunes and we only had enough material for two nautical albums.

Bryan Thornton: I really championed the Charlie Manson Band, but quickly found out I bet on the wrong horse. Like bad jeans, the name did not fit.

AF: What is everyone’s favorite kind of cat and/or funny experience with a cat? Since you’re actually bird people, what are your favorite types of birds?

AB: My favorite cat on planet earth is Bruce Squiggleman Kittowitz, whom I recently had to move away from and miss very much. My favorite type of bird is Manny.

MN: I like cats when they get too old to murder. Then they just hang out and it’s alright. I can talk all day about birds, but I’d have to go with Quaker parrots. My first bird (Sproose) was a Quaker and loved music and singing along to songs I played… now I have a nanday conure and she is affectionate but also very complicated.

BT: I’ve grown up with cats always around via both parents – so I’ve always thought that cats are superior to dogs. Dogs are too subservient cause they look at you like some big alien deity that manifests food and shelter, but cats think you’re just another cat (a giant, weird, mostly hairless cat, but a cat nonetheless) so they really don’t mind you much. I like any kind of cat that doesn’t care about my existence so I can try to win their favor and make them think I’m cool.

Rosie Slater: I was raised by cats.

AF: What Prince song would Catty cover?

AB: “When Doves Cry.”

MN: “I Would Die 4 U.” Or “Batdance.”

RS: “When You Were Mine.”

BT: “Kiss” might be cool.

AF: What is the best crowd surfing technique?

MN: Make sure it’s at a rock show, and not a children’s party, unless you want to be uninvited from all future kid parties.

AF: Write me a poem.

AB: You’re the kind of gal I’d cross the street to say hello to
Even if it meant I had to run
We got back from the west coast, and I rented out your bedroom
I didn’t sleep there once

BT: I don’t like massages
And I’ve never been to a sauna
But I once saw your band
Cover Nirvana

AF: What are your plans for 2020? Anything else you’d like to say?

AB: Catty’s organizing our SXSW run at the moment, and we’re cooking up a couple of singles to release soon! We worked on two songs so far with Jeff Berner, which has been a pleasure and a privilege. An LP looms in Catty’s future. Personally, in 2020 I plan to spend as much quality time as I can with my guitar, and my loved ones. I’m feeling very grateful lately and it’s corny as fuck, please forgive me.

MN: MacGregor’s Bowerbirds are an amazing bird species that can mimic about any sound and you should look them up now.

BT: I’m afraid of being canceled by the dog community – dogs are great, but just not as great as cats.

RSVP HERE for Catty, Feral Scouts, Gorgeous @ Alphaville. 21+ / $10-12

More great shows this week:

1/31 Torres (album releases show), Meg Stalker @ The Sultan Room. 21+ / $16 RSVP HERE

1/31 Miranda and The Beat, Shadow Show @ TV EYE. 21+ / FREE RSVP HERE

2/1 The Paranoyds, Spendtime Palace @ Baby’s All Right. 21+ / $12 RSVP HERE

2/1 Human People, Washer, Thanks For Coming @ Trans-Pecos. All Ages / $10 RSVP HERE

2/3 Tredici Bacci, Material Girls, Sugarlife @ Baby’s All Right. 21+ / $10 RSVP HERE

2/4 Lorelei Ramirez, Morgan Bassichis + More (benefit for Bernie) @ The Bell House. 18+ / $20-$250 RSVP HERE

2/5 QWAM, Motherhood, Bad Bloom @ Mercury Lounge. 21+ / $10 RSVP HERE

2/5 Space Sluts, Extra Special, Shapes in Calgary @ Trans-Pecos. All Ages / $10 RSVP HERE

ONLY NOISE: Music Fuels My Postpartum Self-Care

ONLY NOISE explores music fandom with poignant personal essays that examine the ways we’re shaped by our chosen soundtrack. This week, Liz Tracy reconnects to her former self via the music she loved before she became a mom.

In the tiny basement gym in my parents’ apartment building, I gingerly stepped on the elliptical machine. I felt like a barefoot child about to climb a mountain, unsure of my intentions, safety, and abilities. In the two years since I gave birth, I haven’t had many opportunities to move my body or use my mind without the goal of keeping my young son alive or entertained. I put my headphones on and pressed play on iTunes. Music long kept silent on my phone quickly flooded my brain with memories and emotions. Suddenly, my legs knew what to do. I felt like I hadn’t in a long time: I felt like I was back in my body.

Since I found out I was pregnant in a Walmart bathroom, almost everything in my life changed. I grew a human baby in my uterus and breastfed him for 19 months. My partner and I stopped drinking and attending beloved music shows regularly. We also moved to two new states. I work from home now while caring for a small, energetic person who demands more from me than I even demand from myself. Yet I still have the same old anxiety disorder, amped up on new worries with no outside substances to quiet my fears. By 5pm each day, I’m usually so worn out and overwhelmed by my full-time childcare duties, I feel like I’m floating above my life. After our most recent move, I decided to find a space where I could reconnect with my pre-baby self, and manage my anxieties. I found it in that tiny gym thanks to a soundtrack of my old favorite songs.

I’m not the only person seeking ways to process unwanted feelings in the wake of a pregnancy. The Center for Disease Control estimates that one in five women and five percent of men experience postpartum depression, 10 percent of women have postpartum anxiety, while others suffer from postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder and postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder. If you’ve ever spoken to a new parent or looked at posts in a Facebook parenting group, you know these numbers are much lower than the reality. Studies have shown not only that exercise can help parents deal with postpartum mood disorders, but also that music can help with the baby blues and maternal attachment in the weeks following childbirth. It’s not new news that music can be therapeutic, but in my postpartum haze, I didn’t even consider it as a solution to my ailments.

I have nothing to focus on in the gym but the music and myself. I become immersed in each note and lyric, each bead of sweat. I can explore my muddied emotional landscape and crowded thoughts in a space all my own. I channel all of my rage from a traumatic childbirth experience and the shameful lack of childcare options that are stalling my career by swinging my arms furiously to noise gods Sonic Youth. I particularly enjoy getting angry to “Swimsuit Issue” off the band’s 1992 release Dirty, which I first owned on cassette.

The Sonic Youth Information Database quotes the album’s deluxe reissue liner notes on the song’s meaning, “…inspired by the odious ejaculative habits of a then-current [Geffen] employee who was subsequently remanded to therapy.” Kim Gordon lists the models in from the March 1992 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in the outro. I’ve never had envious thoughts about supermodels – I know they live the same shitty lives as the rest of us. They get old and their husbands cheat on them. Thurston Moore left Kim Gordon in much the same fashion, but she subsequently became more famous after his departure. The dark humor of the song reminds me of long nights I spent sweating and laughing through weirdo noise shows in Miami, where I used to live. I was as feral as the wild sounds coming from those stages.

When I play Chicago electronic musician Felix Da Housecat’s “Ready 2 Wear,” a New Wave-y house masterpiece, my legs move twice as fast and my chest swells with longing for late nights when my feet stuck to dirty dance floors at kitchens and clubs. I’m saturated with feelings about years spent with friends whose drama seemed crafted to hurt but was actually an effort by screwed up codependents to connect and maintain intimacy. I recall the many times we scrambled to keep each other alive and hopeful by clinging to the unhealthy, temporary healing powers of parties, intoxication, and conversations until dawn.

Always a fan of filthy music, I remember thinking Juicy J was an egalitarian hero with his line “you say no to ratchet pussy, Juicy J can’t” in “Bandz a Make Her Dance.” But now, as I cycle on a stationary bike through this trap tune, I wonder how I would explain that line to my son when he’s older. Parenthood brought out some latent puritanical side of my personality that mixes awkwardly with my affinity for crass humor and music. So, for the thirty minutes I spend in the gym, I try to set aside my uptight feelings and just enjoy the Lil Wayne feature on this song.

The inspiration for alt-country, the late Gram Parsons, is also on my list. He and Emmylou Harris harmonize beautifully on “Return of the Grievous Angel,” a tune about a man who has traveled the world but can’t quit his lover. It is then that I remember my pre-baby trips. A decade ago, I drove across the country with my brother’s friend for a month to visit the Joshua Tree Hotel where Parsons overdosed and died. I remember seeing the milky way on my second trip there by laying on the hood of a rented car with my old roommate. Because these musical workouts alleviate my anxiety, I can feel the freedom of those times again. I think briefly about all the world I won’t be able to afford to see and won’t have the time to visit now that I have a child. I start to process that without a conclusion.

Then I walk upstairs and open the door to the apartment where we now live with my parents. I hear the immense giggles of a big-eyed human that I somehow created and whose life I now sustain. I can actually feel my legs and the ground beneath me and sweat on my shirt. My partner comments how different I look with my skin flushed. The disorderly fragments of my past and present that floated around inside me, the heavy rocks of anxiety that weighed me down just an hour before, have fallen into place.