Music has had a deep grip on Henderson K Shatner since his time with Brand Violet in the early 2000’s in London. Even with some time away, the call returned in his new American home in Montana and the band Catnyp was formed. We caught up him and tried to see where this new project is at and where it is going. Enjoy the interview here:
First thing, where did the name Catnyp come from?
There’s that old saying that something is “like catnip” to a certain kind of person. That’s sort of how I think the music we make is. Not for everyone, but the people who do like it will love it and won’t be able to get enough. And, I’m a cat lover so I always try to bake a little feline reference into things when I can. Frankly we also were amazed that the URL was available, it’s such an obvious, meaningful, memorable, brandable term as well.
How would you describe your sound?
This record had an unusual genesis, so I’d land it in 1971-1972 in terms of general sound, production, singing and songwriting. I was aiming for something unbridled like “Ram” by Paul and Linda McCartney, or Ziggy Stardust from David Bowie. Not too ambitious, then (laughs). But so far people are definitely hearing the Bowie references.
Which artists have been your biggest influences?
I love a big melody with a strong counterpoint, so McCartney just inspires me in general. I love Bowie, Elvis Costello, Pixies, Nirvana, Weezer. I love how Nick Lowe has evolved. I’d like to do a bit more exploration into the Tom Waits and Nick Cave world but not sure I’d make it out intact. I do like some traditional country and folk, but I’m talking Hank Williams and Woodie Guthrie. Leon Payne in terms of going into the darkness.
You went out and found some interesting musicians to fill out the Catnyp sound. Tell us about that?
It was accidental. Just serendipity. It was supposed to me a 4-track ethos solo record. It started off as me noodling around and sending some ideas for my former Brand Violet songwriting partner Michael Woodman (now in the incredible Thumpermonkey) for thoughts. It was drum machines and MIDI cello and so forth. He said, no no no — you need real drums, real cello, or you’ll never forgive yourself. So my friend Joe who is a percussionist in the Missoula Symphony Orchestra pitched in on drums. Joe introduced me to one of the cello players in the symphony, so Jessica Catron did a session. Another musician friend recommended a piano player who works for the Forest Service, Russ Parsons. And then a friend’s daughter was in the Hellgate High School chorus so I roped in backing singers, aka the Catnypettes, on a few tracks.
This new song “Mar A Lago” seems to have some real meaning behind it. What are you trying to share with the listener?
Three guesses and the first two don’t count. I most regret that I soiled what is an otherwise nice piece of music with those animals.
What advice would you give to other artists creating a unique sound?
Play the music that sounds like what you like, what you want to make, not what you think other people will like.
What is next in the plans for Catnyp?
Let this one escape, and then probably put out an EP in the next 6 months. I was taken aback by how there aren’t many loud electric guitars on this album … and that needs to be rectified.
Look for the premiere of ‘Mar A Lago’ by Catnyp on IndieBandGuru.com in the coming days. You can preorder and learn more HERE.