CATALINA SKIES (from l-r): Chris Macmorland (lead guitar/backing vocals), Craig Surace (lead vocals/guitar), Sean Hanrahan (drums) Not in photo: Liam Priestnall (drums)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Armed with an infectious, edgy indie-pop sound full of catchy choruses, alluring harmonies, and highly-energetic melodies, Catalina Skies have established themselves on London‘s underground music scene in the last couple of years, and now, the band are determined to build on this momentum in 2020 with a string of new single releases, and more live shows.
Here’s what they had to say to me when we chatted recently:
How did the band first get together?
SEAN HANRAHAN (drums): Let me tell you a story. It all started when Craig met Chris…sorry, that sounds like the start of a bad romantic comedy…Craig met Chris at their work drinks one night, and immediately launched into a debate about the greatest lyrics ever written, to which one of them outrageously claimed ‘Ice Cream‘ by Australian band Muscles.
In spite of this drunken dispute, they uncovered a joint love for music’s incredible narrative power, and decided to set up a jam. Along the way, they found me through a mutual friend, and then we went on to the hunt to find Liam and complete Catalina Skies!
How did the name Catalina Skies come about?
CHRIS MACMORLAND (lead guitar/backing vocals): On our first day in a recording studio, there were various news reports warning Earth of a potentially catastrophic asteroid collision, but thankfully, the scientists’ estimated trajectory was way off so everyone survived, and we got to finish the mix! The organisation who were tracking this asteroid are called the Catalina Sky Survey.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
CHRIS: Anyone can bring something to the table, and if it sets a spark with the whole band…the wheels starts turning. It could start with a riff, drum beat, lyric, or string section!
CRAIG SURACE (lead vocals/guitar): These usually come with an emotional tie for the feel of the song, which matches the current feelings of the band or a member, and brings us to the final song, although you never really “finish” a song…
What inspires the band lyrically?
CHRIS: Jameson’s (on the rocks).
CRAIG: Also, bad life choices…I mean, experiences!
So far, you have unveiled a few singles, the latest one being ‘Tuesday Friday’. How have the reactions been to them, for you all personally?
SEAN: For me personally, I’ve had some great reactions from fans and friends alike. I catch my mates humming the tune or singing the chorus from time to time, and that has been a strange but amazing feeling.
It’s always funny to hear fans come up to us, post-show, saying that they love the song. It always seems to create the most excitement on the dance floor.
The band plan to release some new tracks over the next six months. How has
the recording process for them been?
CHRIS: With the help of experienced producers, we’ve spent more time reviewing song structures, dynamics, and instrumentation, while at the same time, making sure we don’t lose that raw energy.
SEAN: The whole recording process working with our producer at The Recording Studio London was an absolute blast, and we’ve learned a lot, which has made us stronger musicians.
And how will they differ stylistically to the work you’ve put out so far?
SEAN: I think we’ve kept the elements of who we are, while also traversing some new boundaries. Our new work feels raw, almost as if you were right there seeing us live. On drums, the sound differs from our previous work, however, it has kept that beat that still gets people moving while adding more “fuck yeah!” moments. We’ve really tried to create that “Oh? I like that!” feeling!
Also, when are the band currently planning to get the singles out?
SEAN: Watch this space around spring time. I hope you aren’t afraid of gorillas…
You have established yourselves on London’s underground music scene, performing at many of the city’s venues, and have supported the likes of The Ordinary Boys and Sinka. How were they as experiences?
CRAIG: As cliche as it sounds, live music is as much for the people who choose to come to listen, as it is for us. All of our shows have been enjoyable, no matter the size. In fact, our favourite show was at Alley Cat on Denmark Street (RIP). Everything went wrong prior (broken strings, dropped guitars, sub-par amps), but once we were on stage and seeing everyone loving life, it made the night!
The London music scene is tough, there’s so much going on in this city with a mish-mash of tastes, and controversially, lacking a bit of soul these days. We love music, and we just want to give those who do choose to come and see us and our fellow London bands, the love they deserve!
And how is it overall playing live?
CHRIS: Easily the best part of what we do. It also means we get to hang out with Rocco (Craig‘s stage persona).
SEAN: It’s an adrenaline rush that I can’t quite describe. The feeling you get on stage is something else, as you’re just there, raw, unhinged, and bouncing with energy, but just as it’s began, it’s over, and you’re left awashed with memories of that feeling, and it’s a rush that we keep chasing.
And lastly, singles aside, what are the band’s plans for the near future?
SEAN: If I were to give us one solid high-level goal, it would be to get ourselves heard. To share our music and energy with more and more people. We’ve got lots of plans for the future all working with our amazing manager. More music, more shows, more festivals, more us.
‘TUESDAY FRIDAY’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM CATALINA SKIES – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND THE BAND WILL BE RELEASING SOME NEW TRACKS OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS.
FURTHER INFO ON CATALINA SKIES CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: