Aussie pop punk is just so good at the moment, especially with acts like Stand Atlantic, Between You And Me, Yours Truly, Skyway, Cambridge, Paperweight, Grenade Jumper, Nautical Mile and Drastic Park (just to name a few) leading the charge for the genre down under… But a new era is about to dawn for Albury lads Catnip Kaiser who are relaunching their band with new members, new passion and a new song you’re gonna love!
‘Sunshine‘ is a refreshing and uplifting jam that’ll have you thrashing it on repeat to increase the serotonin levels in your brain and it even features the delightful vocal cords of Ocean Sleeper‘s Ionei Heckenberg which adds a whole new level to the track and makes it an anthem to get you through hard times.
Speaking of hard times, the band have had their own with lineup changes galore BUT that’s not stopping them from taking this first step to relaunching themselves as key contenders in Australia’s upcoming pop punk scene.
We caught up with the guys for a chat about their new single, how COVID affected their year and what’s next for them…
Catnip Kaiser great to finally meet via the online world, for those not in the know, tell us how you lads came to be?
(Jack McDonald): I’m the only original member left so I’ll kick this one off. Long story short, Catnip Kaiser started as a cover band that played at the university I went to and we got a really good response from the couple hundred or so that were there. After that we thought it was too good to let slip away and the next day Catnip Kaiser become a thing. From there we got a heap of love with our first two singles ‘Why?’ and ‘Grey’ going number one on the Triple J Unearthed ‘Rock’ and ‘Punk’ charts.
We released an EP that went 23rd on the overall iTunes Album charts and 4th on the Alternative album’s charts behind like Billie Eilish, Lewis Capaldi and Halsey which was mental!
This new line-up came about when the other members of the band didn’t share the same drive, passion and enthusiasm as I did and left the band to form their own thing. This new line-up came about a lot quicker than expected with Jayden being my first point of call and then next minute we have a 5 piece of incredible musicians that are all sharing the workload, and all can write awesome songs. It was a big indicator for me that everything happens for a reason and I could not be happier with how things are going.
And you’ve promised us some nostalgia driven tunes from the early 2000s – why was that era of music so important to you all?
(Josh): Back when I was really young my best friend at the time showed me this burnt CD with Simple Plan written on it in black sharpie. That album hit me like a ton of bricks and it changed my music taste forever! Pop punk has always been in my life through Tony Hawk’s Pro Skaters to the American Pie movies. That’s when pop punk was at its peak!
(Blake): The tunes produced in that time are iconic, headbangers that will never get old! What’s not to love?
(Jayden): Personally for me, it was the first time I heard Fatlip by Sum41 on Guitar Hero and knew that is what I wanted to do, and I haven’t put my guitar down since.
(Jack McDonald): Man, pop punk just changed my life completely. I remember catching the school bus each day and hearing Blink 182 and Green Day each morning. I remember watching Sum 41 live in Tokyo or something and from that moment I knew I wanted to be like Deryck Whibley who still to this day is the man that got me into singing and playing the guitar. I think it’s just that genre that will never die because so many people connect to it.
Your new single we’re stoked to be premiering today is called ‘Sunshine’ and goddamn it’s a tune and a half. What inspired this number?
(Jack McDonald): Oh, thank you heaps, the song itself was written about a really really bad time for me. When we went down to Gippsland to write with Ionei, life was honestly a mess for me. I’d just gotten out of a long relationship and for some reason found myself close to being in another because I thought that was one way to blank out the pain.
Of course, impulsive decisions like that lead to our downfall as that person played me like a pokemon card because I was a guy that was on stage and playing in a band and it gave her some form of satisfaction. That made things about 50 times worse than it already was as it made me feel extremely worthless.
When Ionei and I were doing lyrics he was sort of asking questions about what I was feeling and that was when he just come out with this crazy chorus that you hear on the track now and from there we wrote the rest of the lyrics all centred around that feeling of almost not knowing what the hell you are doing with your life when it comes to relationships and really trying to break free from a situation that seems constant.
The chorus whether intentional or not can reflect the year we’ve had e.g. “I still wake up each day waiting, waiting for the sun to shine.” My instant thoughts were that this could be an anthem for 2020 and a song to go back to and thrash when we need some personal motivation!
(Blake): The song definitely has taken on multiple meanings! That’s why we think it connects with people from all walks of life!
(Jack McDonald): Haha I love that statement! Glad a bad situation can be turned into some enlightenment
And you’re keeping it regional with help from Ocean Sleeper’s Ionei Heckenberg whose vocals just make the song sound sooo huuuge! How’d that collab come about?
(Jack McDonald): I saw Ocean Sleeper when they came through Albury supporting ‘The Getaway Plan’ and ‘Dream on Dreamer’ and thought Ionei was just a brilliant performer and vocalist. From there I added him on Facebook and followed him on Instagram and started talking to him about random stuff.
Then I had the idea of getting someone to feature on a Catnip track and proposed the idea to him about working together and he was all in. He is such a positive and creative spirit and I can personally say without his guidance and knowledge I wouldn’t be half the musician I am at the present moment. He is seriously one of the best people in the music business and someone it is impossible not to respect. I literally call him Dad haha.
I love the infectious pop punk vibes that this track brings, is that your chosen path musically or can we expect some breakdowns ala ADTR in future?
(Blake): There may be a few surprises in store!
(Jayden): We’re currently in the writing stages of the upcoming album and can confirm that future Catnip will be bringing breakdowns to the table, both musically and mentally
(Jack McDonald): Yeah the lads have said it perfectly there. Certainly going to be some surprises. One especially being a feature from someone who’s band rhymes with ‘The Slavity Galiction’. Josh is also a mental vocals with the screams he can produce and we certainly intend on trying to bring that to the table. We basically do not want to limit ourselves with creativity and want to try and do some crazy stuff.
2020 is been a rough year and we’ve asked all the bands we’ve spoken to how it COVID affected their plans, how’d you guys get hit by the pandemic?
(Jack McDonald): We actually had a tour planned for our EP with the old members that was going to be Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, however that all got cancelled. We were lucky enough to be able to still play ‘The Basement’ in Canberra and ‘The Factory Theatre’ very recently, both of which we got big crowds at which was crazy. Thanks to a band called ‘Tribehounds’ from Albury, we were able to still play these shows to a high standard.
(Jayden): With our situation and everything going on in the world, it’s definitely been a chance for us to re-group and focus on delivering the best and most emotionally hitting music to date.
(Blake): Just couldn’t play gigs, but it’s given us the opportunity to assess our situation, practice non-stop, and write new material!
What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourselves/the band during this time?
(Jack Mills): I have found that we clicked really fast and good chemistry as mates and as a band musically.
(Josh): Having an outlet like playing music is one of the most uplifting experiences you’ll ever experience.
(Blake): We click very well! We are all honest, hard working blokes with the same vision! And to have a band like that, is very rare!
(Jack McDonald): Certainly, just how powerful music has been. I have been very lucky as so many people have felt the impact of this worse than I have and I have really tried to stick by these people as it has been a horrid times. In terms of the band, I certainly have learnt everything happens for a reason. I now have 4 brothers with me now and it isn’t like we are even a band, it is literally like a family of people who have each other’s backs through everything. This is the first time I have experienced this in my music career and it has me pumped!
Once this song is out, when and how can we hear it live? Any plans in future to get gigging?
(Jack Mills): We are definitely planning on gigging as soon as possible. Difficult with restrictions but we’re doing what we can.
(Blake): Gigs will definitely happen
(Jack McDonald): When the song is out you will be able to hear it on all streaming places, a music video will be up on Youtube, there is an extended version and short version. The extended shows a replication of what the time the song was written about was like and the short version just gets to the point. Blake has been a machine in the gigs department so there is certainly some stuff coming in terms of a tour or two next year with us going places we have never been.
Talking about motivation earlier, what’s one thing that gets you up in the morning like the daily sunshine?
(Jack Mills): Just to see my friends and family happy.
(Jack McDonald): My main motivation every morning is the kids I teach. I am a primary school teacher and it is something I am really passionate about. The fact I wake up each morning and get to go to a job I love and teach 23 amazing kids skills they will use for the rest of their lives really motivates me each morning but also motivates to better myself daily so I can be the best role model I can be for them all.
Anything else to add?
(Jayden): Even though we’re coming out of this pandemic, don’t forget to check in on you’re mates.
(Jack McDonald): Be kind to not only yourselves but everyone around you as we have had a really average year. But when this blows over and you see Catnip Kaiser is in your town, make sure you come down and say G’day. Jayden has promised everyone at our shows the first round of the night so do not turn that down.
Interview by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown @brownypaul