Cats For Peru

I’m sat in an atmosphere hardly reflective of a formal interview i.e. my local pub with five musicians who are simply experts in making a newcomer feel at home. Cats:For:Peru have become a staple part of the ever growing Sheffield music scene in the previous few years, known for consistent gigging and their vibrant, bouncy yet at times rather eloquent performances. If you’re a fan of the Sheffield music scene and haven’t come across CFP yet on your travels then you’re missing a trick.

We waste no time in getting into what’s coming up in the not too distant future for the quintet, “We recorded four tracks in July which we’ve sat on for a while and we’ve got a single out at the moment. This should be followed by a vinyl next year… of which we’ll probably sell five” lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Adam ‘Ad’ Follett cynically informs me. Female drummer (a delightful rarity in today’s music biz) Lucy Williamson, however, is quick to respond, “Don’t say that Ad you’re going to ruin the moment”.

New double A-side, ‘A Million Colours/Three Brothers’ is currently available as a pay-what-you-like digital download and both tracks are well worth a listen.

In order to display the vinyl, and they’re other varying talents, the band have big plans. “We’re going to arrange a big event hopefully to coincide with the launch of it. We’re in talks at the moment about doing a big night involving arts type stuff as well as music and trying to hire out somewhere potentially quite big, like an arts space.” Definitely seems like an exciting venture, demonstrative of the fact that becomes clearer over the course of the interview that, for CFP, money definitely isn’t everything and they’d simply rather put on a good show.

It’s been a year and a half since we’ve had a CFP release in earnest, highly acclaimed EP ‘We Had This Problem Last Winter’ was our last offering in March 2011 and represented a far more complete sound than previous album, ‘Attach of the Pitching Machine’. Why go from an album to an EP? Well it seemed like a decision out of CFP’s hands, “The album was never planned, it was a collection of recording sessions which the label released for us and was really three EP’s together.

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The band joins me in the firm belief that, ‘We Had This Problem’ represented a decent improvement, “It wasn’t an incredibly obvious progression but we definitely matured and put a lot more into those songs”. At this point guitarist Richard ‘Bolly’ Walton (whose nickname is never quite explained to me but I’m assured that he’s the butt of all band jokes) pipes up for the first time, “It’s better, basically”.

The band showcased their new material at Tramlines, Sheffield’s very own multi-award-winning free festival.  Ad tells me, “We played at SOYO this year on the Sunday night but unfortunately clashed with We Are Scientists”, Bolly’s confused, “Hang on I saw most of their set”. “Well, we clashed with someone big. It was still great but previously we’d done Saturday nights at The Harley which was always packed out”.

Events such as Tramlines showcase the talents of bands such as CFP to wider audiences, with 175,000 in overall attendance last summer. I’m keen to ascertain the band’s thoughts on their local music scene. “It’s always been a strong scene, not quite as strong as it was maybe. There are a lot of groups of bands who are friends and stuff and there are a lot of occasions when you’ll see bands on the bills with the same bands over and over; it can become quite predictable”.

But Bolly has only praise for a musician who is swiftly becoming the lead spokesman for local talent in Sheffield, Jon ‘The Reverend’ McClure, “Yeah the Reverend really helped us out a couple of months ago. He tweeted us just before his gig at Leadmill asking if we wanted to be on this CD of local bands that he would be handing out that night and we were just like ‘yeah definitely’”.

Even the  biggest fans of CFP will find pinpointing their genre as incredibly difficult, they use a variety of musical styles and a wide-ranging set of instruments, stretching from synthesisers to ukuleles, whilst their Facebook page describes them as being brought together by a, ‘mutual love for post rock and independent pop’.  Therefore finding out about musical influences may be a tad tricky, and I quickly discover that, within the quintet, there is quite the variety. Bolly takes up the mantle, confirming his image as ‘the controversial one’, “I really like going down to All Tomorrow’s Parties where they’ve got loads of alternative American acts, the best for me is the Broken Social Scene, their style of music and ways their albums fit together for me sounds a little bit like us, kind of organic but electronic at the same time.”

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Lucy’s loyalties lie with a similar, more popular, collective of  musicians, “Arcade Fire were quite a big influence, they’ve got the whole boy/girl thing going on and the instrument swapping. I think they’re probably one of the best bands I’ve seen live”. And on today’s British music scene, Ad has yet more cynical words of wisdom, “Bands from England, generally, aren’t very good. In England if you don’t make it straight away, unless you’re someone like Elbow, you just get dropped”.

Getting down to business, just how far ahead do a band like CFP look into the future. I pose the teasing question of where they think they’ll be standing in five years time, seeing as they’ve now been together for that length of time. Yet again their ease and good humour shines with their responses, with Lucy barely hesitating with her answer, “A bit greyer I suppose”. There is more humorous disagreement, with Bolly stating, “The important thing for us is to just keep enjoying it. Personally I reckon I’d hate to make it, when you’re still in the studio having read every newspaper from the past two days you kind of think to yourself, something else needs to happen”. Ad’s response, “Well I would love to live in a studio all my life”.

Come on people, rally together and support this awesomely quirky collective so that Ad can have his wish granted.

New double-A side A Million Colours/Three Brothers is out now as a pay-what-you-want download and is available here, http://housevshomerecords.bandcamp.com/album/three-brothers-a-million-colours