Cats:For:Peru

If you are fortunate enough to have had the pleasure of listening to Cats:for:Peru, you will know they are bloody good musicians, and as it turns out they’re bloody nice people too.

What strikes you first about C:F:P is how incredibly humble they are. Until I got the opportunity to see them play a week post-meeting, I had no idea they were quite so talented. I got a chance to speak to them last week on a less than endearing Sunday afternoon, just before the five band members headed to band practice.

If you haven’t heard of C:F:P they are a 5-piece, non-genre-specific, indie-ish band stemming from Sheffield. Having formed after singer, Ad Follett’s band Crazy Fire Yellas split, they cajoled friends and other friendly band members to form the collective we know today. Their usual line up consists of drums, bass, two guitars, a synth and three vocalists, this almost familiar musical collection is interjected with a ukulele, a second synth, percussion and all kinds of other crazy instrumental creations “to keep things fresh.”

They instantly made me feel welcome as we crammed around a small pub table and from the outset it was clear they were very passionate about their music.

They laugh as they tell me they are “Too mainstream to be alternative, and too alternative to be mainstream. We lie somewhere in the void of alternative but commercial rock/indie/electronic/folk.” Last year’s album release ‘Attack of the pitching machine’ is a perfect example of this with tracks spanning from folk to synth to good old-fashioned indie rock.

Perhaps in parts you could describe them as a modern, indie-man’s Muse. Likened in the past to bands such as The Arcade Fire and Guillemots, the association is tenuous but if you like that genre, then you’re onto a winner with these guys.

There is something a little Raconteurs about their instrumental breakdowns and undeniably a little of The Arcade Fire in there, however not to the extent of a close comparison. They are unique enough to be hard to classify, which is an exciting find.

The question of their name, which seems a common (and I’m sure far too annoying question to always fully answer) as it is met with a round of sighs, comes from a fable. However, I got the bull version which may just be a little more interesting. Kinny tells me, “Well you see, Ad was asleep on a beach in Barbados, and it came to him in a dream, it was a dream about a book, he woke up, ran to his hotel room and wrote it down, he knew it was perfect and the band name was born.” Though no indication was given, I assume the book was one about cats and Peru?

And, even more interestingly, if you Google their name, you get a very fascinating and vaguely disturbing article about a cat eating festival in Peru, which I’m assured is not the inspiration, as they are all (bar guitarist Rich) keen cat-lovers!

“You don’t like cats Rich” adds drummer, Lucy, “I do, I do like cats, I just don’t have one,” Rich tells me. “I really do like cats.” “It’s a right of passage” Ad adds, “ You have to own a cat to get in the band. Get out Richard, get out.”

“You have to gig regularly to keep the name in people’s heads but gig too much and you annoy people.”

There’s a great sense of banter between the band, and it’s obvious not only are they a collection of skilled musicians but also good friends.

C:F:P almost stumbled into their first album with expectations of merely releasing a single. However, within under a year they had a fully-fledged, bonafide album release. Though with the power of retrospect, they call the album a little naïve. Lucy tells me, “It wasn’t really a collective sound but three recording sessions put together without any real ‘album’ mindset, It was more like a ‘best of, so far’ compilation!”

The band understands what makes a good song, they understand it very well They’re incredibly skilled composers, boasting an implausible cohesiveness to their sound,despite their opposing musicalorientation.

Their songs are written by singer, guitarist and synth-man Ad, he tells me, “When I first write them they’re like F grade exams, they get passed around, re-worked, re-invented and then it’s nothing like my original when it’s finished.” He adds: “They’re not about anything in particular, about life really, anything and everything.”

With their musical interests spanning from Billy Joel to R and B, it’s no surprise their music has such an eclectic and varied approach. Ad told me later, “We all listen to lots of different stuff. Lucy listens solely to classic rock and Rich listens to loads of rubbish pop music and hip-hop. I think between us we cover most genres in music…apart from country music. I really hate country music.”

The band is soon to celebrate three years of working together, and have been circulating the Sheffield and surrounding areas for a while. Having played on the back of trucks to closing cake stands, to their dressing gowns (which I’m guaranteed is a very comfortable way to perform) their passion is enviable. And having Leeds as their only black spot for performing after bad promoters, local bands pulling out and “limited audiences,” they continue to play around The North.

Though they feel a slight dissonance between the bands in Sheffield over the last few years, they still enjoy performing with other local bands. Ad told me, “There are some great local bands but I’m not sure how well we fit in, or how much of a ‘scene’ there is left. I don’t really like the whole scene mentality anyway so it’s fine this way. Green Man Says Go, Smokers Die Younger and Wooderson are cracking bands.”

Currently working on new tracks, which they were off to practice after our chat, the journey this band is taking is very exciting.

They tell me, “We wouldn’t say our new songs have headed in a linear direction but more sprouted in different directions. We never set out to think ‘ok, the next few songs will be more heavy’ or whatever; we just jam things out and see how they turn out.”

Though they’re in no rush to produce a further album, I was told they’ve just bought a new synth, so we may be expecting a greater electro vibe to their music – in fact their newest instrumental track has a synthy vibe the other songs touched upon but not to this extent. However, with the box of strange and varied instruments Stella keeps in her house we can’t expect any generic indie any time soon.

C:F:P are currently inviting budding re-mixers to download and produce a remix of their most techno-ey tracks ‘Love in a lift’. The Cats will then listen to, and pick the five best remixes to be uploaded onto their Myspace, and after a seven day vote, the winner will be picked. Despite some shockers, they say: “We’ve had a few cracking remixes – we were quite surprised with the amount of work some people have put in and we’re looking forward to receiving more.”

So what is in store for Cats:for:Peru after such a promising three years? “Well this is the million dollar question.” They tell me, “You have to gig regularly to keep the name in people’s heads but gig too much and you annoy people.” We just need to keep writing new songs and things like the remix competition is a good and quite unique (at local level at least) way of keeping the momentum going.”

It’s rare you listen to a band and find such cohesiveness; it’s a lovely, rousing musical journey within each song, which even at its heaviness resists being overpowering. This band deserves far more acclaim, not only for being a lovely bunch of people, but because they’re a lovely bunch of talented people, and if you get the opportunity to invest time in them, you most certainly won’t regret it.