Tonight, Tempe natives Katastro will be returning to the Valley from their new home in Huntington Beach to play a local show for their eagerly awaiting fans at Marquee Theatre. While the band will always support the city from which it came, the four funk, rock, and hip-hop artists headed for California two years ago in search of musical stability and a culture that would allow their audience to expand.
So far, the West Coast transition has worked out well for the four aspiring musicians and lifelong friends -- vocalist Andy Chaves, guitarist Tanner Riccio, drummer Andrew Stravers, and bassist Ryan Weddle -- who made the move as their support system in Phoenix collapsed with the closing of the Clubhouse, their staple venue, and alternative radio station 103.9 turning contemporary.
Up on the Sun spoke with Katastro drummer Andrew Stravers before the band's headlining show at the Marquee, to welcome them back to Phoenix, talk about the opportunities they have found in the Golden State, and the new music in their arsenal.
Tell me about the opportunities that California offers Katastro. There are more shows to play and a large variety of markets that we can hit. There are so many cities in California and different areas where kids come out and see shows.
What would you want a new listener to know about yourself and the band? We always make music that we really enjoy, and we just hope our people do too. All the music is always changing for sure.
Is the whole band from Tempe? Yes, all of us are. We grew up together. Andy, our singer, and our bassist have actually known each other since they were born because their parents went to church together.
How did you decide you wanted to play music? I started playing drums when I was 13 after I went and saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I decided that was what I wanted to do. All of us started playing around the same age, but we didn't really hang out with each other. I was in different punk rock bands when I was growing up and playing in my garage.
Who is your favorite drummer? I'd probably say John Bonham. If I had to pick one, that's who it would be, because of his overall style.
Are those the type of musical influences you bring to the band? Yeah, some of them. We all definitely have different stuff. Ryan, our bass player, came from a big jazz background. He was offered a scholarship to the University of Memphis, but we were really going at it and doing stage shows and touring so he decided not to do it.
Andy started rapping when he was 12, so he has a hip-hop background and brings that to the band. Tanner has a really cool classic rock and psychedelic style on the guitar. It's really a fusion of jazz and rock with funk and hip-hop.
Tell me about the music scene in Phoenix for Katastro. The music scene in Phoenix . . . well, that was kind of the reason we moved to California. Everything kind of went down -- I mean there was the shooting that happened at the Clubhouse and that was our venue. We were about to sell it out. If we would have played the Clubhouse probably one or two more times we could have said, "Oh, we sold out a show on our own!"
But it closed down, so then we had to do our shows at the Marquee and we're not quite at the point that we can sell out Marquee yet. That was a bummer when the Clubhouse got shut down, because even though it was a small shitty venue, we really loved it. It was rad. Right after that, 103.9 got turned into a fuckin' adult contemporary station, and that was really the only station that was playing our music and giving us airtime.
We had been talking about moving to California anyway, for a few years, so we decided to just do it and go meet some more bands and people. All the bands that we have toured with around the country live in California so we decided to do it.
There are still some good bands in the Phoenix scene, like Mergence, to name one. Mergence is fucking awesome. They are a great rock band, and all of us are into rock and roll. Some of our newer music is going that way, actually. A lot of good bands roll through Phoenix, too, so there are a lot of good shows. It's funny, because now that we moved, our shows at home seem to be bigger. I guess because people know we're not coming back for a while.
How long has Katastro been together now? A little over five years. Maybe almost six. We started the band the summer before our senior year in high school and now we're all 23 and 24.
Some of [our albums] are EP's and two are an album. There's between five and eight songs on each of them. Right out of high school we went on a few national tours with Tomorrow's Bad Seeds and stuff. This year, we've been writing a lot of new songs and focusing on playing shows around Orange County and LA.
So, are you working on a new album? Yeah, we are. We don't know when the release is. We're still working with some different people and we're talking to different producers. We're not really sure what this is going to be yet, but we do have new songs, and we will be playing a couple new songs at the Marquee on November 15.
Nice, what else can the audience expect at that show? A lot of energy. Some new songs and old songs. And just a fun time.
What would you like your music career to become? For me personally, it's to continue making music that we really like. And hope other people like it too. I think one thing our band has always been about is making sure that we love our songs and care about the songs and that it means something to us, especially when we have kind of put our whole lives into this.
I think that's the biggest thing; all of us staying true to ourselves and continuing to make the music that we like. Hopefully it grows and the shows get bigger and we can tour a lot more and do it for a living.
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