This week, we would like to re-introduce Katastro, who made our Artist Radar feature a few years ago. Since then, the 4 piece alternative outfit from Tempe, AZ has been making waves in the music scene, forcing us to spotlight them once again.
Katastro formed in 2007 with vocalist Andy Chavez, drummer Andrew Stravers, and guitarist Tanner Riccio, with bassist Ryan Weddle joining a little later on. They have released 5 EPs to date, including their latest entitled No Mud No Lotus, which was released on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.
With a brand new EP that has charted as high as #24 on the iTunes Alternative Chart, as well as their single “Runaway” reaching #1 on SoundCloud’s Trending Alternative Chart while notching almost 80,000 streams, this release is already poised to be the band’s most successful yet.
Following up on the release, Katastro will be hitting the road in January with The Expendables, Ballyhoo!, and Fortunate Youth for the 2015 Winter Blackout Tour, spanning almost 40 dates across the country.
I was able to speak with drummer Andrew Stravers to get caught up on the new album, some history of the band, and an epic show with the Dirty Heads over the summer – Enjoy!
Artist Radar: Katastro
The Pier: So we actually featured you guys a few years ago…
Andrew: Yeah man, that was our last album release, it’s been too long. We’re finally putting out a new record, which is good.
The Pier: That’s what I heard, and the new record is No Mud No Lotus? What can you tell me about it?
Andrew: So we moved home from California back to Tempe, Arizona in May. Right when we got home we went directly into the studio for a month to this place called Red Mountain Studios in Tempe. We worked with a producer named Curtis Douglas. We had a lot of songs written and a lot of ideas and riffs written. It was our first time really working with a producer to help us piece things together and make the songs sound a lot better. We worked really hard in pre-production for about two weeks before we started tracking everything, and literally in the studio every single day for 8 or 9 hours for like a month. We ended up with about 8 solid songs that we loved, and we’re adding an intro. It’s been a long process, and it’s something we’ve been waiting a while to do.
The Pier: The name, No Mud No Lotus, where does that come from?
Andrew: I actually got the name from a friend that I made in Huntington Beach that told me about this saying. It means “without suffering you can’t have happiness”. They go hand in hand. The lotus flower is one of the most beautiful flowers, but it can only grow in mud. So I brought the name up to the band and everyone liked it and thought it had a cool meaning for us because we’ve all been through a lot in the last 6 or 7 years. We’ve worked really hard on this record and think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done, so the whole name and a lot of Andy’s lyrics to the record, just work and everyone really liked it.
The Pier: Any other artists that you guys have been listening to that helped feed the inspiration for the record?
Andrew: Everyone in the band is always listening to different stuff. I don’t know. I mean maybe subconsciously it has something to do with our inspiration towards writing, but I don’t think we ever sit down and write a song ‘like this band’ or ‘lets do this’. I think we’re still kind of finding out our sound as a band, and I think more and more that’s starting to happen. I mean there’s definitely bands that we’ve all been into. I know we all really like Alt-J, and Tanner showed me this dude, recently, named Chet Faker whose really cool. I mean that’s all way different from our music, so I don’t know.
The Pier: So you guys have been a band for what, like 7 years?
Andrew: Yeah, I think it’s almost 7 years. We started the band the summer before our senior year of high school, so the summer of 2007. So yeah it’s been a while.
The Pier: I know you said you’ve gone through a lot, personally and as a band, but is there anything since the last release in particular that influenced this record?
Andrew: Yeah, we all moved out to California and lived together for two years. We toured a lot, just played a ton of shows, and worked really really hard, and this record is something we can show for it. We opened up that Dirty Heads and Pepper Tour, which was the largest show that we’ve ever done. It was like 28 shows in 25 days all across the U.S.
The Pier: Wow that’s a lot! How was playing Red Rocks with both of those bands and Aer? It must have been awesome.
Andrew: Yeah man, it was a pretty surreal thing for all of us. I don’t think any of us ever thought we’d play at Red Rocks. We’ve all like watched live videos on YouTube or whatever of our favorite bands playing there, and I think it was actually the coolest “building” I’ve ever been in, like in my life (laughs). Technically it’s not even a building, just a really cool structure carved out of rock. But that was amazing and I think Dirty Heads sold it out. There was probably over 9,000 people by the end of the night. It was nutty man, like really fun.
The Pier: Yeah man we actually had some of our staff at that show.
Andrew: Yeah, there was huge storm that rolled in right before we were about to go on stage, and we were afraid that our set was going to get cut. Like one of the Dirty Heads’ keyboards fell over and broke and the crew was running around like crazy. But luckily it stopped raining, like five minutes before we were supposed to play, so we went on a few minutes late, but we still got to get in the whole set. It did start raining during our set, but the crowd was just amazing. People out in Colorado are just awesome fans. They were super into it and they just made it a super fun and enjoyable experience.
The Pier: That’s rad. I actually got to see you guys for the first time out in Cali, at Cali-Roots. And even though you’ve played with bands like Dirty Heads, Tomorrows Bad Seeds, Pacific Dub and some of these, “reggae-rock” bands, but you guys aren’t really reggae-rock at all.
Andrew: Yeah, really, not at all (laughs) which is funny cause kids call it that and stuff because we’re associated with all these bands, which is cool. Honestly, we owe so much gratitude to the reggae-rock scene and we’re so grateful to be part of such an awesome community of bands and people. Everyone at the shows are awesome and nice. But we’ve never really played any reggae stuff, I think we would consider ourselves more alternative rock, with funk and elements of hip-hop and different stuff we all grew up listening too. It’s cool that people dig it, eventhough it’s not reggae. If people like it, then that’s awesome.
The Pier: What did you think the crowd was like in Cali-Roots, having that early set?
Andrew: It’s awesome. There was still way more people than we thought, considering we were the first band of the day. We were stoked. We had a great time out there this year.
The Pier: Any other festivals you guys are looking to try and get on?
Andrew: Oh man, there’s a bunch we’d love to play at. I’m definitely hoping to play South By Southwest. I don’t know off the top of my head, but once we hit January and February, we’ll be looking to book some cool stuff in the new year.
The Pier: Hopefully you guys make it out to the east coast and I can catch you out in Philly, I think I missed you the last time you guys were here.
Andrew: (Laughs) You know what man, that’s actually the only show we missed on the tour. It was our first time driving on the east coast and we had a van and a trailer and everything and we actually took the wrong route and ended up driving right to the fucking Bronx, during rush hour (laughs). We ended up missing the show and still had all these van issues and it was literally the worst day ever. We ended up getting to the venue like 30 minutes after our set time ended. We barely missed it, but yeah it was bad.
The Pier: Damn (laughs) that’s funny. Where were you guys coming from?
Andrew: I wanna say we we’re coming from like Chicago or something, but honestly I forget & we were super bummed dude.
The Pier: Well good thing I missed that show, or I would have ripped in to you guys for missing it! (Laughs)
Andrew: Yeah man, we were definitely bummed, but nothing we could do about it.
The Pier: Yeah it’s cool man, well hopefully I’ll catch you next time around, but if not, good luck with the record and rest of the year!
Andrew: Awesome. Thanks dude. Looking forward to it.
Watch: Katastro – “Runaway” (Lyrical Video)
Watch: Katastro – “Counting Stars” (One Republic Cover)