A Conversation with Catcher About Leaning Into Pessimism and Their Evolving Sound

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, the darkly melancholic post-punk five-piece Catcher—made up of Austin Eicher (vocals), Wilson Chestney (drums), and Cameron McRae (bass), Christian Reech (guitar) and Jack Young (guitar)—recently made their scorching double-sided debut with the singles “Yesterday’s Favorite,” and “The Skin.” Casting a wide net of influences from the Fall to the Birthday Party, and drawing comparisons to their contemporaries like Iceage and Protomartyr, their sound is a crashing symphony of chimes, tambourines, idiosyncratic drum patterns, and fluorescent visuals. 

“The Skin,” and “Yesterday’s Favorite” are both hauntingly existential anthems that sound like they were recorded in a cavernous chamber, with lead singer Austin Eicher’s gravelly vocals cloaked in reverberating feedback, cymbals, and white noise. The band has described the process of making their soon-to-be released album as “a sense of dedication to switch things up,” and “gaining ideas from listening to music that didn’t sound similar to anything they’d personally done before.”

Last month the band took to the stage at a sold-out show at Gold Sounds Bar in Brooklyn, their first live gig since March of last year. This month the band released two new singles, “Only Advice” and “Fallen Stones,” and have also announced a North American tour. 

I caught up with lead vocalist Austin Eicher to discuss the band’s upcoming releases, drawing inspiration from film and literature, and finding band members on dating apps.

You guys recently played a sold-out gig at Gold Sounds Bar. How was that experience for you after being in lockdown for so long?

Speaking from my own experience, the first show back was very strange. Being in front of that many people again performing for the first time in over a year was quite daunting and uncomfortable at first but that quickly faded and we had a lot of fun. I don’t exactly know if it had to do with nerves or if it was just a disconnect with the motions of performance after so much time without it, but it definitely kept me on our toes. The next show after that felt like we had never stopped playing shows though.

You guys take a lot of inspiration from films and authors (Jean Genet, Graham Greene). How do these inspirations unfold in a session?

I think just a lot of the stuff we read and watch makes its way into both the music and the writing process. I can hear a lot of themes from things that Wilson and I were obsessed with at the time all over these 4 tracks. It’s kind of hard to explain how they’ve impacted the process apart from the more obvious examples (direct references in lyrics, etc.) but I guess it just leaves a trace on our own creative output.

How did you guys come to form your current sound and vision? Was it a gradual process, or was it something you immediately knew you wanted to do?

It was definitely a gradual shift. I’ve explained it before as falling back in love with stuff we used to really enjoy rather than a definitive shift. We’re in a place now where we definitely have our influence sorted out. We know what we like and we know what we don’t, and that’s helped us a lot in figuring out where we fit in the creative process.

You guys famously used Tinder and Craigslist to recruit band members. Would you recommend this to other musicians?

Sure I’d recommend it but with the footnote that we got incredibly lucky with how that turned out and that it won’t always be that way. We’ve been through a ton of band members in the past and everything kind of just fell into place right around the time Wilson and I were recording the demos and I’m grateful for that.

I read that at least one of the singles was inspired by your experience as a caretaker with a person who has dementia. What is it about being close to mortality that draws you in and makes you want to write about it?

I find it terribly boring when people avoid pessimism in their writing. I feel like that’s most of what I’ve heard as of late and it was probably a response to that in some way. I have been fascinated with mortality recently and the idea that we all think about it often but feel socially confused about how to maneuver it in conversation. I’m sure the pandemic plays into that somewhere, though I am not sure how.

What else does the band have going on that you are excited for new listeners to experience?

We’re just ready to get back on the road this summer and play shows again. We try to stay concerned with the immediate future and not make too many plans.

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