I knew within about 2 seconds of listening to the song Victory that I liked the band Time Cat. It just had that feel. Then the singer (Jeri) came in and I thought to myself - where did these folks come from? Victory became a high debuting song on the recent Kayak Big 25 and it's guaranteed to knock your socks off. This is one bold act, they aren't shy, they just lay their songs right out there. It's kind of a rare thing to hear in the midst of a lot of other indie acts trying to be cute or subtle. What starts out as country/blues/folk ends up going in all sorts of surprising directions like in their song Boozled. Time Cat tells stories and they're the kind of stories you wish you had experienced yourself, there is never a dull moment either. Anyway we got a chance to ask Jeri some questions..
Scott: First question goes out to the singer. When did you start to love singing? and how did you and bandmates start songwriting, what are your methods?
Jeri: I don’t really recall when I started to love singing. When I started out I was really bad at it and school “friends” would tell me to quit. It took me around a decade before I was any good. I love singing now, especially if the microphone is loaded with reverb!
Songwriting..hmm…sometimes it takes me a really long time to make a song. A stupid amount of time. Other times, and of course more rarely, a song will just come to me fully formed. Like it was written already. It isn’t a precise science. I try not to stick to formulas and I am very sensitive to songs that sound too much like another one. I started writing songs when I was around 10. Bandmates probably something similar.
Jeri: It’s a funny story..it was Summer 2012 and the drummer (Sam) and I had this manager guy who was like “You guys NEED to pick a band name. NOW.” We had until that time called ourselves “Sun Dog”, “The Yonge Ones”, “No Shoes” (ha!). One day I was in my parent’s basement looking through a box of books I’ve had since I was a little kid. In it, I saw Time Cat. So Time Cat is a children’s book about a talking, time-traveling cat. I had gotten it at a book fair when I was like 8 years old or something and never read it. I was unemployed at the time so I figure, why not read a children’s book right now? I’m already at rock bottom… A few days later I wrote our song Boozled and the lyrics were all written in one of the cover pages of Time Cat. My good friend saw this and suggested I just name the band that. So I did.
Jeri: Janis was never a big influence. People compare me to her all the time. Which is totally cool and all, I just don’t think I sound like her. I think we both have a lot of the same influences which is why we may have a similar approach melodically. I just wrote the song… it isn’t based on anything. I think it sounds like a mellow soul song or something. Sam wrote the chord progression for the chorus on piano. It is actually the only Time Cat song that we really worked on together.
Jeri: I love it and I hate it. Sam loves Akron and doesn’t want to leave! My problem with it is the weather. It’s always dreary outside and winter lasts for about 6 months. We have a great tight-knit community of people up here and that is what makes it livable. When there isn’t anything to do or anywhere to go you either get creative or really, really bored. I get out as much as I can…I thrive on adventure. All I want to do is tour and travel around.
Jeri: Of course! Live shows are where we really shine. Greatest moment…hmmmm…probably playing at a packed house at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland or our recent Akron release show where it sold out. That was a pretty great feeling. Our lowest moment..that has happened more than once, ha! One time recently we played a show after this weird animal fashion show where a goat took a shit on stage. I was in a terrible mood and halfway through the 4th song I started crying and left the stage. Totally weird.
Jeri: Yeah, we get frustrated for sure. I happen to think that if you are amazing enough you can rise through all the rabble. We believe in what we do so it gets us through all of that crap.
Jeri: I smoke cigarettes and drink whiskey. Hahaha. Another Janis thing, I guess. The only way my voice is like this is through practice and that’s it!
Jeri: I think there is a small hippie element going on. Very small though. I just love the psychedelic rock of the 60s. Tons of reverb, trippy lyrics, etc.
Jeri: In the past I’ve played in bands where maybe some one gets a crush on me…but clearly that isn’t what this is about! We’re musicians, plain and simple. Time Cat as a whole has nothing to do with gender or messing around with band mates. When Sam and I traveled in our van as a two piece on tour, people would ask if we were…fooling around with each other. Just because we inhabit female and male bodies doesn’t mean we have to want to practice breeding with each other. We aren’t Fleetwood Mac.
Jeri: Top 40 is generally complete garbage. There are a few new bands I like but I generally just listen to older music.
Jeri: There has definitely been some strangeness but…I’ll save that for a book that won’t come out for a few decades. Hah..
Jeri: It’s all we care about. Speaking for myself though, it saved me. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have this. It wouldn’t be pretty, that’s for sure.