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A Dirty Dozen with BRENTON HARRIS from CATHOLIC GUILT – August 2020

| 27 August 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “To hype the release of their second EP This Is What Honesty Sounds Like (out 28 August on Wiretap Records) Melbourne, Australia punk rockers Catholic Guilt have released Furrend Finder, a 100% free and 100% cute three-level 8-bit platformer, that is the purrfect distraction you need in your life right now. Furrend Finder sees you play the part of kitty ‘Lucy Furr’ as she goes on a quest to find and rescue her furrends from the cage of loneliness. Be sure to avoid those dangerous pitfalls and cucumbers, as you shoot love hearts at the bad dogs and birds trying to keep Lucy Furr from freeing her furrends. Recently chosen by Alternative Press as one of ’10 Genre-Bending Bands You’ve Probably Never Heard Of’– Catholic Guilt write raw, emotional and disarmingly honest music for the internally conflicted masses, blending elements of punk, folk and alt-rock to create a sound they describe as honest music.” We get singer Brenton to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Our vision with This Is What Honesty Sounds Like was to present five different human experiences: isolation, frustration, love, anger and loss, in a way that showcased the ongoing musical evolution of our band, without sacrificing any of the emotional intensity. On the surface these are very honest punk rock songs, songs that wear their heart on their sleeves and yet we’re presenting them with a level of musicality that is a step above anything we’ve achieved previously. I think the second part of that, the step up in musicality is what people will start to unearth after a few listens.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized that you wanted to be a musician?

Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the 90’s in a house with two older siblings whose tastes heavily influenced mine. My brother especially so, him being a teenager as the grunge explosion happened, meant that our house was this exciting blend of rock and alt genres. So there was grunge, metal, punk, alt-rock, oz rock and hardcore blasting out of his bedroom speakers at pretty much all times and that really set the stage for my musical discovery and tastes. I loved all of it and I still do, but what really hooked me was the punkier stuff, and the same was true for my sister, she took me to a lot of my first punk rock shows and that’s what made me want to be a musician. It took about a decade, until high school, for me to realize that I could actually make that want a reality!

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

It’s not particularly cool or clever or whatever to say it, but Nirvana’s In Utero record had a major impact on me. I loved Nevermind, it’s a great fucking record, but something about In Utero just hit me harder and it set me off on this path of musical discovery, that and Smash by The Offsping, because that introduced that whole so-cal punk vibe to my world. I never got to see Nirvana, but I’ve seen The Offspring a lot and while I’m not huge on a lot of their modern work, I’d be lying if I didn’t say they influenced my life’s trajectory. I mean I sing in a fucking punk band signed to a Californian indie now!

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

This is a tough question. There’s so many! My answer would probably change for this every day, but for today I’m going to say in alphabetical order, Against Me!, Bad Religion, Frank Turner, Thrice and The Wonder Years. The cool thing about our band though is that you could ask this question of the other four guys and you’d get completely different lists every time. Which is the secret to why we sound the way we do. We do have some shared influences, but they’re not dominant ones. I love it.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Again this answer would probably change every day, but for today I’m going to say Daniel Johns from Silverchair. He has such a unique sound to his voice and such an odd musical palette. He’s like a grunge Brendon Urie in this regard. I’d be interested to see what would add to what we do, plus, anything to get him back to playing rock music has to be a bonus! Or Hayley Williams would be interesting. She’s got an incredible voice and her recent solo record shows an interest in some more off-kilter sounds. Her profile would help too! Not gonna lie! Again, not particularly punk responses, but who cares, the whole point of a collaboration is to bring in new ideas and new audiences.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

We’re a punk rock band who write honest songs and serve up hook-laden harsh truths with a side of hope. Or “if you like The Menzingers and Against Me! you might like us” has been known to work. Most people are pretty good at picking up where we’re coming from, but we do genre-hop a bit so we
have been known to get a wild comparison here and there, one person said to me that we sound like Blink 182, which I mean… we write poppy punk songs sometimes, so I guess but yeah, maybe instrumentally. Now I personally get compared to Anthony Kiedis a lot for my general appearance and on-stage mannerisms. That’s a bit odd, because RHCP are definitely NOT an influence of ours. Drunk people are odd.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Oh this is easy! James our drummer cooks, he’s genuinely an incredible cook, his home cooked meals are Michelin star worthy I swear! Bryce, one of our guitarists works at a craft brewery, so he is definitely in charge of beers, while James and Ben, our bass player would tag-team it on wine selection, while I’d bring my own kombucha! Dean, our other guitarist is definitely the one on the acoustic guitars belting out a tune, that man loves to sing and with good reason, he’s an amazing singer, but it wouldn’t take much to have us all pissing off our neighbours by singing into the wee hours of the morning. I want to do this now! Damn you, COVID-19!

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

For whatever reason I’m not particularly prone to getting starstruck, but the closest thing I remember is probably a toss-up between meeting Shawn ‘HBK’ Michaels at an airport or meeting Eddie Vedder backstage at the Sydney Big Day Out on year after being introduced randomly by former NBA player Brent Barry of all people! Those two threw me a bit.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

The feeling that you get when you’re on stage performing a song that you’ve put you all into and you look out at the audience and there’s someone singing those words back at you with an intensity that tells you ‘they understand’, THAT feeling is incredible. I’m fortunate enough to know and appreciate what it feels like to be the musician and the fan in that scenario and that connection, that energy, that moment, that is nirvana. Every moment is pretty great though. I kind of have my dream job! I’m a music journalist and podcaster, but I’m not at a level that is sustainable to live off of. So. I’d like to do that, but on a bigger, broader level. I’d love to just be able to talk and write about the things that I love and that inspire me, everyday. I love people. I love music. I love conversations. Let me have conversations with people about music all day and I’ll be golden.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Probably something fun, like what my choice for wrestling entrance theme would be, my answer to that is We’rewolf by Every Time I Die! That cowboy and the general vibe of the song would be a hoot! Anything random like that. As for a question I am tired of answering, nothing springs to mind particularly at this stage, as far as I see it, if someone is willing to give me the gift of their time, by listening to our music and thinking about it deeply enough to prepare an interview, then I more than owe it to them to answer their questions, even if it is the twelfth time that day I’ve answered it.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I probably would have not bothered with my previous band and just started this one earlier. I sat on this for a couple of years, and let the ideas ruminate, because I was a little burnt out by what I’d experienced. During that time I just immersed myself in music, as a fan again and found what I thought was going to be my solo sound that in fact was the starter kit for Catholic Guilt! Having said that life is a journey and the people I have alongside me in the band now, and our team, I could only ever have met when I did. So unless there’s a way for me to meet them earlier, and get this underway then, leave it be!

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Again, so many choices, for so many different reasons, but I’ll give you one that you might see coming and one that you might not. The Shape of Punk to Come’ by Refused. It’s one of my all-time favourite albums and I’d love to be in the room to absorb the wild creative energy responsible for its creation. The way that record fucks with hardcore conventions, changed how I thought about punk music, forever. Grace by Jeff Buckley. The vocal performances on that record are astounding. I’d love to have been in the booth while Jeff was tracking those parts, so I could absorb a little bit of that magic, maybe take in some of that ability, somehow.

BONUS QUESTION – Due to the current world situation with COVID-19 / quarantine / shelter in place, what have you discovered you miss the most from your life before the pandemic struck?

Outside of my friends and family, who I miss dearly, the answer is live music. I miss rehearsing, I miss playing shows, I miss going to shows, I miss the feeling of being at a show, surrounded by other people who are as high on that connection that music gives us as I am. It is so much of my life. So much of my identity. It sort of feels like life has been on an indefinite hold since the end of The Menzingers show on March 14. I haven’t seen my bandmates in three months. The first time we step on stage again it is going to be magical. I think I’m going to go to or play a show every night for a year after this passes!





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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