Q&A: City Of Caterpillar’s Ryan Parrish On Gender Labels And Underground Ethics



caterpillar cityRichmond, Va.’s formative days in the late ’90s and ’00s were shaped by both sparse crowds and a fiercely loyal network of bands and musicians. Many of these musicians never lost sight of each other. “Even the people from our early shows are still doing things for each other,” says original COC drummer Ryan Parrish (also of Iron Reagan) who joined the band after it was inactive for nearly two years. decades. “When you’re around people who make you feel like you can do something, it builds confidence. Sharing energy energizes everyone.

City Of Caterpillar’s self-titled debut album – a hard-to-categorise record sometimes labeled post-rock or shouto – became hugely influential in the years after the band broke up in 2003. This posthumous interest led to a series of shows at from 2017 and finally to the unlikely return Mystical Sistersdue September 29 of relapse. The album retains the vitality and innovation of the first record while further exploring dynamics and loops. It might be one of the most unlikely albums released on Relapse this year but (for this writer) it’s one of the best albums of the year. Parrish told us about the history of the band and how Mystical Sisters past.

Where did you leave things when the band first broke up?

I was in the group from the beginning but I left earlier. We toured a bit, released a demo and a live seven, and then we went all the way. Right after check-in, I left. I was on Darkest Hour at the time and was overwhelmed but they kept going. After that, they toured a lot and had a few demos, but people just sort of listed the spark. He (the group) has disappeared.

The shows have never been very crowded. Sometimes there were five people. We played in basements and abandoned buildings and outdoors. Some of the best shows were up north in a basement. Not all of them were uncrowded – there were lots of bands building the scene. They looked like they were still busy after I left so it was shocking to see it fall apart.

When you made the first album, did you think it was just a project? Did you think he had legs?

I did it. I didn’t want to leave but I had too much to do with Darkest Hour. I’ve always loved being in the band with the guys and they’re top notch musicians. I always knew there was something special. But at the time, I didn’t think about stuff like that. There was no realization that we were becoming popular or making a difference. We just played anywhere that would have us.

There’s something to be said for the purity of that – creating without expectations.

The band doesn’t exist for anyone – it exists for the music we make. Brandon (Evans, guitar and vocals) has always said it’s never been about us – it’s just about trying to work the music together. Music has always been the center of attention.

It seems like if you bury something in the garden for two decades it will become a thing.

(Laughs). That was a shocking part of it – realizing after all this time that people cared or were starting to care. It’s not that we haven’t met these people, but we haven’t met thousands of them. The reunion shows were flattering because a lot of people seemed to care. It felt like we had done something and were totally unaware of it. It’s remarkable how much good music gets overlooked.

Reunion Shows

After the reunion concerts, did you immediately think that you still had something?

We just wanted to see if we could still play those songs. When I made this record, I was never able to tour on it or play these songs live. I could never support him. It felt like a closure for me to play those shows. One show turned into another pretty quickly and it escalated. We were all happy to do it but we never discussed a record during that time. It was about seeing how things felt. After these shows, everyone went back to their lives. When Jeff (Kane, guitarist) came back to Richmond, we started talking about making a record. Brandon was still in New York then and they started toying with ideas. When Brandon came back here, it froze. When everyone was in Richmond, we could take some of those ideas and bring them to life.

Has your way of working together changed?

We are back to our way. We’re all a little more focused and can focus more on how the songs are written. At the time, we threw stuff everywhere. We still have an element of chaos but things are a bit more planned. We thought about the songs more than ever, which was an interesting new element in the process.

Has been Mystical Sisters reunited before or after the worst of the pandemic?

It was before, during and after. We did the reunion shows in 2018. Jeff and Brandon started dating before Covid. The last song on the record was the first idea we worked on. Brandon never stopped working during Covid and was isolated because he was in New York. Brandon lived through the horrific part of the pandemic in New York and none of us went there during that time. Jeff and I managed to get together a few times.

Once Brandon got here (Richmond) in November 2020 things were less crazy but still a weird time. We started working on it seriously then and into 2021, although it was still intermittent with children and families. The album was pretty much done by the end of 2021. We just had to wait for the record to come out. It was quite a process and a lot of things seemed to have to wait.

What does the title refer to?

Brandon made it up and could explain it better than me. It has to do with his family as he recently lost his father and stepfather.

Mystical Sisters

Mystical Sisters is not something I would call a metal album. But it’s on a metal label and the marketing touches metal fans. What about this that would appeal to people who are largely into metal?

We all come from heavy backgrounds. Jeff was in (the grindcore band) Enemy Soil. You don’t get much heavier than that. I grew up with death metal. Brandon’s screams in Pg.99 were brutal. We all come from Born Against style punk and metal. No matter how beautiful you make something, there’s always a dark side to our music that connects it to metal.

People who are best at heavy music usually have a voracious appetite for music.

It’s also in the eye of the beholder. We don’t do blast beats but we do rhythmic things that go way beyond pop rock and indie rock. Every song has crazy tuning and tonally it sounds mean.

Did you end up on Relapse through a personal connection?

Honestly, it was a shot in the dark. I have already worked with them on other bands but I didn’t think for a minute that they would be interested. I didn’t know if it qualified. At the same time, I said to myself that it couldn’t hurt to send them because we are from this world and we have metal bands playing with us. It was a long plan, but now some of them knew us from the early days. They have always done a wonderful job, so I was very happy with that.

Some of their bands are metal but they’re aberrant…I’m thinking of albums like Brutal Truth Need to control.

I would be totally happy if people called us metal even if the other members might not like it. There are connections to the metal sonically, so it’s not far. It makes and doesn’t make sense. (Laughs).

Genre is useful when you need to categorize albums in a record store. But with self-liberation, it matters less.

It’s anyone’s game. People are just going to make a song on Youtube now and they’re forming a band.

Where do you want to take that now that you’re a viable band?

We’ll be touring as much as we can and we’ll have stuff in the works for the rest of the year and 2023. We’ll be releasing while the record is fresh and new. We probably won’t be this hard-core game six months out of the year. But we will play – we don’t want to sit and sleep.

Let’s say this album lands with someone who knows nothing about you. How do you hope it was received?

I hope they can set aside all judgment, listen to it and understand it for what it is, and not try to categorize it. I have a deceased friend who always said the genre was obsolete. I hope people just listen to it – it doesn’t need to be categorized.

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