By Jordan Mooney.
I’ve no doubt you’ll all remember Doctor Caligari’s last foray at Cat on the Wall. Blood on the carpet, a strange jar of green…stuff, left on the chair, it was chaos.
We were naturally a little scared of letting them back into the metaphorical COTW towers, but when we were duly informed they had ‘cleaned up’ a touch, we decided to trust them and allow them back into our luxurious offices to tell us about the changes in their realm.
Two fires later, six dead interns and a couple of broken windows, we were eventually informed that, in fact, they meant their sound had been cleaned up a touch, not them themselves. And that we’d run out of custard creams.
So yes, Doctor Caligari, on the musical side at least, has seen a few changes, and it would be fair to say they’re pretty large ones, perhaps – a new vocalist, a new mix, cleaner sound, certainly, but the group itself? The ideals, the concepts..? All very much the same as ever it was – dirty, covered in blood and, of course, the sort of group those ‘mature’ folks would waggle a discerning finger towards.
Our new vocalist, one Miss Sarah Griffiths, is a fine addition to the group’s roster, and with her has changed the general image of the still freshly-pulsating Doctor Caligari. Instead of the filthy, raw, whisky fuelled voice of Mr. E, we’ve got smooth, silky and even rather sultry sounding vocals, dripping with enthusiasm – and a fair amount of volume! A femme fatale, per se – and it benefits the entire sound.
I feel it impossible to resist likening it – and do excuse me here, as I delve into my deep love of classic horror pictures- as a Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein situation. The eponymous monsters had a direct contrast – one was a deep, bellowing, ugly sort of beast, the other, well, was actually not that bad looking a creature. She was generally a touch more graceful, more beautiful – a refined creation upon the original.
It’s as if the Doctor has decided to spruce things up to infiltrate a little easier, a new laboratory, new facilities, cleaner, more practised.
That’s not to say, of course, the music itself has lost any bite. Every inch of that wanton evil is still in place, and the bassy sounds we complimented so heavily when they were last with us still chug away like some sort of possessed steam hammer, but are now provided by a permanent strummer!
It’s still blood encrusted, still sinister, and still gleefully dirty – but I feel it suddenly runs a touch more efficiently. And somebody’s painted it.
We decided to sit down with Jonny Horror, resident shredder and scribe, to ask some questions about the latest incarnation of our favourite horror themed Cardiff-based nasties.
COTW: Welcome back to Cat on the Wall, Mr. Horror – you’ve still got that red liquid on your hands. How are you?
DC: I’m great thanks, it’s a different red liquid to last time! I hope you had a great Christmas & a happy new year to you, and all of you reading this.
COTW: We understand there’s some changes going on in the laboratory. Would you care to tell our readers about the new developments in your dark, dirty little patch of hell?
DC: Yes! Since the last time we’ve gone through a bit of a change, Doctor Caligari has a new vocalist and has secured a permanent bass player and drummer.
COTW: Tell us about your new vocalist. Who is she? Has she had experience in the past? Did you dig her up locally..?
DC: Our vocalist is Sarah Griffiths. She has an incredible voice and has recently completed an Opera degree in the Royal Northern College of Music. Despite her love of Opera, she’s massively into the Psychobilly genre. When she moved back to Cardiff she was looking to either start a band or join one, we were lucky enough to approach her with something she was interested in.
COTW: What brought all of this on, then? Did the good Doctor just fancy a polish..?
DC: Well it’s a bit of a drawn out story, unfortunately it’s not one of a huge falling out a rock n’ roll meltdown!
Doctor Caligari was never meant to be a “band” as such, it was a studio project, which featured a session drummer & bassist. It was quite well received so me and Gary (vocalist) attempted to make it a band, but that didn’t happen.
We had a Halloween gig booked so the aim was to get a lineup for that (and for the future), I’d been jamming with Gavin as Gwyn (the drummer for the two gigs we played) was expecting his first born around then so he, understandably, was unavailable. We met Mike (bass player – formerly of “The Wreck Scene”) who was keen. The initial mindset was to attempt to get Gary onboard, but the distance between us three and him is quite a stretch and it wouldn’t have worked.
It made sense to make the break when we met Sarah and I’m glad we did, otherwise by all accounts Doctor Caligari was dead: there would not have been new releases, or gig opportunities.
COTW: Do you think there’s any other tinkering in order?
DC: In terms of personnel, I’d like to think not. In terms of sound, we went for a bit of a cleaner feel in the tracks that Doyley (Camden Studios) Mixed & Mastered, which hopefully can be developed further.
COTW: And what are your plans with this new, and, no doubt, better than ever line up?
DC: Well we’re a new band, so we’ve been working on our live set. We re-recorded some of the existing tracks as a stopgap to send to some promoters and are working on a new release, which will most likely be a 5 or 6 song EP. We want to play live and to utilize Video content in 2014.
COTW: Thank you again for visiting Cat on the Wall! …Er…can you wash your hands next time?! Good luck for the future, and we’re sure we’ll be seeing you again soon!
DC: Thanks for letting me in and thanks for all of your support, it’s really appreciated – I’ll do my best!
As he left, the dust cleared, and the ceiling fan, hanging oh-so precariously from a solitary cable, fell upon the final remaining intern.
Doctor Caligari are a group that I’ve no doubt have a big place in the psychobilly scene – they’ve got great potential, now, greater than ever before, and I truly wish them the best of luck. We’ll be there every step of the way – and I hope you, my dear reader, will join us. This is one to look out for!
(Seriously, be careful around them!)
Doctor Caligari’s re-recordings of three songs from their original EP, with the lovely vocals from Miss Griffiths, were made available – completely free – from the 24th of December. How can you possibly resist?
Please note Cat on the Wall is not responsible for any of the resulting circumstance you may find yourself in after visiting these pages…