With a new line-up, Albury’s Catnip Kaiser are about to release their latest single ‘Sunshine’ featuring Ionei Heckenberg from Ocean Sleeper. Vocalist Jack McDonald and I had quite the chat recently. From our shared love of Ionei, to the bands new single, to what the band have been doing with a member of The Amity Affliction!!! The passion and emotion on Jack’s face while he was telling me all about where Catnip Kaiser are heading was one of the best interview moments I have had.

So you guys have got a new single ‘Sunshine’ coming out?

We do indeed. Featuring the wonderful Ionei Heckenberg

I was excited to see his name pop up

He’s been my music mentor. We actually recorded the song this time last year, so we have been sitting on it for a while. We’ve had s few line up changes and we sat on it until we felt that it was the right time to release it.

It’s probably a good time coming towards the end of the Covid shit

Yeah 100%.

Tell me about the new single

The new single is called ‘Sunshine’ and obviously features Ionei from Ocean Sleeper. At the time when we were recording with Ionei I was going through a pretty big breakup. Ionei basically said righto tell me what you are feeling. I told him everything and he was like okay cool how does this sound and he just, he’s unbelievable, he just went up to the microphone and just banged out the chorus. I was like perfect!! That’s exactly what I want. From there we built the song around that. I definitely think that it is the best song that we have done as a band. It’s definitely the direction that I wanted to take in terms of the whole pop-punk side of things. Yeah its just catchy as all hell

Yes it is 100% catchy, its so good to see pop-punk making a resurgence in Australia

Absolutely. The big thing with it all, the first EP that we did, I wasn’t entirely a huge fan of. I thought it was very limiting in terms of what we could have done as a band. I felt it was a little bit weak, in terms of the song writing department. I thought that it could have been done a lot better and when I met with Ionei and told him what I wanted Ionei knew 100% exactly what I wanted. I think that this single is going to define what out next release, in terms of an album, is going to be. He is just unreal.

Yeah he sure is.  When they release the reimagined version of Six feet he sent it to me to listen to. It’s my go to song when I’m having a shit day. I’d had a really stressful day and messaged him back to let him know I was sitting in my car bawling!

Yeah a lot of Ocean Sleeper stuff hits me in the feels personally too. I was actually in Bali when they released their album and because all the time zones are different I’d set an alarm for when I was able to access it. I reckon I listened to the full album three times before I went to sleep that night. It was just amazing. I sent Ionei a message saying dude I’m in tears.

They are the nicest bunch of guys

Absolutely they are

See this is what happens I get side tracked!!! Catnip Kaiser has a new line-up?

Yes we do have a new line-up. Actually you are the first person to hear this… We are also happy to announce that we are working on a new song with Dan Brown from The Amity Affliction.  He’s doing all the guitar work on it.

Holy shit

Yeah! I hit him up on Instagram. Amity Affliction are my all time favourite band so it’s obviously a huge deal. I just sent him a message asking him if he’s be keen on working on a pop-punk song and he was great. He was all for it and we were like can we get you on as a feature artist for the guitar and he said yes. I got sent the first demo of it last night and phoar it’s awesome. I’ve always wanted to try and dip into the dark side of pop-punk. Sum-41 used to do it so well. I told Dan that I wanted a dark kind of track. And he’s just come with this incredible, incredible, incredible song  (times like this I wished I knew how to edit because the look on Jack’s face when he was telling me this was so amazing to see) So we will be working on that one with him very closely and I think a part of the reason behind that is with the new line-up I have this new drive to do stuff. Especially in Albury/Wodonga, we are a relatively small community of musicians and I wanted to try and do something that no one else had done. Getting someone like Dan Brown to come on for a song is huge.

Not a bad start. Ionei on your first release with the new line-up and Dan Brown on your second!!!

We have definitely been lucky with all of that. The boys in the band just love music and they were real enthusiastic about it. The new line-up is extremely talented. Up until now I’ve done all the organising, song writing although I did a bit with one of the former members. I was taking on a lot of the workload in terms of that kind of stuff.  It led to me becoming very exhausted. With these new boys, one of them has already sussed out a heap of gigs regionally. They are all writing songs and sending me different parts put together and it’s phenomenal. I’ve never been a part of something like this. I’ve never been a part of a line-up where you have 5 song writers all coming together.

That’s awesome. And with the resurgence of pop punk you will have plenty of bands to tour with. So who is in the new line-up?

Our new drummers name is Blake Furness. He actually had the really cool experience of getting up on stage with Keith Urban and playing drums for him which is pretty huge. He is a very experienced drummer I actually went to school with him and I didn’t like him at the time because he was dating the girl I liked! Haha. Then he hit me up on Facebook because he was looking for some drum work and I was like funny you asl because I need a drummer. He’s a super cool dude, and a really switched on drummer and very powerful. He hits harder than anyone I have met.

Then we have Josh Armstrong on bass. We are also going to try a little Day To Remember kind of thing and have some screaming vocals on a few of our tracks. That’s Josh’s forte. He loves Confession, Amity and Parkway. All that kind of stuff so I thought we could use that and do something a little bit different.

Jayden Lehmann is our new lead guitarist and he’s also going to be our producer for a lot of our stuff. He’s local to the area and it’s hard to travel and we are right on the border which means if we go into Victoria to far we have to isolate for 14 days. It’s handy having him so close.

Than we have Jack Mills who is our rhythm guitarist. I was rhythm guitarist originally but it’s a chance for me to step back from the guitar for a couple of songs and focus on being a front man. One of my biggest front man heroes is Oli Sykes so I’m keen to do a bit of Oli kind of stuff.

I’ve actually had That’s The Spirit on this afternoon having a sing along!

Our new album is going to be a bit of That’s the Spirit inspired. In terms of how they wrote that album. They took a step down from the heavy stuff and its almost like a pop punk, emo, alt-rock kind of thing. A lot of the ways that was written have inspired me with the songs I write.

So you’re doing an album not an EP?

Yeah with the ability to actually produce it all locally with Jayden we thought why not just try and do an album. We have a heap of songs that are ready to go and we all personally feel that they are really good songs. So we thought we may as well try and take that next step and go all out.

It’s much easier when you can do it all yourself with no time restraints.

Especially with Dan Brown, he’s pretty far away so everything is done over a distance. Everything is over email.

This day and age you can get your music out there yourselves.

For sure. We use Distrokid to distribute our music. That was the first one I got introduced to in terms of getting your music out there onto Spotify and all that. It’s been simple so far; I’m shocking with technology so it’s good when something is nice and simple.

Do you have some songs in the bank already or just these two singles?

Yeah we do. I’m someone who constantly writes. It’s sort of a similar situation I find myself in as Joel Birch from Amity describes his writing. I usually only write late at night or I have some things going on. I’m very open in talking about being someone who has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Having the outlet to be able to write, maybe not anything in particular, it might just be putting thoughts on a page. They don’t flow or anything like that but if I have a melody and can just grab them and put them in. I reckon personally I have over 20 songs ready to go and whatever has potential we’ll put it in. It’s a nice release because I guess you could say I feel so much. There’s always plenty of songs around.

I can relate to the depression and anxiety and I think that is what draws me to the metal community. People are so open about it.

100%. In the Albury/Wodonga area we a have a real strong and passionate fan base. But I think a lot of it has come from how deep some of the songs dive in. We had a song called Grey that we released last year that went number 1 on the Triple J Unearthed punk and rock chart. From there I started getting messages from people out of the blue that I didn’t even know, one was even from America, saying I just wanted to say thanks because your lyrics have done this, this or this for me. That was really special. If what I feel, as bad as it may be, can help other people then that is a big driving force behind everything that is written.

Your not afraid to put it out there.

Music is a vulnerable thing. You certainly make yourself vulnerable when you do write songs because basically all songs that are written are coming from your heart. You really open yourself up to heaps of people. Anyone can listen to it and your saying hey this is my story. There is no hiding it.

Any last words.

Thanks for having me, I really appreciate it. Also thanks to Ionei for putting me on to you!  ‘Sunshine’ is out November 27th and it’s available for pre-order on iTunes and presave on Spotify. (see link below)

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