Blake Cateris – Vocals/Bass
Ian Knighton – Guitar
Dan Taylor – Guitar
Christian ‘Chip’ Scanu – Drums
I recently got to have an extremely big chat with Blake Cateris from Sydney punk rock band Molly and The Krells.
Hey Blake, you guys have just dropped a new single Expectations. There’s been a bit of a gap between singles for you guys which I’m guessing is Covid related.
We put out a single in February and Expectations was planned to be out in May but obviously plans had to change and we decided to hold off until we knew a little bit more about what was going on. We are just starting back up and making plans around filming a music video for Expectations. The ball is slowly getting back to rolling again.
It’s been a weird year that’s for sure.
I used to get so sick of hearing the word unprecedented, then I looked up the meaning and to be fair there is no other word for it.
In our time there has never been anything like this. It has literally shut the world down.
I guess you guys got to do your video for What Went Wrong during the lockdown gap.
Yeah we filmed that in either August or September. I’ve done a couple of music videos with a director in the past with other bands, so I was kind of familiar with the process. With Molly and the Krell’s I’m running the band where with previous bands it has been other people doing that. So I kind of underestimated how big of a task it is and the rest of the guys in the band haven’t really done it before. Even when you are working with a director and all the logistics of it, it was a big job. We finally got through it; the director Pete was a god send when it came to sorting out all the little things that you don’t think of. If Corona didn’t exist we had that planned to come out in April and Expectations out by May followed by a music video for it. We also would have had new songs recorded and ready to go. In reality What Went Wrong got filmed in September and we released it to try and get a bit of traction and traffic on the band. Then we released Expectations and we’ll get a music video out. We will probably use the same director again as he was brilliant to work with. He’s worked with Redhook on their Dead Walk video, we saw that and thought it was awesome, so I asked Emmy who they used. It turned out that Ian knew him personally, so I got him to sort out all the video jargon with Pete. It was quite serendipitous that we had that little connection.
You guys have been around since 2016?
Yeah I started the band in 2016. I was in one of my previous bands and I had a vocal coach because I wanted to learn how to sing and write songs. It just got to the point where he said that I had reached a point where I wasn’t actually the lead singer in the band I was in. If I just wanted to do back ups and harmonies I wasn’t giving myself the opportunity to improve as a singer and learn all those vital skills of singing a full set or being in front of people singing your own songs. I had a couple of other people that had the same mentality in my ear saying look you are going to plateau as a musician if you don’t front your own band. Eventually I started to listen to the music and started my own band. I started out with just some of my close friends that were already in other bands. I just asked them if they could just help me get it rolling, I wasn’t going to ask them to make it a priority because they all had their own projects they were working on. So that is basically what happened, the first couple of releases like the Relationshit EP and Losing Friends EP that we put out were a different band to what we have now. The line-up for the last 2 years has been Chip on the drums, Ian and Dan are on guitar and I play bass and sing. In 2019 we really focused on playing shows together, we built up enough new material that we could go into the studio at the end of 2019 and do What Went Wrong and Expectations. Then we started building up a plan for the next 12 months, set that into motion and got half way through a tour. We played three shows out of the four and then everything got locked down. We had 2020 pretty well planned out and then obviously it didn’t happen. So to answer your question yes we started in 2016!
I had a chuckle when I saw the Relationshit EP. That is such a good name.
I love just trying to find cheeky little puns I guess. And that was the best song that came out of that batch of cheeky little titles. That was a keeper, everyone agreed on that.
So now I guess you guys are just waiting for next year?
Yeah we had the conversation around do we continue with our plans and release music. We are kind of stuck because we couldn’t get back into the studio to record some of our newer songs because the studio was closed, or they had to drag out their dates due to restrictions. Everything has been kind of stretched out or pushed back so we were like do we just scratch our plans until we know what is happening and that was what we kind of agreed on. We did see bands continue and put out songs, do what they had to do to promote it and get it out to people but then the news seemed to be everywhere, and it seemed like there were more important things that people were focused on. So we decided to save our time and energy until we were in a bit better position which seems to be where we are at now.
I know a lot of the bands have produced stuff themselves to get music out. Have you found that your fan base has grown?
Yes. I think people have started to appreciate bands more, they have looked more into the national music scene because that is all we have really been able to do to support live music. There has been a big shift I have noticed in paying attention to and supporting local businesses and local music, all things Australian. It’s flowed over into social media, so we have had a growth in our followers and the interactions online and Spotify which has gained us some traction. That’s one of the places I’m flying blind, we have been putting out music and if people like what we are doing I hope they follow us and share it. It’s one of those things were you can’t tell people what to listen or what to like.
You kind of need to be in people’s faces, especially at the moment.
Exactly, if you lay dormant for to long people forget about you.
I think the bands with EP’s have done well with the releasing every 5-6 weeks. I think doing it that way each song is actually getting a decent listen too.
It’s such a great idea.
Who are the people that influence you?
I’m a big fan of songwriters and those troubadour kind of writers. What I try to do with Molly and The Krells is incorporate that, especially lately, kind of song writing and lyrics into an arrangement for a punk band. Like what you hear with What Went Wrong and Expectations and trying to sing about real life experiences. Expectations is kind of about something that I do on a regular basis. I have this thing were I wake up at 3am and I just lie there questioning all the choices you have made in life leading up to where you are now and whether it’s actually been worth it. You know, What am I doing with my life? Those kinds of things. I took great solace in finding out that I am not the only person who does that.
You are definitely not the only person!
Yeah. I was like oh okay I’m not an enigma! I can talk to people about this and they will understand where I am coming from. My song writing is my therapy, I have this avenue to express myself that not a lot of other people do have. I approached this song in a way where I could try and hopefully let other people know where I was coming from, they could relate to it and know that they are not alone. It’s something people do go through, those episodes of anxiety where you feel like you are walking through life but it’s a thick fog and you don’t really know what you are doing. At it’s core that is what the song is about, but I try not to dictate the meaning of the song too much because at the end of the day if you can relate to it there is no right or wrong way to interpret it. If you get something out of it then it’s a win for everyone.
Yeah so I am kind of into a lot of those songwriters and troubadours. Two songwriters have stuck with me for a long time, Butch Walker and Frank Turner. Butch has been a producer for a lot of big bands like Bowling for Soup, All Time Low, Pink and Taylor Swift. But I found that his solo career, in particular his song writing, was right up my ally. I started to hear songs he had co-produced or written with other people and I thought man this has Butch written all over it, when I looked up the song writing credits he was there. And people like Frank Turner who really just kind of tapped into speaking about your issues and the things that you are going through in life. He just has a knack for articulating it in an amazing way, really like a confessional style of song writing and that really hits home for me. Then you go into who they were influenced by and who they get their subject matter and ideas from. The past three or four years has been a good little rabbit hole of exploration.
I have been doing the same lately. Discovering more solo song writers thanks to a mate, that has led me down the same rabbit hole.
I’ve been listening to rock and punk music for long enough that I know that is where my heart is.. And being in a band environment. I do a lot of solo stuff, just me and my guitar, and I write a lot of songs that wouldn’t quite fit the intensity of Molly and The Krells. At the end of the day I love being in a band and there is no better feeling than being on stage with your friends singing music that means a lot to you. It just tops doing something solo 100%.
When it comes to bands its more about the song writer and who wrote the song. You can twist the foundations of a song, the lyrics the chords and the melody, into any arrangement that you want and there are plenty of bands out there that have a sick sound. There’s not a lot of rock music, or radio rock, that I listen to for inspiration. I pay more attention to the foundations of the song and how it flows.
So its not so much band based for you?
Yeah when we were trying to figure out where we sit and who we sound like it was a really difficult question. I find that one of the hardest questions to answer, who do you sound like. Or when you are doing the For Fans Of to try and get a ball park area to pitch your music too. I ended up just putting a Facebook status up asking who people thought we sounded like. We got back things like Greenday, Jimmy Eat World, Against Me, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus which is great because I am aware of all of those bands and American Idiot was the first album I ever brought when I was 10 years old. So it was bands that we have, even if it was subconsciously, soaked in over the years to our creative outputs. I listen to Greenday quite a lot, I really dig them and Against Me. We all had similar growth through rock music in our teenage years. I was a big Guns ‘n’ Roses fan, I even have Appetite For Destruction tattooed on the back of my leg. You know in the height of teenage years when the hormones are raging, that era of music was all about partying and having a good time. As a teenager I really responded to that. As I got older my taste matured a little bit and I tapped into punk music and what it’s all about, as a movement more than a genre.
Flogging a Dead Horse by the Sex Pistols was the first album I ever purchased with my own money.
I went down The Sex Pistols and The Ramones thing and you learn a bit about the band and what they stand for. I just found that there was so much more integrity in what these punk bands were standing for, their identity and the movement within itself. I really responded to that and really fell into it and it was all I really wanted to wrap my head around and immerse myself in. I just naturally drifted away and became disinterested in that whole 80’s kind of mentality.
I started off with Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, then moved into the Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Blink, Greenday era. Then I discovered Alice in Chains and Nirvana later down the track.
Out of that era Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains are my favourite. There is some incredible song writing on display in both of those bands.
Then while listening to Pridelands one day I randomly stumbled across Polaris, Thornhill, Deadlights and Ocean Grove. And here I am!
Polaris’s version of Black Finger Nails, Red Wine was sick, I was blown away. They turned it into a metalcore song, but it just holds true to what they do, and it suits so well.
Sorry we digressed; I do that a lot.
Oh same here, it’s a constant thing!
That’s where I am at with my influences and inspirations for music. Everyone in the band has been through the G’n’R stage and so we get into the rehearsal rooms and we just jam something off Appetite For Destruction because everyone still knows it. It’s just engrained in us! A couple of the other boys are heavily into Oasis, I only really know the hits form the band. If it’s not Wonderwall I don’t know how to sing it.
Oasis’s better songs are actually not their hits to be honest. I’m not a huge fan of them either but that is due to working in a pub when their albums where released and they were constantly on play on the jukebox. Horses by Daryl Braithwaite and Wonderwall are 2 songs that I just can’t do.
Yeah I have a few songs like that too.
When it comes to song writing and creating these Molly and The Krell songs we don’t really go into it with the idea that it has to sound like Greenday or Against Me. It feels forced when you do that. We don’t have a target; we just try and flesh it out to sound right. I forget which musician said, “If it sounds right it probably is” We go through the process with that mentality and if it sounds good we roll with it. We don’t limit ourselves to try and sound like someone else.
You’re creating your own niche sound by doing that
Exactly. And everyone is happy with the finished product. I’ll come up with the foundations of a song and when I’m happy with how that flows I’ll take it to the band, and we will turn it into a Molly and The Krells song. I’m not a guitarist so its good to have Dan and Ian who actually play guitar come in and add their own parts. It’s so important to get their input on each song because they tune it into the song that it is. Same goes for Chip as a drummer, I feel quite lucky to have him in the band because he approaches song writing from the perspective of a song writer. I’ve played with quite a lot of drummers in the past where they just want to hit the drums loud and it’s very two dimensional. Chip is quite switched on to the song writing side of things which is great, he is very tasteful in his playing – his fills are great, and he will have a good idea of where the song needs to go. It’s quite a privilege for me to play with him. There is a good bit of chemistry in the rehearsal studio when we go to flesh out the songs.
Do you guys have a few songs ready to go?
Yeah I have a handful of ideas. We have 3-4 that we have ready to go. We need to book into the studio again but as I mentioned earlier its still in that stage where everything is so dragged out because they have only been able to use one studio at a time.
So an EP or will these all be stand alone?
There’s a bit of pride to release an EP or an album, I would love to have an EP put together. At the moment it’s still looking like singles because of how we have to shuffle our plans.
They may have had to shuffle their 2020 plans but Molly and The Krells are ready to take on 2021 and beyond.