Kat & Co bring their ‘New Spleen Blues’

Kat & Co group picSince the release of their debut album ‘I Kat The Blues’ earlier this year, Kat & Co are fast becoming the Blues Band that everyone wants see live in 2013. Highly respected by many on the Blues scene and receiving regular radio airplays in the UK and Europe, USA, Australia and Indonesia, Musicvein caught up with their guitarist, Francesco Accurso, to find out about the band’s inspirations behind ‘I Kat The Blues’.

MV: Who are the band’s influences?

FA: “As you can imagine our influences as individual musicians are vast and extremely diversified. The most obvious influences you might spot in the album are; BB King, Koko Taylor, Etta James, Mark Knopfler, Los Lobos, Diana Kroll, Ennio Morricone, Nile Rodgers, Pinetop Perkins and Five Blind Boys of Alabama.” 

MV: How have they influenced your style?

FA: “It would be hard to go through every single artist and these are just a handful of them. Each one of us was influenced in different ways by the artists. For instance BB King was a great influence in my guitar playing while Kat was equally influenced by his style as a singer. I suppose each one of these artists has something that we recognise in our work and consequently we feel that our way of writing, arranging, playing and producing the songs were indirectly influenced by their style. I am using the word ‘indirectly’ because our choices were not dictated by a will to emulate any artist but we nonetheless can recognise their influence in our work. A perfect example would be ‘New Spleen Blues’ the way Kat sings that song, especially in the opening line, reminds us of Macy Gray, an artist she loves dearly. The way the harp sounds in the opening/closing theme suggests music from a spaghetti western movie and Ennio Morricone is the obvious name of reference. Not to mention the fact that, being an Italian myself, his music is really close to my roots.”

MV: What was your inspiration behind making this album?

FA: “The Blues hasn’t been in the mainstream charts for years and we believe that’s partly due to its sound not being contemporary anymore. The idea behind Kat & Co was to re-create that sound, something well produced and capable of withstanding more contemporary genres.”

MV: How long was the album in the making?

FA: “Where it only took us 9 days to write the 8 original tracks on the album, the actual production saw us working extensively for 1½ years!”

MV: How does the creative process begin for you? Do you write the lyrics to songs first or work with a rhythm?

FA: A song can sometimes generate from a melody and/or chord production, other times from lyrics or simple groove ideas. In the case of this album, we decided to stick to very simple Blues progressions and focus primarily on lyrics and imagery. We conceived the songs starting from visual ideas for which we wrote melodic scripts. Federico works in film and both of us can relate to script and storyboards. Kat was fine with that and it was a lot of fun to work together in this way. If you listen to the song ‘Iron Rose’ for instance, the idea of an old bluesman on a quest for a fabled Iron Rose is hilarious! The old bluesman ends up in a Psychiatric hospital where, after emptying his soul to a doctor, is faced with a huge bill! The humours evident in the song line ‘…back in the day we sold it at the crossroad, now you have to pay to give up your soul.’ We tried not to take ourselves too seriously and to write stories with a bit of irony and/or sarcasm. It has been a lot of fun!”

MV: What was it like collaborating with the other artists on the album?

FA: “The Blues, as a genre, is extremely conservative and rooted in its traditions so we felt the need to get validation from those artists who make traditional blues their style of choice. It was a great honour and a blessing to receive the support of these great artists whose contribution to the album legitimised our work. Each one of them was capable of giving life to the tracks and their performances were impeccable. As a producer I couldn’t have asked for more and these guys proved to be not only incredible performers but also excellent studio musicians.”

MV: What has been the highlight of your careers so far, individually and as a band?

FA: “As individuals, we all had the pleasure and privilege to perform in front of thousands of people and that in itself is something that leaves a mark. We all constantly work at improving our skills and hopefully every new project will represent a new highlight in our career. Kat & Co is doing extremely well at the moment and our appearance at the R&B Festival in August will probably be the biggest event of our year. Charlie Musselwhite, Sugar Blue, Billy Branch and Joe Louis Walker are just some of the artists we will share a stage with.”

MV: What advice would you give to others just starting out in the industry?

FA: “This is a difficult industry and there are no guarantees of success. What I can say is that we practice a lot. Daily individual routines are complimented with regular band practices and when we are not playing we all focus on other aspects of our profession such as networking, song writing and producing. It’s only through hard work that we move on in our careers.”

MV: Finally where can people catch you playing live this year?

FA: “We will be playing on the International stage of the The Great British R&B Festival in Colne, Lancashire on the 24th August. We’ll also be performing with Little Jimmy Reed at the Blues Kitchen in Camden, London – 29th August and at the Bushey Blues Festival on the 19th October.

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