If you were to ask me which bands played a large role in my life, I would probably say Chicago and Backstreet Boys. I was one of those people who would spend weekends singing along to the LPs tucked away in the living room. I’m proud to say I know all Chicago’s songs, know ‘Conga’ by Gloria Estefan, and thought I was enough of a soprano to sing along with Sarah Brightman in Phantom of the Opera. Note: I’m actually an alto but I thought I had the opera down.
Where am I going with this? While I have a taste for older music, I was influenced greatly by the renowned bands of the 90s/2000s. Backstreet Boys, Good Charlotte, TATU, Evanescence, Sum 41 and many more. What really stuck with me is the pop-rock/emo bands from the early 2000s. When you are driving in a car with a single CD player you learn where your loyalties lie. Mine was with Evanescence, The Fratellis, Maroon 5 and Fall Out Boy. If Catalina Skies had a global reach at that time, they would probably join the list. In fact, if they had even existed at the time, they would have joined the list.
Every band has some tale to their formation and Catalina Skies began when vocalist Craig Surace met lead guitarist Chris Macmorland at an after-work drinks event. Notorious for bringing out the worst in people, Macmorland and Surace began discussing the greatest lyrics ever written with one supporting ‘Ice Cream’ by Muscles. The drunken dispute uncovered a lot about the lads, particularly their love for music’s narrative power. Joined later by drummer Sean Hanrahan and bassist Liam Priestnall, it seems the after-work argument resulted in something good and not a regrettable experience.
The latest release from Catalina Skies is their track ‘Fear King Kong’. While the influence of Foo Fighters and Enter Shikari is evident, it was Fall Out Boy that popped to mind immediately after hitting the play button. Patrick Stump has a distinctive tone to his voice making him recognisable regardless of the song or collaboration. Think about it, even if he sings backing vocals it is hard to ignore his dulcet tones. If I didn’t know any better, I would say Stump was collaborating with Catalina Skies based on the similarity between Surace and Stump. The likeness is unbelievable, and I really thought I had a FOB record playing. However, Catalina Skies trumps Stump in the track’s narrative value.
An emotionally charged track, ‘Fear King Kong’ focuses on anxiety, loss, despair and depression. Sadly, these issues are highly relatable to society, but Catalina Skies injects a ray of sunshine into the hopelessness of it all. This is the hope of hope when Surace pleads for a person to save them. As one can hear the pain behind the vocals, the skilled instrumentation emphasises this proposal. The immediate movement from heavy guitar riffs in the middle to simpler sounds with an abrupt end shows the mind behind the music.
Known for their edgy songs and energetic performance, Catalina Skies is a split-second away from infinite glory. The anthemic ‘Fear King Kong’ is easy to listen to but with a darker and deeper meaning. I can’t wait to see these London lads heading festivals beside or perhaps supported by Fall Out Boy. It won’t take long.