One of the most pleasant surprises this year was the sudden emergence of the Summer Cats. Left and right releases by the Melbourne five-piece suddenly popped up to brighten our days. The sunshine indiepop provided by Scott S, Scott B, Hugh, Irene and Julia made such an impression in 2008 that it's already very hard to imagine that they weren't here long before. Summer Cats Scott Stevens (vocals/tambourine/handclaps) and Scott Brewer (guitar/bass/vocals) took some time to look back with us on a year of fun and brilliant pop, and more.
Hello Summer Cats! Could you please give us a short history of the band?
Scott S: Ok! Well as a band we've been pottering around since the tail end of 2006. We seemed to come together really quickly once Hugh joined Scott and I. After that it now seems like Julia and Irene just appeared out of thin air and we started to make the racket we make... a bit like some kinda Monkees clip where band members appear with their gear and start playing mid song!
You've been quite busy releasing singles this year. There have been releases on Cloudberry, Popboomerang, WeePOP!, Knock Yr Socks Off and Slumberland. I've read somewhere that you've also wanted to release a full-length LP... how's that one coming?
Scott S: Hmmm, when you put them in a list it does seem like we've been busy eh! We recorded our LP in November and we're hoping to have it all mixed and finished by January... fingers crossed. As to when it will be coming out well we're not really sure! We're happy so far as it's only about 35 minutes long and a short pop LP is a good LP!
How do you usually put your songs together? Is this a band effort?
Scott S: Absolutely! Everyone is actively involved in the songwriting though as you'd imagine it can vary from tune to tune. We're not particularly prescriptive on how they have to start as often one of us will bring in a bit of a song and the rest of us then get to work with what remains. One thing that seems to work for us is completing a song quickly (once we start working...) as we're easily distracted.
In the past year you've shared singles with Eux Autres and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Great bands! Are you fans as well? What are other current bands that you enjoy?
Scott S: Being involved in split singles is actually pretty darn exciting. Both the The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and Eux Autres are bands we love and it was a bit like playing a gig with bands you like (you know you get in for free to see a band you would have paid to see).
2008 has been another crazy year for great releases. My favourite LP was by Deerhunter and favourite 7" was by Cocoanut Groove. But it is hard to separate as I've also been enjoying 2008 releases by: The Lodger, Je Suis Animal, Days, This Is Ivy League, Minisnap, Robert Forster... actually this list will keep on going so I’ll stop it now.
How do you find out about new music nowadays?
Scott S: Mostly through blogs like yours, friends and I still have a soft spot for the ol' Mojo magazine. It's probably gotten a little crazy to digest all the stuff I read about now that it's easier to hear what people are doing.
You're an Australian band. If at all, in what way do you think being from Melbourne influences your sound or the way the band approaches music? Do you feel part of an Australian pop community?
Scott S: It's possibly easier for someone not from Australia or Melbourne to define if we sound regional to our Southern Hemisphere locale... we can't tell! I've often thought that the distance from the rest of the world is slightly diminished in its role compared to what it was 20 years ago for Australian bands. I'd think our influences are a jumble of mostly international bands.
Pop bands are few and far between locally which does tend to make them pretty individual and noticeable when they appear around town. Bands in the past like The Sugargliders, The Cat's Miaow, The Cannanes and now like The Zebras, Crayon Fields, The Lucksmiths and The Motifs are certainly bands we feel an affinity with.
Can you share a fond music-related childhood memory?
Scott S: Angus Young from AC/DC in the jailbreak clip had the same pajamas that I had... well it meant a lot to me as a four year old...
Can you remember a specific band, album or musical moment that made you rethink music, something that made you aware of the more independent side of music?
Scott S: Hearing Red Sleeping Beauty by McCarthy and the cover of Felicity by The Wedding Present changed everything for my ears. And not long after I got to see the clip for Just like Honey by The Jesus and Mary Chain and it seemed to confirm where my musical tastes were heading. All of these songs were like secrets in Melbourne at the time, hard to hear and hard to find which of course makes you more determined to hear them!
The band is actively involved with the Knock Yr Socks Off label. Which band would be your dream-signing? Maybe more realistically, what can we expect from the label in the future?
Scott B: Dream signing huh? Hmmm, I think I've done pretty well with the bands I've released stuff for so far. Eux Autres and The Motifs are very fine company to be associated with. There are currently two LPs slated for next year; the first is by Huon (its going to be a split release with Stew Anderson's 555 label), the other one I'll keep a secret for now, but in reference to the first part of the question it does happen to be by my absolute favourite band of the last few years (that isn't Summer Cats of course!). Hopefully I might be able to do some other fun stuff but I think those two will keep me busy enough.
Back to the band! What's around the corner for the Summer Cats? Do you have an international tour or a new release scheduled that we can look forward to?
Scott S: We'll hopefully have the album out early in 2009 so fingers crossed on that. Also in the hopefully category will be a 5 or 6 track release on Plastilina also in the early part of 2009. We're dreaming also of an international tour in 2009. Apart from that we're hoping for some more 7" releases as you can never have too many 7" singles!
How and where will you be celebrating your Christmas this year?
Scott S: Ah, the best way: family, pets and fried cheese!
It'll be the same for me this year. Except for the fried cheese, perhaps. Merry Christmas!
Summer Cats myspace
Knock Yr Socks Off Records
Download (right click, save as)
1. Summer Cats - Discotèque
2. Summer Cats - Plastic Christmas trees