All About Me
With a debut CD on the way, things look cool for Catastrophe Me
What started as a crush between a singer and drummer became the Syracuse New Times Syracuse Area Music Awards (Sammy)-winning project known to locals as Catastrophe Me. The quintet will hold a CD release party for their debut full-length album, Hello Bella (independent), on Saturday, July 16, 9 p.m., at the Lost Horizon, 5863 Thompson Road, DeWitt.
Now married for three years, drummer Collin Brushell and singer Heather Brushell originally met nearly a decade ago at Believers Chapel in Canastota, where Collin’s father, Doug Brushell is pastor. Doug is a longtime Syracuse musician himself and manager of his son’s band.
“We knew each other from there and played there and I developed my little crush on her,” says Collin Brushell. “In doing so, I tried to spend more time with her by getting her involved in a band with me and that’s how the whole thing kind of came together.”
Around 2006 the Brushells teamed with guitarist, cellist and vocalist David Lupi in an effort to really bring a band together, but the group didn’t culminate until 2008 when rhythm, lead and acoustic guitarist Kyle Agley and bassist Andy Miller came aboard. (New bassist Dean Anthony recently joined the fold following Miller’s departure.) Catastrophe Me began playing both original and cover material and by September 2009 had a demo printed that became both a marketing tool and a useful basis for what would become Hello Bella.
“It was never supposed to be a released CD,” says Collin. “We printed quite a few more than we needed, so we just started selling them at gigs and people seemed to like it.
So the more we sold, the more we bought and we put all the money we’ve been saving from gigs to try and make a real CD.”
Hello Bella, recorded at Moletrax Studios and mastered by Jason “Jocko” Randall of More Sound Studios, shows the growth of the band, something both Brushells are proud of, but especially the vocal content.
“I think I have matured in the lyrics,” says Heather Brushell, primary composer of Catastrophe Me. “It’s not just that I have to write a song every time I’m angry. I can write a song when I’m really happy or write a song about something completely separate out of my life and not about me. Or write a song about how much I hate winter.” She does just that on the CD’s fourth track, “Winter.”
The album effectively captures her mixed emotions, with her clear voice shining on many numbers, including “Fade to Gray,” “Winter” and “Love Spell.” Like her influences, Amy Lee of Evanescence and Lacy Sturm of Flyleaf, Heather’s lyrics and melodies allow her room to explore a variety of feelings throughout the album, most dramatically when she rises from a whisper to a bursting vocal climax in “Hello Bella.”
The song, written in reference to what Heather’s Italian mother called her when she was young (bella means beautiful in Italian), comes full circle. Heather’s own 4-year-old daughter Sophia, pictured in the mirror on the album’s cover, sings along with the song, which is Sophia’s favorite of the album, according to her mother.
The CD is driving, but not overpowering, bringing weight to tunes like “Double Spell” and “Catastrophe Me,” while carefully maintaining a balance between metal-tinged guitar work and Heather’s sensitive vocals. The instrumental track “Der Dritte Marz” let’s the boys rock out, while “It’s Over” gives space for a funky, fast bass solo near the end of the song.
Hello Bella is currently available from online music stores iTunes and CD Baby, although the band hopes to score a distribution deal that will allow them to infiltrate larger CD carriers.
Although the band wouldn’t reveal any major surprises for Saturday’s Lost Horizon event, the lineup of opening acts—including Nine Ball from Utica, Young Blood from Rochester and Syracuse’s own Undergang—is enough to have Collin excited. “Undergang – they are just them,” he says. “They are intense and we were more than happy to work with them. We’re hopefully gonna have a little bit of fun on stage. We’ve got some ideas kickin’ around. . . ” Admission is $7. For the Lost lowdown, call 446-1934.
Born Again Rebels. Run for Your Life (independent). This Syracuse trio was formed eight years ago when brothers Gary (guitar and lead vocals) and Alan Haydu (drums) teamed with bassist Eric Maliszewski during high school. Labeled as a “hard rock band with a southern rock/metal twist” by the indie music website reverbnation.com, Born Again Rebels has issued Run for Your Life, a follow-up album to their 2008 achievement It’s Your Doomsday (independent).
The Rebels, who nabbed two 2009 Syracuse New Times Syracuse Area Music Awards (Sammys) in the People’s Choice categories for Best Band and Best Live Band, will hold a CD release party at the Lost Horizon, 5863 Thompson Road, on Friday, July 15, 9 p.m. Also on the bill: Caustic Method, Interrogate, When Everything Fails, The Bastard Squad and Truman Highway. Admission is $5 for ages 21 and over, $10 for ages 18 to 21; call 446-1934 for details The Rebels’ sound, influenced by manic music mainstays such as Pantera and Alice in Chains, is especially evident during several standout tracks on Run For Your Life, including “Pretending,” “Little Lady,” “Dreams” and “Pick Me Up Again.” Drawing from their southern rock comparison, the song “Singin’” evokes thoughts of ZZ Top gone metal.
The band will mount a quick summer tour of the Eastern Seaboard, with stops in Rochester on Sunday, July 17, and Aug. 5 (locations to be announced), with another local gig sandwiched in at the Fusion Room, 3705 Brewerton Road, North Syracuse, on July 29. For a Rebels rundown, visit myspace. com/bornagainrebels..
Turnip Stampede. Can You Hear What This Looks Like? (Schmelltone Records). From the first seconds of Turnip Stampede’s latest record, your feet start tapping and you can’t help but bob your head and pulse your shoulders back and forth. On “About Today” they lay down a thick, funky groove right away, with building layers of drums, percussion, guitar, bass, keys, horns and finally vocals. The boys of the Stampede come across quirky quickly with track titles like “The Flarfalarianalowe” and there’s even a message in the album’s liner notes (signed “sincerely from Blempt,” whoever that is) that describes a distant planet named Frempt, where Premptularian Arfinkwhales peer at Earth. They felt sorry for us humans and decided to send us help in the form of Turnip Stampede. How thoughtful!
Luckily, the Stampede follows through on their mission, delivering a creative mix of funky tunes sung by the equally talented Adam Fisher and John McConnell. “The Unickhorn” section arranged by Tom Witkowski adds an explosive alternate dimension to songs like the reggae jam “Open Soul” and the laid-back “Verona,” complete with a meandering sax solo played by Mike Dubaniewicz.
The album’s hook rests with the skill of the players, as they weave in and around each other, punching out the jams at times and mellowing out at others. The sounds of Turnip Stampede are a perfect complement to an outdoor summertime day-to-night shift, bringing the heat yet keeping it cool all at the same time.
Turnip Stampede will celebrate the release of Can You Hear What This Looks Like? at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 246 W. Willow St., on Friday, July 15, 10 p.m. There is no cover charge. For Dino details, dial 476-4937.