Interview by: Gabor Kleinbloesem
Before we will talk about CATS IN SPACE, let’s get back to the past, because Greg, you played in some legendary classic British AOR acts in the past, such as MORITZ, IF ONLY and GTS, can you tell us more about those glorious late 80s to mid 90s AOR/Melodic Rock period of your life?
Hi everyone, hope you are all safe and well. Can I start by saying thank you for such an incredible review of our new album. Saying it’s the best of its kind in 20 years is really quite something- I do of course agree 100% ha ha! Yeah that period was great for AOR music and there was a lot of it about, so it was actually hard to make headway with such competition. Moritz just couldn’t get a deal and if we had better management, we could’ve done a heap better but it wasn’t to be, but we reformed in 2008 and that was a brilliant period, to reconnect with the guys. Back in 87-91 we had a great time and it was a huge learning curve for my song writing above everything else. IF ONLY we spent over £100,000 on the album and it took so long to do, by the time it was finished Grunge was everywhere-Bad timing! But I am so proud of that record, it stands up as good as any AOR album by anyone, I think. GTS was a fun project in the 90s that kind of kept my ‘hand in’ writing wise during a really ‘anti-rock’ period in the UK but we had fun! The albums are really liked by a lot of people so that’s cool.
How was the scene back then in the UK around those years?
As I said, really competitive and there was a lot of big hair bands all looking the same and aiming for the same sound. The ‘Marquee club’ was full every night and it was a real ‘buzz time’ to be in London especially, but by late 1989 I got very bored with it and yearned to be doing stuff like Queen…I couldn’t stand the likes of Winger and Poison..etc etc etc. MTV, by 1988, dictated everything and the ‘real AOR’ stuff had changed beyond what it was.. I still loved Roadmaster, Starz, Le Roux, Balance and Journey of course.
After that we have a gap until 2015, what did you do in that period?
I moved into the tribute game for a long time, as there was no money or demand for songwriters writing the kind of stuff I liked to write. I saw friends go into techno stuff, Brit Pop, they all sold themselves, but me? I went out and played a million gigs and had a blast doing so and I earned a decent living doing so too, but the ’bug’ got me again around 2006 and I yearned to give it ‘one more go’. After a few different things like my solo album, and Moritz reforming for a while, I really decided to go for it big time….enter CATS in SPACE!
Can you tell us about the first line-up of CATS IN SPACE, how and when did you guys start this band?
Its well documented, but I was writing with 10cc’s Mick Wilson and we wanted to do a project album purely for us, just songs for us and no big plan, and ‘MR HEARTACHE’ was born. Then Steevi Bacon came along, and we just started to plan an album, and get some mates involved, so we got Andy, Deano, Jeff and Paul involved, and there was a real chemistry right from the get-go, a total fluke! and I knew there was a magic there that had to be explored much bigger than we planned! And we did!
Especially in the UK you guys re-introduced a sound that has not been heard in ages, what was and is your intention with the band?
THAT’S EXACTLY IT! There was no master plan, just some songs that took you back to the golden age of rock and pop, 70s inspired tunes that we really dug and wanted to write in a style that had no limits, like the early Queen & ELO albums. And because it came from the right ‘place’ and it was really honest I think it is that which hit so many people. As they can see the honesty. One thing music fans get bored of quickly is stuff that’s contrived. We are anything but contrived- it may be nothing new but it’s certainly quite elite in this day and age. An age where bands are trying to sound like what they ‘think’ the radio stations want them to sound like- we don’t give a toss about that. It’s all about the music as it should be. As it should sound. No compromise. Never. Everything we do comes from the right place. Like it or not we can never be accused of jumping on a trend.. our trend is 45 years old!
You know I am very excited about this wonderful new record of yours, how on earth did you find your new singer DAMIEN EDWARDS, please tell me all about him?
Damien was sent from another planet where the elite singers are born! Seriously he is such a talent I cannot begin to tell you. I’ve known Dames for a few years, and he plays in a 70s theatre show that I run. He starred in Jeff Wayne’s musical of ‘War of the Worlds’ too. He can literally sing anything, there are no limits. So I knew he had this range that could handle CATS but I didn’t know if he wanted to be in a rock band doing original stuff. I was so wrong as he really wanted to do it! He came and sang backing vocals on ‘Atlantis’ and smashed them all out in two sessions which was incredible to witness. But then with the situation that arose with us parting with Mark Pascall, I asked if he fancied trying some lead vocals. After a few warm-ups on some old stuff (which we recorded, and it literally blew us out the chair) the job was his. Done- and the sound was just another step up. His voice is a perfect fit to our music, it was always meant to be. I firmly believe that things happen for a reason, and Damien happened at the right time for us all. The songs came alive and we knew we had a very special album brewing. The whole vibe and sound have gone up another level now. Live it is going to blow people away even more.
The new album reveals a lot of influences, which albums/bands influenced you the most?
Queen and Sweet obviously! but John Miles, Jellyfish, ELO, Thin Lizzy, vintage Kiss, Starz, The Carpenters very much so too. and a heap of 70s pop music too. We bring all that to the Cats sound, again, we have no limits it’s all about the song and its melody. Melody is king.
Of course promoting the album is nowadays important for the sales of the actual record, because you’re not able to promote it live for a while. How do you feel about the current situation in the world regarding the virus?
It stinks and I don’t believe much of it, but that’s a WHOLE different story. Hey everyone! buy the album and you will read lyrics that explain how I feel personally about the situation. It’s a shitstorm. We also have an amazing video out for ‘I fell out of love with Rock ‘n roll” out on youtube.
Do you guys perform/practice at all nowadays?
Yes, we have done stuff together and separately and we have all been active throughout 2019 as best we can. Luckily the timing was such that we could get on and do the album with little drama. In fact, the delay we did have really helped get everything to a better shape, so for that we are grateful in a strange way. I don’t think Atlantis would’ve been quite the same had things been different. So I am very very pleased. It’s a weird old year! And we’ve made the finest album of our careers. There were personal tragedies this year too and a few health issues and operations to overcome so it was tough, but it ALL added such emotion into the record, we think people will hear that. For me it’s the finest music of my career, and I really love ‘Scarecrow’, but I think this tops it…
What’s the first thing you (personally and musically) are going to do when it’s finally over and freedom is ‘back’ and you can do anything you want to do again?
We will all come out and do a gig and blow people’s faces off…and I think the music fans all over the world will support their favourite bands even more and maybe appreciate the fact that we take so much for granted and say ‘we’ll catch the band next tour, or too busy etc..’ not anymore! I think people will grasp live music like never before.
Back to Atlantis, you have reached your absolute superstardom musically speaking here with this release, how on earth are you going to top this in the future?
Every album I have around 3 months after it where I get scared that I can never get close to the writing on the last album but every time I think we manage it. I won’t lie I think Atlantis has everything in it that I really wanted to do, and it is pretty much perfect which I don’t say lightly. But I have so much still to write, as indeed so do the guys. Damien writes and that’s going to be great to work with him on stuff, Steevi writes the most amazing lyrics, Jeff writes too, and also Mick Wilson and myself will write again as we didn’t collaborate on Atlantis, so there’s a whole lot to uncover yet. But, yes right now I am spent! Atlantis took every ounce of me personally but producing the record I loved every single second of it. If I have one thing that can sum me up personally it’s this album. And I think Steevi would say the same. His lyrics on two songs are wonderful snapshots of life as it has been for us this year. And the guys have played the best of their careers on every song. It’s magic.
I guess with the new lead singer there’s a lot of creativity and new energy in the band, and with the virus and no live performances, I suspect you’re already writing new songs?
I am always 12 months ahead! 3 songs on Atlantis were written during Narnia, and one was a Scarecrow song so I’m always ahead. I have a few ideas already formulating for album 5 and indeed the concept is already in place for the artwork even, we don’t waste a second, life’s short.
The previews/reviews/selling of the vinyls are all going very well I believe, I guess this makes you happy in a year where everything else seems to be standing still…
Well with so many bands shelving plans until 2021 it left a huge gap for some bands to promote new albums with less to get in the way. Bonus! Everything so far with Atlantis has outdone the previous albums. And its not even out yet, so that’s incredible to see. It’s been great as each album we’ve released we can see an upward curve each album selling more than the last one. If things continue as they are then Atlantis is going to smash all the other four albums combined! But we need Europe to get onboard more than ever and we are really pushing Germany especially. If we can get more interest over there then I think we will hit the next level up, and that’s potentially very exciting! We need people to hear us tho, so please spread the word around!!
Anything to add for yourself…
As always thank you to everyone who supports us. We strive to release the best music and the best quality packaging and merchandise. The CATS fans are incredible, and they alone have kept the band afloat throughout some choppy waters. Long may it continue, and we WILL be out playing live as soon as Felinely possible!!
Thanks for the interview and we will all wait for the end of November when the holy grail is out on vinyl…
Thanks, stay safe everyone, be nice to each other and buy our record please! You won’t be disappointed!