Pickin' Up On That Feline Beat: An Interview With Grant McAvan From Reagan Cats
Updated: Aug 20
Tenacious durability from Baltimore band Reagan Cats, inducted by Matt Kruse and Grant McAvan, and Matt Morin down the line, comes from a genorous proportion of their past days devising, making and delivering music collectively. "It's been an endeavour that we've grown up with that's been a major part of our lives; we've spent a lot of our time together since we were pretty young," reaching an intuitive state of trust and perception of how to extract the best from one another.
We've developed a lot and honed the respective influences that we each bring to our sound. We've found a nice balance in that realm. We're always trying to improve and make the best stuff that we can, so that keeps us pushing onto new things.
Grant and Matt K's relationship established way back in 1st grade of school, although the interest in hanging out piqued much later - just when music was increasing in significance in the boy's conscious: at high school. Matt's basement materialised into an investigative scratchpad; guitars were casually messed with, organically gaining momentum, advancing to songwriting and eventually recording.
It was kind of a natural progression, and we began to bring friends in as things moved forward. We’ve had a cast of good pals in the band throughout the years, and then about two years ago, we met Matt M through some mutual friends, and we played together a couple of times; he slid right in perfectly.
In 2014 when Rock was having a moment in the sun of you were to glance at pure sales, the promising band stepped under the spotlight with a merry crew: a handful of mates who supported them in the navigation of the early period when an awful lot needs to be accounted for, unravelled, figured out. They will always be grateful for the foot up.
There's been adaptation over the last couple of years - lineup changes etc. - but the same energy and feelings are still there. In terms of changes in recording, See it All was the first real chunk of time we had spent in a studio and with an engineer - Wrightway Studios here in Baltimore. We worked with Rob Girardi, who tracked everything and helped us pull the strings together a bit on the material. It was definitely a very informative experience and a place where many of the songs we had brought in had some fresh ideas and feelings injected into them.
The lads were lucky enough to travel through childhood drizzled in their families' musical tendencies, raising the curtain on world-status bands and legendry Rock 'n' Roll. Dipping their youthful, innocent toes into their first neighbourhood up-close and raucous gigs would ultimately inform the Reagan Cats sound direction and productions.
Growing up, I think all of our parents had decent music tastes that they exposed us to from a young age: a lot of Beatles, Beach Boys, British Rock. Kruse's dad was a DJ, so he always had loads of Funk, Disco, Motown and stuff like that going on too. And then, as we started to get a bit older, we were going to loads of local shows in Baltimore and stuff in DC, and that was really our first taste of seeing live music in a more intimate way like that.
As planet earth heals with a new found thankfulness for social contact, the group envisage shows over fall and winter and then, if recovery triumphs, a tour in the depths of winter and early 2022. There will likely be some new tracks for fans to expect, plus a video. Recent single See it All possesses a lavary, lavish psychedelia atmosphere, with riffs to entertain running throughout and vintage reverberation, the Last Shadow Puppets or The Coral spring to mind.
Ironically, the ace and longing number alludes to the frequency of not taking a considered step back in major situations to look down upon all avenues leading to a confirmed decision. Sometimes, following a brave detour, although scary as it is not marked on the map, can win the best result overall.
It was written by Matt Kruse. See it All is basically about realising that we are limited in our ability to know things in an absolute way. It's about an enlightenment or awakening to things and then maybe thinking you have everything figured out when the reality is that you've only just started to tap into something. It's the idea of constantly challenging your perspectives, seeing things from as many angles as possible, and how easy it is to get caught up in the delusion of certainty.
For the visualiser, filmmaker, photographer and animator Jilly (aka Jake Armstrong) was called upon again for his Midas touch of mixing mediums. Status soaring and services in demand, the virtuoso’s reputation radiates from collaborating with Aussie artists The Murlocs and Bjenny Montero. But foremost, J is a treasured companion of the R Cats and their ethos, their goals. Moments spent together creatively, but also recreationally alongside. These fellas about town ride the same wavelength.
Working with Jilly for the video was great; he's one of our really close friends, so we already spend a lot of time with him and have been experiencing his photo and video work for a good while now. We met Jake about five or six years ago, just through some friends in Baltimore. At the time, he was working on a film for school and asked us about possibly using some Reagan Cats songs. Collaborative ties started fairly early in our friendship.
When the time came for a video for See it All, it was a natural choice to have him involved. There wasn't a ton of instruction, we gave him some general colour tones and types of shots we had in mind, and then he also had a lot of the green screen and effects ideas from the start. So we got together to shoot the footage of us just kinda off the cuff with our other pal Will, who was playing guitar with us at the time (he's since moved to NYC,) and then Jake came up with the animated side of things; we just dug where he was going with it.
Article by Beverley Knight