In this installment of The Band’s Perspective, we spoke with the talented classic psych rock band, Fractal Cat. It’s always great to listen and learn from bands who play genres that are less than commercial, but artistically sound. Guitarist, Miles Gannett shared a bit of his vision and experience of being a founding member is his long running musical project and how they maneuver through balancing their time with art and the business side of music.
Tell us bit about how Fractal Cat got started and how the band has evolved.
It started around 2007 when I started playing with Jason Baker, our drummer. He and I began recording my song “Spiral Slide,” which eventually became the first Fractal Cat single. I was also playing with Keith Jones around the same time as the lead guitarist for his solo project. Because my songs and Keith’s songs were stylistically similar, and because he and Jason and I were friends, it made sense for Keith to join the band. We played our first show in 2010 at an art opening in Baltimore. Since then Andy Myatt joined the band as our bass player, and Joe Clark joined as our sound designer/computer musician.
Are you working on any new projects?
Yes, a new album, tentatively titled Lovingkind. It’s going to be a little more “pop” than 2012’s The Eye in the Dawn, but also more experimental in some respects.
What is it like to be an independent band in 2014?
Well, so far it seems as though no one really knows where music as a “business” is going. At the same time, it has gotten easier and less expensive for bands to do a lot of the things that were traditionally in the hands of record labels, like distribution, or making music videos. What independent bands don’t have is the money that big labels have, which is the labels’ main resource for making bands visible.
What are your goals for the next year?
We’re hoping to release our second album, begin recording our third, and to play more festivals and out of town shows.
Do you still feel like record labels are necessary?
I don’t know. They are still powerful, because they have money and connections. It has become clear that the traditional model is usually not in the best interest of the artists, but it could be that some of the indies have a balance between decent resources for minimal sacrifice of royalties or creative control.
How do you stay balanced in regards to having very lofty goals, and finding that you have to take very realistic steps?
Working as a group really helps. We all have different strengths, which we lend to the band. Keith is much more organized than I am, and he helps keep me accountable and keeps track of our schedule. Jason is our taskmaster in rehearsal; he keeps us on track and works on improving the group’s musicianship. We have enlisted our friend Mike Franklin to engineer the recordings for the new album, so we come up with a plan for each session and we do our best to knock out the task at hand each time we meet. Things still take longer than we would like, but working in a dedicated group makes it much easier to stay focused on our goals.
You’re recording your new album in your home studio? Was that choice because of aesthetic or budget?
Yes. Well, a combination of budget and freedom, I guess. I am just used to producing my own musical ideas, which tend to be a little weird. Also, since we have our rehearsal space in my studio, we can leave equipment set up, which saves time. Working with a recording engineer this time is making things run so much more smoothly! He really knows what he’s doing, and I am able to relax and be one of the musicians a little more. I’m also learning a lot just from watching how he sets up the microphones, gets input levels, etc.
Do you plan to be financially successful from making music?
Do you have any advice for young indie musicians?
Have fun and don’t get discouraged. Keep the love of music as your motivating force, and don’t let setbacks or petty disagreements bring you down.