Sonic space monkeys Caterpillarmen are looking to get all prunky in your face!
By Bob Cluness
Ever since the release of their debut album ‘Adopt A Monkey’ in 2009, Caterpillarmen have been one of the quiet playmakers in the Icelandic music scene, slowly bubbling under the radar. 2011 saw the band crank up a gear, releasing two albums (the self-titled ‘Caterpllarmen’, and ‘Babycum’), while 2012 has seen their profile rise as they supported acts like Ceremony and tUnEyArDs (they toured through Europe with the latter). Often pegged as a prog band since their early days, the band has sought to push its musical influences and boundaries to the point where they are now appreciated and accepted by many different audiences, appealing to fans of indie rock, avant pop, or hardcore punk.
We got the lowdown from bass player Zakarías Herman Gunnarsson on what’s been happening in the world of Caterpillarmen.
Hello there Caterpillarmen! For the help of those who may not know that much about you, can introduce yourselves to our readers? Who’s the strongest out of all of you?
ZHG: Hello Grapevine, and hello readers. We’re Caterpillarmen, y’all! I’m Zakki, on bass guitar. There’s also Andri on drums (he’s the strongest), Ingimundur on keyboard, and Ísak on guitar. Ísak and Ingimundur are brothers. Now you know!
Thanks for that. Tell us a little about the origins of Caterpillarmen. I think one time I mentioned something horrid about you being held captive in a basement and forced to listen to King Crimson and Pink Floyd records.
ZHG: [Laughs] Yeah, nothing like that ever happened! Although we do listen to those bands, just not as much anymore. We’re sort of trying to expand. But I digress…
I met the guys late in 2008, when they were looking for a new bass player. We just knew each other from early on that we wanted to work with each other. So yeah… sorry about the cliché.
One term often pinned to you is “prog” as in “progressive rock.” What does that mean to you guys, if at all? In musical terms, what do Caterpillarmen represent?
ZHG: Yup, the “Ye olde prog.” Um… we started out wanting to play prog, but it’s sort of old now for us. We’re expanding our limits, diversifying. On our new album, you have a ballad, and we also have a sort of single, so we’re chilling on the prog. But by that, I mean chilling on fucking playing that genre card, you know? I still think of us as a progressive phenomenon. A punky, whatever thing.
Does that make sense?
PLAYMATES OF THE YEAR
Probably just as much as the question. Earlier this year you had the honour of playing support to the mighty tUnEyArDs on part of their European tour. Tell us a bit about that experience and add any unfounded salacious gossip. Did you steal any of their rider at all?
ZHG: Nope, we didn’t steal anything. But it was fun as hell, just really expensive though. It was awesome stuff…ugh, where do I begin?
Just getting to know those sweet people, and them actually giving us this opportunity to start for them. And getting to see them live, they rule. Merrill (Garbus, tUnEyArDs’ lead singer) is a force of nature, she’s beautiful.
Also, playing for such sweet crowds. Funny gigs. Awesome gigs, where people applauded with enthusiasm and stuff, albeit not at the first song. Most people didn’t know shit what to expect, so it was nice to win them over and stuff. But yeah, fun times, and good memories.
You recently supported US hardcore band Ceremony at their Iceland show. Some of the band moonlights in noted local hardcore outfit Manslaughter. Has this made the music in Caterpillar more angry and nihilistic? Or more the other way round?
ZHG: Yup…yup…yup… No, not really. It hasn’t had any effect I’d say.
A few months ago you tweeted a message that you were “listening to your new album unmixed.” So what’s happening with said new album? Who’s mixing it? Will there be any Jazz Odyssey on it?
ZHG: Wow, easy, what’s the rush?
Oh, sorry didn’t realise we were rushing….
ZHG: No, I kid. The album is called ‘Much Better Than God’ (in Icelandic it’s ‘Miklu betri en Guð’), and Friðrik Helgason is mixing it. It’s maybe a month or two away. It’s good! It’s nice! It’s diverse as fuck, so you can’t categorize us!
CATERPILLARMEN WILL INSULT AND AROUSE YOU?
You’re almost certain to be playing alongside several bands at the same time. Tell us WHY festivalgoers should decide to see you instead of the other?
ZHG: Man, you should see us if you want to be surprised or insulted or aroused or all of the above.
For all non-Icelandic festivalgoers, what Icelandic acts do people need to look out for? Are there any hidden gems in the dirt that need to be discovered?
ZHG: Muck, Nolo, Ojba Rasta, Plastic Gods, Sindri Eldon and the Ways, Celestine, MC Gauti, Fu Kaisha, Gísli Pálmi, Japanese Super Shift and the Future Band, Oyama, Retro Stefson, Saytan, Heavy Experience, Vintage Caravan, Thorunn Antonia, Two Tickets to Japan, Úlfur, Berndsen, Tilbury, Kiryama Family.
That’s one big list you have there.
ZHG: Oh, shit, add Agent Fresco to the list!
What’s in your pockets right now?
ZHG: Cigarettes, phone, wallet… that thing you need to access your bank over the internet.
Any other words that can describe Caterpillarmen? Can you make one up?
Catarpillarmen will be playing on Thursday November 1st, 2330 at Iðnó.