We’ve all been suffering withdrawals for a nice, intimate fun DJ nite at our local small clubs, pubs, bars, and taverns. As some countries and states start slowly inching to Phase 1 of getting back to life as we sort of knew it, many DJs and musicians have been using social media to have Tiny Kitchen concerts, Zoom in be-ins, and hosting small turn-your-abode-into-dance-party celebrations with playlists and Zoom Rooms while people dance. Break out the Cosplay and other fun silly costume bits and dance.
One such small social club is The Cat & Drum Social Club, which of course lately has been running under Social Distancing mode. The wee club has been operating out of Manchester City area of the UK, and several great venues, and I caught up with Liam to ask him about how he got going on this little adventure and how he’s adapted to our new norm. If you are in the UK, or even if not, check out their sites for fun ideas and music sharing. Eventually, we can travel responsibly to the UK again soon.
Interview With Liam of The Cat & Drum Social Club
Catch Liam Moody on Twitter and Facebook
All photography by Liam Moody
What possessed you to create a social club and DJ fun time, and juggle the other aspects of writer and photog?
I’ll split this one up into the separate parts so I’m not tripping over myself. The DJing came about because I used to do it at a nightclub in Preston when I was at university there- I was brought in to do the indie/alternative/retro night on Saturdays at a club called Blitz. After the original site closed and Blitz moved/remodeled, I’d left it alone for a while, until they asked if I could come in at short-notice to do a set for an afterparty after an Evil Blizzard gig. It went really well and I had a lot of fun, so after chatting with my amazing friend Sam she encouraged the idea to pursue it further, and even designed a logo based on the kitten drawing that Postcard Records used to use, keeping a DIY mentality to it all. The general philosophy is that we’d just play music we’d listen to if we were just hanging out at home- indiepop and post-punk, mainly- and if other people liked it and wanted to dance too, all the better. We had a couple of false starts due to venue double-booking and a couple of other problems, but we got a huge helping hand from a grunge/alternative rock night called Zero Club who brought us in as a feature, as I’m also a big alternative rock/college rock guy and Sam is into riot grrrl, so we fit in with their ethos. After an attempt at running a night at a venue in Manchester called YES, they asked if I fancied a monthly slot, and then alongside that The Night & Day Cafe became interested in bringing Cat & Drum in too. We’ve also guested at clubnights for Let’s Make This Precious and their sister show Super-Electric, which are always great fun!
The writing and photography came about almost by chance- I’ve not got a journalist background at all, but I’ve had a bit of experience writing stage comedy. I got a message out of the blue asking if I would be interested in reviewing a gig for Manchester event website BagThing (Events and Shows), and thankfully they liked my work! From there, I was approached by Liverpool-based Sounds From Nowhere and then Louder Than War. I’ll be honest, there’s a good chance that I only get work because I’m something of a novelty, shooting gigs on film in a really unusual way using long exposure times and color-gel flash (with no post-production or editing) creating all kinds of strange shots that can’t really be replicated any other way. I found my gimmick and I’m sticking with it! I love being asked (or asking) to work for up-and-coming independent artists as well as getting to write about/photograph some of my all-time favorites!
You have a great digital presence and a great following, what made you want to do an old skool ‘Zine?
It’s actually something that I’ve chatted with Sam about, who has a background in graphic design and used to make her own zines. I’ve thought a couple of times about self-publishing a photozine, because I’ll go through a full reel of film at a gig but only a handful of photos will get used for the review- so I’d love to have a way to showcase the ones that don’t make the cut!
What are some future projects you may be developing?
Right now I’m just hoping that the momentum I’d managed to make over the last few months will still be around once things start to resume, with both the DJing and writing aspects. I also make music with some analogue synthesisers and drum machines under the name The Mode 7 Project– I’ve played a handful of gigs but I want to eventually record some of the stuff I’ve worked on- most likely on cassette because of the a-e-s-t-h-e–i-c.
What has been your greatest challenge in keeping your blog/FB/Zine full of great content?
With nothing to show and nothing to advertise for the foreseeable, it’s quite hard to come up with any content at all. There’s been a definite switch from Facebook over to Twitter, where I can just put a quick post up showing what record I’m playing, or join in on conversations about music. It’s a way to connect to the outside world, which is so important right now.
Have you met any of your music heroes as a result of your publishing or DJ gigs?
My favorite meeting was Martin Moscrop and Jez Kerr of A Certain Ratio- I was asked if I could do press(meet) for A Certain Ratio’s 40th anniversary mini-festival in Manchester, and a couple of days before got asked if I’d be interested in interviewing the band as well as doing photos. Never done an interview before so had no idea what to ask or anything- thankfully Jez was great to chat with! I still see both of them now and again in Manchester and get to have a bit of a chat- one time getting incredibly nervous as they came into the bar when I was DJing, and even came over to say hello! I was in Tokyo over the New Year for WrestleKingdom while they were over there playing a couple of gigs- turned out they were staying in a hotel in Shinjuku literally next door to where I was, and we were amazed that we managed to never cross paths at a grocery store or a coffee shop or wherever!
Any great followers you were astounded checked you out?
I got stupidly excited to learn that King Edwyn (Collins) follows us on Twitter! Like our name and logo suggests, that’s a huge deal!
What was the hardest article to get data for and why was it so important?
Because it’s so important to get articles written and uploaded while still relevant, I try and at least have my review emailed across to an editor within 24 hours- enough time to develop the film, choose the shots to send etc. Sometimes I like to add references and quotations from books or movies that I like and feel relevant, so it can be a pain skimming through various books trying to find a quote that I’ve possibly misremembered. I wrote a review of Drab Majesty that was bookended with extracts of The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis, but I couldn’t remember the exact passages I wanted to use, so it became a race to find the book, quickly skim through it to find the quote I was looking for, copy it down and then hope that it didn’t derail the piece entirely. Thankfully it all worked!
Anything you can tell us about your daily routine to stay sane in our current global lockdown? How have your music habits been affected?
…honestly? It’s been a huge struggle. I live alone in Manchester in a small studio flat- my mom lives on the other side of the UK and is isolating due to immune system issues, while my girlfriend (hi Steph!) is over in Portland and I’ve already had to cancel a visit out there to see her. I’ve been working my (stressful, monotonous and thankless) office day job from home, but without anything else, anything to make it worthwhile- gigs, pro wrestling, seeing my friends and hanging out, even just having a wander into town and have a look in the record stores or comic book stores or going to the gym to zone out on a treadmill listening to music for an hour- it becomes so hard to keep going, to find hope that things will ever get back to how they were. I’ve taken to playing pretty much every record I own while working, sometimes showing them off on Twitter, just as a way to try and stay connected with the outside world. It’s hard. I shouldn’t whine or get down about it because I know that so many people are in far, far worse situations, but it’s difficult to find positives.
What blogs or Zines are you obsessed with right now?
One of the most interesting video series I’ve come across is The New British Canon by Trash Theory, who explore some of the most important songs and artists in the post-1976 pop music landscape. They are incredibly well-researched and go in massive amounts of depth without feeling over-academic, and using interviews and archival footage of the bands they talk about is always a big plus! Oregon Zoo has also been a huge stress-reliever, being able to watch the animals- if they aren’t decked out with Nacho The Penguin merchandise once they open back up I’ll be very disappointed.
Where can people discover your media or publication?
The main places are on Facebook and on Twitter- both are @CatAndDrumSC. The reviews and photos can be found at BagThing.co.uk, soundsfromnowhere.com and louderthanwar.com. Hopefully when things get back to normal, you’ll be able to find me playing records at YES or at Night & Day Cafe in Manchester.
As a Consumer
The first record bought?
Bought myself? I honestly don’t remember- if I was to take a guess, it was probably one of the old Shine compilations. Shine were like the britpop/UK indie equivalent of the Now That’s What I Call Music! series during the mid-to-late 1990s that seemed to vanish without a trace once britpop disintegrated away.
How did you listen to new music when you were young?
I used to read NME and (if I had a little extra cash that week/month) Q magazine, and every so often they would talk about a band that jumped out at me like The Raveonettes, Glasvegas and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart in particular- bonus points if the magazine came with a free CD!
First gig you went to? Who were you with and what did you wear?
First gig I went to Runrig at Stirling Castle in Scotland with my parents in 2003. Think a bilingual, slightly more politicised Big Country and you’re not too far off. The first band I reviewed was Erasure at the Apollo (filling in for a friend who couldn’t make it), and the first I photographed was Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs at Soup Kitchen in Manchester.
Favorite bands or artists in your youth?
One of the most important for me was seeing Sonic Youth on Later With Jools Holland. This was my equivalent of seeing Bowie doing Starman on Top Of The Pops. These 5 ordinary-looking people making all these weird noises, tuneless yet melodic and catchy, everything looking so cool and effortless. From there I got into the likes of Pavement and Pixies, both of which led to The Wedding Present (who to this day are probably my favorite band ever), and from there it branches out into indiepop and alternative/college rock. I’ll also fully admit at a solid 60% of the stuff I like and DJ with actually comes from my mom, who’s a big new wave/post-punk/synthpop fan- I got my love of Blondie, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs, (early) Simple Minds, OMD etc from her.
What is/are your favorite new artist/s?
Right now I’m obsessed with the Italians Do It Better label, and I haven’t shut up about either Drab Majesty or Black Marble for at least a year now. Current favourite album of the year is The New Abnormal by The Strokes but this may well change. I’ve also been collecting the Optic Nerve reissues of cult indiepop singles from the mid-80s, all on beautiful colourful vinyl- there’s a fun mix of more well-known bands like The Wedding Present and The Primitives, alongside more semi-obscure acts like Meat Whiplash and The Revolving Paint Dream– they’re all worth tracking down.
What Twitter or other social media accounts are you hooked on lately?
Tim Burgess’ listening parties have been nothing short of wonderful. Chopstick’s Twitter Top Fives are a daily staple, along with Memorial Device, and @RichardS7370’s weekly best-of-the-year lists are always fun to join in on Fridays. It’s fun seeing other people’s thoughts and favourites about music or movies- sometimes not even actively participating, just reading through and seeing people enjoying themselves.
Favorite music venues?
So many! Night & Day Cafe, YES, Soup Kitchen, The Ritz, Albert Hall, Deaf Institute, The Peer Hat, Band On The Wall, The White Hotel…
Music venues you are dying to go to?
The first that comes to mind is Barrowlands in Glasgow, but there’s probably so many! In the same way that there’s so many venues I want to see a wrestling show in (my other hobby is travelling around the country/world watching pro wrestling): the Globe Theater in LA, the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC, York Hall in London…
What would be your fantasy gig if space and time continuum allowed?
One gig? LCD Soundsystem, Madison Square Garden, 2011- The Long Goodbye. I know that I would be a sobbing mess by the end but it would be worth it. ‘Losing My Edge’ is very nearly the C&DSC mission statement, while ‘All My Friends’ is one of the saddest, most beautiful songs ever written- it’s a staple of a Cat & Drum DJ set and it’s kinda cathartic to scream along with it from time to time. Plus you can jump into ‘Once In A Lifetime’ by Talking Heads immediately and it works perfectly. Trust me.
If money were no object, who would you go see and where?(If you were the booking agent)
How much would it take Talking Heads to reform? However much that would cost, plus Blondie, plus James Murphy DJing in between if he wants to? Maybe check the NHL and NBA schedules, see if Madison Square Garden is free on a Saturday- if not, maybe give Radio City Music Hall a call…? The more you think about this kind of thing, it quickly gets out of hand!