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Interview: Nightmare and the Cat

7 min read

Nightmare and the Cat are brothers Sam and Django Stewart (sons of the legendary Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics), Spike Phillips, Claire Acey and Scotty Henson. Together they make up one of the brightest outfits to come out of L.A in some time and the band are preparing for the release of a brand new EP this week titled Simple.

Having released a string of EPs and singles over the past couple of years, Nightmare and the Cat have recently signed to industry icon Capitol Records for their latest effort.

Ahead of the release of Simple, Sam Stewart took some time out of a busy promotional schedule to sit down with Renowned For Sound to talk about the new EP and what he thinks the band brings to the table that makes Nightmare and the Cat so unique. Here is what he had to tell us:

Brendon Veevers: How are you today and where does our interview find you?

Sam Stewart: I’m very well thank you! Just sitting on the couch listening to the new Arctic Monkeys album. I really like it!

NightmareAndTheCatSimpleBV: You are on the verge of releasing your brand new EP, Simple, on September 17th. What can we expect from the songs within the collection?

SS: The songs are quite diverse stylistically but are connected by the heart and soul  that we put into the writing and recording of them. You can expect a lot of drama, both lyrical and musical and some pretty big sing a long choruses!

BV: Is there a favorite track for the band on the collection or do you consider them as your children and you have no favorites?

SS: I think all of us have different favorites, I know that I have a new one every day! Alvarado is definitely a contender for our collective favorite though.

BV: How would you describe your sound and your style to those who may not know the band?

SS: At the risk of sounding really lame, I think we have kind of a unique sound, haha, It’s definitely pretty big…

We are a rock band at the core (we use only drums, bass, guitars and vocals) but we put heavy emphasis on delivering emotion through strong melodies and three part harmonies as well as ethereal and dreamy guitar parts. There’s some rather large dynamic shifts in there too… I guess that may come from listening to a lot of The Pixies!

BV: Who would you say are the bands influences?

SS: David Bowie, Jeff Buckley, Pixies, Blur, Fleetwood Mac, Leonard Cohen, Sam Cooke, Phil Spector, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Al Green, Nina Simone, Neil Young, Radiohead… The list is endless really.

BV: What do you think Nightmare and the Cat brings to the musical table that makes you so unique to other artists?

SS: I think we live in an age where it is quite easy to sound unique (music technology is so advanced that creativity is pretty much boundless) but perhaps just as easy to sound like other artists too. I guess what makes us different is that we listen to and draw from such diverse influences and try to mash it all together organically, without the use if any digital instruments or medium. For example, we recorded our album all analog to tape… Pretty much no computers were involved at all.

BV: Will you be touring throughout the rest of the year?

SS: We are on tour in North America with Bastille until the end of September, then hopefully we’ll be back out on the road again for a few weeks before the year is out.

BV: What’s the story behind the name of the band?

SS: Nightmare and the Cat is the title of a song that Django and I both really love. It’s by an artist named Anthony Harwood who kind of faded into obscurity in the early 90s after recording a brilliant album which unfortunately never saw the light of day.

BV: The bands growing fan base began online with the videos you made to many of your songs – can you talk to us a little about the bands early years and how your success has developed?

SS: In the very beginning of this project, we would film (with the help of our photographer friend Kristin Burns) and upload videos of us performing songs in odd locations as soon as we’d write them. Some places we filmed in include a zoo, a shipping yard, on salvation mountain, inside a giant T-Rex…

BV: You recently signed to Capitol Records – how does it feel to be part of a music industry icon and what did the band do to celebrate the deal?

SS: It feels great! We’re so grateful to have had the chance to make the album of our dreams with an incredible producer and bring our music to a wider audience. We celebrated by going to see our friend’s cirque show (our bass player Scotty was a performer in the show) and drinking a lot of champagne…

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BV: What would you say has been the biggest challenge about being a recording and touring collective, if there is any?

SS: There hasn’t been any major challenges so far to speak of. All five of us have very different personalities which I suppose can be tricky at times, but when you spend so much time together as a group, you start to function as a unit.

BV: How will you know when things have really taken off for the band – how did you define the bands success?

SS: I think we all probably have our own ideas about what it means to be successful. Personally, I’ll be satisfied when we have released and toured at least three albums of which we are proud and love with all our hearts.

BV: Are there any acts out there that you would love to collaborate with or tour with and if so, who would they be and in what capacity would you like to see a collaborative project?

SS: As far as touting goes, we’d love to tour with a band like Arcade Fire… Someone who’s music we love and who we could watch every night and learn from whilst being thoroughly entertained.

I think we’d be open to collaborate with almost anyone as long as it felt right. If the result was interesting and different from what we do by ourselves. Or anyone who likes to play board games as much as we do.

BV: Is there a certain role that each member of the band takes on or a hierarchy within the band or is it all equal shares and equal workloads for each member?

SS: Django and myself write all the music but we are in no way ‘higher’ in the band than anyone else. We consider ourselves all moving parts of the same mechanism, we each need to be there working in order for the band to function.

BV: What’s your songwriting process like? Are you perfectionists when it comes to piecing an a single or EP together?

SS: We are definitely perfectionists but we do not let that get in the way of emotion. Django and I are brutally honest with each other when writing. If we don’t like something, there’s no holding back, but if we’re into it then we encourage the other. We share in everything from the music to the lyrics.

BV: Where does the band draw inspiration form when putting together a new song or album? Does it come from real life experiences?

SS: Most of the lyrics come from life experiences. Because we are brothers, we know pretty much everything about each other which makes it possible to write intimately about each other’s life experiences and emotional states.

We also find inspiration in the art of our friend and collaborator Gary Baseman. He has done the artwork for our EP and merchandise.

BV: Is there an album on the horizon?

SS: Yes, it will be coming out next year.

BV: What else does the band have planned for 2013?

SS: Mainly playing shows and promoting our EP, we’re also making videos for every song on the EP and we’ll be keeping a tour video diary while out on the road. It will all be easily accessible and regularly updated on

BV: Thanks Sam

Nightmare and the Cat’s new EP Simple is out on September 17th.

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