Cats In Space

Featuring a wide selection of musicians and guests from the larger pool of UK talent, including people from cult UK band Moritz, Statetrooper, The Ian Gillan Band, T’Pau, Arena and The Sweet among others, Cats In Space are a mysterious “vehicle” for all of the people involved to express their love for all thing’s Rock. They might sound a little “retro”, but they embrace the big harmonies, the big melodies and the big hair-y legacy of yesteryear and bring it all back in 2015… in an inimitable fashion that sounds really timeless and uber-cool. Bandleader and guitarist Greg Hart speaks to us from the “mothership”… while we’re all “spaced out”…
Cats In Space band pic

Cats In Space, that’s a quite bizarre moniker, how on earth did you come up with that?
G: I named us after my poor departed cat ‘TC’, who passed away when we started the album... plus I wanted a name that people would either love or hate, but definitely remember... (“Marmite” as i call it!) and anyway, every band name sounds rubbish until they become famous… think Def Leppard, Led Zeppelin, Queen?
Give us a few details about who the “Cats” are as well as their associates/guests and also any background info on your careers prior to the formation of the band...
G: We have Dean Howard on guitar, a brilliant player, most known for his time in T’Pau & Ian Gillan, but he also toured with Bad Company, Airrace and Toby Jepson. Then we have Jeff Brown, originally from Statetrooper an 80s rock band, who went on and sang & played bass with The Sweet for a long time, and now plays in the Tremeloes. We have Steevi Bacon, our amazing drummer who played with Robin Trower and has also been produced by Queen’s David Richards. Andy Stewart on keyboards has been with me since day one, and came from Moritz as did I. Andy is a musical director of theatre shows too here in the UK. And of course we have the amazing Paul Manzi on vocals, who has toured with Arena’ and also sang with The Sweet. I sang and wrote for Asia back in 1991, and also wrote for Donna Summer, and people i guess know me for Moritz too. It’s quite a formidable line-up. Not forgetting Mick Wilson, who plays for 10cc and also ELO! Mick is very integral to the sound, and he plays and sings on the album.
Which leads us to the next question: You have a very 70s inspired pop/rock sound, a sort of mix between the poppiness of the Beatles and ELO, but maybe for the new millennium, how did it all happen? Did you jam and come up with that sound, or was it a conscious decision to sound like that with some people bringing in songs etc.
G: Um, well to be honest the band’s songwriting centres around myself, and also co-writer Mick Wilson. From the start I wanted the band to sound like a mix of all the great 70s bands I love so much, especially Queen, ELO, 10cc, The Sweet, Supertramp and even 70s pop music like Pilot & John Miles. The whole band came after we had a few songs down, and by then we felt that we really could grow into something much bigger than we anticipated. It was not contrived at all, I just wanted to finally record an album of songs that really showed my songwriting as I really wanted it to be, with no compromise limitations or fear of being ‘labelled’ into just an AOR pigeon hole. I didn’t care if people thought I was in a time warp! It was purely for my own enjoyment, to start with. Now it seems a lot of folk also like it too.
How would you describe your debut to someone who is not aware of the band to convince him to buy it?
G: I call what we do “Power Pop Rock”, but after so many comments and reviews that seems to be “doing us a slight injustice”! So... it appears we are being labelled as just a “very commercial 70s style rock band” with almost a slight “prog” element to it (with the fact I like long songs as much as the 3 minute radio songs). It is very big, grand and pompous with a huge production like the classic LPs of the 70s and early 80s, and we have no desire to be modern, trendy, or “rock credible”!
If you could have a more famous guest, who would you want it to be?
G: The guys from Jellyfish!! After that, Elton John, Brian May or John Miles would be perfect for what we do, and I think they’d love it! I do have some ‘celebrity’ rock singers who are itching to guest with us I must say! (watch this space…)
Who were your influences as a musician when starting to play and when did you decide to pursue this more seriously?
G: I grew up wanting to be Andy Scott in The Sweet. Back in 1972 that was all I wanted to do in life, my path was laid before me and it was really that simple! Ha! And now Andy Scott plays on our record! How cool is that!? I grew up listening to Thin Lizzy, Queen, ELO, Slade, Kiss, all the great bands and I have always been fascinated in song writing far more than playing lead guitar. I wanted to know about melody, song structure and harmonies. I seemed to gravitate to writing and letting the other band members show off on lead duties! Now, I have been playing professionally for 30 years and every year of that has been very serious!
The internet seems to be a great tool for people to discover bands, but unless you’re pro-actively seeking new music, usually you end up with what’s advertised, missing out on some great stuff, plus there’s piracy being allowed, with a band that’s “let’s say” debuting. Is that an easy premise or does it make it twice as hard to “make it” (piracy etc.)?
G: Well, I hate the whole digital world to be honest – but it’s a necessary ‘tool’ to get your music out there, and yes Facebook etc. is a brilliant and effective way to advertise your brand. I am extremely ‘pro-active’ on Facebook, I don’t let others do it for me, I do it all myself and happy to converse with people all over the world… It builds up a great network that spreads to more people than you can imagine.
Magazines these days are becoming so ‘advertising dominated’, the people who make them are governed by advertisers expecting only a certain criteria in the magazines, and there lies the problem, it’s always the ‘same old bands’… (same as the radio stations). There’s little chance for ‘new’ stuff to get through, unless you are very lucky or have a ton of money to ‘pay your way in’. We have found out so much with the Cats album already, it’s so hard to ‘get in the mainstream’ even though your music, or rather our music, is tailor made for mainstream TV and radio. We have pluggers, two promotional people, and several other helpers, and it’s bloody hard every single day... and expensive! Yes, I do detest ‘streaming’ (I won’t allow us on Spotify etc. – bands can never make enough money to survive that way) and I hate crappy ‘lo-fi’ ‘downloads’.

You have pressed the album on vinyl – do you think it’s making a resurgence? Are people interested in new stuff on vinyl or is it driven mainly by expensive re-releases of old classic albums?
G: Our music is for real music fans… lovers of vinyl LPs. We find our market of predominantly over 35 year olds want a physical product, and I’m glad to see vinyl is becoming massive business again. Yes, the re-issues that are now selling so well is for most of us, who have lost, worn out or damaged our beloved old vinyl, so re-buying it is such a thrill (albeit I only buy original presses!). Plus, It’s collectable for starters and a new album on vinyl, including I hope ours, will go up in price. Bringing a new album out on vinyl nowadays seems to have ‘tapped in’ to people’s nostalgia and memories of simpler days when buying an album was a real day out back when we were kids. It was the best thing we did with our money each week, plus in this age of ‘nostalgia’ I truly believe folks of our generation are rediscovering the magic that we felt growing up collecting vinyl. We all lost our way in the 80s and 90s buying CDs, and only now are we all hankering back to vinyl and the magic of yesteryear… it’s a great time I think for new product.
Comparing the last few decades in the music scene and the way things have played out, do you wish this might have happened, back in the day, or do you think that good music is timeless?
G: All good music is timeless, just that not much has been any good for the last 20 years!! In all honesty I keep getting told our album would have sold a million back in the late 70s… nice!! But, yeah I guess I have to agree, I truly believe it would have. If we were 30 year olds signed to EMI or whatever back then, I have no doubt this record would have gone top 10 everywhere as it has ‘those style’ hit records on it.
Where do you see the “Cats” 10 years from now?
G: “Old cats” still making music I hope! I have a lot of music and ideas to get out of my crazy head, and for now I see it as a minimum “3 album” band, and further if everyone continues to grow and support what we do – it’s tough financially to do this so we need everyone to buy it and see us play live, and we are not a young band, but I guarantee I have the songs here to go!
Are you going to tour to promote this album? Could a Greek date be a possibility?
G: We want to play live and support the album everywhere, but it needs careful strategy as it will cost money, but we have a band here that I guarantee will blow you all away – it sounds massive! If Greece wants us… we shall come… simple!
Cats In Space band pic
Time for our weird questions!!! If you were a Gods for a week, what would you do?
G: I would wave my hand and end all religion, end poverty and instil peace to everyone on this planet of ours, cos we need it…
If you could be another person (man/woman/animal/character or historical figure) who would you want to be and why?
G: I would love to have been Freddie Mercury at “Live Aid”! Or Dave Lee Roth 1979-1984 – he lived man!
Do cats have seven lives and why are they in space? Are they “spaced out”?
G: Cats In Space are always spaced out man! My cat ‘TC’ is up there looking down on me giving me strength to look after his brother. That’s how we got our name. And remember “everybody wants to be a cat”…
Which one of the seven deadly sins are you?
G: God… none I hope... tho I have done my fair share of all of them haha! Sex/Lust probably…
If your wife/gf sold your music collection to buy herself an expensive ring, how would you react.
G: I would like to think I am a good enough judge of character to pick someone who would never do that! (relax – these are hypothetical/funny/weird Qs) If they did? I’d shit in all their shoes! (hahaha)…
Salute the fans in Greece and all Grance Rock Readers.
G: Greece Rocks! We thank all of you Cat fans out there, and please tell everyone about us, cos if you do, our spaceship could well pay you all a visit!