Fresh off their recent guest interview for our new interview series on the current situation in Ukraine, Kharkiv based alt post-hardcore band КАТ joins us today for a special track by track commentary for their new album “Поклик”.
The band hails from Kharkiv, the heavily wounded Ukrainian city, which is heavily bombed by the Russian troops as we speak. As of March 15th, more than 600 buildings have been destroyed in Kharkiv. Schools, nurseries, hospitals, clinics have been destroyed and the Russian army is constantly shelling the city’s citizens from the ground and the air.
КАТ was founded in 2013 by ex and active members of X-box Murder and Burrow. Initially oriented on heavier delivery in the vein of early CEREMONY, the band evolved into more emotional and balanced entity, which showcases its skills perfectly on the new album. Dubbed as a post hardcore band, KAT reached way beyond the strict definition of the subgenre and offers an interesting blend of various influences, including post metal, alternative rock and more niches.
“These songs are dedicated to those who defend Ukraine from the Russian occupants, to those who died in this war, to our destroyed city.” – comments the band.
“These songs are for all Ukrainians, because there are none of them who weren’t impacted by war. It is possible to crash the houses and kill people, but it is impossible to break the spirit, to take away our freedom”.
КАТ recorded this album during the period of September-November of 2021 at the Spivaki records studio. Mixing and mastering was provided by Zach Weeks from the God City Studio (Converge, Have Heart, Beastmilk, Every Time I Die, etc).
Andriy Kasyanenko, drums, continues: “This time we’ve decided to record at the Spivaki Records, located in Kharkiv oblast, practically in the woods, far from the civilization, in the house, which was planned and built as a studio, wherein very smartly. A big amount of great equipment and an unbelievable atmosphere make that place perfect.
The album was recorded in three takes – we went out of Kharkiv for some days and fully dissolved in the recording process. We lived at that studio for days recording music with some breaks to rest. This was our first experience of doing it that way, when you are totally concentrated on one thing only and nothing distracts you. And this really impacted the final result.
Mixing and mastering took place at the God City by Zach Weeks, with whom we already worked for our album “Это случится с тобой” (ed. eng. – this will happen to you), and were very satisfied. This time, considering this level of recording, we did it even better.”
Hopefully the studio is still untouched by war, as it is situated quite far from the active fights, but there’s no confidence about it.
An interesting fact is that it is the band’s first album with Ukrainian lyrics only.
Kyrylo Brener, guitar: “I think that, at first, this album is about the search for your identity. We are from a Russian-speaking city, but the Ukrainian language isn’t something foreign to us, though we don’t use it in our daily life (at least yet). As for me, I was interested in exploring my own connection with our language through this process, to see if I can express what I want, if KAT may sound natural in Ukrainian. Is it so or not so – the listeners are to judge.
In general, thematically, as I think, we tried to draw a line between the past and the present (our personal and global ones). “Атлантида” (eng. Atlantis) and “Мертві” (eng. Dead) – are the key songs in these meanings. After the full-scale war has begun, I perceive these songs another way. Some of them even appeared to be prophetical. And now I can tell it for sure that the language choice wasn’t a coincidence.”
There are three persons who worked on album art – Daria Polukarova, Anastasia Dukareva, and Andriy Kasyanenko. They bought lots of fruit and flowers and filmed the process of their gradual rotting.
Andriy Kasyanenko, drums: “My wife works as a photographer and mostly specializes in photographing food in a very stylized way. That’s how the idea to make this beautiful atmospheric cover appeared. The main goal was to show it all within a two weeks difference, when everything fades, gets covered by mold, and just dies. At first, we planned to put a photo of the first day on the cover and to put a photo of the last day on the back, but we did the opposite as the result was too beautiful to not be used as a main cover work.
The idea of these photographs – to show the flow of time. How in a short period some attractive juicy things slowly and naturally lose their life, but they still remain beautiful.”
The album “Поклик” (eng. The Call) came out with the support of Neformat Family and Trismus Records. The planned cassette release is now under the question mark, and all concerts and presentations in Ukrainian cities are cancelled due to war in Ukraine. One of the members has left native Kharkiv, the other two are still there, under the active bombarding of the Russian army.
🔴 All income from digital sales of this album on Bandcamp will go to the “Come Back Alive” fund. You can also help Ukraine directly at this location.
КАТ – The Call track by track commentary:
1. Лист (“The Letter”)
The oldest song among all others on this album. Song is dedicated to Vasyl Stus, Ukrainian poet, who was banned by Soviet regime, spent almost 13 years in prison and died in camp. I’ve read some of his letters to his son and got an idea to write lyrics as an imaginable letter from someone in prison. There are lines ‘the world is stronger than us’ – I think that even the strongest of us, like Stus, are just small grains of sand against this cruel and unfair world. World which always punishes the best of us. Also, lyrics contains quotes from Poland poet Rafał Wojaczek, who’s poems were one of the main influences for me personally if we’re speaking about lyrics for this album.
2. Атлантида (“Atlantis”)
Lyrics were written mostly by Max (bass, vocal), based on my idea. Originally, I wanted to draw the line between our past and present, especially talking about Donbass region. My idea was to connect to movies ‘Enthusiasm (Symphony of Donbas)’ (1930) by Dziga Vertov and ‘Atlantis’ (2019) by Valentyn Vasyanovych. While Vertov portraited this region as a bright spot for a young soviet state where machines and people are working together in a new – as he thought at that time – utopian society, Vasyanovych describes modern (or even future) Donbass, ruined by war. So, in a metaphorical way lyrics for the song are describing this huge change from past to present to future. I think some of the lines in this song are prophetical as Max created it before full scale war, however it reflected our current state. For example:
‘We’re hearing a roar
It’s the roar of guns
all as one we suffered losses’
3. Мертві (“The Dead”)
This song also dedicated to Ukraine and our history. Lyrics contains references to the book ‘Buried Giant’ by Kazuo Ishiguro. In this song we’re talking about scars that war usually left on those who left alive. How deep is your hate and how deep is your anger towards the other side, in our case – towards Russia and Russians. Again – we didn’t know level of that hate and anger when this song was written. Today even I see these lines in a very different way. There is a line ‘our dead never sleep’ – and I feel it in a very deep level right now. Revenge and hate – this what grow in our hearts and we can’t do anything about it. This is how war transforms you and destroys you.
4. Теорія Змови (“Conspiracy Theory”)
Short song, where main guitar riffs were written by our drummer, Andrii. Lyrics are about those people who believe in flat earth; some, you know – world government; covid myths etc. That kind of people just can’t accept chaos and unpredictability of our world. It’s easier for them to think that there is some order, ran by someone almighty or some magic group of people. We’re not like this kind of people; we can only laugh about it.
5. Цвях (“The Nail”)
Again, this song was strongly influenced by poems of Rafał Wojaczek, especially “Nie skończona krucjata”. And again, me and Max were trying to reflect on Ukrainian history and especially our latest struggle. Full scale war of course changed everything and this song, as I think, became even more actual. We’re asking – how many more of us will lost their lives in this endless path? How many more years will pass until we see the end of this road? No one knows, and the final lines are:
‘I am dying because there is no hope
I’m putting my head down
and I will not reach the end of the road
so, I’m staying here’
I just hope that these lines won’t became reality for our country.
6. Заздрість (“Envy”)
Originally, I wanted this song to have reference for Yurii Olesha book with the same name. That’s how basically we started with the idea on envy. However, Max wrote completely different lyrics, based on his own experience and his own personal feelings regarding place in this world and growing up – at least that’s how I see it. This song is very personal and only Max can explain it. Also, we released another version of ‘Envy’ as a single for this album. Single version contains additional verse by our friend Yurii Bondarchuk, who also wrote completely different piece of lyrics, but at some way those lines are working very well with our part.
7. Прощавай (“Goodbye”)
Another personal song and probably the closest we ever get to the ‘ballad’ in our discography. Idea was to touch friendship and particularly that moment when someone that you’ve known for a long time and considered as a friend became a stranger to you. Not because you had an argument or something, it is just how life can sometimes be and how your paths can be different without any strong reason. Also – personally – I often feel sad because some of my friends moved from Ukraine to another countries. It was always hard for me to deal with things like that. And again – with this war it became much worse. I don’t know when – or even ‘if’ – I will see some of my friends again. So ‘Goodbye – we’re just points on the map’.
Track by track commentary by Kyrylo (guitar), KAT, March 15th 2022