The harmonious chaos of Caterwaul 2023: A Symphony of Interviews

17 mins read

In the grand line-up of independent music festivals, there’s an audacious newcomer that’s been steadily capturing hearts and minds: Caterwaul. This trailblazing event, celebrating the very ethos of iconoclastic, independent, and gloriously noisy music, is making its bold return in 2023. Orchestrated over four days, from May 26th to 29th, the festival will engulf Minneapolis, Minnesota in an unparalleled sonic deluge.

Staging their second annual fest across two renowned Minneapolis venues – Palmer’s Bar and Mortimer’s Bar – Caterwaul 2023 promises a sensory banquet like no other. The festival sees Bay Area punk legends Flipper taking center stage, now fronted by the effervescent Shannon Selberg of Cows. The lineup also boasts Texas noise rock royalty, Cherubs, and marks the US debut of Ireland’s provocateurs, Hands Up Who Wants To Die. Let’s not forget a dazzling array of talent, including Chat Pile, Djunah, and a host of others promising to amplify the soundscapes of Caterwaul 2023.

According to co-founder Rainer Fronz, Caterwaul aims to be more than just a standard music festival. It aspires to be a name synonymous with boundary-pushing, under-the-radar music, all crafted with unmistakable passion and commitment.

But that’s not all. For the first time, we’re thrilled to unveil a groundbreaking feature: an in-depth interview with the artists who are the heart and soul of Caterwaul 2023. Join us as we sit down with festival co-founders Conan Neutron and Rainer Fronz, and peel back the layers of creativity that fuel Child Bite, Distorted Pony, Djunah, Elephant Rifle, Flipper, Multicult, The Tunnel, Totimoshi, Traindodge, and USA Nails.

Each conversation offers a unique glimpse into the creative processes and journeys of these artists, perfectly embodying the spirit and diversity of Caterwaul. Prepare yourself for a deep dive into the minds of these music mavericks, an intimate behind-the-scenes look at what makes the festival tick.

Check out the complete lineup and grab your tickets here.

First off, we sit down with Caterwaul Festival co-founders Conan Neutron and Rainer Fronz. See our interview below and scroll further down to see our multi-interview with the bands!

Caterwaul new lineup

Festival co-founders:

What inspired you to create Caterwaul as a platform specifically for noise rock, and how has the festival evolved since its first edition?

Conan Neutron: See? I don’t consider it a platform specifically for noise rock. I get why people feel that way, but I just feel like it is a bit reductive to say that. I suppose it is a distinction without a difference though.

The bands that play Caterwaul are paragons and iconoclasts at what they do, and what they do isn’t the kind of thing that is mainstream. It trends towards the noisy, it rocks. Everybody gets to play at, with and for “their people” for a weekend. Not bad!

Really it just started with Rainer and I putting together a list of a lot of our favorite bands and asking them if they wanted to play. I guess a lot of them fall into that genre. Sure.

As for how it has evolved. It has become a little bigger, and Rainer and I added on Melanie to the organizing group, who was an unexpectedly welcome and helpful volunteer for the 2022 edition. More people also know what it is now, which is great.

Rainer Fronz: Conan and I began discussing the idea when we would cross paths at shows. I wanted a way to build something that could help bring some attention to my label, Learning Curve Records, and its genre. Conan and I were both involved in it, be it Noise Rock, Alternative, Whichever Rock. We started brainstorming about putting together a festival with bands we knew. Thus, was born the first Caterwaul. We basically asked all our friends to come play Minneapolis for a long weekend. That was supposed to happen in 2020. Then Covid happened. There was a great buzz around it. When Covid finally allowed us to have Caterwaul in 2022 it had expanded to an extra day and more bands. Now we take submissions for bands to play. We plan to continue to expand the community and reach in the future.

Can you share any memorable moments from the previous Caterwaul festival?

Conan Neutron: Couch Slut shutting down Saturday night has to be one of the all time blow outs. Just a “there ain’t a thing in the world you can put after this…. THE NIGHT IS DONE!” Just a breathtaking display of fury, catharsis and chaos. This is coming from a guy who has been touring for 23 years too.

Hearing Arcwelder play “What Did You Call It That For” off of 1993’s PULL was a huge thrill for me as well, that’s just such a great band and I’m not sure if people outside Minneapolis even realize the treasure they have with those fellows.

Big Business closing everything down on the INSIDE of Palmer’s (because of a Tornado warning and freak storm) was the kind of once-in-a-lifetime event you talk about for years, when you are a fan of that kind of music. Having played shows with them in the really early days it was also a pretty awesome “rhyme” to our history together.

Rainer Fronz: Well, last year was a blur as the first time having the festival. I think my favorite memory from last year’s Caterwaul is kind of hard to pin down to one specific thing. For sure, getting to meet a lot of the people I have often only had internet relegations with was awesome, but the top memory for me from last year’s Caterwaul was watching people enjoying themselves, seeing bands they have never seen, discovering bands they have never heard of and becoming a fan of bands they just discovered. That is my favorite memory. That is the idea here, to build community and expose people to new music and create a venue and avenue for discovery of new music and new friends.

Tell us about Caterwaul Run.

Conan Neutron: It is natural for the touring bands playing Caterwaul to book tours out to Minneapolis and back and play more shows. It is somewhat absurd to think that they won’t. Last year we noticed that despite best intentions, bands were booking the same cities on the same night and creating MULTIPLE competing shows. Some cities you can do that. New York, Los Angeles, etc. But with some areas there just aren’t that many people into freaky music, so people had to make the choice for which one to attend. Well, why not just team up? Even if you can’t come to Caterwaul you can get a little taste of it with 2-5 bands that are playing this year and/or have played last year playing together. There is coordination for all of it and we co-brand them as Caterwaul specific events. They get the benefit of promotion that provides and it elevates it a little higher than just “band is on tour”. When you are on tour it is very easy to get tunnel vision about what it is you are doing. This is an attempt to present the attendant touring as a larger outgrowth of the community we advocate for and we represent.

Honestly? It was a hellacious amount of work, and we have no idea if it will be success or not. I don’t know of any other festival or gathering that would even attempt something on this scale.

Rainer Fronz: We wanted to create tour team ups to and from the festival so bands wouldn’t have competing shows in the same city. Last year we noticed that there would be several Caterwaul bands playing in a place like Chicago on the same night before the festival but in different places. This year we attempted to create mint tours with Caterwaul bands to have shared shows in cities leading up to and post festival. Which can help the bands and it’s cool if you can’t make it to the fest and you live on the route to Caterwaul.

Artists interviews below…

Caterwaul 2023

The Bands:

How does it feel to be a part of the Caterwaul 2023 lineup?

Shaun Knight of Child Bite: We’re stoked, duh! We often feel like the black sheep at fests, and yeah we lean a bit more into classic hardcore punk elements and various types of metal than many of our noise rock brethren, but it’s probably a good thing that everybody has their own flavor, yeah? It can’t all just be The Jesus Lizard.

Eddie Rivas of Distorted Pony: These will be our first shows since 2020 and we’re very happy to finally be playing again. Being that we don’t get to play often, we’re really thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the festival and play these cities after not visiting them for decades. Also, getting to play with so many great bands is awesome.

Donna Diane of Djunah: Awesome—it’s an incredible way to kick off the West Coast leg of our spring record release tour.

Clinton Wallace of Elephant Rifle: We’re grateful to be asked to play. It took the wind out of our sails in 2020 when we had to cancel all our touring plans that year. The originally planned and subsequently canceled Caterwaul that year was part of said plans. This will be our first venture back out on the road since the end times began. We’re playing some places we’ve never been to before and meeting folks we’ve admired for some time. I think it’s a beautiful thing.

Djunah by @seangemmelphoto
Djunah by @seangemmelphoto

Steve DePace of Flipper: Very excited to be a part of Caterwaul this year! First time for us! We plan to arrive on Friday evening and will be checking out as many bands as we can over the weekend. We play on Monday 5/29. We are actually the very last band on stage on the final night!

Nick Skrobisz of Mulitcult: Totally honored – not only to be a part of such a densely packed pressure chamber of aesthetical mastery, but even more so to have the name of our own song become the banner for such a gathering. Flattered immensely.

Jeff Wagner, Sam Black, and Michael Jacobs of The Tunnel: Jeff: Great! I usually have low tolerance for festivals but this is a nice gaggle of noisemakers.

Sam: It’s awesome! I’m glad we got invited back. It’ll be good to make new connections and see old friends.

Michael: Really happy to be invited back and feel blessed to be part of the event. A stellar line up hosted by some real stand up folks.

THE TUNNEL by Joseph Bansuelo
THE TUNNEL by Joseph Bansuelo

Meg Castellanos of Totimoshi: We are excited to gather with old friends and hear some great bands.

Jason Smith of Traindodge: We’re really psyched. Conan really knows how to stack lineups. Last year’s looked really awesome and we secretly wanted to be there. So to play this year is a nice turn of fortune.

Dan Holloway of USA Nails: It feels pretty insane to be involved with this line up! We feel really lucky to be invited to play.


What are you looking forward to most at the festival?

Shaun Knight of Child Bite: We play Saturday, but decided to stick around Sunday ‘cause the lineup is too good. USA Nails are our tour homies so can’t wait to touch their flesh again. Super talented friends such as Couch Slut, A Deer A Horse (Dylan played drums with us for a sec!), Reptoid, Cherubs, Distorted Pony… I literally just got tired thinking about it… Gotta remember to pack a couple Red Bulls.

Eddie Rivas of Distorted Pony: Getting to play with friends as well as seeing bands we haven’t gotten a chance to see live is what we’re most excited about.

Donna Diane of Djunah: Playing outside! Having the cops show up last year on a noise complaint of “loud bands playing terrible music” was endlessly entertaining. Conan handled it beautifully.

Clinton Wallace of Elephant Rifle: Unfortunately, being a touring band with limited time, we won’t get to stick around for the entire four days. I’m bummed we’re going to miss Cherubs, I love that band. Really would like to see Big’n too. And Mr. Phylzzz. That being said, there are some monsters we’re excited to play with on Friday night. I’m really looking forward to seeing the homies in Tongue Party again. We’re touring out with a great band from Oakland called Facet, so luckily we will get to see them every night.

Steve DePace of Flipper: Hearing all the different bands really, and to soak up the vibe. Looking forward to experiencing the festival for the first time. This will be our first show of the year, as a matter of fact. And we have a couple of special guests performing with us at Caterwaul, too! Legendary, Shannon Selberg (Cows) and Tony Ash of (Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends).

Nick Skrobisz of Mulitcult: Seeing a ton of loved and familiar faces, coupled with the onslaught of proper noise rock. This year’s lineup really has elevated the bar for festivals in general. Getting Vaz, Cherubs, Vincas, Flipper, Reptoid, as just an inkling of the lineup is already bonkers. Conan really outdid himself in getting top quality bands and people all in one place at one time. This is so satisfyingly counter to the usual schlocky sponsor-infested fest fare. I hope this continues to grow into the institution it is proving to be, in coming years.

Jeff Wagner, Sam Black, and Michael Jacobs of The Tunnel: Jeff: All the bands who don’t cross the Mississippi often to the West Coast.

Sam: Vaz, Cherubs, and Moonpussy are musts, but come on, this is four days of sonic debauchery. I’m ready for all. I’m also hoping Hard Times Cafe by Palmer’s is still churning out kickass vegan food!

Michael: Too many to mention. Especially excited to see some friends bands for the first time ever – Vincas, Wailin Storms, Elephant Rifle. Missed Chat Pile last year and excited to see them for the first time (really sorry to hear that Whores can’t make it though).

Meg Castellanos of Totimoshi: To reunite with my band after 12 years!

Jason Smith of Traindodge: Our Oklahomies in Chat Pile getting added last minute was a nice surprise. Beyond that, I’m looking forward to Vaz, Cherubs, Totimoshi and Big’n of course. But hopefully I get turned on to some other bands that haven’t been on my radar yet.

Dan Holloway of USA Nails: We’re playing the Sunday, so gutted to miss out seeing the bands on the Friday and Saturday. Would love to see total babes Child Bite and our lads from this side of the pond, Hands Up Who Wants To Die, play their sets. Hoping to catch Heet Deth and Mr Phylzzz on the Sunday if possible.

Give us a quick update on your new releases and plans for 2023 and beyond?

Shaun Knight of Child Bite: Our latest is a split-EP w/ Multicult, who play the same night as us at Caterwaul.

We’ve got 3 jams on it, and we made crazy videos for two of em; “Pass the Glue” is an animated rollercoaster clocking in under 2-minutes, and “Erect for Dystopia” is a post-apocalyptic mini epic. Go check ‘em on Youtube RIGHT NOW.

As for the future… we’re currently writing and recording lil batches of tunes here & there, which eventually will become our new album. We’re taking a more laid back & varied approach, which I’m all about and excited to see how all of the pieces come together.

In regards to the road, we’ve got a CRAZY summer tour that I literally cannot talk about yet but will be announced sometime this month! It’ll make ya go “WOWZA.”

Eddie Rivas of Distorted Pony: We’re planning on recording new material hopefully this summer and we’re working on remastering and rereleasing Punishment Room soon.

We’d like to do more shows and festivals as well..

Donna Diane of Djunah: We just released our second album in March, and the response has been incredible. We’ve already hit the East Coast, and Caterwaul marks the start of our West Coast tour. We’re going to do as much touring as possible this year and next year hopefully make it to Europe or even Australia.

Clinton Wallace of Elephant Rifle: Well, we just put out an album, called Broken Water. I’m really pleased with it. We’ve charted some unknown (to us) territory with this record. I know there is more music coming out each year than a person could consume in a lifetime, so I appreciate any attention the record and/or our silly little band gets. Thank you to anyone who listens.

The vinyl version of the album was released by Rainer and his Learning Curve Records, so Caterwaul kinda feels like a label-sanctioned release party for us. That was awfully nice of him to go to all of this trouble and invite all of these bands just to play our release party. I wonder what he and Conan would have done if we hadn’t put out a record this year? No festival, I guess.

Elephant Rifle
Elephant Rifle

Let’s see, what else? We have a few videos coming out later this year. One of which we just finished filming with our man Ford Corl. It’s really silly and I’m excited for folks to see it. We’ll probably play a few more shows around the West Coast. We’ve also been talking about doing a song-for-song cover of the Grateful Dead album “Go To Heaven” for a couple of years now. It started as a joke, but has sort of become a real thing. Maybe the back half of 2023 is when we can finally let that heady beast loose.

Steve DePace of Flipper: As of May 2023, we are in serious talks with a few different record companies to release the back catalog. We expect to reach agreements for reissuing the catalog sometime soon. We will let everyone know when we have a reissue plan.

Nick Skrobisz of Mulitcult: Our latest and greatest is a 3-song portion of a split LP with our good friends Child Bite, released through Hex Records last year.

On deck, we have a lot of new demos in development toward a new LP. Hopefully we will be tracking it by year’s end, but our priority is getting it right, first and foremost!

Jeff Wagner, Sam Black, and Michael Jacobs of The Tunnel: Jeff: We are coming out with a new LP, Shudder, on Learning Curve Records this month!

Sam: We’re laying the groundwork for some splits with unreleased material, as well.

Michael: Working on a Pacific Northwest tour for early August among other things. Record release at the newly opened Kilowatt in SF on June 17 with Facet should be quite the party.

Meg Castellanos of Totimoshi: We are always writing and releasing music and videos, whether it is for All Souls or Alma Sangre. We’ll see if this was a one off for Totimoshi or if there are more shows in our future? We don’t all live in the same city.

Jason Smith of Traindodge: Our 8th full length will be out this summer. We’re excited to get back out and play shows.

Dan Holloway of USA Nails: We’re pretty much finished with the next album. Whether it will be ready for a 2023 release we’re not sure, however hoping to get that going asap. Looking forward to gigging and writing this year.

Your thoughts on the state of noise rock in 2023? Your favorite new releases of the past 12 months?

Shaun Knight of Child Bite: Seems to be alive and well, eh? I like that it’s a genre that overlaps other genres… I have eclectic tastes so that works for me. I figure the way things are going, we’re all mixing everything together until there aren’t any discernible dividers… the singularity quickly approaches…

I just listened to Squid Pisser’s brand new record, My Tadpole Legion. That shit will melt yr cerebral cortex for sure! At our last practice Jeremy showed me a video from Model/Actriz, wild shit musically and visually… kinda Dead Rider meets Liars meets ???, definitely gonna dig deeper on them. We all love Chat Pile, ya can’t go wrong with them, so I definitely wanna throw their split w/ Nerver, uh… onto the pile.

Dunno how you’d categorize it, but that latest OFF! record is sooooo good; very happy they decided to fuck with the formula and make the most experimental album of Keith Morris’ career. Oh yeah, new Oozing Wound too! That’s all super recent; from last year I’ll add in Black Midi’s Hellfire, KEN mode’s Null and Deaf Club’s Productive Disruption. Oh shit, Osees too!

Child Bite by Trevor Naud
Child Bite by Trevor Naud

Eddie Rivas of Distorted Pony: Considering there are festivals and shows featuring the bands we’re playing with, it looks to us like it’s an active community. We’ve been listening to The Tunnel, Child Bite, The Hand and Cardi B on regular rotation.

Donna Diane of Djunah: It’s awesome to see grassroots destination festivals like Caterwaul spring up around noise rock. Caterwaul has become a great resource for building connections and finding support. I couldn’t have put our West Coast tour together without it. It can be really difficult for new bands to sustainably tour, so reaching out and getting help from the noise rock community has been essential for us.

Clinton Wallace of Elephant Rifle: I always say we’re a hardcore band, so maybe that’s why I just think of it all as variations of punk rock. The underground seems robust. There are a ton of bands and momentum for touring right now, which I guess is indicative of a healthy subculture. My favorite record of last year was probably the Meat Wave record, which I think of as a punk rock record. The new Spitting Image record is great too.

But as far as a state-of-the-union of noise rock? Most of the music I listen to was made 30 years ago, so I’m probably not a very good judge of what’s current. I like Nerver. And SERVICE is pretty good. I do know there are a lot of kick-ass bands that would fit nicely on a mixtape with us playing Caterwaul this year. That’s as good an indication as any that the state of noise rock is strong.

Steve DePace of Flipper: I’ll let you know after I check out the 2023 Caterwaul Fest. I think I will probably have a slew of new favorites after this festival. I am really looking forward to experiencing this for the first time!

Nick Skrobisz of Mulitcult: It has become really interesting and variegated, with a lot of subspecies. The more, the merrier, I say! Really liked the DUG LP that came out back in November on TGIC, and really excited especially by the gasWar demo (Paul and Jeff from Vaz/Hammerhead with Kevin Rutmanis!) and Nick Sakes’ newest project Upright Forms. These people have tirelessly put out some of the most thoughtful and well-executed iterations of what comprises ‘noise rock’ in my humble opinion. They always deliver on the balance of execution, composition, originality and growth. If I were a drinker, I would raise a glass to all of them.

Jeff Wagner, Sam Black, and Michael Jacobs of The Tunnel: Jeff: Not dead yet! Oozing Wound – We Cater to Cowards.

Sam: Caterwaul will help me answer this question, but there is still an ember burning small and hot in the Bay area. Le Sserafim – Unforgiven.

Michael: FACS – Still Life in Decay.

Meg Castellanos of Totimoshi: If Idles is Noise Rock then it’s back with a fucking vengeance. My favorite new releases: Alice Austin – Goodnight Euphoria, Idles – Crawler, All Souls – Ghosts Among Us

Jason Smith of Traindodge: From where I’m standing, it looks healthier than ever. Fests like No Coast and Caterwaul would’ve blown my mind in the ‘90s. It’s really encouraging to see so many younger bands thriving with music like this.

Fave noisy new releases: Chat Pile – God’s Country, Almanac Man – For Your Cause, FACS – Still Life in Decay, Black MIDI – Hellfire, Bummer – Dead Horse


Dan Holloway of USA Nails: The state of noise rock seems to be pretty strong right now. I feel it has a wider scope of bands now which feels positive. Bo Gritz (London based noise art rock) are a firm favourite of mine. Their last two singles this year, “Observes and Selects” and “Stored in the Sky,’ have been a constant listen for me.

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