CHRIS CATALYST has a brand new solo album and single out this week. The sometime Ghost, Eureka Machine and Sister Of Mercy took time out from his crammed schedule to let Vive Le Rock know what he's been up to...
The album sounds great. Did you write and play most of it yourself?
I did, with the exception of the drums, which were by the wonderful Jason Bowld (who plays with Bullet For My Valentine and was with Killing Joke and Pitchshifter). Everything I do myself is somewhat a home-based operation, then I go in the studio with the also-brilliant Dave Draper and between us we make it sound how we would like.
I'm really proud of this record and how eclectic I've gone with the songs and production.
Do you write songs from a guitarists view - or more as how a band would perform them?
I've always got half an eye on playing it live, because that's basically my favourite thing to do. But for me, the album is always going to be the 'ultimate' version, otherwise what's the point in recording it?
I love putting all the bells and whistles on, but until I have a big enough budget to pull it all off onstage, the live experience will be a more 'warts'n'all' version. Which I love just as much. It's all part of the same thing, for me.
You've played with some absolutely legendary bands. What's it like switching off and writing your own stuff?
I don't really think about it, to be honest. I'm always writing and I've always got some squirly tune or other flapping round in my head. It's just that I need to work with other people to make ends meet. Which I love too. And it certainly beats digging holes, as my dad always says.
Doing both also allows me to get inside other people's songs and work out what I like about them, and what I think works and what doesn't. So it's all a great learning and growing experience.
And how does this album differ from your Eureka Machines albums?
Eureka Machines is kind of a 'set' sound. We settled on it just being the four of us some time ago, no matter what various people's time constraints might be - so we just do stuff when we all can. That means it's always going to sound like what it sounds like. And I think we make a pretty good racket.
Doing my own stuff allows me to explore other stuff a bit more - I've always been interested in drum loops, programming, keys and strings and other textures, so it's nice to be able to delve into that part of my record collection.
But ultimately it's probably all going to be guitar-based pop tunes with a sideways look at things, because it's me writing it all. The style and sound of the other guys in EM defines that as well.
You recently were unmasked as a mystery ghoul in Ghost. What was it like being a mystery member of the band?
It was an excellent experience - playing in a big band is a lot of fun. Especially the big supports with Metallica and Iron Maiden and so on. I met a lot of cool people in that time - most of all the people in and around the band. And, of course, some great tunes to play.
Like with any band, it has its bits that aren't as fun as others - the shows were always pretty much structured the same, which is how they want it. At a certain level, it sort of has to be. But I do enjoy it when things go weird and off-the-cuff stuff happens. That, for me, is one of the things I really love about live music, both as a musician and as a punter. And that's with absolutely no discredit to anybody else - least of all them - and the way they do things.
It didn't end particularly well for me, but that's business, innit... I don't really hold grudges, I'm sure they're smashing it and good luck to them. I'm in a good place and they're in a good place and that's all that matters.
Plus, they have one of the most wonderful and supportive fanbases I've ever seen. Really passionate and brilliant people who support each other rather than knock each other down. And I think we all need a bit more of that.
Finally, you played with the Sisters Of Mercy for a number of years. Do you think the songs you wrote with Andrew Eldritch will ever see the light of day?
I'm actually back on tour with the Sisters right now, this time operating the drum machines! Which was an interesting and serendipitous turn of events.
Andrew is a shrewd fella and has made a career out of doing things his way. He knows what he's doing and I think he sees so many problems with the industry and the corporate way of doing things - which I completely understand too - that he's quite happy with writing songs and going out and performing them on a stage, which is where they really come to life.
I don't think a new album will happen anytime soon, but Andrew has a funny way of doing what you least expect, so who knows?!
Check out the new single 'My Family'...
The album Mad In England is available to pre-order here.