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One of Brisbane’s longest-serving punk bands is The Black Catapult.
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Having been around for 25 years, they have played countless shows, had a few lineup changes and generally done things in typical DIY punk fashion. It wasn’t until guitarist and vocalist Nathaniel McManus rejoined the band however, that they decided to finally release their second album and solidify their lineup. Hysteria had a chat with McManus about the new album Jackson Street and life in The Black Catapult today.
The Black Catapult have been kicking around Brisbane since the boys were just fourteen-year-old skater punks, jamming out and having fun. A lot has changed since then, some have moved on from music, some have started families and some have stayed in the band, still enjoying it without taking things too seriously.
“We’re old as shit!” McManus laughs, totally acknowledging they are punk-rock dads, who love to reminisce about their younger days when they write their music. And although they have been around for some time, it wasn’t until a few years ago though, that The Black Catapult put out their first record, the LP All Grown Up and now they are following it up with Jackson Street, a massive sounding album that encapsulates their punk roots and tells the stories of their younger days, growing up on Jackson Street in the southern suburbs of Brisbane.
“We are the typical local band,” McManus says of why it took so long for them to begin releasing their music. “It’s typical stuff, we never get paid for shows and we never have any money! You basically do it because you love it,” he explains.
McManus is one of the more recent returns to The Black Catapult, having been an original member when the boys were teenagers. It wasn’t actually until McManus rejoined that they decided to record and release their material and in fact, their first release, All Grown Up, was recorded, mixed and mastered within five days—a super punk rock effort.
For us, we’re not in a position where we are making money, we’re not in a position where we are on a label. We’re no one and it’s just us. So why would I not want to play the stuff that I love, rather than try and chase some artistic goal?
[ Nathaniel McManus ]
But they took their time with Jackson Street. Which wasn’t completely by choice, but more because they had to find the time to get into the studio to actually get the recording done. There was also the small issue of not having a complete lineup when Jackson Street was being completed. “It definitely didn’t take any longer to write Jackson Street, it was the recording process that chewed up the time. Because we all work and have families and wives and all that, it’s not like we can just take four weeks off to go and record an album, we have other things we have to look after,” McManus explains. “And when we started recording this album, we had no drummer and no bass player and so I had to play the drums on the record, and the bass, and my guitars and sing my parts and Tyrell (Reavy) played his parts. So while we didn’t have the personnel, we had the songs and we were like stuff it! Let’s just make it and see what happens and hopefully we get members along the way and can play it live!” McManus laughs.
While that might sound tough to any band, The Black Catapult have never been one to shy away from a challenge, and they’ve created an album they can be proud of, which has turned out exactly the way they envisioned it. “It was tough but I am really proud of what we achieved. The record, to me and to my ears, is exactly what I hoped it would come out like. It sounds massive, it sounds cool but it sort of has that nineties and early 2000s vibe that I was going for and I’m super proud of it,” McManus says, sounding humbled that he has been able to be a part of the process and do what he loves.
Jackson Street is all about that punk-rock vibe from the nineties SoCal era. The record is full of catchy anthems and big riffs and even after twenty-five years, the band has stuck true to the genre, quite content to stick to what they know and love.
“For us, we’re not in a position where we are making money, we’re not in a position where we are on a label. We’re no one and it’s just us. So why would I not want to play the stuff that I love, rather than try and chase some artistic goal? And I mean no disrespect to the bands who do want to chase that dream and can change their sound to do that, some bands are meant to chase that goal and they are really important. But for us, we just want to have fun, drink beer, sing songs about girls and that’s just what we do,” McManus says of their punk-rock roots and the sound they have cultivated for the last two and a half decades.
And even if Jackson Street is the album that pushes the band into the spotlight even further, taking them from a DIY Brisbane band to something a little bigger, it’s safe to say The Black Catapult will continue staying true to their roots, having fun and not taking it all so seriously. It’s worked for the last twenty-five years for them, it wouldn’t be punk-rock to change now.
Purchase/Stream The Black Catapult’s new album Jackson Street here.
Catch The Black Catapult at the following dates:
BRISBANE // Friday September 20 // Tomcat
GOLD COAST // Friday September 27 // Vinnie’s Dive Bar
BRISBANE // Friday October 4 // Crowbar
BRISBANE // Saturday November 19 // Crowbar