Liam Catchings believes in second chances.
After he and his brother Ben lost $50,000 worth of stage equipment in the New Year’s Day fire at the Caterie bar in 2010 and their old band Barisal Guns broke up, the duo decided to rebound from their losses with a new endeavor, Liam Catchings and the Jolly Racket.
“I think it’s absolutely great,” Liam Catchings said. “You spent time learning things and none of that goes away, so now you have a little bit more perspective. You have a better idea of how you’re going to market yourself. Everything is fresh. It’s like having a second lease on life.”
During the Catchings brothers’ five-year run in the Barisal Guns, Ben (age 31) was the lead singer while Liam (age 27) played bass, but now it’s Ben who supports Liam as the new group’s front man.
The current lineup of Liam Catchings and The Jolly Racket is Ben Catchings (rhythm guitar, keyboards), Brian Blanco (bass), Paul Emden (lead guitar) and Liam Catchings (guitar, lead vocals, keyboards). The band does not have a permanent drummer.
Keeping things like the drumming spot flexible helps the Catchings brothers, who had to rebuild their previously uninsured music gear collection and find a new rehearsal space, which they customized for sound on a budget.
“We have a little storage shed over off of Burbank. It’s got pretty high ceilings, and we have access to lot of foam we can put up on the walls, so we were able to make this metal room into a relatively good recording space,” Liam Catchings said.
Some of those revamped recordings by the Catchings brothers can be heard online (http://liamcatchingsandthejollyracket.bandcamp.com), including a retro sounding song called “Oh No!” for which Liam was partially inspired by David Bowie’s earlier recordings.
“I love David Bowie, especially his mid-’70s stuff,” Catchings said. “When I wrote “Oh No!” I wanted to tap into something he did and make my own version of the ‘have no cares, tear it up’ kind of melody. That’s definitely me trying to go for the whole Ziggy Stardust-era kind of thing.”
The brothers were inspired by artists like Bowie and The Kinks from their dad’s record collection. Even though the collection fired up the Catchings brothers’ ears, their time in their mother’s church youth choir balanced out their musical education.
“We grew up in the church on my mom’s side, and on my dad’s side there was a whole lot of rock and roll. The music was good. Growing up in the South, that was kind of the grass roots of it all,” Catchings said.
Drawing on his Southern family’s religious roots and love of rock music, Catchings feels ready to restart his music career with Liam Catchings and the Jolly Racket as a good-natured act of defiance of the odds.
“I consider it to be a little act of rebellion to be a musician. We’re going out there for the sole purpose of making connections with people,” Catchings said. “We’re definitely having a good time. The thing is just to hang on, keep playing and keep doing the best that you can.”
Liam Catchings and the Jolly Racket open for The Preservation at Spanish Moon on Dec. 15. Listen to Liam Catchings’ music at http://liamcatchingsandthejollyracket.bandcamp.com