Red hot Catholic action

Catholic Girls and other locals take over The Plaza Theatre

In hindsight I should’ve asked the members of Catholic Girls about their band’s name. Not what it means of course — to quote Bruce Gilbert of Wire from a rather awkward exchange with Suzanne Somers on the The Late Show 1987: “Nobody takes these things seriously; we were looking for a name that didn’t mean anything.”

While a name like “Catholic Girls” might spur more obvious questions and connotations than “Wire” (as in: there’s only one girl in the band and Catholicism being an actual thing with this crew strikes me as dubious) I’m more interested in whether or not it was intentional to make discussion of their band sound jokingly sleazy to the uninitiated. Like when I tell my editor “I’m talking with Catholic Girls this evening. I’ll make sure to get a photo too.” Overhear somebody say that and one might be inclined to think “Whoa lecherous perv.”

Regardless the Calgary four-piece has been popping up all over the place these past few months playing numerous shows in an assortment of venues ranging from laundromats and bars to theatres and a pizza restaurant. This trend continues on Friday January 31 with the very welcome occurrence of an all-ages show at the Plaza Theatre. Catholic Girls will perform along with Modern Aquatics local rockers the Pine Tarts and semicolon solecists If I Look Strong; You Look Strong.

Knowing the members’ prior bands (vocalist/guitarist Erin Jenkins has fronted the Poly Shores and Seahorse; keyboardist Cian Haley played guitar in Mount Analogue) there’s a knee-jerk urge to also consider Catholic Girls on the post-punk axis. Perhaps it’s the setup of two synthesizers alongside guitar and drums; perhaps it’s Jenkins’ unexpected shifts from sass to blood-curdling banshee queen (listening to a rough mix of “Beast” in the car even her bandmates remark “Did you hold that scream the whole time? Whoa!”) and perhaps it’s because I had recently listened to that new Killed By Death Rock compilation but I had to ask the band about its feelings about “death rock” — a sound poised somewhere between post-punk and goth scratchy and theatric; the type of thing one might associate with the likes of Alien Sex Fiend or Rudimentary Peni.

“That’s what I listened to growing up” Haley says of the subgenre. “More than any other band in the past that influence is coming out here.”

The band’s first recordings done with Ryan Sadler at Theatre Junction Grand make this clearer: in lieu of bass duelling synthesizers mingle with the guitar in providing texture as much as melody. With the natural reverb of the theatre Galen Colbeck’s drums pound with nigh-industrial depth — perhaps not a full-on Neubauten construction zone but a muscular thud-solid anchor nonetheless.

More collectively one can chalk up an interest in horror films in defining the band’s influences. David Lynch’s name pops up immediately when I ask about favourite directors and Haley mentions that the band have performed to Eraserhead .

The band hopes to issue its first four recorded songs on a couple of releases this year discussing ideas for a potential split release and 7-inch.

“I think everyone [in the band] has a mild amount of ADHD because we are constantly writing new music — and then playing it before we probably should. But it works for the most part” Haley explains.

“Usually…” Jenkins trails off.

What else is there to add? A tidbit about how the band formed?

“We made a drunken vow to start a band that actually worked out which is pretty rare” Jenkins says.

“That’s a boring answer but that’s the truth” says Haley.

See? I told you band names and all that “meaning” nonsense was banal.