by Ari Roth
It has been a big year for Nightmare and The Cat. A few weeks ago, the rising rock band delivered a dynamite performance on the Late Show with David Letterman. Soon, they will release their first full-length album, Simple, which promises to bring their sound to a wider audience than ever before. Their songs are expertly constructed, filled with memorable hooks and sharp lyrical turns, both anthemic and intricate, and they deserve the same degree of public attention as their tourmates, which include Bastille and Neon Trees. Django Stewart, the band’s lead vocalist, kindly answered a few questions in advance of their upcoming album and tour.
Following an EP of the same name, the Simple full-length is set to be released on July 22nd. The entire record, which deals with “personal experiences during the time period of making the album,” was captured on tape with no computer-based intervention. Stewart describes this old-school approach to recording as “magical. It’s warmer and feels more alive.”
This attitude complements their approach to musicianship, which feels natural and authentic. As Stewart says, “we just think in this day and age, there is so much crappy music that’s so processed and easy to make. It has made a lot of musicians lazy and a lot of shows less exciting. Our band really appreciates true, hard working musicians and talent that you can tell is the real deal.”
With Simple, Nightmare and the Cat have set out to prove that they are unquestionably the real deal. Although the new album features many new songs that showcase their breadth, range and increasing maturity as a band, it also features several older songs, described as “fan favorites” that have “changed over the years along with our instrumentation and voices,” growing and developing to become an integral part of the new record.
This development has played out in real time through the band’s impressive live set. The band has partially become known through playing with better known bands, such as 30 Seconds to Mars and Bastille, a process which Stewart hopes has both allowed to broaden their fanbase, and also to expose pop fans, who may have come for their tourmates, to be exposed to the kind of indie-infused music that Nightmare and the Cat makes.
Regarding this, Stewart says that “I think they have only heard a lot of what’s on the radio, and I’m hoping that we’re expanding there musical knowledge and showing them something they’ve never seen before.” The band cites Bjork, Smashing Pumpkins, Sam Cooke, Arcade Fire, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Dusty Springfield, Blur and Jeff Buckley as recent favorites, and the diversity and depth of taste that a list like that demonstrates is exciting and unique for a band on such a major record label, playing such high-profile shows.
From the sound of it, this horizon expansion has been a resounding success, as audiences have reacted enthusiastically at their “epic, huge shows.” All that time spent on the road may also inform the band’s future material, as they seek to “go in a more rock ‘n’ roll and energetic direction” for their next album, as “playing in clubs to thousands of people is more fun when everyone is going crazy and letting off some steam.”
Along with their recent tours, the band’s most high-profile appearance to date is the infamous Letterman performance, which Stewart describes as “insane.” The booking came as a last-minute surprise, catching the band off-guard during a particularly exhausting stretch of touring. Tucking in to a well-deserved day off, the band “got a panicked phone call from our manager saying we had to book it to New York after our show that night to sound check for Letterman. We were so delirious and excited; we played the show in Pittsburgh, quickly packed our stuff up and made the seven-hour drive to Letterman. It was a dream come true, and actually felt like a dream given the state we were in.”
Despite their state of body and mind, their performance was remarkably assured and charismatic, with Stewart’s confident frontman performance and strong vocals centering a remarkable song performed impeccably, with just enough looseness that complimented the tight harmonies and rhythm work. It’s clear that the whole band takes to the stage naturally, and the Letterman performance unquestionably communicated that. Stewart also says that this watershed moment for the band has led to “more people singing our songs, coming up to say “hi” and ask for autographs and pictures. It’s really exciting!” Given the pace at which their star is rising, Nightmare and the Cat have a lot to be excited about.