LOS ANGELES -Down at Madame Wong's, a familiar ritual is taking place. Freddy Moore, lead singer and songwriter for The Kats, is taking the band through its paces in a 45-minute barrage of non-stop energy. He is flanked on the one side by guitarist Pete McRae, whose facial grimaces and grey fedora make him a prime candidate for the Elliot Ness Look-alike Award, and on the other by bristle-headed brother Bobbyzio "Easy Beezy" Moore, whose pigeon-toed antics defy his ability to play sax and guitar. Moore himself is executing leaps and falls with all the timing and precision of a ten-year veteran.
The Kats, whose music has been likened by one critic to a disastrous collision between The Dickies and Cheap Trick, have been variously received in L.A. But even their severest critics cannot fault the band on its energy level. To look at them, you'd think they were playing the Forum. The question is, what's a band like that doing in a place like this?
That's a question The Kats have been asking themselves for some time now. As one of the first bands in Los Angeles to play new wave music, they have had more close calls with the record industry in the past year than light planes over San Diego, only to watch relative newcomers like The Knack, 20/20 and The Motels walk off with the brass ring leaving The Kats the dubious distinction of being L.A.'s longest playing unsigned new wave band.
Are they bitter about it? Surprisingly, no. As they sit on the floor of the upstairs management offices of Bergstein/Green and talk about the past, they are not unlike the optimist who, upon receiving a load of manure for Christmas, shoveled. happily away in search of a pony: somewhere in all the bullshit, they figure, there's got to be a deal. In fact, to listen to them, you'd think they already had one.
"We decided we'd shop a deal in September,
record the album in October and release it in February;' says .
Moore, acting as spokesman for the group. "And so far, we're right
on.schedule," he beams triumphantly. "Except the record company we were about to-sign with just folded!"
|If The Kats' career in the music business has been accident-prone, it's nothing compared to some of their individual track records. To hear Moore tell it, The Kats are lucky to have a sax player, any equipment or a band leader for that matter.
"Bobbyzio used to be our roadie. Until one night he rolled the truck with all the equipment in it. After that, he joined the band as a full-time member." But shortly before The Kats were to make their debut, Moore on the way to the hospital to have some stitches removed from a hip injury, wrapped his Moped into a truck, suffering two broken legs, and delaying the opening of the band for some weeks; With that history as a backdrop, it is no wonder that The Kats, whose most recent involvement with the ill-fated Infinity Records left them once again without a deal, regard their series of past disasters in an optimistic light. Comparatively speaking, the've come a long way.
"The first time we played was September 25, 1978, at the Troubadour, and we got offers that night from two guys with Columbia. We knew the moment we met with the producer that it wasn't going to work, so we asked for scale going into the studio. That way, when the demo came out bad we could at least get new equipment-because we were still playing on the stuff that Bobbyzio had destroyed in the truck accident.
"Then we opened for The Police, and we were approached by this lady who said she had a record company. But it turned out that she was playing two sides of the fence-telling us she had a record company, and telling the record companies interested in us that she was our manager and they would have to go through her. It took us four months to figure out what was going on-but she did get a lot of people down to see us;' he adds hopefully.
As for the present status of the band, The Kats seem more delighted than ever. Says Moore, "When Infinity folded, our managers hadn't even heard about it before record people were calling up saying, well Infinity just folded, now what are you going to do?
|And already, the deals we're looking at are 25 percent better than what we had with Infinity. And it keeps getting better. We're just waiting for the right one now.
says drummer Al Galles, somewhat less enthused than the others,
"We're making a career out of it!"
It hasn't all been waiting. With 200 gigs to their credit in 1979 alone, The Kats have been doing plenty of playing. And because of their reputation as a live act, they have done one thing most bands never get a chance to do-make a 3-D movie.
"United Artists have this new 3-D process" says bassist Dennis Peters. "Originally, they'd filmed the treasures of King Tut. We went to see it, and it was really interesting, but it was just all these vases."
"They were looking to film some action." continues Moore. "So they asked who was the most frantic band in town, and everybody told them about us. It was 70 mm, real good Dolby, six.channel Sensuround. It's just for industry release, but we did it for the experience."
The Kats have also cut their own album, with the help of manager Bergstein, whose early involvement with The Knack left him some cash to invest. And they plan to release it on schedule.
"We're pretty confident about that.' says McRae. "It's just a question of finding a company that has real enthusiasm for us."
"And that isn't going to fold," adds Moore hastily. "We've got tickets booked up to the Golden Gate bridge in February if nothing happens." suggests Bobbyzio, ever one for drastic solutions.
"I'm so used to waiting, I don't care;' grumbles Galles.
It has certainly been a
rocky road, but in spite of that things really are looking better
for The Kats than ever before. And with the bargaining power of a
finished album, they just may get the deal they're looking for. If
that doesn't work, there's always Wong's. And The Kats are nothing
if not resourceful. After all, when you've been around like these
guys have, you learn: there's more than one way...