By Eric The Red
After listening to their practice, while sitting around a tray of home-made nachos, I had the opportunity to interview what I can call the best new rock band in the Coachella Valley. This band is Bridger. Consisting of Jim Cathcart and Jacob Miller equally handling guitar and vocal duties, Dan Wheat on the bass as well as vocals and Katie Cathcart on the drums and vocals, Bridger is getting set for their debut this Friday at The Hood in Palm Desert. Having a collective sound combining punk, modern rock and even some thrash metal, Bridger has a sound like no band this valley has ever heard.
Beginning just a few short months ago, Bridger has already found a sound and energy all their own. When asked how they came together, Jim stated, “It was a jam, kinda like how Jacob originally started playing with Katie and I.”
Jim, Katie and Jacob were members of the band Jekkel, prior to starting this project. “It was just through jamming. Jacob was jamming with Katie, and Katie was just like, ‘We should jam with him.’ Then, while I was in LA, they asked you (points to Dan) to jam. And you had already played with Jacob before so you already had that chemistry, and our friendships really grew once we started playing together.”
After listening to the band practice, I can definitely say that this band has some of the best energy I’ve seen, and you can feel their bond through the music. All throughout my interview, I couldn’t stop myself from telling them how much I was blown away by their sound. Every song is like a jackhammer to your chest and you can feel their enthusiasm in every note played.
To get a little more in depth with the band, I asked where they draw inspiration for their music. “I get it from these guys (points at the rest of the band). I feel like at this point in my life, I’ve been exposed to so much, and I love so many different things that each one of these guys brings out a different side of me and that’s what makes our music a blend,” Katie responded.
“There’s just way too much stuff that inspires me to say, ‘Oh, I get it from this.’ Realistically, it has a lot to do with these guys and my mood that day. That’s the inspiration, because there’s just so much going on in here,” added Dan.
With that response, I could understand how their music created such a profound reaction for me. With each member drawing inspiration from one another, each individual’s energy and dedication to their craft is compounded by the next, creating a massive wall of dynamism that very few bands can recreate. To finish out the subject of inspiration and their music in general, I asked the band one of my go-to questions, if they had to describe their music in three words, what would they be? After a few minutes of conversation, Jacob simply stated, “Buy The Album. We’ll let you decide for yourself.” That’s a truly profound statement in the sense that the band as a whole wants their fans to create their own descriptions of the music. Considering I’m one of the few people who have heard the band so far, I will add my own three words. Absolutely Mind Blowing. It’s as simple as that.
Things haven’t always been easy for the members of Bridger, specifically for Katie. A few years back, Katie was in a terrible accident, which nearly lost her the use of her left hand. I asked Katie if she would elaborate on what happened, as well as her road to recovery. To this, she began, “My senior year of college, someone was driving recklessly, knocked me over and totally trashed my hand – nerve and tendon damage.” “The glass exploded into her hand,” her brother Jim added. Continuing her narration, Katie said, “When the car flipped, to keep my body from going into the ground, I put my hand out. I watched the window break into it and had to turn away. In that moment, I had to look down because I thought, ‘Okay, do I need to pick up my fingers?’ It’s just weird the things that you think of. It was the worst experience ever. After that, it didn’t seem so bad, because they just stitched it up. And then the following week, when I went to get the stitches out, I couldn’t move my fingers, and they go, ‘You need to go to the hand surgeon tomorrow.’ It was all very, very fast. That moment when [the surgeon] was like, ‘We’ll try to do what we can, but it’s really going to be up to physical therapy and we’re just trying to save the fingers. I’m not saying that you won’t be able to play drums again. That’s our goal, but I’m not going to make any promises.’”
For most people, a statement like that from any doctor could be a career ending blow. This is not the case for Ms. Cathcart, who continued, “I feel like it was a huge growing moment for me. I think that when [Jekkel] came back, it was just this resurgence. I was just like, ‘Okay, I’ve worked so hard to get my hand back, and I’m with my brother and sister, and I wanna do this.’ There’s a reason why I can still. Different people have different challenges. It was heartbreaking when that didn’t work out the way we were hoping, but in the long run, it’s all about being happy. Every band goes through transformations, everybody grows in different ways. And when we came together as Bridger, it was that moment where it was like, ‘Yes… Now it all makes sense, all the trials, all the tribulations. This feels good!’ I feel like this band is my reward. And I wanna put this out there, if anyone has any issue with your hands, Eric Freedman with the Hand Associates is phenomenal, he is the guy to go to. Their therapy support is amazing.”
With their debut show just around the corner, I was curious to find out what the band’s overall goal was. “We’re going to start with a bunch of California shows and then probably take it on the road, said Jim. “It’s really just about making good songs and playing with each other. I love the idea of pushing it to the limit and taking this as far as we can. At the end of the day, if it’s only the four of us playing in a room and writing stuff together, I’m totally happy. It makes sitting at a desk and making phone calls and emails all day long that much more special.”
Katie closed it out by simply stating, “I just want people to have fun watching us.” Be sure to catch the debut of Bridger this Friday, December 20th at The Hood Bar & Pizza. It is a free show, 21 and up, also featuring Burning Bettie and more to be announced. The band is offering a free copy of their EP to the first 100 people at the door, so be sure to get their early and get a copy!