By Lisa Morgan
Of all the siblings I’ve interviewed who share the musical stage together, Jim and Katie Cathcart stand apart in their reflection of a childhood bond that has endured the strains of adulthood and remains larger than life. Though there is a small separation in age between the two, talking to them together, one would think they shared the same womb. That womb would have been extremely crowded though, considering that both Katie and Jim are sure that Katie, winner for “Best Drummer” at the CV Music Awards 2014, came out of that womb with a virtual drum kit at her feet. Each uniquely talented and different from each other, they complete each other’s thoughts and sentences in conversation, and together have formed one of the most outstanding new rock bands in the valley: CV Music Award’s “Best New Band” 2014, Bridger. When one sibling slows down, the other pushes from behind. If one loses their focus, the other squares them up. The energy that came from the two of them as they shared the story of their musical journey together could break up any dark wintry vortex and transform it into a Rock and Roll Spring holiday.
Jim: “We had a check-in moment a couple years back with our band, Jekkel. I was getting pretty heavily involved in my job, working for Lions Gate Entertainment. I was running myself into the ground and losing my sense of connection to the music. It just didn’t feel like it did when I was a kid. So Katie said, ‘Let’s give it 3 months and see if you can put your heart back in this.’ It totally shifted my focus and put it in perspective. It became a passion project and rekindled that first love I had as a kid.”
Katie: “It was a music check-in moment, but it was also a life check-in. Not many people know this, but Jim went to school for acting. To me, he’s an incredible actor. He’s the only person I know who becomes a totally different character on stage. I’ve always been a supporter of Jim as a performer. I told him, ‘OK, so there are the stresses of life, there is the stress of being an adult, there’s the stress of relationships…but remember, you’re an amazing performer! I believe in you. I would love to see you do something. Just let me know, I have your back. But if it’s music you want to do, I really want to know, because I want to do it with you.'”
Jim: “It was basically a moment that came down to, ‘Everything sucks. Let’s rock!'”
That is how our conversation began about how it is to be brother and sister in arms and in music, sharing the same stage. It accurately reflects the extremely positive and colorful dynamic between the two, who together with band mates Dan Dillinger on bass and Jacob Miller on lead guitar, create a dome of pure punk, rock and roll, moshable, mad joy, in every venue they play.
Of course, you can blame it all on the parents. Every morning they would expose these defenseless children to a vinyl record playing the likes of KISS, Black Sabbath, Cat Stevens, Billy Joel, Pink Floyd. “I really believe that because it was the first thing we would hear in the morning, it had a huge effect. We were obsessed,” shared Jim.
Katie (KT): I’ve always known I wanted to play drums. I was born wanting to play drums. I got a plastic drum set when I was three. I wrote a letter to Santa asking for a real drum set when I was 4, and was totally bummed when I didn’t get one. When you’re 4, waiting an entire year to get what you want feels like For-EVER! Looking back on it, it was as if I was an adult in the way I absolutely knew what I wanted. I finally got it when I was in the first grade. It was in my soul long before that. I was wiggling to the beat in my dad’s arms when we’d watch music videos together.”
Jim: “When we were kids, we got a karaoke machine. Katie was my best friend. We’d record our own radio shows, write songs about jelly beans and stuff, and even make mix tapes. They were constantly putting on performances for family and friends. For Katie, it was always drums. She played Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Van Halen’s “Panama” at the elementary school talent show. To watch that as her older brother, and be in the same elementary school was wild.”
“While I was waiting for her during her drum lessons at Aloha Music in Indio, I started looking at guitars in a whole new way. Then after my mom brought home Nirvana, it was all over. I started playing guitar in Junior High. My first lessons were with Tom Edwards from the Mighty Delta Tones.”
Katie: “Even though Jim didn’t play music early, he always knew music. Every song that ever came on the radio, he knew the lyrics, who wrote it, everything.”
“I was fortunate to be mentored by Tim McMullen, now with The Pedestrians. Talk about an amazing soul! He showed me how to tune and take care of my drums. He let me have my independence as I grew into a teenager. I still carry those lessons with me and hope to pass them on.”
Jim: “Our parents also took us to see the band Mobius. They let Katie sit at the drum set during their rehearsals. Seeing them play live was a game changer for me.”
The sibling coalition is singularly focused regarding their goals for their band and their music.
Katie: “We would love to put out solidly recorded and produced records of the songs we have. The music speaks for itself in the live setting, and we’re workhorses. We can get a lot of production done in a very short period of time. I want us to create an album that’s competitive. I truly believe in our music, so I want something that says, ‘This is us on our best live performance’. We have great footage from our go pro show and that will be coming out soon. We definitely want to take Bridger to the next level.”
Jim: “The consistent goal every time we have a live performance is to have as much fun as we possibly can.”
Katie: “There isn’t a Bridger practice where I’m not smiling with these guys. In every transition and with every opportunity, I’ve wanted my brother to be part of it. For me, I get to play with my brother, my life-long friend.”
Jim: “I was always doubtful of my own ability. I got lucky to, just by chance, be born as her brother. She’s such a naturally talented musician. On top of that, she is also the one to push me to be a better musician. I don’t take that for granted.”
Jim Cathcart was nominated for “Best Frontman” at the 2014 CV Music Awards.
You can follow Katie and Jim Cathcart and their band Bridger at www.facebook.com/thebandBRIDGER