Whatever happened to Jekkel? Ten years ago pop-punk rockers Jekkel were one the desert’s most accomplished young bands. Having been together since they were barely teenagers in middle school, Jim Cathcart (vocals and guitar), sister Katie Cathcart (drums and vocals) and their best friend Laramie Eve (bass) had become highly acclaimed, widely respected and very well known. Their success led them to be one of the very few under age bands to have gotten to play at local bars and clubs And then…they grew up. Talented as they were, they decided that they needed to be prepared to have day jobs. So off they went to college. Jim went to UCLA to study the film industry, Katie to USC to learn about music business and engineering, while Laramie stayed home. Except for the occasional show here or there, you didn’t hear much from them. They would jam intermittently, but their priorities shifted from band first to education first. They made sure they had the ‘back up plan.’ Jim went to work in the film and television industry. Katie spent some time at Interscope Records. “There was a big divide with Los Angeles,” Jim explains. “Me living here…there was a lot of stuff going on. But we always held Jekkel in our hearts.”
But not long after their last official show in the summer of 2009, things changed. Katie was in a serious car accident in which she almost lost the use of her left hand. “My life stopped,” Katie says. “For me, I think my biggest concern was being able to drum.” It took two surgeries for her to regain the ability to hold a drumstick. And it took months of therapy and practice before she could play the drums again. “We had our lives going in all these different directions, going to school and working on different jobs and doing all the ‘back up’ plans,” she says. “So I like to think of it as a wake-up call and that there is a reason why I’m doing this. For me, the fact that I’m still able to do it, I have to use it. I just can’t let it go.”
What could have resulted in a terrible tragedy instead led to the rebirth of the band. Jim and Laramie rallied around Katie with encouragement, poised to see her recover, and to start making music again. The accident forced her to push back her senior year at school. But as soon as that was over, the trio decided that making music together was a top priority. “It really came back around this last summer,” says Jim. They began practicing intensely, juggling the weekends between here in the desert and in Los Angeles, where Jim still lives.
From the outset Jim reevaluated his approach. “As the lead singer I was always cautious of how people would perceive things that we‘d play. But with this resurrection of the band, we‘re playing what makes us feel good.” He continues, “It‘s not that we‘re entirely different people now, it‘s that you gain so much growing up and going through experiences.” “I’ve been calling the new music bar rock,” he describes. “But labeling it seems weird, the sound is more of a hybrid, it still touches on our roots and takes a focused direction toward a good solid and dirty rock sound.”
During this process they found themselves in need of a lead part for their first single, “One Way Road.” Katie suggested bringing in an old friend, guitarist Jacob Miller, to do the job. “And he destroyed it! In the right way,” says Jim. And thus Jekkel became a four piece. “It seemed a little intimidating at first because they‘ve been together so long,” Miller explains. “But it all came together naturally. If felt like hanging out with old friends.”
As an older and wiser quartet, the band has patiently set goals for when and how they would return to being a gigging band again. Part one of that, was revealed in March when they released “One Way Road” on their website. Self-produced and recorded, the new song is a bit of the old Jekkel you would remember, but now delivered with more quickness and sharpness than before, and packing a bigger punch. Its corresponding video, directed by another close friend from the desert, Wade Koch, gives a fun and explosive visual, fitting of such a blistering track.
So now it is on to the next stage: finish an EP. The band has been recording new material for a while. With Katie at the helm in their desert studio, the band has the ability to let the music evolve until it represents the new Jekkel. “It’s definitely an advantage. Instead of blocking out studio time where we have to have all this prepared and can‘t go back, we can work on a song and take it to the point where we want to show this to people.”
As the plan goes, the EP will have 4 – 6 tracks and be out by June. And then it will be time to play live again. The band expresses this with a renewed fervor. “We needed to separate ourselves from our old sound” says Laramie. “Not because, we didn‘t like it, but because coming back into it allows us to show we grew from our roots.” “We want to play for people,” Katie says. Jim agrees: “We’re hungry for it.”