Melbourne alt-rockers Catholic Guilt shared their nostalgic new tune Can You See Me? last month, drawing inspiration from the Australian indie and punk scene from the 2000s.
A tale of lost identity and feeling at odds with yourself, the track is produced, mixed and mastered by Evan Lee and Ash Daws at The Loud Noise Estate (Inertia, Young Lions, The Motion Below). Can You See Me? sonically invites listeners on a journey of loss and acceptance.
Vocalist Brenton Harris explains: “For me personally, that feeling was brought on by a period of intense emotional and physical upheaval caused by a variety of interpersonal issues and a few serious life and career setbacks.
“All of these issues coalesced around the time of the lockdowns and ended up impacting life on the other side of it, resulting in me living life as a version of myself that felt so unfamiliar, so unconfident, so shaken, so entirely unlike ‘me’. Writing the song allowed me to process and heal and move onto the next evolution of ‘myself’. It’s our ‘feel sad hit of the summer’.”
Catholic Guilt will share their new tune live when they step up to support Californian punk band Guttermouth in Melbourne next March. In the meantime, HEAVY sat down with the band to find out more about their latest single…
HEAVY: Congratulations on releasing “Can You See Me?”! Could you give us a rundown of what the song is about and what it means to you?
Brenton: Thank you! We’re pretty happy to have our little ‘feel sad hit of the summer’ out in the world. The song is about a bit of an identity crisis I experienced following a pretty intense sequence of setbacks in my personal, work and musical lives. These experiences took so much out of me that I found myself staring at a mirror wondering if I was even the same person anymore and if I wasn’t what that meant for my future.
As creating music often does, writing the song acted as a form of therapy for me and helped me come to terms with the person I am on the other side of that crisis. In that sense, releasing it out into the world feels a moment of triumph for me. I’m really thankful for the band for their role in enabling that to happen. It’s also really fun to perform live!
Who’s playing on the track? Introduce your members and their roles!
The band consists of Brenton Harris (Vocals), Dean Gordon (Guitar/Vocals), Megan Sidwell (Guitar/Vocals), Ben Caruana (Bass) and Michael Condello (Drums). We’re all playing on the track. Both Brenton and Dean handle lead vocal parts, with all three of Brenton, Dean and Megs providing harmonies. The song was produced by Ash and Evan at The Loud Noise Estate who have been our production team since our debut EP.
What was the creation process like on Can You See Me? – Did you do anything different this time?
Dean: Some songs come easy, others show promise immediately, but take a lot of pushing and pulling to get to the finish line. The arrangement of ‘Can You See Me?’ was the latter, existing in many forms over many iterations. Over the space of a year, we wrote and rewrote both lyrics and music several times, with each iteration the vibe of the song changed, with music informing melody and lyrics and vice versa. Ash and Evan from TLNE brought fresh ears during pre- production, working their magic to help refine the arrangement, and we actually wrote the final chorus in the studio, which was a first for all of us in this project.
Brenton: It was our first time in the studio with Condi (Michael). So that was a completely new experience by default. He came in with such a positive energy and powered through the drum tracking with a smile on his face most of the time, even during the frustrating takes. The parts he put down were perfect for the songs and his musical knowledge and input were really valuable when we decided to re-write the chorus too. Every drummer we’ve worked with has brought their own feel to the band and on this track and the next one Condi absolutely made his mark on the constantly evolving sound of our band. I would also like to credit the addition of a second dog to the studio at The Loud Noise Estate, having Freya to chill with in addition to our longtime friend Raph made for a winning vibe, even if we are CATholics.
If you could have welcomed an artist feature to the track, who would you choose and why?
Megan: For this track, I would definitely give Bonnie from Stand Atlantic a run with the vocals. The band have been a favourite of mine since my wife introduced me to their music, and we then had their album Pink Elephant on permanent repeat during lockdown. That album combined with cocktails and jigsaw puzzles helped hold together what little sanity we had. It’s been awesome to see them continue to grow their sound and following overseas. An inspiration for sure.
Brenton: I think Bonnie would be a great choice, but this is my fantasy and in it there are no limits to the number of artists we can have feature on the track, so for the sake of our streaming numbers let’s get Taylor Swift in to do backing vocals for Bonnie, then also get one of my favourite songwriters of all time, and one of the band’s primary early influences, Laura Jane Grace in to handle a verse as well. I feel like Laura’s voice would blend perfectly on this song and it would be very special to share artistic space with an idol like that. Then just to swerve the world, let’s get Sam Carter from Architects to just go to town with a big ol ‘BLEGH’ at the very end. But in all seriousness, Meg nailed the answer.
If Catholic Guilt could write the soundtrack to any film, what movie and why?
Dean: I’d love to say Back to the Future for this one, but you can’t mess with perfection, so I shant. Anything by Tarrantino would be amazing, as it would allow us to explore lots of genres.
He also uses music that would be traditionally considered mismatched to the scene taking place, like use of The Human Beinz – Nobody But Me in The Bride vs The Crazy 88 scene in Kill Bill.
Brenton: I’m all in on this Tarantino idea, but I’m going to add to it, by making it a Tarantino directed live-action movie adaptation of the game ‘Stray’. I’d love to see what his mind would do with those characters, and we make perfect sense to soundtrack it because we are big sufferers of CATholic Guilt.
Tell us about your video clip, who made the video, and do you have any fun stories from filming?
Brenton: The video was created in tandem with Karl Baldwin (Karl Baldwin Media). Karl acted as the cinematographer and camera operator for the shoot which took place in a beautiful but kooky old mansion in Caulfield. Together we created a concept for a performance clip that juxtaposed the band playing in a room, with silhouettes of us playing individually in a hallway.
As a silhouette only provides an outline of who you are, and not the details that make you unique, those silhouetted shots provide a parallel to the search for identity or ‘self’ I’m detailing in the lyrics. The manor itself had so many rooms we didn’t get a chance to utilise, but that we are pretty sure were at least a little haunted. We saw some things! We felt some things! Or at least we think we did anyway.
Megan: The caretaker of the mansion was keeping an eye on us via this little robot that rolled around the hallways following us. That was fine once we realised that the noise coming out of the robot was actually English, and he had been trying to ask us how it was all going. Not terrifying at all.
What’s next for Catholic Guilt?
Ben: We have another single, which was recorded at the same time as Can You See Me, that will be released early next year. It has a hilarious music video currently in the works. We’ll do a tour for both songs to coincide with a support slot for Guttermouth and a few other exciting things we can’t talk about yet.
Where can listeners catch your new song live?
Ben: March 15 at Stay Gold. Supporting Guttermouth with Wolfpack.