Cats In Space / Greg Hart On Innovative Phase One Success

Resilience is not a word MetalTalk Editor Steve Ritchie says he has used to describe a band before, but Cats In Space have this and much more. With the Kickstart The Sun tour complete, apart from a couple of dates, a live album is to follow, along with a documentary film and comic book. It is impossible to understate the achievements of the band in 2023, and, as Greg Hart told us, the future is bright as the band prepares to move into Phase Two.

“It’s quite an achievement, to be fair,” Greg says, “from where we were in January last year to where we are now and what’s happened. We’ve had to work really hard to get the band into this position. We’ve worked really hard on our own without support from a label or a massive management company or anything like that. We’ve done it all our own way. So we’re very proud of ourselves. 

“It seems to be if you stick around at something long enough and you keep doing quality stuff, that eventually your day comes. It seems to be that an awful lot of stuff is suddenly slowly going on for us and people are starting to come on board. It’s really cool.”

Cats In Space - Islington Assembly Hall - 13 December 2023
Cats In Space – Islington Assembly Hall – 13 December 2023. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

It is a massive achievement. The idea to take the band out on tour with the big show presentation was ambitious. There were risks all along the way. With no pre-production rehearsals, it was not until the first show that the band even saw the stage design in real life.

“Honestly, it’s been backbreaking,” Greg says. “You see why a lot of bands only stay at one level and why they split up because it’s not the ’80s anymore. In this day and age, to carve out anything in the music business, you’ve got to be so lucky and so dedicated and loyal and be prepared to give up everything to do it. 

“We’re kind of stupid enough to try it. But we’ve had a massive amount of support from people like yourselves and our fan base. It’s not the biggest fanbase, but it pays dividends in the end. You can’t argue with quality and public opinion. We get really good support. We are at the end of Phase One, as we call it. We have Phase Two to announce very soon, which is gonna be really exciting because it’s gonna take us on to a new journey.”

Cats In Space - Palace Theatre, Southend - 26 September 2023
Cats In Space – Palace Theatre, Southend – 26 September 2023. Photo: Razorrhead Productions/MetalTalk

Phase One

The closure of Phase One will see a live album from the Kickstart The Sun tour, along with a documentary and comic book.

“Obviously, when you record a live album, it’s the lap of the gods as to how it turns out,” Greg says. “You never know what goes on, on the night. To be honest, we had a lot of gremlins on different nights of the tour, which meant some of the dates didn’t record. Some, we only got half of. But luckily, when it mattered, we managed to get all the good ones. 

“A lot of bands probably cull from 15 or 20 shows. We actually only used the bulk of two shows, which is really good. We were well chuffed with that as that made it like a proper live show, as opposed to something being pieced together. What you hear is the flow of a live concert, which is what we set out to achieve. 

“We didn’t want to do a perfect Cats In Space studio recording. We wanted it to be a live warts and all rock ‘n’ roll show. We’ve always said that when you see Cats live, you get a rock band, and in the studio, you get a Rembrandt.”

Cats In Space - Fire In The Night album cover
Cats In Space – Fire In The Night out May 2024.

The majority of the show was recorded in The Stables, Milton Keynes. “This was the one we were really angling for because the acoustics in that place are amazing,” Greg says. “That was the show that we really hoped would go to plan. We also used some bits from The Tivoli, Wimborne, again, brilliant acoustics.”

The song Johnny Rocket will be out later this month, along with a scrapbook-style video. “We have footage from the tour,” Greg says, “but tying that in with a soundtrack is pretty hard.”

Documentary Film

A documentary film will also be released with the live album, which charts Phase One of Cats In Space, from the kitchen table to the tour. The film paints a picture of the tour concept with James Heron. The film idea was seized upon early. 

“That’s the good thing about James being on board,” Greg says. “He’s so on the money with what he wants to bring to the table. It saves us an awful lot of thought because we’re so busy doing everything else. It takes up all our time. Sometimes, you have these ideas that you can never really do because you just don’t have enough man-hours to do them.

“James handles all of the visual side of things. He said, ‘Why don’t we document it from the drawing room through to the live show?’ I thought, yeah, brilliant. He filmed the process. It’s really good. 

“This isn’t a Cats In Space film. This is a production film. Its Carriage Returns, the company, making a documentary about putting a rock show on in the current climate. We happen to be the band that they’re focusing on.

“It’s not all us mucking about backstage going, hey, look at us. It’s a proper insight into how you put a show together. I don’t mind saying so myself. It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s proper warts and all. Christ, really? Is this how it’s done? It’s heartwarming.”

MetalTalk will have more on the film in the future, but you will see the tour concept forming early on in a discussion in Steevi Bacon’s kitchen.

Cats In Space - Islington Assembly Hall - 13 December 2023
Cats In Space – Islington Assembly Hall – 13 December 2023. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

Comic Book

A comic book will also follow, hopefully later this year. Greg smiles. “It’s never-ending, isn’t it? Only Cats In Space can do this kind of stuff. We were approached by the guys at Sentinel Comic. They did a little feature on Cats In Space on a cover a few editions ago, and it sold out in advance. It was a brilliant pocketbook, and it’s really well done. These guys totally get the whole concept of what the band’s about.”

Sentinel approached the band again, asking to do an entire edition based on Johnny Rocket’s story, with all the gaps filled in. Greg asked to see the script, saying, “We want to make it a Broadway musical as well.”

Sentinel would liaise with artist Andy Kitson and produce the script details. “They got it absolutely spot on in one go,” Greg says. “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even have to go back. I didn’t have to consult the band on anything dodgy. I just knew that it was going to be good. I said, hey, guys, we’re having a full cartoon book done. I don’t know when it’s coming out because it’s obviously been drawn old school. The guy is drawing every single cell. No digital . It’s gonna be a proper old-school comic book. It’s gonna be amazing.”

Cats In Space, Sub89, Reading
Cats In Space, Sub89, Reading. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

Phase Two

Greg says he cannot say much about Phase Two before teasing some possibilities. “But all I can say is that we are talking with some people at the moment that are gonna come on board the Spaceship. We’re making a concerted effort to get the band into Europe properly. That’s something that we haven’t managed to do, mainly because of Covid. 

“We were just about to get into Europe and make inroads when Covid stopped us in our tracks. Of the two people who were helping us over there, unfortunately, one of them got very sick, and one of them went bankrupt. 

“So we lost all our contacts in Europe. It’s taken us all this time to find a way to make a concerted effort to get Cats In Space and all the music that we’ve already done properly into Europe. 

“We’ve got something going on that will be announced soon. It’s going to be good.”

Losing the two European contacts and then having one venue on the tour close due to concrete issues is another example of the need for resilience. Sometimes, you just can’t make these things up.

“It’s savage,” Greg says. “When we look at what we’ve done, on what kind of budgets and what money, that we’ve done, over the years, it’s all been self perpetuated. We’ve done absolutely everything from day one when me and Steevi Bacon put five grand in each. We had a friend of mine who’s sadly no longer with us who, financed our vinyl for Too Many Gods. Another really good friend of mine helped pay the studio costs. 

“Since then, we’ve just had to self-perpetuate our earnings and be clever with how we managed to do what we’ve done. This has all been done with our own money. There have not been handouts or investments. It’s all been done by us working so hard, and it is bloody hard. 

“People say to us, when do you find time to do anything else? The answer is you don’t if you’re gonna have a go at doing this properly. We’re not a three-piece garage band that can get into a car and go and do a festival for 500 quid and sell a t-shirt from the back of the hall. We put together like an ELO-type band, really expensive, you know.”

Cats In Space - Palace Theatre, Southend - 26 September 2023
Cats In Space – Palace Theatre, Southend – 26 September 2023. Photo: Razorrhead Productions/MetalTalk

I know for a fact that Cats In Space gained new fans on the tour. The shows sounded immense, and the visuals were spectacular. Mrs Ritchie is a fan now, although she missed her hug with Greg at the London show. “I was not quite the ticket after the London show,” Greg says. “I had to go and lie down, which is rare for me. That’s the first time I’ve ever missed going out after the show. I was a bit gutted, but I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t very well.”

New Album

For the future, Cats In Space will begin recording their new album in April. “Steevi and I have been doing the demos since last summer,” Greg says. “So in between touring, we’ve been writing and recording. Damien [Edwards] has been in. We’ve got all the songs together, and they’re now literally in position and ready to go into the studio. 

“We’re going into a fantastic studio in Brighton that Dave Gilmore just came out of. It’s a really amazing studio, so we cannot wait. It’s gonna be phenomenal. As I said, this is Phase Two for Cats In Space. It’s a slightly new regime, and I’m super excited. The new album’s gonna be awesome. I can guarantee you that.”

It is going to take a lot of work, but you feel that Phase Two will be spectacular. Given the amount of work these people have put in over the years, is there another band out there more deserving of success?

Cats In Space – Fire In The Night – Live – will be released in May on double CD and limited double vinyl LP in a choice of colour variants. This will be the final release on the band’s Harmony Factory label in conjunction with Cargo Records. For more details, visit catsinspace.co.uk.

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