The British band CATS IN SPACE
has been around for a while now and most of their releases are very
strong AOR/Pomp/Melodic Rockalbums. However they switched lead singer
in 2019 and from then on things seem to be heading into an even more
sensational direction, because their new album Atlantis is probably the
finest album of 2020! Yes you read it well, because this album is a
slight change into pure late 1970s Pomprock a la STYX, QUEEN,
ROADMASTER, TOUCH and such bands. Time to have an interview with
bandleader GREG HART...
Before we will talk about CATS IN
SPACE, let's get back to the past, because Greg, you played in some
legendary classic British AOR acts in the past, such as MORITZ, IF ONLY
and GTS, can you tell us more about those glorious late 80s to mid 90s
AOR/Melodic Rock period of your life?
Hi everyone, hope you are all safe and well. Can I start by
saying thank you for such an incredible review of our new album. Saying
it’s the best of its kind in 20 years is really quite something- I do
of course agree 100% ha ha! Yeah that period was great for AOR music
and there was a lot of it about, so it was actually hard to make
headway with such competition. Moritz just couldn’t get a deal and if
we had better management, we could’ve done a heap better but it wasn’t
to be, but we reformed in 2008 and that was a brilliant period, to
reconnect with the guys. Back in 87-91 we had a great time and it was a
huge learning curve for my song writing above everything else. IF ONLY
we spent over £100,000 on the album and it took so long to do, by the
time it was finished Grunge was everywhere-Bad timing! But I am so
proud of that record, it stands up as good as any AOR album by anyone,
I think. GTS was a fun project in the 90s that kind of kept my
‘hand in’ writing wise during a really ‘anti-rock’ period in the UK but
we had fun! The albums are really liked by a lot of people so that’s
How was the scene back then in the UK around those years?
As I said, really competitive and there was a lot of big hair bands all
looking the same and aiming for the same sound. The ‘Marquee club’ was
full every night and it was a real ‘buzz time’ to be in London
especially, but by late 1989 I got very bored with it and yearned to be
doing stuff like Queen…I couldn’t stand the likes of Winger and
Poison..etc etc etc. MTV, by 1988, dictated everything and the ‘real
AOR’ stuff had changed beyond what it was.. I still loved Roadmaster,
Starz, Le Roux, Balance and Journey of course.
After that we have a gap until 2015, what did you do in that period?
I moved into the tribute game for a long time, as there was no money or
demand for songwriters writing the kind of stuff I liked to write. I
saw friends go into techno stuff, Brit Pop, they all sold themselves,
but me? I went out and played a million gigs and had a blast doing so
and I earned a decent living doing so too, but the ’bug’ got me again
around 2006 and I yearned to give it ‘one more go’. After a few
different things like my solo album, and Moritz reforming for a while,
I really decided to go for it big time….enter CATS in SPACE!
Can you tell us about the first line-up of CATS IN SPACE, how and when did you guys start this band?
Its well documented, but I was writing with 10cc’s Mick Wilson and we
wanted to do a project album purely for us, just songs for us and no
big plan, and ‘MR HEARTACHE’ was born. Then Steevi Bacon came along,
and we just started to plan an album, and get some mates involved, so
we got Andy, Deano, Jeff and Paul involved, and there was a real
chemistry right from the get-go, a total fluke! and I knew
there was a magic there that had to be explored much bigger than we
planned! And we did!
Especially in the UK you guys
re-introduced a sound that has not been heard in ages, what was
and is your intention with the band?
THAT’S EXACTLY IT! There was no master plan, just some songs that took
you back to the golden age of rock and pop, 70s inspired tunes that we
really dug and wanted to write in a style that had no limits, like the
early Queen & ELO albums. And because it came from the right
‘place’ and it was really honest I think it is that which hit so many
people. As they can see the honesty. One thing music fans get bored of
quickly is stuff that’s contrived. We are anything but contrived- it
may be nothing new but it’s certainly quite elite in this day and age.
An age where bands are trying to sound like what they ‘think’ the radio
stations want them to sound like- we don’t give a toss about that. It’s
all about the music as it should be. As it should sound. No compromise.
Never. Everything we do comes from the right place. Like it or not we
can never be accused of jumping on a trend.. our trend is 45 years old!
know I am very excited about this wonderful new record of yours,
how on earth did you find your new singer DAMIEN EDWARDS, please tell
me all about him?
Damien was sent from another planet where the elite singers are born!
Seriously he is such a talent I cannot begin to tell you. I’ve known
Dames for a few years, and he plays in a 70s theatre show that I run.
He starred in Jeff Wayne’s musical of ‘War of the Worlds’ too. He can
literally sing anything, there are no limits. So I knew he had this
range that could handle CATS but I didn’t know if he wanted to be in a
rock band doing original stuff. I was so wrong as he really wanted to
do it! He came and sang backing vocals on ‘Atlantis’ and smashed
them all out in two sessions which was incredible to witness. But then
with the situation that arose with us parting with Mark Pascall, I
asked if he fancied trying some lead vocals. After a few warm-ups on
some old stuff (which we recorded, and it literally blew us out the
chair) the job was his. Done- and the sound was just another step up.
His voice is a perfect fit to our music, it was always meant to be. I
firmly believe that things happen for a reason, and Damien happened at
the right time for us all. The songs came alive and we knew we had a
very special album brewing. The whole vibe and sound have gone up
another level now. Live it is going to blow people away even more.
The new album reveals a lot of influences, which albums/bands influenced you the most?
Queen and Sweet obviously! but John Miles, Jellyfish, ELO, Thin Lizzy,
vintage Kiss, Starz, The Carpenters very much so too. and a heap of 70s
pop music too. We bring all that to the Cats sound, again, we have no
limits it’s all about the song and its melody. Melody is king.
Of course promoting the album is
nowadays important for the sales of the actual record, because you're
not able to promote it live for a while. How do you feel about the
current situation in the world regarding the virus?
It stinks and I don’t believe much of it, but that’s a WHOLE different
story. Hey everyone! buy the album and you will read lyrics that
explain how I feel personally about the situation. It’s a
shitstorm. We also have an amazing video out for ‘I fell out of
love with Rock ‘n roll” out on youtube.
Do you guys perform/practice at all nowadays?
Yes, we have done stuff together and separately and we have all been
active throughout 2019 as best we can. Luckily the timing was such that
we could get on and do the album with little drama. In fact, the delay
we did have really helped get everything to a better shape, so for that
we are grateful in a strange way. I don’t think Atlantis would’ve been
quite the same had things been different. So I am very very pleased.
It’s a weird old year! And we’ve made the finest album of
our careers. There were personal tragedies this year too and a few
health issues and operations to overcome so it was tough, but it ALL
added such emotion into the record, we think people will hear that. For
me it’s the finest music of my career, and I really love ‘Scarecrow’,
but I think this tops it...
What's the first thing you (personally
and musically) are going to do when it's finally over and freedom is
'back' and you can do anything you want to do again?
We will all come out and do a gig and blow people’s faces off…and I
think the music fans all over the world will support their favourite
bands even more and maybe appreciate the fact that we take so much for
granted and say ‘we’ll catch the band next tour, or too busy etc..’ not
anymore! I think people will grasp live music like never before.
Back to Atlantis, you have reached
your absolute superstardom musically speaking here with this release,
how on earth are you going to top this in the future?
Every album I have around 3 months after it where I get scared that I
can never get close to the writing on the last album but every time I
think we manage it. I won’t lie I think Atlantis has everything in it
that I really wanted to do, and it is pretty much perfect which I don’t
say lightly. But I have so much still to write, as indeed so do the
guys. Damien writes and that’s going to be great to work with him on
stuff, Steevi writes the most amazing lyrics, Jeff writes too, and also
Mick Wilson and myself will write again as we didn’t collaborate on
Atlantis, so there’s a whole lot to uncover yet. But, yes right now I
am spent! Atlantis took every ounce of me personally but producing the
record I loved every single second of it. If I have one thing that can
sum me up personally it’s this album. And I think Steevi would say the
same. His lyrics on two songs are wonderful snapshots of life as it has
been for us this year. And the guys have played the best of their
careers on every song. It’s magic.
guess with the new lead singer there's a lot of creativity and new
energy in the band, and with the virus and no live performances, I
suspect you're already writing new songs?
I am always 12 months ahead! 3 songs on Atlantis were written during
Narnia, and one was a Scarecrow song so I’m always ahead. I have a few
ideas already formulating for album 5 and indeed the concept is already
in place for the artwork even, we don’t waste a second, life’s short.
The previews/reviews/selling of the
vinyls are all going very well I believe, I guess this makes you happy
in a year where everything else seems to be standing still...
Well with so many bands shelving plans until 2021 it left a huge gap
for some bands to promote new albums with less to get in the way.
Bonus! Everything so far with Atlantis has outdone the previous
albums. And its not even out yet, so that’s incredible to see.
It’s been great as each album we’ve released we can see an upward curve
each album selling more than the last one. If things continue as
they are then Atlantis is going to smash all the other four albums
combined! But we need Europe to get onboard more than ever and we
are really pushing Germany especially. If we can get more interest over
there then I think we will hit the next level up, and that’s
potentially very exciting! We need people to hear us tho, so please
spread the word around!!
Anything to add for yourself...
As always thank you to everyone who supports us. We strive to release
the best music and the best quality packaging and merchandise. The CATS
fans are incredible, and they alone have kept the band afloat
throughout some choppy waters. Long may it continue, and we WILL be out
playing live as soon as Felinely possible!!
Thanks for the interview and we will all wait for the end of November when the holy grail is out on vinyl...
Thanks, stay safe everyone, be nice to each other and buy our record please! You won’t be disappointed!