Sweden’s alternative metal outfit We Are The Catalyst recently premiered their new single/video today on Tattoo. Entitled “Predators,” the song is the first single from the band’s forthcoming album Ephemeral, slated to drop via Ferocity Records in early 2019.
We Are The Catalyst comprises Cat Fey (vocals), Kenny Boufadene (guitar, vocals), Hakan Strind (drums), and Joni Kaartinen (bass). Formed in 2012, the band dropped Panem Et Circenses a year later, followed by their debut album Monuments. Then in 2016, they dropped Elevation. They’ve toured China and the UK, performing with Delain, Sabaton, and Within Temptation.
With a sound described as everything from metalcore to pop rock, Tattoo decided to find out more about the band’s take on how to categorize their music. As you’ll read, Kenny Boufadene offers a few alternative descriptions.
How would you describe yourself?
I wouldn’t. If I was going to be honest there would just be a lot of dark stuff currently, and most people just don´t want to hear that in an entertainment piece.
What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
Hmm.. I´m not really the kind of person that ever gets into trouble. I was always the kind, shy and cautious kid when growing up, and these days I have kids so I really try NOT to get in trouble. The most trouble I´ve been in has been caused by my own mind telling me to kill myself basically.
What’s your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?
I have two daughters. 6 and 1 and a half, so right now it´s that theme song from Moana! Otherwise I currently love just about anything by Twenty One Pilots. Very sing-along friendly.
Who is your favorite music artist?
This is a hard one! If I had to say an “all-time favorite” that I always return to it would be Linkin Park. They were the reason I started playing music back in the day, and they kept doing amazing stuff all the way to Chester’s end. Which was a horrible, horrible thing, and something that affected me on a personal level very hard since I myself struggle with depression and anxiety. Here´s this guy that “has it all,” or so it seems, and even he can´t take it and ends it. So how are the rest of us struggling people who have similar working minds going to make it work? Life ain’t a walk in the park for anyone really (much easier for some, yes), and it´s definitely not easier when you at the same time are battling against your own mind every day, and can´t trust your own emotions.
How did you get started in music? What’s the backstory there?
I had a rough time growing up, got bullied and had a hard time at home and what have you, also being a very sensitive kind of person, and when I got introduced to playing music in school (when I was around 14 years old) I wanted to try it as I had several friends and a brother who played, so I wanted to be part of that.
I really sucked. I was so bad it´s amazing. BUT, I noticed after a while that several of my previous bullies actually started being impressed that I was better than them at something (I had always been very good at languages and such in school, but that doesn´t give you any cool points. I sucked worst of all at what mattered: Sports. Always got picked last, etc. And the better I got at playing, the more they seemed to respect me. That was what started me on the path. I later got accepted to a music class in Upper Secondary School as a reserve. Yes, I still sucked badly and was the worst in class when we started. But something had clicked in me, and by the time we finished our three year school I was named “Best in class” by my teachers as I had grown the most on my instrument. They saw something in me and actually admitted that they hadn´t really planned on accepting me to the class in the start, but saw some determination or something that made them give me a chance. I´ll be forever grateful for that, because I really wasn’t good when I started.
That experience has really stayed with me through the years and made me never give up on something I´m passionate about. Even when I really SHOULD give up! Lol.
What musicians influenced you the most?
Again I´d say Linkin Park, (Or maybe 30 Seconds to Mars) but not as vocalists or instrumentalists, even if they are awesome, it´s always been more as songwriters and producers. To this day I can barely name even one famous guitarist or instrumentalist since I never really cared about those things. To me it’s mostly about songs, production and the “package.” Other bands that influenced me early on were definitely In Flames, Killswitch Engage, Underoath, Soilwork, Katatonia, Meshuggah, Paramore, Kent (Swedish band) and many others. These days I´d mostly say Bring Me The Horizon, Twenty One Pilots, Enter Shikari, random good radio pop and most definitely movie and game soundtracks, people like Hans Zimmer or Michael McCann.
How, if at all, do your musical influences shape and impact your music?
In all ways. Our sound is pretty back and forth in genres, going from pop to metalcore to cinematic to nu-metal, hence why our fans give us 20 different answers when we ask them what genre they think we play. Hehe. But that is simply because me and Cat love so many different styles of music and artists, we are definitely NOT what you would call “true” metal fans. Seriously, why would we pick one genre of music to play when we write in so many different ones? The only “rule” I think we have about it is that songs we write have to be “rock-ish” to be a candidate for albums. Otherwise it doesn’t really matter as long as it fits with the other songs and we actually truly love it.
What kind of guitar do you play?
An Ibanez 8-string RGIR28FE, tuned in EAEADGHE, so standard plus lower octaves.
How did the band get together?
Me and Cat formed We Are The Catalyst after we quit our old band One Without, which Joni (Bass) and Håkan (drums) were also part of. We wanted to try something different and were sick of all the constant struggling we went through with that band.
What inspired your forthcoming album Ephemeral?
As with most of our music it is about depression, anxiety, the darkness in our world, and societal issues in general. The title “Ephemeral” is basically saying that we, our music, and possibly all of humanity and what we do is, in the end, ephemeral. But still we all struggle on, keep doing business as usual even though in the grand scheme of the universe what we do matters not a damn bit. What if I suddenly disappeared? What would really change? The universe certainly wouldn’t give a damn.
Has the band’s sound evolved since Elevation? If so, how and in what direction?
As with all our bands we start with being somewhat soft, and album per album we drift towards a heavier, darker sound. Mostly with rock and metal bands it seems to be the other way around, but we always do that transition for some reason. I think it has to do a lot with the live shows in the end, that we want energy and more roughness when performing, so we tend to write faster and heavier songs the more we perform live. But I still love “both worlds,” so I am not planning to go with one or the other, we´ll keep doing both! I would say in general Ephemeral is written more with live shows in mind, which of course affects the production at least somewhat, whereas Monuments and Elevation were 100% about doing the songs as best we could for the albums, and not really considering if they would be “fun” to perform live.
More often than not, most people think of metal bands as four or five macho guys pumping out testosterone-laced music. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages to being a female-fronted metal band?
Well, there is a certain audience that seems to like “female fronted metal” more than other styles (I really hate that term btw), but in general I would say there are no advantages, only disadvantages. I don´t know how many times I´ve heard from labels or radio stations, festivals, etc. that “You guys are awesome, but we already have several bands that are female fronted in rotation/signed/playing, so unfortunately we can´t add you too” which is incredibly stupid. How about judging a band from the music instead of what’s between the legs? I´m definitely not joking here, this is a thing, and I´m getting very fed up with it. But sure, maybe they are just following what the audience wants. And if the audience wants guys on vocals that´s what they get.
Your sound has been described as alternative metal, emo rock, metalcore, electronic rock, pop metal, and dark rock. How would you describe it?
There we go! Exactly what I pointed out earlier! Haha! Seriously though, I and Cat have been struggling with defining our genre since we started and we are not closer to a decision these days. Lol. We usually just say Alternative Metal as it’s probably the most versatile and broad of them all, so MOST of our songs fit with it. But it´s kind of boring in the end, I would love if we could coin a new genre for our sound. Maybe Ambivalent Metal? Can’t-decide-what-we´re-playing rock? As-long-as-it’s-awesome Rock? Joking aside, this is a bit of a bad thing with us though, since if we could define ourselves better, I´m 100 % sure we could focus our marketing efforts towards a more niched target audience, which would be better than targeting anyone who likes “Alternative Metal” – meaning bands like System of a Down, Alice in Chains, Godmack, Disturbed, as well as Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin and Evanescence. Easy to see how that target audience can both love and hate us in my eyes.
Will you be touring? Any plans to hit the U.S.?
There´s always “plans”, but I´m tired of saying we are looking at it, etc. We ALWAYS hope we can tour in the US but it´s harder than EU of course since there are more costs involved and lower payouts from venues (as it seems). But then again, most of our fan base (like 40%) live in the US, so you guys really seem to dig our sound. So keep your hopes up, because one day we will be big enough and able to negotiate better deals with venues, or even better, get the chance to support a bigger band on a US tour! We have gotten a few festival offers in the US for 2019, but the pay doesn´t even cover flights for one person, so might not be able to do it. But who knows, if we can get some more shows during the period it might be worth losing money. In the end it´s all about money sadly enough, trying to make “the smartest investments” to grow our band in a sustainable way.
We are putting together a tour for UK and a bit of EU, at least in February and March with our bookers right now, to coincide with the album release, and are also looking at EU festivals. If all those go well we might get money to invest in the US, because I seriously believe we´d have an awesome time with you guys!