IS CAREY PRATT
A CONVERSATION WITH PRAIRIE CAT
Prairie Cat is not an animal, it is a band from British Columbia who have just released their fourth album, Is Cary Pratt. It is a rather fitting title for this album, because in truth Prairie Cat is Carey Pratt. He is the sole member of the band.
Pratt started his musical life as a drummer and eventually began writing more songs and out of necessity began singing. I caught up with him recently while he was visiting Toronto.
“I never thought of myself as a singer, very precious about that. I was very self directed and was writing and recording and came up with some songs and I asked myself ‘is this a thing?’.”
There are not a lot of bands/artists that are singing drummers. Karen Carpenter, Phil Collins, Don Henley and Ringo Starr come to mind, but really, a drummer does not often front a band. And yet here is Pratt, in all his glory bashing the drums and singing his heart out.
“I mean, I see myself as a singer/songwriter. And how many of them play drums? Usually when you hear singer/songwriters, you think acoustic guitar or piano but not drums,” Pratt joked recently. He did a lot of session work, especially “in the Vancouver scene”, but he was always writing and putting together his own material. Through all of his work in Vancouver, he met Ryan Dahle (Age of Electric and Limblifter) who became his producer.
“I couldn’t believe Ryan was working with me. He mixed my first record (Attacks, 2007) and when he was mixing it, I was the youngest guy in the room He would pull out everything from the song, strip it down and build it up. He still does that. He comes from a different background than me, but together we try to make music and records that we think people will want to hear. We make accessible music”
In this regard, they succeed. Is Cary Pratt is one hell of a catchy album. The album is full of well played and well written pop songs. This is a guy who grew up listening to Harry Nilsson, Roxy Music, ELO and gradually moved over to Canadian ‘90’s rock. He cites The Flashing Lights as one of his favourite bands.
And Cary also knows how to present himself, especially in his album sleeves and his music videos. Take a look at his video for “Leave a Note” from the album Is Cary Pratt below. It is original and funny.
Says Pratt, “I always like juxtapositions. Happy melody, sad lyrics. For this video for the song, which is serious, we wanted to be funny and ridiculous. Humour can be edgy but I did not want to scare my three year old niece.”
Being Prairie Cat for so long, one has to wonder if there is a message in the title of his new album. Is he dropping the Prairie Cat name and going to release music under his real name, kind of like George Michael moving away from the Wham! name?
“I don’t know if I am ready to throw a curveball to my fan base yet. I like the animal imagery of Prairie Cat. Using my name in the title allowed me to invite some players on to the album and expand the sound. Ryan played guitar and some others helped out here and there, to the point where Prairie Cat became more of a band. But in doing this album, I was able to expand my passion, playing drums. Nothing fancy, i am a meat and potatoes player. But I love drumming. The current tour is me on the drums and no other bad members. I use loops, and electronic things, but there I am on the drums singing my songs.”
My guess is that whatever he decides to call himself, he has an incredible future ahead of him. He will continue to write, record and tour and I know he is building a very large and loyal following. His new album is getting great reviews and gaining airplay across Canada. Is Cary Pratt is a brilliant album and I look forward to his next shows in Toronto.