BUBBLE CATS are not a joke band. Despite their adorable moniker, their Tumblr full of strange feline memes, and their upcoming release Catalogue—which consists of three separate EPs, Hiss, Mews, and Purr—the genre-bending Portland quartet is less concerned about the perception their artistic motif might give off, and more focused on their somewhat overlooked cache of up-tempo post-rock outbursts.
"Our next record isn't gonna be called Kitty Litter," says vocalist/guitarist Tyler Riggs. "We don't write songs about cats."
The band—rounded out by bassist Jordon Bocek, guitarist Joel Bocek, and drummer Anthony Doyle—had trudged through various incarnations for years prior to Bubble Cats' 2011 conception. It was the addition of Riggs that shook up the trio's approach to making music together.
"Joel, Jordon, and I are good at playing music, but we're not good at being in a band," admits Doyle. "We needed someone to lead us and take the reins."
The cohesion of the three EPs comes from how the band borrows from the hallowed tenets of classic rock, the whimsy of punk, and the ferocity of metal, and then slams them together to create oddly addictive melodic vignettes. The band assures that there is no thematic umbrella to the triptych, despite the cat-centric titles; still, there's a subtle evolution between each recording that tells the tale of the band's unwillingness to be mired in any one pigeonhole.
Hiss' "Forever Alone" examines the dilemma of a lovesick Medusa with haunting guitar effects during the verse, à la early Pixies, then buckles into a '70s chorus brimming with spot-on harmonies. "Safe Word," an S&M fantasy tune from Purr, is a busy swing number bustling with peppy drums, jazzy guitars, and trumpets. On both songs, the band showcases their technical dexterity, which is one of Bubble Cats' more immediately notable attributes (see the guitar solo in "Birds of Prey" from Hiss for further evidence).
"I just like playing badass shit," says Riggs. "Back to not being perceived as a joke band, you walk this line. I don't want people to be depressed. I want to play fun music for people to listen to."