An interview with Derek Close, bassist for the band My Cat Puddinhead.
Derek Close (Pictured Above)
So what years were you officially active as a band and where did you guys form?
- I think the total run was '93 to '96. Maybe '97? The two Mikes and Tony started the project and I'm not sure how they all got together. They had a bass player but things didn't work out. I had done some casual jamming with Mike Young a year or so before and he called me up and asked if I could fill in for an upcoming gig. During this time, the band I was playing with fell apart so I joined on as Puddinhead's bassist. I came in late '93 and was with them until June '94.
Who all was in the band?
Mike Blake: Vocals, Lead/Rhythm Guitar
Mike Young: Drums
Tony Benedetti: Lead/Rhythm Guitar
Derek Close: Bass (until June '94)
- Jeremy Christopherson: Bass (June/July '94 on)
Do you still keep in touch? And if so, what is everyone doing now?
I've lost touch with the guys over the years. I haven't heard what Mike Young and Tony are up to these days. Mike Blake went on to play with Grammatrain for a bit then he and Paul Roraback joined forces and formed Gideon's Press which then became The Illustrated Band. I'm not sure what he's doing now but I'd be willing to bet it involves music.
So did you guys put out one album or do you have other recordings?
There are 2 Puddinhead recordings. The Self-Titled cassette and the CD that I've heard referred to as For Sale by Owner.
Where did you record it?
The first album was recorded at Creation Studios in Everett, WA. I was no longer in the band for the 2nd release but I do have a copy of it. It was recorded at Audio Genesis Studios.
You guys have a really interesting sound. Kind of hard to pin down. It seems like it combines elements of many of the grunge sounds of the 90's. Did one person do the writing or was it more collaborative?
Mike Blake was the principal writer. He'd come in with a song, or idea and we'd jam on it until it was complete. Each member would play along constructing our parts, throw in ideas for nuance or punch or the like. It worked for us and usually went really smooth.
My personal favorite is Finger. Did you guys have a song off the album that you liked to play most?
Wow. That's a tough question. I don't know about the other guys, but I really enjoyed most of the songs we played. I think it would be safe to say that we enjoyed the music we played and we enjoyed playing together.
What did most people seem to enjoy hearing live?
- Another tough question. I don't recall any specific song that people seemed to like most live or were drawn to. The feedback we did get was positive. At this time we were a young, unheard of band swimming in a sea of unknowns. So most shows we played were for people hearing us for the first time.
What was your favorite?
If I had to pick one it would either be Sick or Kinda-Bent.
Describe a My Cat Puddinhead show for us who never got to see you play live?
We played a lot of small clubs in Seattle so most shows where just us playing under whatever houselights the venue had. It would be pretty typical, four guys rocking with some fog or smoke with a little banter between songs. We didn't have any signature moves or choreographed “dance” steps or the like. We got up, played our songs then usually watched the next band or two.
I know Sub Pop was one of the big labels around that time. Were you ever approached by any labels?
Non that I know of. Again, we were just getting our feet wet and starting to build a fan base. I didn't hear of any labels approaching them after I had departed.
Did you ever share the stage with some of the grunge icons of the past?
Unfortunately not. We did do a couple of shows with Soulfood '76. They were really good and lasted longer than Puddinhead did.
What bands did you guys play with?
I can't remember the names as most of them were unknowns also. Plus it's only been about 20 years. Besides Soulfood '76, there was Bucket, one called Mama, and another called Clutch or some kind of car part. I remember Chump, too.
What was it like being a part of that scene back in the day? I mean you were so close to where it all happened.
The music scene was pretty nuts in Seattle. You had Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana who were hometown heroes and all eyes were on Seattle. Everybody was hoping to be discovered so vying for attention was pretty difficult. It was hard to even get a good slot to play in. We did a lot of late night shows that were on the mid-week schedule. And a lot of those were in between 3 or 4 other bands that were scheduled for that night.
Do you ever think that if you stuck it out for another album or two you might have been a part of that success?
I've always thought that Puddinhead had a real shot of being able to break through. Even after I left the band I expected them to go further than they did. As I mentioned before, they did release a 2nd album that got fair reviews and a good reception from the established fan base. I picked up a copy, too. I think if they gave it more time they could have gone further.
How important was faith in Jesus to My Cat Puddinhead?
Extremely! We were all believers, attended the same church and played on the Worship Team. As any believer knows, our walk with Christ is an every day, every moment thing. He is a part of you and not something you can pick up or set down at leisure. God is nn my mind the majority of the time.
Do you have any final words you would like to say to your readers?
Thanks for your interest in My Cat Puddinhead. Finding out that people are still listening to and/or just discovering something you had a hand in is pretty cool. It was fun taking a walk down Memory Lane!
Interviewer: Cory Enderby
Interview done on July 30,2013