December 1978.

"I wasn't born with a silver spoon/Just a steamin' hot TV dinner."
from "My Life's In The Bag" by Freddy Moore

By Chris Hanlon

   It has always been fashionable for rock bands and songwriters to claim The City as their place of origin and the spawning ground for their music. To admit that one was the product of the suburbs was tantamount to heresy, even though the travails of adolescence (the stuff of which great rock is made) and the progressions therein remain an almost mathematical constant whether the environment is urban or suburban. The Kats, who originally hail from the wilds of suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota and Marin County, California, not only admit to their roots,
The Kats: Galles, Moore, Peters, Bobbyzio, McRae     
but sing about them. Their music and lyrics reflect the adolescent suburbia, not the belabored vacuousness oftimes associated with the parents of said sub adults. "I'd like to call it (the band's sound) an urban sound, but it's really a more suburban sound, I guess. Lyrically it's very suburban because we all grew up in a kind of suburban environment. And rather than go 'Yeah man, we're street guys from the city' we decided to be more honest," confessed Kats spokesman Freddy Moore. "If I got up there and tried to be like David Lee Roth or someone, it just wouldn't work 'cause I'm just a wimpy-little, punky-looking guy, and so when I wrote the songs I just thought about the stuff that happened, so most of the stuff is true and has really happened to me. It's all based on what we really are." The songs reflect the suburban ennui that views the city streets as the place where the action happens. In "Street Life," the protagonist complains, "I'm a part of the culture/Read it in Rolling Stone/But I'm stuck out in the suburbs/So don't leave me all alone...Street Life, that's what I need."
   Before The Kats were transplanted in a warmer clime, they played throughout the country under the unlikely appellation of Skogie (at first "Skogie and the Flaming Pachucos"). About their transition to a So Cal band, Freddy Moore explained: "We were big stars in the Midwest; we were on all the TV shows and whatnot. We had a good chance of getting a recording deal except that we were located in Minneapolis. A guy from Atlantic Records was behind us, the representative for the Midwest. He called up the people on the coast and they said, 'Who needs a band from Minnesota no matter how good they are?' That's one of the reasons we eventually moved out here. When we worked with The Tubes, they recommended that we come out here. We finally decided to move when we played with them. Then, when we came out here, we decided to revamp the whole thing and really get something super-solid, something unique, something real that would have longevity, something that is just totally us. So we came up with The Kats.
   The change of climate brought with it a change in the band's music. "For about the last year and a half we just stopped working-playing original music-and just woodshedded, really com up with something unique and identifiable, thematic; we really soul searched to say 'what can we do' and 'who am I and what can I portray?' so I wrote the material from that aspect rather 'Let's do something like Boston and try to sell.' We said 'Let's do something that's really us, and that's why we're confident of it." Whereas the sights and sounds of the Skogie band of Minnesota could be described as Tubesque, the sound of The Kats is something else entirely, the closet parallel being the sound of Steely Dan or, Charlie, but also sharply differentiated from them. In a word, unique. The members of the band have somewhat changed roles in their transformation into The Kats. "Musically, we've decided who does what best/ Bobby (Bobbyzio Moore, Freddy's Brother) plays saxophone, but he basically started as a guitarist and a bass player. He plays keyboards and all these things, but we decided to concentrate on his sax because he can get a really nice sax sound, and he can do a lot of theatrics on sax.
   The bass and the drums (Dennis Peters and Al Galles, respectively) have been together for fifteen years so they're a real tight unit, rhythmically, so we use a lot of rhythmic punches. They've been together 15 years and have a magic way of communicating. I (Freddy) am the songwriter--I've always been the songwriter--so I wrote the songs for me as the lead singer and them as the background. We were looking for the final piece, and we found this guy Pete, Pete McRae who just fits in so well. I really feel like we've got it now; we have the show and we have the musical ideas, so now we can perform the music the way we want. He (Pete) can play all the complicated aspects of the music and make it sound right. And we can rock and roll."
   However, things are not all working out the way The Kats would like. A few days before the interview, Freddy suffered a moped accident on his way to the hospital to have some stitches checked (stitches that were put in as a result of a previous moped accident). This time around, he broke his leg, which confined him to a wheelchair for a few weeks, and putting a slight crimp in their plans to nab a recording contract. Somehow, it seemed a perfect time to ask about the live aspect of their show. Gone are the trappings of the Skogie days, but there is still the commitment to the audience. "Audiences react to energy. I mean, you can have a really shitty band that's putting out the right energy to the audience, and the audience will love them, and you can have a band that's out there playing great but look really bummed out or something, and the people won't get off on it. We are not saying 'Let's be outrageous and shock these people,' its more like my whole philosophy on stage, which is to communicate with the audience. My whole psyche is that I was gonna use all my energy during the show, all that I could, and consequently during the show, I put out so much energy that I'm completely exhausted physically. And I wanted that to be real rather than mock it or fake it".
   The Kats should be out prowling the streets and clubs of L.A. and strutting their stuff before long, so watch out. With music of their caliber, they should be in the public eye in a flash.