In January 2012, Erik Phillips played his first show as Cat Be Damned at the Chidester House in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Alone with nothing but his acoustic guitar and lyrics, he had his eyes closed the whole time. The next month Phillips released Pixelated Stuff, a collection of songs he’d taken about a year and a half to record. Phillips calls the album “a jumbled up patchwork of sounds from all over.” But Pixelated Stuff glows with honesty. It’s more than just folk through a 90s indie rock filter. Phillips writes songs that are not trying to be anything than what they are. With the addition of John Kovalchik on bass and Kyle Chapell on drums, Cat Be Damned eased into heavier sounds on last summer’s Singing About Places I’ve Never Been. And now that the band is split between Richmond and Raleigh, their underground following has only grown. It’s proof to their promising work, which according to the band should be enjoyed while walking around a city where you don’t know anyone, sitting in a cemetery on top of a mountain at night, or thrashing in a sweaty mosh pit.
Last thing I ate: A bowl of shitty Kroger rice krispies with vanilla unsweetened almond milk by whatever the almond milk brand is. I think they call themselves the “Almond People.” I try to balance my diet so it’s not too sugary without being too disgusting but still healthy. And rice krispies are that.
Favorite video game: For computer game, I’m gonna go with Roller Coaster Tycoon. And for video game, it’s gotta be Time Splitters 2 on the GameCube specifically. Time Splitters 2 is a ridiculous game. You can play as a hand, as a face, as a cannibal clown, as a monkey. And you all shoot each other; it’s just guns. I wish the real world was more like it.
In my car’s CD player right now: The Microphones, Live in Japan. I’ve been obsessed with collecting everything about the Microphones recently.
First pet: His name was Kyle and he was this cute, little, white kitten. He was so adorable and would stay under the bed because he was scared. And the day that we got him comfortable with the world, he got ran over by a car and died.
Best bday present: My girlfriend is the best at giving presents. So she found this picture of Snoop Dogg on the internet smoking a blunt wearing this sweater. It had a snowman smoking a pipe on it. My girlfriend made me a sweater exactly like his. It was insane. I could not believe it. That was the best birthday present I ever got.
First album I convinced my parents to buy me: That’s embarrassing. I don’t really wanna talk about it. But it was probably back in 6th or 7th grade. It was The Sickness by Disturbed, the edited version from Walmart. There I said it. It had that track, “Down with the Sickness” (Erik makes the wha ah ah ah sound). And that’s a good song and all but there were some other songs on that album that had rapping in them. I still have it somewhere though. I ended up getting two copies of it. I got an unedited version too. See, our society wants you to forget that you liked bands like Korn, P.O.D., Limp Bizkit, and Disturbed. But you know what? I still do. Fuck everybody.
Favorite drink: It’s pretty classic but I’m really into water right now. It’s the worst answer you could have for that question but I love it.
Best thing I can cook: I’m not a great cook but since going vegan I’ve tried to force myself into becoming a good cook. My pride right now is this thing called “Blood Dogs.” You take some sort of vegan hotdog, top it with some vegan chili, and to make it a “Blood Dog” you pour some Sriracha on top of it. Copyright me.
Easiest money I ever made: It was at Riverbend high school. So I had graduated from high school and I was just hanging out and playing music that summer. A guy that was organizing the senior picnic day for Riverbend high school contacted me and said he’d pay me $200 dollars to play. So we played for 20 minutes for a bunch of kids who were not paying attention and only like two of my friends watched me. So it’s pretty much exactly what I would have done at my house except I got paid $200 dollars. And it started to rain so everyone went inside so I stole a chair from Riverbend high school and it’s still my favorite chair that I own now. That was a good day.
Favorite music video: Well I’m gonna go ahead and say Korn’s music video for “Blind.” I can see it right now. Best music video of all time. They’re just basically standing around and playing music. I remember watching it and thinking “Man, Korn’s fucking cool.” And that’s still what I think.
Ringtone: My phone’s like a 2001 flip phone thing. The most you can do on it is take a picture. I hate the ringtones that it comes with so I just have it on vibrate right now.
Best thing that’s happened to me this year: I saw a lot of good shit this year, saw a lot of good bands this year. But the first thing that I’m coming up with right now is seeing Califone at the Southern in Charlottesville.
Dream Collaboration: We’d play with Modest Mouse, Neil Young, and Ian MacKaye from Fugazi. That’s how it’s gonna be. We’d do some house shows in the Pacific Northwest. A house show with Neil Young would be ridiculous. And we’re gonna have two Neil Youngs. I want the Neil Young that doesn’t stop playing guitar for thirty minutes and then I want the 80s era ridiculous Neil Young that just does things to piss people off. Both of them, we need that balance. But I think about dream collaborations all the time. My music is just me wishing I was playing with these people. But if they’d wanna play with me, then that’d be it. I’d be done.
Beach or mountains: Both of those are the coolest things about planet earth. So I’m gonna say a mountain by the ocean.
Favorite Disney movie: Snow White, because Snow White’s the hottest princess. I watched some documentary on it talking about how the animals were badly animated but it still looks cool and there’s the weird dwarf dudes. And there’s the witch with the apple. That witch is scary as hell. That is a scary ass witch.
Last book I read: This is gonna make me sound stupid. I don’t really read books but it’s not because I wasn’t one of those kids that wrote in their Myspace book section “Books Sux.” It’s just I start books and I can’t finish them. I remember when my parents got me the Harry Potter books and once I got to the Goblet book I threw it behind my bed and pretended that I lost it. My mom would ask me, “Did you finish that Harry Potter book?” And I’d say, “No, I can’t find it.” But the last thing I read that wasn’t for school that I finished was this book by Phil Elverum of the Microphones. It was a journal called “Dawn.”
First instrument I learned to play: My parents made me take piano lessons when I was like five. My mom only got me to do it because she promised me that every week I went to piano lessons that she’d buy me a pack of Pokemon cards. So I was like, “Let’s do this.” I didn’t watch the Pokemon show or play any of the trading games, but I just liked the cards. Basically I am who I am today because of Pokemon.