Saturday, March 15, 2014

Chicago band Magatha Trysty working on new album, will play Metro show


With its strong harmonies and catchy melodies, Chicago power-pop band Magatha Trysty is a band that demands your attention. 

The band will perform March 21 at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., Chicago. Tickets are $6 in advance and $9 at the door, available by going to 

Husband and wife team Christopher David and Catherine Louise front Magatha Trysty, which is also comprised of Billy Blastoff on bass and backing vocals along with drummer John Monaghan. 

I had the chance to talk to Louise about the upcoming show. 

Q - Great talking to you. Will you be previewing a lot of songs from your new album at the Metro show? What should people expect from the new album and how would you compare it to your first album, "Your Clothes Will Wear Themselves?" 

Absolutely. Metro crowd, expect to hear new things! The audience should anticipate a few old favorites, but mainly a preview of things to come. 

In general, this new album just has more depth. We'll always love our first record - always. 

But, there was an element of, "OH MY GOSH, WE ARE MAKING A RECORD, LET'S RELEASE IT RIGHT NOW!" to it that will be absent with this one. 

We're taking our time. And we're focusing on our strengths: narrative songwriting, lush harmonies, more complex arrangements. 

Q - You front Magatha Trysty with your husband. Do you think the band has a better chemistry because of that relationship? I understand that the two of you met in college. How did you decide to form a band and what were your goals? 

I'd like to think that our relationship lends to the band's chemistry. A few of the songs on the upcoming record are a bit bleak, so I'd hate for people to read too much into that. Musically, though, it definitely gives us more of a connection. 

When we met, we were both musicians. Chris had previously fronted a pretty successful band, and I was studying classical voice and piano. We started writing some alt-country-style tunes together, actually, and then we sort of came to the realization that what we were writing would be better with more musicians.

More noise. We're not naturally quiet people! 

And we also realized that we were itching to do something that was more "pop." And Chris is such a rock guy... we just wanted to do something that would let us branch out a bit more. 

Q - What is the story behind the band's name? Do you think it gives the band an extra edge because you have such an unusual name, that people might want to check you out because of your name? 

Ahhh, the band name. OK, the short story is, it's named after our cat, Agatha. 

She's a rescue, and her previous owner was a writer. We liked that. And, since we give all of our pets stupid nicknames, "Agatha" became "Magatha," and "Trysty" was our attempt, clever or not, to allude to the relationships that are the center of so many of our songs.

As for whether or not we have an extra edge, I'm not sure. People tend to forget the name, or say "huh?" the first time they hear it. 

But, really, there are so many odd names out there. I'm not sure "Magatha Trysty" is any weirder than "Porno for Pyros." 

But we like it, and it's personal, and it hearkens back to when Chris and I were just starting to write music together, in our little apartment, with our scrawny rescue cat. So it means something. 

Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you see Magatha Trysty fitting into it? Are there other bands in the Chicago area that you listen to and admire what they are doing? 

Chicago is tough. That's not sour grapes; I'm not just talking about getting people out to our own shows. 

In general, Chicago is a tough place to draw. But Chicago's talent is seriously unparalleled.

It's ridiculously diverse. Admittedly, there are places where the local scene is much more alive - Brooklyn, Raleigh and Nashville, among others. 

But, even though those places may boast larger draws, I defy anyone to find a city more talented than Chicago. As for Chicago bands and musicians who have caught our attention - gosh, there are so many. Panther Style; Tristen; Elements of Style; 10,000 Light Years; Mooner; The Blisters... Chicago is overrun with talented musicians.

Maybe that's why more people don't GO to shows. They're all out playing their own. 

Q - Who are your biggest musical influences and how you see them influencing your music? 

Too many. I grew up on opera, The Beatles, Patsy Cline, and Roy Orbison.

I love a memorable melody. I love a big voice. In college, I went crazy for The New Pornographers and never looked back. 

Our harmonies and arrangements, at least as far as I'm concerned, are composed with them at least partially in mind. If you sprinkle in a bit of R.E.M. and some late 50s girl groups, you've pretty much got me figured out. 

As for Chris, he's strongly influenced by classic power pop. The Raspberries, Cheap Trick, Big Star - that's where it started. But, he's also a big KISS fan.

Actually, "big" is an understatement.  He's a rock guy at heart. 

If you couple Chris' and my influences with Billy and John's, you kind of start to understand our sound. Billy was in The Vindictives; he's got a punk background, and that comes through, even in our pop-centric style. John is an obsessive listener and absorber, and a lifelong musician: all styles, all genres - which helps to shape our overall sound. 

Q - The band is not signed to a label. How much harder does that make it in getting your name out there and promoting the band? Would you ever want to be signed to a label? 

Do you know something? Do you know someone? We're in!

Seriously, though, yes, we'd absolutely be interested in the right label. But, we'll always want to have control over our sound.

As for whether or not that makes things more difficult...well, yeah, I'm sure it does, in a way. We would like the universe to listen to our songs, and we don't think that's so much to ask. And the right label might make that easier. 

Q - What are the band's short-term and long-term goals? 

Short-term? Play a ridiculously wonderful Metro show. Record our next album, which will make our first album pale in comparison. Be heard by many. 

Long term? I don't know. Album three. And four. And world domination. Also, a cure for cancer. A musical cure for cancer.