Minneapolis fat cats

Minneapolis rock band Catbath returns after a six-month respite.

Members of the band Catbath.

Photo courtesy of Kristin Kosieracki

Members of the band Catbath.

by Joesph Cristo

Their songs are deceptively simple, yet layers of harmonies and shifting rhythmic structures give Catbath’s songs a pure, pop edge.

After living together, singer and guitarist 

Travis Franklin and drummer Crystal Stockert founded Catbath in February of 2013. 

“We didn’t expect much to come of it,” Stockert said. “I had been playing bass in [the band Skipper] and didn’t consider myself a drummer.”

Franklin and Stockert are long-term partners and have both been in other bands in the Twin Cities. The two share a love for pop songs, but heavier bands like Black Sabbath and the Melvins influence them, too.

“Sometimes I refer to how we sound as musical ADHD,” Franklin said. “But eventually everything sounds very similar to what they were doing in the ’90s — the stuff I sort of grew up listening to.”

Initially a duo, Stockert began to develop harmonies and background vocals for the Catbath songs Franklin was writing. The band then began to search for a bassist to complete the lineup. Stockert set her sights on Kristin Kosieracki.

“I didn’t know any more eligible bass players in the Twin Cities,” Stockert said. “So I cold called her at the salon she works at in the middle of the day. The woman who answered asked me ‘What’s your name?’ and I sighed and said ‘It doesn’t matter, she doesn’t even know who I am.’”

With their sound beginning to fill out, a distinct songwriting process developed. Franklin would write entire songs or a riff, and the rest of the band would help flesh out the tune. Stockert and Kosieracki both sung ’60s girl-group inspired background vocals that became an important element of the music.

Catbath soon set up a mini recording studio in one of their houses and began live tracking their debut, “It’s Bathtime.”

“We used the whole house as recording studio,” Stockert said. “We moved all the furniture out of the house. We put the mixer in the kitchen, and it became the control room, and each of our amps were in separate rooms to isolate sounds. Then we all played live in the living room.”

For a time, the band operated as a three-piece, but felt like something was missing. 

“Most of the songs were written and recorded with second or third guitar parts in mind,” Franklin said. “So [Matthew Graves], who was just at a lot of shows, joined. Everything sounds fuller, and it’s easier to sing, obviously. ” 

After a six-month hiatus, Catbath debuted their new line-up opening for Skating Polly at the Triple Rock Social Club in March.

“The reaction was kind of crazy,” Kosieracki said. “After not playing any shows for a while, it was unexpected how people responded to it.” 

Their wild live show has already been road-tested with a resume that includes an opening for The Polyphonic Spree’s tour, slots at Summerfest and Vans Warped Tour and tours in the Midwest and East Coast. 

“The Polyphonic Spree thing was weird,” Kosieracki said. “I literally just messaged them and they let us open up for them.”

Right now, Catbath is looking to finish their second album by fall. The record will be tracked in Franklin and Stockert’s house and will be preceded by a two-track single released at the end of the summer.

“We want to finish this next record really soon,” Franklin said. “But we don’t know a label that can put out vinyl. And if they just do digital distribution then like, what’s the point? We could just do that ourselves.”

For the time being, Catbath is focused on live performances. Their next show is at the 331 Club, where they played their very first public show, with Ego Death and Straya on June 17.