“McCartney's way with a melody—plus shimmering Bowie-esque guitar textures and sleazy rock rhythm."”
— Corey Walsh, Missoulian
Eccentric modern classic
Eccentric modern classic
"Performance poetry with a strong bass heartbeat."
Singer-Songwriter Henderson K. Shatner formed UK underground darlings Brand Violet, initially signed to Stevo Pearce's Some Bizzare label (Soft Cell, Depeche Mode)—who recorded two “surf goth” albums in the early 2000s. He is a multi-instrumentalist writer-producer; Catnyp is whoever happens to be partnering with him at any given moment. That helps to ensure Catnyp's distinctive sound—it's been refereed to as eccentric modern classic. With smart lyrics and retro vibe guitars in 2018 debut “More Tales of Mystery and Imagination from the Crypt of the Black Cat (Opus 4)” and harder-edged 2019 follow up “Henderson.” Third album, 2020's "Henderson & The Black Cat," completes "The Black Cat Trilogy."
Catnyp IIII (working title) is currently in production, including collaborations with Emily Dolan, The Dixie Narcos, and Amaya Levels.
Mar a Lago
On The floor - video
The long and winding road to catnyp & "ECCENTRIC MODERN CLASSIC"
Henderson K Shatner is from Colorado but has circled the globe making music. In the 90s he formed “Time Beings” and released "the apple war (EP)" in Denver as one of the seminal 90s acts in that city; gigged and released an EP with Australian band “Aqua-9;” played with a Swedish folk band, just to name a few. “I’m inspired by great melodicists,” Shatner says. “I’ve always been compelled to write, to create, and having a short time to tell a story forces you to be really clear about what you want to say.” He goes on to say, “A song can express a lot of storytelling in a compact space. For example, when I write a song about the end of a relationship it’s probably based on the end of every relationship, not just a recent one; it becomes a mosaic”.
Shatner found success in London as the founding member and bass player for UK band “Brand Violet” — hailed at the time as “London’s finest female-fronted guitar combo.” They were signed by Some Bizzarre Records, but ended up releasing Retrovision Coma USA (2004) on Riverside, then Akathisia (2005) on Tapewyrm. They released six singles, two EPs and were featured on three compilations. Brand Violet also spawned another band called “Telford Mining Disaster” while Brand Violet's front woman was having a baby. During his 15 years in England, Shatner’s favorite venue to play was the Kings Head, made famous by Led Zeppelin (who dropped in on occasion). It has since been demolished but still holds fond memories.
Shatner’s latest endeavor, “Catnyp,” has an eccentric modern classic sound: rooted in strong melody but with modern components and influenced by artists like Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello and the Beach Boys; you might even hear hints of Chris Isaak and The Dead Kennedys, even Nirvana and Pixies in some of the more jagged and unexpected chord progressions. Shatner wrote and recorded Catnyp's first album before actually forming Catnyp; the resulting late 2018 debut “More Tales of Mystery & Imagination from the Crypt of The Black Cat (Opus 4)” has a cool retro vibe with smooth vocals and surf-inspired guitars. Follow up "Henderson" was recorded at Elstree Hill Studios in London and is harder-edged that the debut, with more apparent surf-guitars and a heavier approach overall. "Henderson & The Black Cat" followed, completing the "Black Cat Trilogy" and split the needle between the first and second album.
Catnyp IIII (working title) is currently in production. According to Shatner, it'll be more stripped down than previous, more layered tracks with more focus on "purity of tones" from guitars and vocals. It will also feature a more "poppy" vibe overall, and Shatner has learned to play the drums (more or less) as a by-product of lockdown, so for better or worse he's thumping the pagan skins on most of the tracks. "It'll probably be a bit gentler in some ways than the first three ... but trust me, it'll have its moments." It shoud also feature collaborations—The Dixie Narcos, Amaya Levels and drummer Emily Dolan-Davies are likely to find their way onto the final album.
What drew Shatner to music is his desire to write and perform his own songs and has written over two hundred of them. Catnyp’s lyrics range from cutting (Letter to America) to dreamy (Mar a Lago) to pensive (Wild Things Wandering). “My favorite way to interact with fans is from the stage,” says Shatner. He wants to make Catnyp an unforgettable live act and is planning a tour of the Pacific Northwest, as well as developing a licensing platform of his substantial catalog in the immediate future. Fascinated by what gets trendy and what fails to cross over, he sometimes could be accused of subverting his own work. “Things become a cliché for a reason … because they work; the trick is staying on the right side of the cliché line. I challenge myself to do it differently—in order to treat the work with originality and respect.”
"I also think there is a place for rock music rooted in the classics but with a modern twist - something that takes us beyond the sort of repetitive, non-melodic nature of most of today's hip hop and pop music."