“McCartney's way with a melody—plus shimmering Bowie-esque guitar textures and sleazy rock rhythm."”
— Corey Walsh, Missoulian
Singer-Songwriter Henderson K. Shatner formed UK underground darlings Brand Violet who recorded two “surf goth” albums in the early 2000s. His new band, Catnyp, has an eccentric modern classic sound with smart lyrics and retro vibe guitars in their 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.
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; 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 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 4 singles, 2 EPs and 3 compilations. Brand Violet also spawned another band called “Telford Mining Disaster” while their 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. Shatner wrote and recorded the 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.
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."