interview with Katagory V

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Have any of you played in other bands? Professionally, aside from Katagory V, I have sat in on a few songs with the legendary NY metal band Riot, as well as briefly performing as the backing band for former Metal Church vocalist Ronny Munroe. Some of the former band members of Katagory V that have not retired from music have moved onto other bands, notably Sonic Prophecy, Acracy, and Empyrean Sanctum.

How is it that you started playing music? My father was a Radio DJ, and I was exposed to a lot of music growing up, He owned a massive collection of 45’s. I would record them onto a cassette as a mixed tape, which would be a mix of pop and rock from the 70’s and 80’s. At some point in my pre-teen years,  I wanted to make my own music, so I decided to take it a step further and actually create music rather than just listen to it.

What are your names? / Who plays what? / How old are you?

I would have to guess at the ages, but I won’t… I will just say most of them are much younger tan me. The last line up of the band before we broke up was,

Dustin Mitchell/Bass/43

Matthew “Bizzaro” Lefevre/Drums

Kris Kromple/Guitar

Marc Hansen/Guitar

Albert Rybka/Vocals

Have you had other previous members? Oh yes, several. Some I still keep in contact with, such as Curtis, Matt, Marc and Bizzaro, and other I haven’t heard from or seen in over a decade.

Did you make music even when you were young? I made some attempts at it, but didn’t actually get to a point where it was good or worthy of sharing until I was in my late teens.

Where are you from? I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah but grew up in the rural country near Ogden, Utah for half my life, then moved back to the big city.

What year did the band form? If I remember correctly,  we formed back in 1999

What's your style of genre? I personally feel we are just a basic heavy metal band, but we often get placed in the Progressive/power metal genre.

What inspires you? (laughs) Musically? Not a lot these days. But back when we were writing songs in the band, most of the inspiration was the interactions with other people, personal experiences, the music & tech industry, and the human condition which still fascinates me.

How often and where do you rehearse? Back when we formed the band, we rehearsed rigorously about 2-3 times a week. It was actually a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Near the end, due to everyone living further away, having families, and because of the advancement of technology, we got together once every other weekend, and rehearse or write our own material to pre-recorded parts of the other members instrumentation, and then bring those ideas to the studio or send the files to each other and flesh things out that way.

How have you developed since you started with the music? I would like to believe I have developed and grown over the years, but there is always a bit of internal self deprecation, as I always feel I could be better at my craft. Especially when I hear other younger artists who can perform circles around me. 

Do you have other interests of work outside the band? I currently work in sales for HVAC/R trade and I put most of my time into that and my family as it is the most fulfilling for me right now. Outside of that, my other interests in my free time are collecting and listening to rock & metal music, and I’m a huge fan of Sci-fi and Anime.

Are you looking for a booking agency, and what are your thoughts around that? No, since the band has not been active for many years, we have no plans to seek out a booking agency as we have no intent to perform live right now or in the near future.

Are you looking for a label, and what are your thoughts around that? Same as the booking agency, we are not currently active, so we are not openly perusing any label partnerships. Our experience with labels has been luke-warm in the past, it’s not like it was 20, or even 10 years ago. The industry and market has changed drastically, and the one disappointment I have had with some labels, not all of them mind you, is they are often terrible with communication and follow up, and It’s just not a very professional way to handle working on a possible partnership. Some of this may be in part to the fact that the market is flooded with talented artists in our genre, and (the labels) feel that they don’t have time to personally communicate with all the bands they have interest in. Either way, it is somewhat sad to see that part of the business go away. A&R representation no longer exists, and that is a shame. 

What made you decide to make this music? That’s hard to say really… I believe because it was aggressive, and also challenging. Heavy Metal is very edgy and in some respect, very universal at the same time. From my perspective, it was a form of music that really reached into my soul that displayed many emotions that I could identify with more so than any other type of music, and I felt I could communicate those same emotions though our music to others like myself.

What are your songs about? A vast majority are based on personal relationships with people, the emotional ups and downs, and how we deal with our differences and similarities. How we handle happiness, grief and myriad of other emotions and situations we all go through every day. Some of the earlier albums had some sword & sorcery topics, and toward the latter albums, there are a few songs about the music industry intermixed some political matters, but again, a majority of the songs were more about personal experiences and relationships with people. 

Who does the composing and writes the lyrics? In the early days of the band,  Curtis, one of the founding guitarist and myself would compose a bulk of the music and lyrics. Our vocalist at the time, Lynn, would write some lyrics and melodies, and other members through the bands history would inject some of their input and song ideas which would also make it onto the albums. Looking back, the first four albums were more of a collaborative effort even though Curtis and myself did a majority of the writing, but by the time we got to our 5thalbum, “Resurrect the Insurgence”,  I was the sole original member of the band and thus the main song writer. Our vocalist on that album, Albert Rybka, penned a few lyrics and the drummer on that album, Bizzaro, also penned a song, but for the most part, that last Katagory V album was more or less my solo album with the Katagory V name attached to it.

Do you start with the music or the lyrics? We usually always started with the music. We would compose some riff ideas and bounce those ideas around until we had a good idea of the song structure and then write lyrics and melodies over that.

Do you compose in a certain environment? In the past we would come up with ideas at home, bring them to the studio or write together during our rehearsals. Now days a lot the writing would be done in our home studios and then sent to each other as files, and we would then get together and work those ideas out in a live environment.

Have you done any covers live? Umm… we normally didn’t play covers live, but now that I think about it, actually yes, we once performed a song from the band Leatherwolf live with one of their original guitarists joining us on stage for it. We also did a cover of Savatage’s “Carves his Stone” and decent cover of Crimson Glory’s “Red Sharks” at our last and final live show, which ironically is our most watched video on YouTube.

What language do you sing in? English…

What are the least and most people to attend one of your gigs? (thinking) well… the most I believe we performed for at one time was several hundred at a gig, but as far as the least amount to attend, we performed to only the bartender and sound man a few times in our career. (laughs)

What ages are most of your concert attendants? When we first started,  It would be 25-35 years old, but now days, I think it would be probably 25-55 year olds.

Do you always play the same songs live, or do you vary? It would vary.  We have 2-3 songs from our discography that are popular that we would play near the end of each set, but most of the songs  outside of those would rotate depending on if we were out supporting a new album.

Do you have a regular place you play live often? Well, locally we did at one time have a place we would perform at often, there was a club in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah call Club Vegas, which is long gone now, but we would perform there during our off-time from the studio or when we were not out doing one-off shows across the states. I have many good, and some not so good memories of that club (laughs). We cut our teeth there and had several good opportunities given to us while playing live there.

What was your first gig like? With Katagory V? oh, I’ll never forget that one, It was a comical disaster. Our first gig was playing at an all-ages venue in front of 13-18 year olds with two other bands that were not even in the same genre as us. It went just about how you would expect it to go. Awful. The kids didn’t like us, we were to “old” sounding and our singer could actually sing and not yell like the other bands, so we got laughed off stage. Looking back, it makes me laugh because the whole thing was a complete joke, but it was also great learning experience, however I wouldn’t ever want to do that type of gig again!

What was your latest gig? The last live gig we did was back in 2010 opening for the all-female Iron Maiden tribute band, The Iron Maiden’s. It was a great show and was absolutely packed. Being our last live performance, I think we went out on a high note at that show.

Have you had to cancel a gig? No, we have never had to cancel a gig, but we have had gigs canceled on us.

Where have you played live this year? We haven’t played live this year, as we haven’t played live since 2010

Where do you plan to gig the coming year? Unless something miraculous happens and the stars and planets align correctly, we will not be performing live in the near future.

When did you start to sell merchandise, and what do you have for sale? We started selling merchandise immediately after we released our first album independently in 2001. Because we have been inactive for almost 10 years now, most of our actual tangible merchandise like CD’s and T-shirts are no longer available. However, we still do have some leftover merchandise available along with digital downloads of our back catalogue.

Where can people buy your merchandise?

What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records now a days? Personally, I am not much of a fan of downloading music myself, and as a collector and fan of music, I prefer to have a tangible copy of the artists product. It is very cathartic and enlightening to thumb through and read the lyrics, thank you lists, and recording details while listening to the music. I feel it adds a level of value in the artist work.  However, downloading and streaming is where the market is right now, which is perfectly fine if this is the method that fits music fans listening habits. My only real complain as an artist is that the payout on the digital platforms is unsustainable if you are not able to generate hundreds of thousands of clicks or listens. In Order to accomplish that, you have to really market your band heavily, manipulate and pay attention to algorithms and data analytics, which costs money and time, and can become a very expensive investment. Sometimes you spend a lot of money on digital marketing, and if you don’t have the capitol to fund such a venture, your band will go completely unnoticed and you will go broke in the process. If the payout on digital platforms was more lucrative, and offset the costs of marketing your bands brand, then it would make sense, but right now, it really doesn’t make sense in my opinion.

How do you think the music industry have changed because of this? The industry was very slow to adapt to the change, and I feel that is what caused some of the problems. Had the music industry employed the tech sector into creating and implementing these digital platforms for them, rather than fight them in court, I believe things would have played out very differently. Another factor is that it’s increasingly challenging for artists and label to add value to their product these days. It’s almost impossible for anyone to equate value to something that they can have instantaneously, sometimes for free. Music has essentially become a disposable commodity with no scarcity. It’s value has been diminished, and the challenge for the music industry is to figure out how to add that value back.

What do you think of my work? I think it’s absolutely fantastic. I have noticed that you are taking the time to give a voice to lesser known artists, and this is extremely appreciated and I absolutely applaud your efforts in doing that!

How do you think and know that this interview will help you in the music business? To be perfectly honest, I am not sure it will help us much since we are not actively working in the music business now, but I can only be hopeful that it will generate some renewed interest in the music we created, and maybe introduce us to people that have never heard of Katagory V until now.

Do you have any role models or idols? Well, musically I have too many idols to name, but as cliché’ as it may sound, my biggest role model would be my father. I was raised with music all around me, and I can’t think of a time where music was not part of my growing up, and he was the major contributor of that. He was always supportive of my musical direction, and I would not have ever in my wildest dreams considered becoming a musician was it not for him.

Why do you think that they exist? I believe they exist because as humans, we always strive to be something more. It is in our nature to want to produce and give, and reciprocate. Role models are there to foster and grow these talents, and that is how we grow as humans, as well as grow as society.

Is it easier to find inspiration from older bands, or bands that are more active today? I continuously find inspiration from more active bands these days. Granted, it’s always nice to go back and listen to music that inspired me as a teen or young adult, and relive those soundtracks of my youth for inspiration, but I am more often than not inspired by many young and new bands that are coming out.

What have been your biggest obstacles? That’s a tough one… pertaining to the band and music industry, I think one of the biggest obstacles for me is not being able to let go of things that I cannot change. Of course, this sounds like the most common obstacle for anyone, and I have no problem with overcoming obstacles in my personal life, but only find it hard to do with my musical career or lack there of.

What advice would you give other bands or artists? My advice, which has not changed in 20 years, is if you really love making music and want to see any level of success, do not buy a house, do not have any children and find a girlfriend or boyfriend that is seriously rich. (laughs) But seriously, it’s extremely tough and competitive out there, and to be perfectly honest, bands and artists should do it because it’s fun and they enjoy it. As long as it’s fun, you enjoy it, and other people enjoy it, by all means keep going. If it is no longer fun, becomes stressful and is taking time away from your family, friends, or any of the small but meaningful things in your life, then there is no shame in letting it go and moving on to other things unrelated to music.  It is better to try and fail, than not to try at all.

How do you get psyched for a gig? I would normally listen to an album from my youth, to kind of remind me of why I got into being a musician and attempt to get the blood pumping before getting on stage.  

Do you have any new material? Unfortunately no, we have no new music. Our last album was released posthumously in 2015.

What are your web sites?

How can people reach? They can reach us through our facebook page or bandcamp page

What are your plans for the future? As of right now, there are no real future plans for Katagory V. I have been in talks with some of the original band members, Curtis and Matt respectively, for a few years now, and we have been throwing the idea around of possibly getting together and writing new Katagory V music, but again, we have been talking about this for a while, and honestly I am the one that is holding things up. (laughs), but who knows… nothing may come of it, or it might be another 10 years before we actually do something before we are too old, or we might actually get together rather soon and see if we can still have fun with creating some solid heavy metal music again. Only time will tell.

Do you have something to add? Thanks for allowing me to talk about Katagory , and I hope some find interest in this interview!

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