Photo courtesy of Catalina.
Catalina is an indie band with a cult-like following in their hometown of Springfield, Missouri. Lenon Rauhoff (lead singer), Maguire Kelly (drums) and Jory Clark (bassist) started the group after they found their sound together in a suburban garage on Catalina Avenue. Later, Ethan Miller (guitarist) and Christian Pomrening (guitarist) joined forces with the original members to round out the lineup. The band fully formed in April 2020 and recently celebrated its first anniversary.
With two singles already under their belt, they’ve been hard at work on their EP, dropping later this year, as well as their new single, “I Know,” which is different from any song they’ve produced before.
The band has played house shows and local sold-out venues like The Odyssey. They rock together, skate together and continue to grow together. Catalina is here to stay, and Shifter Mag had the opportunity to chat with the Missouri natives about their origins, friendship and what’s next for the band.
Shifter Mag: How did music come into your life?
Lennon Rauhoff: My dad was a musician and my grandpa served in an army band. He played where the marines deployed. I grew up around the piano all of the time. And I’d hear stories of my dad being a really good musician. That’s what inspired me to start getting into music and it lets my dad live on, vicariously, through me.
Christian Pomrening: My parents are tone-deaf. Just growing up hearing them sing terribly and not being able to tolerate it pushed me to get into music. I didn’t really know anyone into music other than my brother and I. I gave my brother one of my guitars and I’m trying to get him to a level where he can play really well too.
SM: The band’s second single, “James,” was personal. Can you tell me about the song and the meaning behind it?
Lenon: So our first single, “Sinking in Seattle,” got me into songwriting. That was around freshman, sophomore year of high school for me. And ever since then I’ve been trying to write a song about my dad.
My dad died when I was nine months old. He was a musician and I never really got to know him. I wanted to write about him for so long, but I couldn’t. But one night I just sat down and it happened.
I don’t get choked up thinking about him or anything like that, but it’s hard to describe the feeling of losing a parent before you can even have an emotional connection. It’s hard to put into words, you know? I still don’t think the song did the feeling I have justice, but I don’t think I’d ever be able to get it perfectly down on paper.
The first time I played the song for the band we were playing a three-piece acoustic set for some of our friends. There were probably 20 people watching us, and I told them I was going to play something. That’s the first time they heard it. They liked it, and we went from there. “James” will always be my favorite Catalina song.
SM: How do you guys write your songs? I’ve been told that Lenon usually writes the lyrics then the band adds a melody.
Lenon: It honestly depends. Sometimes Christian or Jory will come in with a chord progression and just bring it to the band to play around with. Our songs come about naturally. And, I think that's a great thing about music. Like there's no way that you have to write a song. And we all work really well together when we’re just messing around together.
SM: You all went to the same high school, but your youngest member, Maguire, just became an upperclassman while the rest of you are in college. How did you meet?
Maguire Kelly: I live on Catalina Avenue. One day, Lenon and Jory started jamming in the garage with me. We were looking for a name for a while and after a while we realized Catalina just kind of fit. It’s got a nice ring to it, and it’s our vibe. We’re connected through band, debate, one club or another, but we really connect at rehearsal.
SM: Age isn’t the only thing that separates you guys. One of your guitarists, Ethan, is taking classes in Rhode Island over the summer. How are you guys making that work?
Ethan Miller: That's the challenge for me right now. I'm currently in Providence, Rhode Island where I go to school and study comparative literature. I'm always busy, but it's never hard to find time to play. I'll fly home and do classes online while we work on recording an EP. It's not the ideal circumstance for school, but Catalina is worth it. I love playing music with Catalina and the guys in the band are some of my best friends. I'll be home this summer to record and practice. In the meantime, Christian, the other guitarist, has more than enough talent to hold down the lead guitar spot in my absence.
SM: How do you make time for music with all of these obstacles?
Maguire: Normally, we get together each Sunday Tuesday afternoon. We jam at my house and it works. We make it work. We aim for two or three rehearsals a week. At least it’s better during the summer, but it’s an effort during the school year.
SM: I know a lot of indie and local artists have inspired your music. How would you describe your sound in your own words?
Jory Clark: Some of the influences that have been pretty important to the group are Pinegrove and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. They’re a little band, and they came out of Springfield, Mo. too. They had a small following around 2012, 2014. They were truly just the kings of this town. Everyone knew them. At least you had heard of them. They were a serious inspiration.
Lenon: Me personally, I have kind of different influences. I have songwriting influences, guitar player influences, and songwriting inspirations. Pinegrove is an important one, I agree. The bands people get introduced to indie with like Arctic Monkeys and any rock and roll or blues artists. Recently, I’ve been listening to a ton of Chuck Berry and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
SM: What's next for Catalina?
Lenon: We have a new single dropping. It’s called “I Know” and it’s the first song I ever wrote. It’s been changed a lot lyric-wise, and the sound is different. I don’t know how to describe it...
Jory: I’d say it's a good blend of indie and rock. The overall tone keeps it in the indie sphere while the backing instruments definitely add in the rock n’ roll.
This is a new beginning, a new door finally opening where we're out of our growing pains and we’re used to each other. Now it’s just getting used to just making music and putting it out regularly. I think everything that comes following this EP is just gonna be a world of stress for sure, but a hell of a lot of fun.
Parts of this interview have been condensed and edited for clarity.