Eric Anderson and Matt Batey both play music in Seattle. Their indie-rock bands—Cataldo is Anderson’s ongoing project, Ruler is Batey’s—share members, including each other, and sound similar, in that both bands brim with effusive energy; witty, deeply personal lyrics; and more finely crafted hooks than a tackle shop. They’ve known each other a long time. They both wear glasses.
On the eve of City Arts’ next installment of Band Crush, wherein Batey and Anderson will cross the Ruler-Cataldo streams in an unprecedented and potentially unholy live mashup, playing their own songs and each other’s songs and cover songs and joined by a horn section, the two logged onto Slack and interrogated each other. There was as much brotherly ribbing as earnest questioning and semi-sarcastic existential banter. Both may or may not have been on the clock at their respective day jobs. What follows has been only mildly edited for clarity.
[Matt Batey joined #general]
check 1, 2, check
This feels like the old AOL chats
[Eric Anderson joined #general.]
Hello! Good to slack with you
Yeah I don’t 100% know how best to utilize this method
probably the first question we need to address is who is better at singing
Eric check out the website I threw together: https://rulermusic.com/
Nice! Damn, square space is such a game changer for not-that-type-of-nerds like us
My favorite part is the simple drag-and-drop templates that allow me to create a professional looking website in minutes.
So should we just ask questions back and forth then?
My first question for Eric is: If I go to Molly Moon’s and get a single scoop, can I split that into half scoop of one flavor and half scoop of another? [editor’s note: Anderson may or may not work for Molly Moon’s]
I will come up with a real start here.
Okay Eric I’m gonna get real with you here
Why do you play music and why haven’t you quit by now?
This is a really good question
what is wrong with you
I think I forged my identity around being a songwriter. To shift metaphors: it’s like I’m a tree that grew around being a songwriter and performer and it would take some pretty significant tree surgery to remove that part of my life. I spend a significant portion of everyday thinking about music or working in music to the point I’m not really sure who I would be without it.
I’ve never made money as a musician, but putting the whole enterprise into the black is sometimes tantalizingly close (eg. a big licensing thing could swing it). Every record, though, more people figure out about the band, and I feel supported by peers and mentors in music, at least enough to not feel completely insane or disappointed.
I just enjoy the process too much to stop, even when it’s expensive or difficult. Making cool shit as a songwriter and producer feels too good.
How about you? Your road with this record took SIX YEARS. How did you stay focused on humping it over the finish line?
(Humping as the old timey synonym for carrying, not sexual humping)
Side question I just thought of:
After the record was done you wrote and recorded like 7 songs in two months. How/why did you become so efficient after finishing?
When I was a kid, I believed that I was stupid. For some reason I became convinced that I was naturally unintelligent and that I could never succeed academically, so I didn’t want to waste my time trying. I was desperate to find something that a “stupid” person like me could be good at. When I saw that musicians were respected, I thought it could be something for me. So I got a guitar and practiced for 6-8 hours a day and studied the songs that I loved, hoping to make some of my own so that I could be worth something to the world. That belief that I am not smart and need to find a unique path in life is something that I have come to recognize as being inaccurate, but I still cannot shake it.
So that is the fuel. Underneath that, music just plain touches my heart. I feel a truth in it that I don’t see anywhere else. It’s hard to explain. I’ve always felt that my salvation is somehow encoded in musical intervals and pop song structures. I’m sorry that this sounds SO DRAMATIC.
We both make kind of emotional guitar music too. I wonder too how much of it appeals to us because it’s a mediated way to be vulnerable and talk about things that are embarrassing or maybe don’t paint you in the best light. You’re kind of a textbook recovering catholic with all the trappings (guilt, shame, damaging religious adults) and I had kind of the Diet Coke version of that with some garden variety church-leaving and emotional repression in my early teens.
Songwriting is a way to expose tender parts of yourself but maintain complete control all at the same time.
Yes that’s true. Songwriting is freeing in that you can expose all of your shit but dressed up in just the way you want it.
Next question: How bad do you feel for participating in the file-sharing craze that led to the collapse of the music industry as we knew it?
Well my dad teaches copyright law so it was an extremely strict no-file sharing environment as a teen, I never used Napster, I think I may have tried audio galaxy once or twice but that’s it. Once I left the house my college dorm was all on the same network so with this program “ourtunes” you could download songs off any networked computer’s iTunes library. It was amazing but also fucked up my head a little bit.
I remember downloading, like, 11 Yo La Tengo records and trying to really listen to all of them and being overwhelmed
The music felt less special which still fucks me up to be honest
If I could go back to the world of music being written about widely on the internet but distributed through the mail and retail I would go back in a heartbeat. Less for economic reasons than cultural/emotional reasons.
We’re you a big file sharing guy in high school? I could see you, like, teaching everyone how to do it lol
I used napster briefly but did the bulk of my illegal downloading via Kazaa. I downloaded thousands of songs obsessively. I kinda thought of myself as having special permission to get the stuff for free because I was using it to teach myself how to make music. Today I am majorly conflicted about the state of the industry. I want kids like me to have access similar to what I had, but I want musicians like current me to be compensated enough to be able to sustain themselves. I do carry some guilt, but I also think there’s a way to make the digital industry work for everyone. We’re not there yet.
I’m hopeful. If a music service like Spotify was widely subscribed to with a slightly higher rate I think it could turn into a workable amount of money for musicians. It’s a situation where I want a benevolent monopoly so that everyone uses the same program and we (bands and songwriters) could ask a little more for the privilege of getting every song ever recorded. It feels like we’re having the opposite problem of too many platforms trying to charge the least amount of money.
We just need more money in the pot before it’s divvyed (sp?) up by the number of plays you get
Unfortunately I’m not sure a benevolent monopoly is possible in a capitalist system
Maybe if music became a public utility like electricity or water
I think if a streaming subscriber pays $10/month and only listens to local artists, that $10 pie should be split between what the listener actually streamed.
Not put into a massive pie that gets turned into $0.0001 per stream
Right, this is the David Lowry model right?
I’m not sure
I just don’t want Taylor Swift to get a cut from listeners who listen more to Ruler than her.
Taylor if you read this, plz know I love you.
I like that concept too. So instead of one big pie that gets cut up along all artists millions of mini pies that are spoon fed into the mouths of the artists those users listen to
Yeah similar to how it would be split if people were buying the tracks directly.
I think the ramifications of that would be that artists who young people listen to (ie the folks least likely to buy a subscription) would see comparatively less and people like us would see comparatively more. Given than young people tend to listen to radio pop and rap I don’t see that happening anytime soon
Taylor Swift and Future are too powerful
Those two specifically
Speaking of Taylor and Future have you heard their track “endgame”? There’s a Trojan Ed Sheeran in there but it still fucking RIPS
You should download it on Napster rn
I haven’t! I’mma stream that rn.
It’s an interesting song. It’s kinda structured in a classic “featuring different artists” format where they each get a verse but the star sings the hooks (the most analogous song in modern hip hop and pop is Forever which features drake, Eminem, Kanye, and Lil Wayne)
But then there’s this kinda bonus chorus that bookends the song “oooooh you and me we got a big reputation aaaaiiiinnng”
So almost like a coda but it’s also at the beginning of the tune
omg you are such a nerd
Okay next question
You have nothing to say about that song?
Not even that you think it’s boring?
I need time to absorb music my dude
My only comment right now is that it does not sound great on my work pc speakers.
Give me that lukewarm take when you can
Have I told you about these new headphones I got?
Focal Spirit Pros
Have changed my life, they’re so accurate and fun to listen to
Sorry, you were saying?
I need to peep these headphones
but back to the thing
Where should we move to when we get fully priced out of Seattle?
Lately I’ve been thinking it might be fun to go to Canada.
Great question, I’m actually eating rn at Pecos BBQ down in Sodo. You ever been there? Opened in 1980, original price if a sandwich was 2.75. Those days are gone, that’s for sure.
Real image of us 40 years from now in Canada
[uploaded and commented on this image:]
Tbh, I want to stay in the region, I’ll try burien probably
I want to continue to be a part of this greater music community even if I can’t technically afford to live here.
I’ve never been there but that’s close to my hood. How is it?
A place just opened in Georgetown called Ciudad. Heavenly flavors.
I went in there really stoned once and had their hangar steak sandwich. The experience was so beautiful I was almost crying.
okay now you do one
If you could be gifted any one musical tool what would it be? Nice guitar? Vocal mic of your dreams?
Well Eric, I’d have to say the greatest gift I could receive is the gift of friendship from the wonderful community of musicians here in Seattle ❤️
Hahaha jk. I really want a UA Apollo and some nice plugins for demoing the next record.
That’s a very practical and attainable purchase, think bigger. I think mind would be a respectfully well-played ’50s Gibson j-50
Mine would be the Dad space
dear reader, allow us to explain the dad space
I’m talking about a stocked up break/snack room
We rehearse in a tiny rat infested box with no heat next door to a metal foundry
I’m talking about track lighting
Talkin bout a sanctuary for inspirado.
About 8 bands share the space with us so it requires constant setting up and cleaning. The number of empty beer bottles I’ve thrown away…tbh it’s not staggering but it’s significant and annoying
Imagine a space that is well lit, heated, where all your shit is set up and ready to go
There’s a fridge full of topo chico
Perhaps even a place to sit down once in a while
Everyone has a well powered monitor with an individual mix that they control
Bar stools out the ying yang bro
Fender bar stools
Maybe the fridge looks like a Marshall stack
Excellent choice Matt Batey
Marshall, plz get at us with one of these fridges
It’s called the Dad space because it’s like that part of the house that you weren’t allowed to mess around in because Dad had it just the way he liked.
And he had his nice stuff there
The dad space would normally have a beer sign in neon but ours would say something funny like “BIG TONE, BIG FEELINGS, BIG CHOICES”
Band Crush feat. Ruler and Cataldo happens 8 PM on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Piranha Shop. Get your tickets here.