By Chemchen Saoul
VANCOUVER — It’s been five years since Prairie Cat released an album. Within that time, bandleader Cary Pratt has remained one of Vancouver’s go-to drummers, most recently playing in the live incarnation of Canadian super group Mounties.
Now Pratt has stepped back out from behind the kit for another full-length of his own songs. On Who Knows Where to Begin?, he picks up, as if no time has passed, for another collection of quirky keyboard pop and humourously heartbroken laments.
“The studio is 90 per cent of why I wake up and decide to make records,” Pratt reflects of the recent sessions with producer Ryan Dahle (of Limblifter and Mounties). “Sometimes I will bring a snare drum into the bedroom and tune it quietly as not to wake my neighbours, just in anticipation of recording it the next day. I lose my mind when I get to be in the studio. I lose sleep thinking of the microphones Ryan will bring out to record the drums or Wurli with. I lose girlfriends. It’s that important to me.”
Pratt’s obsessive approach to recording has paid off, since Who Knows Where to Begin? is the songwriter’s best work yet. “Got Nothin'” is a quirky electric piano ditty that’s sure to please anyone who was charmed by his 2009 record It Began/Ended with Sparks. Elsewhere, he pushes into new terrain, as “No Bedroom” introduces harsh guitars and smooth sax into the sonic fray, while “Bad Storm” and “Some Friends May Go” feature lush, organic-sounding strings.
“This album was largely written in a tiny studio apartment I had,” Pratt explains. “The walls were so thin I spent most of my time in headphones on my Rhodes, not wanting to hear the neighbours fornicate or defecate.”
With the new album finally done, Pratt is now shifting his attention to making a percussion record and staging a few live performances. He’s even learning to relinquish some of his obsessive control over the project.
“I would like to think that I have grown over this process of fronting Prairie Cat,” he reflects, adding: “In the past I was very protective of the concept of ‘I do everything.’ I still bring the meat and potatoes to the table, the song form, melodies, instrumentation and overall aesthetic, but I am more open to letting players try things in the process. I think anyone who feels strongly enough to want to contribute to this, whether it is a music video or a sax part, I am open to exploring the idea these days.”
Who Knows Where to Begin? comes out on August 5th.BC, British Columbia, Cary Pratt, Prairie Cat