City Of Caterpillar was one of those bands that released one great album and then, like a mutant butterfly too beautiful and weird for this world, flew away. After a demo and a few split 7"s with pg. 99 and System 2600, the Richmond post-hardcore band released its self-titled debut album in 2002. Where others in the scene bared shredded nerves with a distorted punk sound, City Of Caterpillar understood that musical chaos builds over time, and that the most satisfying catharsis comes from suspense, not blunt trauma.
To celebrate the success of last year's vinyl reissue and a string of reunion shows in January (including a couple with Malady, a one-off project from members of pg. 99 and City Of Caterpillar), we have a previously unheard track from those original recording sessions. "As The Curtains Dim; (little white lie)" is classic City Of Caterpillar, set in a heavy, gloomy groove that would have fit alongside Isis' post-metal benchmark Oceanic (also released in 2002), but set apart by jigsaw-puzzle melodies and droning overtones. When the band finally explodes four minutes in, the fractured guitars and crazed drumming don't so much provide release as send the listener spiraling into its abyss.
Guitarist and vocalist Brandon Evans tells NPR that while this was one of the band's favorite songs from those recording sessions, they had cut it due to limited vinyl space. But its themes seem to portend City Of Caterpillar's return:
I remember we were listening to The Cure's Pornography tape every day in the van on the way to the recording studio during this album's sessions. I can definitely see its impact on some of our mixing and dubbing decisions in this track. Not that it was written with that influence; more so influencing the after-tweaking.
It's strange; absurdly ironic, really... this song's lyrics were written from the perspective of an artist who has decided to die. The lyrics are about watching the audience and admirers taking in your last work, as if a ghost. The lyrics talk about the audience all entering and locking into a groove, swaying to the artist's emotions and being, though they don't know it's all long gone.
Parts of the lyrics say:
"Well I just can't seem
To see which me I was in the beginning.
Right then, I wasn't me.
Close your eyes
As I spill
These dying limbs
Sway your bodies
As I turn my back
'Cos I'm scared I'll cringe at this ghost I am
With a passing grin,
You nod your head as the poet's dead."
Somehow, ironically, this song has become exactly what the lyrics painted, without any purposeful planning. It's surreal; it almost feels like we prophesied and willed this whole moment. The band died 13 years ago, and yet here we are, releasing things and playing shows and entertaining, more so than when we were alive. We have actualized becoming the ghost.
"As The Curtains Dim; (little white lie)" will be available as a digital single on Nov. 18. City Of Caterpillar goes on tour in January. Take a listen to a newly remastered version of the band's split 7" with pg. 99 below.