It’s mid-way through a chilly Tuesday evening, and Michael Caterer – guitarist, songwriter in Love Connection – is thinking of foreign lands. “We’re moving to New York in July for a few years, on a visa,” Caterer says. Having successfully toured New York last year, Caterer and his fellow principal Love Connection colleague, keyboardist Kobi Simpson are preparing to immerse themselves in the notoriously vibrant New York artistic culture. “It’s great to get good feedback on the records you make, but it’s great to be going a new place where there’s just us and some live shows. I go through phases with it – sometimes I think ‘Shit, what have I got myself in for?’,” Caterer laughs.
Love Connection came about when Caterer, then playing bass in Full Ugly, started writing some of his own material. “I had some other stuff, but nobody really had much interest in it,” Caterer says. Kobi Simpson eventually committed to bringing Caterer’s music to fruition (“she wasn’t that interested in what I was doing, but then I got her to join for a song,”), with Dean Noble and Nathan Burgess enlisting on drums and bass respectively. “The first show we played was rubbish, but the next was better,” Caterer says. “And then we started getting offered more shows.”
Caterer’s musical education stemmed originally from his brother’s black metal guitar efforts (“my brother’s an amazing guitarist”); Love Connection, however, took a different direction, an idiosyncratic line between ethereal and pop. While some of the tracks on Love Connection’s new record, Euphoria, might be loosely categorised as psychedelic, Caterer isn’t so sure. “I don’t really think it’s psychedelic,” Caterer says. “To my psychedelia is a state of mind, and I don’t think that’s what we are. Sometimes I try to describe the music we play to people I work with, but if I say psychedelic then people think because I’ve got long hair, then I’m a stoner, which isn’t the case because I’m not into drugs. I’m not ever sure how to describe our music – maybe a bit of pop, some shoegaze,” Caterer muses.
Love Connection’s material largely originates with melodies and half-formed ideas coming from Caterer’s vivid musical imagination. The initial concept is gradually developed, until something unique appears that renders the song notionally complete. “I might start with a few chords, then put down a keyboard backing beat, then build it up bit-by-bit on the spot,” Caterer says. “I’ll listen to it heaps, but not in a crap way. Eventually it filters into my subconscious, and I’ll hear certain harmonics, and then I’ll go back and add one more thing that’ll make the song.” While there’s a group effort on some of the final product, it’s not a group writing process. “We don’t write as a collective, but the we wrote the structure of the songs as a collective,” Caterer says.
Euphoria is an eclectic record, from the ambient noise of the opening track Piezoelectric, ranging from the soft rock of You Don’t Need Muscles to Get Love, to the funky Day By Day. “I guess there was a time when we might have wanted a shorter, more accessible song on the record, so we put a couple on there,” Caterer says. “I think the sequencing is hugely important in what you do with an album. You have to feel it, and know where it’s going.” Euphoria concludes with the title track, a 20 minute ambient exploration that pushes the envelope of self-indulgence. “I got significantly into new age, but not the chiropractor sort of stuff, but 80s meditation cassettes,” Caterer says. “I always feel there’s a lot of personification in that song – it’s self-representation in a way. I was listening to Ravi Shankar at the time, and I was really enjoying it. I suggested to the guys that we put this song on there. It’s a bit of a risk, because it could be seen as self-indulgent.”
In a live setting, Caterer says he started out trying to establish empathy with his audience. Gradually, however, things have settled down. “I used to aim to meet them a lot more, but maybe that was in my anxiety,” Caterer says. “Maybe not anxious, but it’s an interesting thing – you’re on a stage, and everyone’s looking up at you, and you’re wondering ‘What do they want?’ I used to think a lot about that, but I think I’m more settled about it now. After the first song I tend to become a bit of a distant character.”
With the other members of Love Connection hampered by other commitments from heading across to New York, Caterer and Simpson will revert to a two-piece for its initial New York foray. “Everything will have to change,” Caterer says. Like a business trying to adapt to changing economic times, Caterer accepts that Love Connection have to be flexible. “I’ve got some new songs that’ll match the two-piece format. Since the summer I’ve been in a really good place, and I’ve got a stack of demos lying around. It ebbs and flows.”
BY PATRICK EMERY
LOVE CONNECTION play the Northcote Social Club on Friday 25 May. Euphoria is out now through Sensory Projects.