Cata9tales whips up rock-infused hip-hop with glam aesthetics

Posted on 13 June 2012 by Jonathan Williams

Kenny "Kreator" Perkins and Berkley Priest are Cata9tales

After meeting a little more than a year ago, self-proclaimed music nerds Berkley Priest and Kenny “Kreator” Perkins quickly realized the power of their combined talents. Adopting the Cata9tales name, the Virginia-based duo released its first album, Kick the Bad Love less than three months later. And after having a few of its tracks featured in the Platinum Championship Wrestling documentary The Booker, which premiered in March at the Atlanta Film Festival, the band recently released an EP called A Chameleon’s Dream. Known for live shows that combine over-the-top rock ‘n’ roll theatrics with hip-hop rhymes and electronica beats, the band has been hitting the road for regional performances in recent weeks with plans to do more extensive touring later this year (including the Rise of the Clarksvillans show with New Born Redemption and The Dynamo Humm this Saturday in Clarksville, Va. Before Cata9tales whips up a frenzy on stage, Priest and Kreator talk to Wrestling with Pop Culture about their burgeoning career.

I was introduced to your music when I saw the PCW documentary The Booker at the Atlanta Film Festival. How did you get involved with that film?

Kreator: That’s a film made by my cousin, Mike Perkins. He contacted me about doing a little bit of music for it, so I sent him a few of the tracks we were working on at the time and it made it in there. I’ve done music for some of his other documentaries. One was about a motocross team and I did some instrumental tunes. In The Booker he uses a snippet of “Give em the Boot” and some other small things that aren’t actual Cata9tales tracks. And he used part of “The People vs Jesus of Nazareth”.

Priest: Some of them are Cata9tales tracks that he took the vocals off of so he could use the beat and background music. But “Give em the Boot” was featured in there since it uses a lot of boxing analogies in the lyrics. That was probably the biggest song off our first record and people still kind of gravitate towards that one.

Your music could be classified as hip-hop, but unlike most white rappers today your sound is more of a throwback to the sounds of the ’80s and ’90s. How did you guys come up with this unique Cata9tales sound?

Kreator: We grew up in the South and the music we listened to as teenagers influences us a great deal, especially the early ’90s when they were starting to meld styles like hip-hop and rock together. We both played instruments and come from rock bands, so that type of arrangement and song structure is common to us. We tend to lean more towards that, but we use the technology of hip-hop, which is sequencers and beat machines and that sort of stuff.

Priest: I don’t consider myself a rapper. I consider myself a poet, if anything. But I’m really a rock ‘n’ roll-style front man who just happens to be able to rhyme and not really sing so much. So it’s kind of a weird thing. But Kenny are massive music fans and music nerds. We’re well studied in it, so what you get is essentially a lifetime of each of us studying all these different kinds of music and playing a lot of different instruments in a lot of different bands. And it’s suddenly coming together in this last year or so in creating this weird hybrid hip-hop music. It’s not a conscious thing where we’re going to sit down and make this kind of music, it’s just what comes out.

It looks like you guys are starting to branch out from your Virginia base. What do you have planned for this summer?

Priest: Yeah, we’re starting to break and play more. We’re going to play Richmond, Philly, D.C. and New York. We’re sending out press kits and doing everything we can to get the band out there and push it. It’s kind of a now-or-never thing because we’ve gotten to the point where we can go out and really put on good shows, and I’m proud of the last record we did. We’re still in the baby stages, but we’re at that stage where it’s time to break out and really push it.

It’s mostly weekend shows with some mid-week shows here and there. It’s not jump on the road and stay on the road yet, but I want it to be that way by the fall. Because of where we’re located, we’re kind of in the middle of nowhere, but we’re lose to a lot of different cities within a two-hour radius. So we’re trying to nail all those cities and we’re talking about relocating at the end of summer to somewhere that has a little better musical climate than where we are right now. I lived in New York and Los Angeles for a long time, so I have a lot of connections out there. So we’re very fortunate that we already have some inroads in some of these places.

Do you have a backing band that joins you on stage or is it always just the two of you?

Priest: We have other musicians. Kenny and I write everything and we’re the core of the band, but when it comes to the live show we go the Alice Cooper route with a big production and a lot of energy with me hanging from the ceiling and throwing stuff and light shows. We usually have a guitar player, bass player and a hype man on stage. Sometimes we work out other routines, but generally speaking we’ll do some small shows where it’s just me and Kenny, but if we’re doing a big headlining show we do the full band thing.

The new EP just came out in April. Are you working on any new material or are you focused more on getting this music out to people?

Kreator: We’re always working on something new. Right now we’re focusing on playing live, but we’ve always got stuff cooking on the back burner.

Priest: Yeah. Last time we sat down to have a rehearsal, we ended up cutting samples most of the night. So we’re always working on stuff and there is new stuff coming out. But through the summer, and probably through the fall as well, we want to promote what we’ve got now that we have a decent amount of material to stand on. We’ve released these two records and given them away; the next release we won’t. We’d rather give stuff away and build a fan base. It’s a cliche to say this, but it’s really not about money for us. It’s about the art and really just loving what we do, and it really had nothing to do with trying to be rich or anything. Though money would be nice.

You mentioned that you’re planning on doing a more extensive tour in the fall. Do you have an specific cities or dates booked yet?

Priest: We don’t have anything locked in yet, but we’ll hopefully be able to put some dates out by the end of next month.

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