Thom Caterpillar, Caterpillar, Vienna. Thom, I congratulate you on » Heroes Tonight« which is really cool music. I might think that in this genre there is no surprise. The song performed by Ava Katara is super and it is your virtuosity in playing the guitar which gives the song an outstanding and perfect frame.
We can face loads of good guitar players on the Net but only few of them have such qualities like you have – talent, knowledge and sensing on melody.
Let’s talk about your carrier. How did it start? What motivation did you have to take up playing the guitar?
First of all I would like to thank you very much for the invitation to this interview, and for the kind introduction, I honestly appreciate this.
It all started at the age of 5 when I heard a rock song from the 70s on television „Dizzy on the rocks”. I immidiately liked the sound of the overdriven electric guitar. After learning flute and piano in my childhood, I started playing guitar at the age of 12, and since then I have been living for this instrument. Playing guitar was never a plan or a decision, I just had to.
In my mind I always have been developing a soundtrack to my thoughts, feelings and dreams. It is my way to remember things and to process experiences. The search for the sound which expressed my feelings best automatically formed my style. The genres which built the basement were rock music, movie soundtracks and classical music.
Could you mention some musicians , guitar players who have made a strong impression on your »guitarworld« ?
One of my most important influences is Ennio Morricone. I learned a lot from his dramatical way of composing, the unique use of punctual low volume to emphasize and also his uninhibited way of combining music genres and sounds. The second influence comes from classical music, above all Vivaldi, Dvorak and Richard Strauss. And then of course other guitar players: Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch, Paul Gilbert, Zakk Wylde, Greg Howe and Brian May.
What were the main mile posts in your life that led to the birth of Caterpillar?
I have always been playing in bands, but due to several reasons writing songs was not possible in these constellations. Therefore over the years a lot of song material piled up in my mind. Last year I left the then current band and started to write down those songs. At the same time Ava and I watched one of our favourite tv series which featured a ballad version of the old rock classic from the band Pixies „Where is my Mind”. We liked that so much that we sponaneously decided to try this on our own and recorded it the same night. As the cooperation worked out very well, we did some more songs, and soon started writing our own songs together. One thing led to another, and at the beginning of 2021 we decided to work together as a band.
I think she has an absolutely amazing voice, and in addition to that, the way she sings is enormously inspring to me. She is also not the typical rock singer, which perfectly matches with my intention to write songs without any stereotyped thinking. She is the first singer I ever worked with who makes me just listen and forget about the guitar solo in the middle of the song. This means a lot, because the time before Caterpillar I was so guitar-focussed that a song was only a kind of framework around the the guitar solo.
Inevitable to have some words about guitars,effects,amplifiers. Please share us everything we need to know abot your stuff.
I have to answer this question with a common cliche, but I honestly think it is the wonderful and simultaneously unconvenient truth: the sound comes from your heart. And especially in rock music also from your balls. Period. Give Zakk Wylde a cheap beginners electric guitar set, and he will rock like hell. If you play always with a technical and theoretical attitude, it will never touch the listener. You have to feel the music. I once had the honor to meet the most famous opera singer of all times, Placido Domingo. When he talked with me about a funny part of an opera, he was laughing. And when he talked about a sad part of the story, his voice trembled, and tears came to his eyes. This is how music is made. With the guts to meet ones own feelings so boundless that you can’t fight crying in public by just telling the story of an opera you have already sung countless times.
To talk about the technical part: for me the gear which I hold in my hands is most important. At the moment I mainly play a Jackson Soloist, and I prefer low gain sounds, also for really heavy music. Cranking up the gain somehow hides mistakes, but the result is nevertheless not convincing. One of the most important parts of the equipment is the right pick, because it is the part of gear which brings the movement of my right hand to the strings. I exclusively play Dunlop Prime Tone picks, I really like the way they feel.
All other parts are not that important for me, but I definitely prefer a simple but high quality set up. In addition to all that for live performances reliabilty of the gear is a must. The best sound of the world is worthless when a part of your equipment has a tendency to break easily in a life situation.
Could you tell us about the situation in Austria. I mean something like rockmusic-Covid-19-festivals-Wien.
I have to admit that I hardly know anything about Covid-festivals, because I am in the very lucky situation that at the moment the Covid-situation does not influence my life as a musician. I left the last band I was playing with in 2020 at the beginning of the Covid crisis, with the goal to write songs. The songwriting process will last until the end of 2021, which means that playing life will not be a topic before 2022, and hopefully in 2022 live concerts will be possible again. But the whole life music industry lost a lot of money, which probably will have an impact on bands for years.
Finally, let us know what you’re going to do. What are you planning for the future?
Thank you very much!