“I had a lot of times where I was feeling really down on myself and I would just pick the guitar and the songs would flow out,” alt-rock musician Roy Catlin shared with AXS about his debut album, From Being Lost, released on September 1st. “I also had times where I was feeling really confident about myself and the songs would flow out just as easily. To me the key was making all of the songs relatable in one way or another to the listener and I feel confident that I did that on this album.” Originally from the Western Slope, Catlin has called Denver “home” for four years and recorded his freshman album at Hahn Audio in Aurora. The singer/songwriter discussed From Being Lost along with his experiences as a musician in this exclusive Q&A.
AXS: Are you a Denver native? If not, where are you from originally?
Roy Catlin: I’m actually from a small town on the Western Slope of Colorado called Montrose. I moved to Fort Collins in 2010 to play guitar for a hardcore band called Anchorage, but most of our members lived in Denver and we practiced in Denver so I moved here in 2011.
AXS: What inspired you to start playing music solo?
Roy: Originally I started writing my own songs just for fun and something to do when Anchorage wasn’t writing or playing out a lot. I’m the type of person who has to be working on something creative all the time or I start to get really depressed. I wrote a lot of songs but didn’t really have any plans to do anything with them until Anchorage broke up in 2014. By then I felt I had written some good material and I had enough confidence in myself as a singer and a writer to pursue my own project.
AXS: How long have you been performing music?
Roy: I started playing bass and formed my first band when I was 14 with a couple of friends from high school. We weren’t very good musicians at the time but we played our first show at Mesa Theater in Grand Junction a few months after forming and I still remember the feeling of playing that first show. It was a feeling I’d never experienced before and I got hooked on it. Since then I’ve been in probably ten bands, playing various instruments. A couple of them toured for a little while but my longest run was with Anchorage from 2010-2014.
AXS: Where was your first show in Denver, and what was the experience like? Who else did you play with at the show?
Roy: My first show ever in Denver was way back in 2007 or 2008 at a small DIY venue called The Underground.I was still living in Montrose at the time so I remember being really excited to play in Denver. I was pretty young and naive so I was expecting a lot of people to show up and watch my band even though they’d never heard of us before. There was probably five people max that showed up but we had fun. It was cool just to be in a new place playing music and at the time I never thought I’d end up living here one day and playing here all the time.
AXS: Have any Denver musicians inspired you?
Roy: There are too many to count. I’m really thankful I moved here and got to witness the Denver music scene first hand because I’ve learned so much from it. I love how eclectic the scene is, but it also feels like everyone kind of knows everyone and supports each other. Most of my friends here play in bands and I think pretty much all of them deserve to be recognized nationally. Seeing how hard artists work to perfect their craft is something that’s truly inspiring to me, and I see a lot of that in Denver.
AXS: What inspired your debut album, From Being Lost?
Roy: There are some varying themes on the album partly because it wasn’t all written in one particular time period. Some of the songs I’ve had for a couple of years, and I felt they were some of my best songs. The lead single from the album, “Failures,” was written around two years ago and is probably the simplest song I’ve ever written, but it just had a vibe to it that I felt really portrayed who I want to be as artist. Essentially I wanted my first album to be just that, simple and honest. A lot of the lyrics on the album are really straightforward and personal to me. I had a lot of times where I was feeling really down on myself and I would just pick the guitar and the songs would flow out. I also had times where I was feeling really confident about myself and the songs would flow out just as easily. To me the key was making all of the songs relatable in one way or another to the listener and I feel confident that I did that on this album.
AXS: What were the writing and recording processes like for you on From Being Lost?
Roy: The writing process for me has to come from a spontaneous moment most of the time. I rarely ever write lyrics before the music or vice versa. Most of the songs on this record spawned from me just picking up the guitar and playing a riff and mumbling some melodies until actual words come out. I’ve always said that my songs write themselves. Lyrics are really hard for me to write a lot of the time, so using a stream of consciousness technique really helps me with that. I look at myself as a vessel for the words to come out of without judgement and then I allow the listener to make their own meanings to them. Sometimes those words are more straightforward than others, but if they’re relatable to me and I feel strongly about them I usually end up keeping those songs.
As far as recording goes, I recorded the album with Taylor Hahn of Hahn Audio at his studio back in March of this year. We spent about a week on tracking, and it was really cool to see how it all turned out. I tracked all the guitars, bass, keys, and I did a little bit of percussion as well as the vocals. Taylor had a big hand in writing all the drum parts for the record since they were all programmed. He also contributed to some other creative aspects of the record and I think his guidance really helped make the album what it is. He mixed and mastered the album as well.
AXS: What else are you involved in locally?
Roy: I’m the vocalist and guitarist for a new hardcore band called The River Wolf. We just recorded a three-song EP that should be out sometime this fall. I’ve also taught in-home music lessons around various parts of Denver for the past three years. I teach guitar and piano. Other than that I like to hang out with my girlfriend, exercise as much as possible, and hang out with my family and friends as much as possible.
AXS: Do you have a goal in mind for the sound the you produce? Are there certain influences or themes the you try to inject into its own music?
Roy: The only goal I have is to write really good songs. I don’t ever try to stick to a style or anything like that because I’m influenced by so many different types of music, and I don’t ever want to write a song that sounds like a song I’ve written in the past. One artist who has really been a huge inspiration to me in John Frusciante. Each of his solo albums has a different theme, the instrumentation and production usually drastically differs from album to album too and I think that is really creative. His albums just feel so genuine and creative to me, and that’s something that has really driven me as an artist to never hold anything back.
AXS: For someone who has never seen or heard you, what would you tell them to entice them to watch your set?
Roy: The live performance is so important to me and it’s something I’m still trying to get a lot better at it, but I always try to play as tight as possible. I’m not trying to do anything over the top, I just try to play my songs as tight as I possibly can while leaving some room for improvisation here and there.
AXS: What would your ideal live show look like? Where would it take place? Any particular time of year? Would a specific band/musician share the bill with or open for you?
Roy: I really love small house shows. I’m down to play a house show pretty much anywhere, anytime.
AXS: What do you enjoy most about Denver’s music scene, and why?
Roy: What I enjoy most about Denver’s music scene is the diversity and support amongst the bands. There are so many talented musicians here and most of them that I have met seem to genuinely support each other I think that’s the best part.