After moving from the greater Phoenix/Tempe area, Katastro spent their days in Huntington Beach, hanging out with fellow reggae-rock outfits Dirty Heads and Seedless. Although living in Huntington was an expensive proposition, drummer Andrew Stravers says, if the band moved to Los Angeles instead, there would have been negative consequences. "If we all lived together in a house, it would have been the death of us," he says. "Plus, we didn't know anyone who lived in LA and had friends in Santa Ana and Huntington Beach, so we figured living there would be a cool spot."
Those two years had a profound impact on the band before they grudgingly moved back to Tempe instead of paying for a house they'd never use while on tour. It proved to be a prudent decision. When they got back to Arizona, Katastro went into the studio to record what became No Mud No Lotus, which was released last year. The band ended up hitting the road with old friends Dirty Heads and Pepper.
Huntington Beach had also given the band a new artistic outlook. The distance from the band's hometown had inspired Katastro to write from a different perspective, even if the entire record wasn't conceived primarily in Orange County. "There was definitely a different vibe in the air," Stravers says. "I think there were three songs where we wrote the structure and the chords in California, but for the most part, the album was written in Arizona when we moved home."
No Mud No Lotus was written in collaboration with Bob Hoag, who produced the band's previous effort. After nearly two-and-a-half years away from the studio, they were happy to be back, and the upbeat nature of those sessions is reflected in the music, which has funky elements of reggae rock.
At this point in the band's almost-a-decade-long career, having a catalog that features multiple EPs and a full-length allows Katastro to tinker with their set list, which includes a batch of new songs they've yet to record. "Now more than ever, we feel like we have a good batch of songs and that we play the songs that we like to play," Stravers says. "We're finally able to chop out the songs that we didn't like playing that much."
The band have spent the better part of the past year and a half on the road, performing their own shows and at festivals such as last month's Kaaboo in Del Mar. Introduced to a wider audience by playing big events and sharing the stage with the likes of Rebelution, Atmosphere, Iration and 311, Katastro are excited to be returning to the Observatory.
"We feel pretty at home there because we see so many friends and familiar faces there, so it's a really awesome time," Stravers says. "We still have a bunch of friends in Orange County, and we love playing there because it feels almost like we never left."
Katastro perform with Pepper and Ballyhoo at the Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com. Thurs., Oct. 22, 8 p.m. $20. All ages.