“Nightmare and the Cat” is a song by a musician named Anthony Harwood, who faded into obscurity in the ’90s. British brothers Django and Samuel Stewart were inspired by Harwood’s song, and therefore decided to name their band Nightmare and the Cat.
In addition to the Stewart brothers, the Los-Angeles based indie-rock band is now comprised of Claire Acey, Scott Henson and Spike Phillips. Together, Nightmare and the Cat creates entrancing and mesmerizing music.
Influenced by Jeff Buckley vocally and the Pixies musically, Nightmare and the Cat is piercingly passionate and quietly explosive. Their self-titled EP, Nightmare and the Cat, features five forceful creations. “Sarah Beth” combines a solid chorus with pulsating drums, while the harmonies of “Forgive Me, Sonny” are hypnotizing.
Nightmare and the Cat’s latest EP, Simple, is creatively complex. “Blackbird Smile” combines gentle guitar and infectious vocals. The bittersweet “Alvarado,” is calming yet electrifying. The ’60s-inspired “Goodbye So Many Times” is emotionally soothing and “Undercover” is sure to leave listeners’ hearts delicately vibrating.
As the band’s Twitter states: “We are Nightmare and the Cat and that is that.” They are Nightmare and the Cat, and with music like theirs, Nightmare and the Cat will certainly not fade into obscurity.
Nightmare and the Cat will begin touring with Neon Trees and Smallpools in May, with a performance in Atlanta on May 23.
Django Stewart answered some questions via email, discussing everything from his musician parents to the ghost girl in the “Blackbird Smile” music video to whether he is a “nightmare” or a “cat.”
Benazir Wehelie: Your parents are Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama. When did you realize and decide you wanted to follow in their musical footsteps?
Django Stewart: It was more of a realization for me personally. I was sitting at home at the age of 16 thinking about what I wanted to do when I was out of school. I realized that I was failing all classes (except for the school choir and algebra, surprisingly) and that I was a pretty decent singer and song writer. I loved to strut around my bedroom to Bowie, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Stones and it all just kind of clicked!
BW: You were raised in both London and Los Angeles. How have these cities influenced your music?
DS: I feel Los Angeles has educated me about different kinds of music and truly great musicianship. There isn’t just one dominant scene as rather than a city, it’s more of a collection of suburbs. Also, I’ve been lucky enough to go to some legendary studios in LA, which there are many of. Capitol’s Studio B we have used multiple times for Nightmare projects. London taught me about true style and attitude, being loud and proud. These may not be everyone’s experiences, but that’s what I got from both cities.
BW: Although you and Sam are brothers and generally like a lot of the same music, you also have incredibly different tastes and influences. In what ways are your different tastes and influences reflected in your music?
DS: Sam is very much into guitar rock such as Nirvana and the Pixies, as am I. Graham Coxon from Blur is one of Sam’s all time heroes and Radiohead is his favorite band. I have always been into incredible singers like Jeff Buckley, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, James Brown and David Bowie is a huge inspiration to me. I love really original creative artists who put on a great show.
BW: As perfectionists in your songwriting and instrumental process, when are you satisfied with a song and how do you know when a song is finally complete?
DS: Over the years we’ve learnt a certain criteria and method to our songwriting. Most recently, we’ve had to face making them shorter, having a simple and juicy chorus that is catchy, yet not so repetitive that you feel you’re being bashed over the head and that has lots of beautiful and sneaky sounds so that hopefully each time you listen to it you can pick out something you hadn’t noticed before.
BW: “Alvarado” is one of your favorite songs from your EP, Simple. What is the meaning of the song?
DS: The meaning of “Alvarado” is about LA, but more so Echo Park, which is a neighborhood Sam, Claire and I had just moved to. I felt very isolated there with a need to connect, but didn’t know how without going to some bar which never really worked for me anyway.
BW: The captivating black and white music video for “Blackbird Smile,” a song about loving someone you are not supposed to love, is emotionally charged and incorporates ghost-like figures. What was the creative process in developing the video?
DS: We kind of just threw it together with some friends a couple of years ago. Gary Baseman is a dear friend and allowed us to use his ghost girl for the video. She represents breaking down society structural laws, because she’s a ghost she can walk through walls. As for the rest of it, I think we just like black and white because it’s nostalgic and always turns out beautiful.
BW: If one of you had to be called “nightmare” and the other had to be called “cat,” explain who would be “nightmare” and who would be “cat.”
DS: Although I pride myself on being very flexible and agile, I’m afraid I would be the “nightmare” because I’m one to be reckoned with when I’m on a mission. I can be pretty relentless sometimes …
BW: You will be touring with Neon Trees and Smallpools in May. Besides performing, what are you looking forward to most about touring?
DS: I’m looking forward to seeing new and interesting gems along the American highways, while playing pranks on band mates and other mates we may acquire along the way. I can’t wait to meet and connect with our fans across the states! We have even been offered a free Segway tour of Austin from a fan in exchange for tickets, many more adventures and celerious (celery meets hilarious) will be flying our way and we want to catch them all!
– By Benazir Wehelie