Cars rush down a dark two-lane street in front of a house in Lincoln on a Friday night in February. Light emits from cool-toned street lamps that line the road, illuminating puddles on the ground. A window on the front of the house creates a yellow-hued reflection on the cracked pavement just bright enough for one to make out dark silhouettes of the people inside.
Seven people sit in the warmly lit living room. A couple more people wander in and out. Those who stay talk about the show that’s about to happen in the basement. For many of them, this is the first house show they’ve been to since the COVID-19 pandemic began. They explain how they’ve missed these types of shows – ones typically consisting of tightly-packed basements filled with people covered in sweat and concerningly loud music that leaves attendees’ ears buzzing long after the performance has stopped. Two of the people sitting and conversing are members of Cat P*ss, a band performing later that night.
Bassist Sam Lipsett and drummer Nathan Wolf from the Omaha noise rock band chat with their friends while more people file in the small room. There’s a knock at the front door, which opens to reveal Casey Plucinski – the third member of the band – holding his guitar case.
Cat Piss was formed in early 2020, but the members’ history traces back further. Wolf and Plucinski have known each other since they went to high school at Westside, and they became friends after they graduated. Lipsett and Wolf said they remember meeting at a popular Omaha house venue called Lucy’s Pub in the spring of 2019.
This is the band’s second time performing in Lincoln in the last month. It has played dozens of DIY shows similar to this one, and it has an EP titled “Zeppelin Four Pt. 2,” a festival performance and a record deal with Mishap Records under its belt — despite a pandemic happening during the band’s first two years of life.
“Everything’s kind of always happened really fast,” Lipsett said.
Cat P*ss isn’t slowing down any time soon. Its debut album that has yet to be titled is set to release this summer, and the band secured a set at Treefort Music Festival in Boise, Idaho, happening from March 23 through the 27. Cat P*ss will play alongside popular acts like Osees, Jeff Rosenstock and Guided by Voices – many of whom got their start playing DIY shows.
Before the show, the members make a last-minute wardrobe change for their performance. Lipsett puts on a neon green fluffy dress with spaghetti straps, a striking contrast to the faded black jeans and cowboy boots he’s wearing. Wolf sports a red dress with black polka-dots and puffy sleeves, and Plucinski chooses a teal tunic.
Their unassuming outfits serve as a reflection of Cat P*ss’ origin story and ethos – not taking themselves too seriously.
“Casey and I just talked about wanting to do our own band that’s got a sense of humor,” Wolf said. “And we’re like, we kind of need to get a bass player, and Sam was the only person who could be in the band and was an original, forward-thinking musician.”
The band bonded and became friends through music, and their strong relationship is evident when they joke and make faces at each other while performing. For Lipsett, that’s the fun part about being in a band with Wolf and Plucinski.
Cat P*ss walks the line between being a band that doesn’t care enough or cares too much, finding a happy medium that comes to the band like second nature. The members balance technicality and personality in their performances, songwriting and recording processes.
The band may be named Cat P*ss – an homage to the smell that engulfed Lipsett and Plucinski’s house – and consist of eccentric dispositions, but Lipsett, Wolf and Plucinski are serious about their craft and push each other to generate the best tracks for their discography. The trio approached their upcoming record with this mindset, recording it in roughly three days.
According to Plucinski, the songwriting was collaborative, and the three musicians bounced ideas off of one another until they got something they liked.
“I have a hard time actually writing a full song, so being able to throw something at these guys and have some feedback and somehow we end up with the actual song out of it was pretty cool,” Plucinski said.
The band members said the recording process was different from that of “Zeppelin Four Pt. 2.” While making this record, the members aimed to capture what they sound like playing in a room together. Lipsett described this experience as similar to a high where each musician is on the same level.
“There’s a magic to it, when everything lines up, and we’re all hitting together. There’s a wink and some eye contact,” Lipsett said. “Everything in your body feels like it’s lining up, and then you connect. You’re connecting emotionally, physically and mentally with two other people, and you’re all working together and supporting this one thing.”
Lipsett compared capturing that fleeting energy to catching lightning in a bottle, and they got as close as they could on this album.
“This is one of the times that someone just put up expensive microphones and recorded it,” he said.
These moments manifest in improvised parts of songs, which was a thrilling aspect of the recording process for Wolf. The drummer said the improvisation was evidence that the band had grown together since “Zeppelin Four Pt. 2” came out in October 2020.
“Being able to not play things the same way, without talking to each other about it, and just listening to each other to try to create something – I think that’s the exciting part of it for me,” Wolf said. “There’s cool moments and things that only happened on the record that just, for whatever reason, happened in that take.”
When it comes to describing the actual sound of the record, the band can’t quite put a finger on it.
“It’s pretty goofy, silly, kind of out there, which I think is pretty unique. It’s got a lot of strange songs on there,” Plucinski said.
Lipsett said that they didn’t want to make an album that sounds like something they’d heard before, and they wanted to keep it interesting for themselves.
The band is taking its new tracks with them to Treefort Music Festival. The members said they aren’t concerned about playing on the same lineup as artists they’ve personally listened to. Lipsett said they’re more anxious about the 18-hour journey they’ll have to make in a 2007 Honda CRV.
Treefort is a chance for the band to expand its audience beyond Nebraska and perform on a stage much different than those found in local dive bars or basements of their friends’ homes.
“We’re gonna go out there and try to play the best show we’ve ever played,” Lipsett said.
Regardless of what comes out of their set at Treefort or their upcoming record, the band members said they are happy with how far they’ve come in such a short time.
“With Cat P*ss, I’m proud of not only the songs I’ve written for it but just being able to play music with two people that inspire me and get me to think outside the box,” Wolf said.
Lipsett said Cat P*ss is aiming to improve sonically. He added he’s proud to be in a band with musicians who allow him to see things differently and challenge him creatively enough to make a record he’s proud of, and public perception can’t change that.
“I don’t think we f***ing reinvented the wheel or anything, but I am proud of what the three of us accomplished with another dude sitting behind a piece of glass,” he said. “We’ve at least made the best possible record that we can make, and I think we all stand by that. Whatever happens after that, you know, that is what it is.”