On their 10th anniversary of playing, recording and touring, Catch 22 unleash a concept album called Permanent Revolution, using their horn-driven, uber-catchy ska to explore the life of Leon Trotsky, the father of Marxist theory and leader of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Ousted by Stalin and exiled to Mexico, Trotsky was assassinated by a Russian agent, but his fierce convictions and sound political theories changed the face of society in Europe and continue to resonate today. In a song cycle that traces his life, the band sought to provide a musical interpretation to the groundbreaking events of his early years and the eventual tragedy of his death. When asked the source of the album concept, bassist Pat Kays explained, “Trotsky is an intriguing character who we felt we could relate to in a lot of ways. And he has a very powerful story that is important and very relevant to our current world situation. That’s why this record came about. We really wanted to make something meaningful, not just a slightly better alternative to pop-punk.”
Produced by Steve Evetts, known for his work with The Cure, A Static Lullaby, Saves The Day and Sick Of It All, the band delivers a record that mingles the hardcore beats and reggae, dub and funk melange that has earned them thousands of loyal fans. Having self-produced some projects and worked with Evetts on others, Catch 22 was glad to be back with an old friend. “It was an amazing experience,” trumpeter/vocalist Kevin Gunther said, “to have a professional with his perspective help us determine which songs needed development and which songs were ready to go was invaluable. He also made our sound bigger without losing tonal quality.” The songs trace the life of Trotsky chronologically: highlights include “Party Song (1917)”, with its fast guitars and high energy horn arrangements; the repeating, unique guitar and horn riffs in “The Decembrists Song (1921)” and “The Opportunity (1940)”, a slower reggae tinged song about his assassination.
The industrial landscape of New Jersey has been the home of Catch 22 for the last decade. A state that brought such diverse artists as Frank Sinatra, Queen Latifah and Bruce Springsteen launched of the music’s merriest, upbeat combos in Catch 22. As pioneers of the ska/punk scene, the band has built a reputation for smoking live shows and musical innovation. The band formed in the fall of 1996 when founding members Chris Greer, Ryan Eldred and Kevin Gunther set out to play a genre of music that quickly became a huge national trend. Over 200,000 album sales later, Catch 22 are still one of the most consistent live bands on the road today, filling venues worldwide and helping launch the careers of many others. Among the bands they invited out as supports acts are Sum 41, Thursday and Taking Back Sunday.
After rocking Bamboozle festival in early May, summer will find Catch 22 back on tour, playing Warped Tour dates before headlining a national tour, supported by Voodoo Glow Skulls, Big D and the Kids Table, Suburban Legends and Westbound Train. Permanent Revolution will come as a welcome surprise to fans of reggae, ska and hardcore who seek meaning and insight in the lyrics of their favorite catchy, danceable songs.