The concept for Smoking Catapillar had its genesis in 1992. In that year, Kevin Michael Cady sat in the audience in a theater watching Oliver Stone's film JFK. The film contained a segment of Abraham Zapruder's home movie of the Kennedy assassination, in which the moment of impact when the bullet hit President Kennedy's head was repeated over and over, to punctuate the point of the horror of the occasion. From the movie, Cady was inspired to write the song "Kennedy's Head," and the experience of writing that song put a flurry of songwriting into motion. The songwriting led to a recording project for Cady and his friend Brian Hutchinson that they called Smoking Catapillar. The songs dealt with major issues, from suicide to racism to sex to religion to war, some shocking, some political, but always with a personal viewpoint of Cady's that was often politically incorrect and they took the form of hard pop songs with satirical edges. Cady and Hutchinson collected the songs for Smoking Catapillar's first album, Out of the Cocoon, released on Cady's own Catapillar Records in 1997 (and subsequently picked up by Aural Adventures for distribution). It instantly gained exposure -- sometimes positive, sometimes negative -- in and around Tacoma, WA. Smoking Catapillar, the band, began in 1997. Cady assembled behind him Justin "Cotton" McDonald on bass, Andrew "Dumper" Johannes on guitar, and Andrew Blair Coffey on drums, all from various past metal and punk bands, and they set out to create a stage show to complement what Cady self-labels his "political shock rock" music. Smoking Catapillar performances incorporate costumes, a variety of props, and general theatrics in the mold of Genesis, Kiss, Judas Priest, and Rob Zombie. There have also been the usual "Marilyn Manson of Tacoma" comparisons. Conceptually, Smoking Catapillar is a character/persona Cady plays to illustrate the band's music. He wears green makeup as part of his characterization of what the human-esque idea of a Smoking Catapillar looks like. Cady is a writer with a lot of things on his mind, but the music is completely leavened by the seriocomic concept of the band. The joke is that Smoking Catapillar is the source of infinite wisdom. Musically, the band has been compared to Frank Zappa for its satirical sense, and vocally, Cady comparisons have run the entire spectrum of rock, from Ray Davies to Rob Halford. Smoking Catapillar has performed the material from Out of the Cocoon, as well as new songs that have been composed since the band came together, mostly throughout the Seattle/Tacoma area with occasional tours of cities such as San Francisco. The band has been championed by none other than Jello Biafra, who requested ten copies of Out of the Cocoon for distribution to some of his connections. In 1998, the full band began recording the second Smoking Catapillar album, Halve a Heart. The album was prepared for a late 1999 release. For those who prefer their unrepentant tastelessness in print rather than on CD, the band also publishes a newsletter/zine, The Catapilla Press, with each issue covering a chosen topic in a typically controversial manner.
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