San Diego blues/rock duo Little Hurricane rips its way into the music scene
Little Hurricane—the volatile yet smooth rock duo headed to The Crepe Place Thursday—plays what they refer to as “dirty blues”: “We say it’s blues, but it’s dirty with distortion and a little bit of grunge,” explains lead guitarist and vocalist Anthony Catalano (a.k.a. Tone). “I was in a rock band in high school and some of college, and there’s some influence from that. We try to bring a lot of extra energy when we play live.”
True to his word, Catalano blazes huge guitar riffs—with or without a slide, over the complex rhythms and alluring vocals of his rocking female accomplice, drummer Celeste Spina (a.k.a. CC). Though the band has been together for only a short time—forming in January of 2010—they’ve already earned acclaim in their hometown of San Diego, winning Best Alternative Band, and both Album of the Year, and Best Alternative Album with their debut effort Homewrecker, at the 21st annual San Diego Music Awards.
Even more impressive: the album was recorded, produced and distributed entirely by the band—a process that gave them great freedom, but came with total responsibility. “We recorded it on our own and released it on our own … the hard part about it was [setting] a deadline ourselves and sticking to that deadline without a producer or anyone to help us with the artwork,” says Catalano. “We just had to figure it out on our own and figure out the best representation of our music.”
The result is an impressive 50 minutes of rocking jazzy blues that flies by almost too fast—leaving the listener wanting more. Standout “Give ’em Hell” winds up with vocal call and responses, sucking you in before cranking up the energy and distortion. Each other track exhibits distinct rhythms and riffs, showcasing the duo’s songwriting skills. Their undeniable chemistry is remarkable considering the pair met through Craigslist.
“CC had a post up there looking for collaborators and I’d been writing songs and looking for a drummer for some time,” explains Catalano. “It seemed like something new and refreshing. She hadn’t played in a band and she was interested in blues and jazz.” As it turned out, the two lived on the same street, only four blocks away. “After a 12-year break, I just thought I’d give it a try,” says Spina. “I’d see local bands and I’d say, ‘I feel like I can do that,’ [since] I had some prior training on the drums.”
Within months the pair had written six songs and debuted to a packed crowd. Soon they found themselves on the cusp of a full-time musical career, a moment that Spina remembers vividly: “I didn’t really know anything about what it meant to be in a band, and within a year I had to quit my full-time job. It was a huge moment. I was so excited. I sold my car for our first tour. You gotta take a chance sometime, and this was the chance I was willing to take.”
Since then the band has gone on multiple semi-national tours and has rocked Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits music festivals. Catalano attributes Little Hurricane’s success to its DIY work ethic. “There’s a lot of work involved being a music group, you have to get your name out there,” he says. “Writing songs and recording is one of those things, but getting around to different cities and talking to people at shows is a lot of work. I don’t know if it’s because of all the work we’ve put in that we’re starting to see minor success out of it—I think it’s a little bit of luck—[but] to be a band that no one’s really heard of, its incredible to get these opportunities.”
Little Hurricane plays with Ash Reiter at 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $8. For more information, call 429-6994.