All Grown Up

23 August 2012 | 8:54 pm | Tony McMahon

My mum being put in a home with Alzheimer’s, which brought up unresolved issues of losing my brother (and only sibling) to Leukaemia as a teen. Then my dad died of Dementia in 2010. It’s been a full-on couple of years.

Katalin Orr once fronted one of this city's most underrated pop punk outfits, Kathematics. During their lifetime, Inpress were huge fans of this band's searing live shows and criminally undersold CDs. With their demise a couple of years ago, a small yet significant Orr-shaped hole was left in the Melbourne music scene. The good news, though, is that Orr is back with a (mostly) new band, a truly terrific self-titled EP that was released last year and now a single, Oscar's Song. Also, she tells us, Haunting August represent a wildly new musical direction born of some personal heartache and grief.

“[It's] a completely different deal apart from Danny still on drums,” she says. “After Kathematics fizzled out I had a break from music and had to deal with 'grown up' issues. My mum being put in a home with Alzheimer's, which brought up unresolved issues of losing my brother (and only sibling) to Leukaemia as a teen. Then my dad died of Dementia in 2010. It's been a full-on couple of years. I dedicated the EP to my dad. The weird thing is I came up with the name Haunting August a few years before he died and he just happened to pass in August. It was one of those weird coincidences. It's why we're doing the launch in August. I guess I finally grew up and changed how I write. I've always loved '60s music and the tremolo pedal and this band has a more retro sound and is way darker.”

Oscar's Song might be described as an 'issue' song, which doesn't mean it ain't rocking, but for those of us who don't know, Orr explains a little about the charity Oscar's Law and why she feels it's such an important deal. “The Government refuse to do anything about puppy factories where dogs are bred for their puppies in a factory farming way. These are companion animals that are kept in the worst possible conditions purely for profit. The puppies go to pet shops. That's why you should never buy a puppy from a pet shop. Adopt from a shelter! I felt strongly for the cause so I wrote the song and we did a video that has clocked up over 2000 views on YouTube. It was organic that it happened this way and I'm very proud of this song. I feel like I've finally done something worthwhile that's not just about my own ego.”

For those who haven't heard it, is Oscar's Song representative of the rest of the songs on Haunting August's EP? Orr indicates that it's not really, and also confirms the rocking thing. “Not really,” she says. “The EP is darker, mainly minor chords. While Oscar's Song is sad lyrically the chorus is pretty catchy and sing-along.”

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As mentioned above, one of the things we loved so much about Orr's previous band was their absolute killer live shows, so it's with some sense of anticipation that we ask about a Haunting August gig. But it seems that Orr has put as much thought into how she's going to go about things on stage here as she always has.

“We put the sadder and slower stuff in the middle. We have quite a few new unrecorded songs influenced by the '50s, Motown, rockabilly and reggae, and put them at the end of the set so peeps can actually rock out to us.”

And when it comes to the upcoming launch at Cherry, it seems the band have put some thought into this, too, with the result being bargains, guilt-free punting and a whole lotta love for the venue. “Apart from the free EP everyone gets on entry,” she says, “and the one hundred copies of Oscar's Song single for a dollar with proceeds going to Oscar's Law, we have a bit of a song mash-up in store, dedicated to Cherry. You have to be there to hear what it is!”