Little Hurricane

By Poppy Tohill

In anticipation of the release of their brilliant record Same Sun Same Moon, I caught up with Celeste “C.C.” Spina and Anthony "Tone" Catalano, of the San Diego duo, Little Hurricane, to talk about the upcoming release, the time they were chased by a big hurricane and the advert on Craigslist that was the beginning of everything..

“It was one of the most epic and beautiful experiences of my life,” CC admits when explaining the first time she met Tone. “I’d always wanted to be in a real band, so I posted an ad on craigslist looking for a songwriter and guitar player and when Tone responded, all of the different things he’d done musically really caught my attention. So we met up and within that first meeting we started discussing our musical influences which for both of us was the music our parents introduced to us to,” she went on. “I’d never actually heard him sing before our first practice, but I immediately fell in love with his voice, and the tone of it,” she chuckled, pointing out the pun. “Within a year I had quit my job and we were touring nationally. So it was kind of unexpected, but felt very much like there was a bit of destiny that intervened and brought us together.”

Fast forward seven years and the duo, now married, have toured the world internationally, played festivals such as Austin City Limits, Telluride Blues and Brews and Lollapalooza and released two critically acclaimed albums, with a third on the way.

"I think it will be a dynamic soundscape of sonic pleasure," C.C chuckled, quickly adding, “maybe I’m over-selling it,” as we launched into discussion about Same Sun Same Moon.

“Our intention with the record is to unite people,” CC explained. “We’ve never really had so much of an intention before with our first two records, so we’re hoping that our songs can bring some reflection of peace and harmony into such a divisive world right now. We’re hoping that it somehow accomplishes that and people just see it as an evolution of our band.”

“We’re always trying to push the boundaries of what we can accomplish as two people and musicians on stage and in the studio with our genre,” Tone added. “We’re lucky that with two people it’s kind of easy to play different styles but have our sound remain the same, because it’s always drums and guitar,” he continued. “So we try to push that, emotionally, which I think is the fun part about making an LP as you can create a path, a journey with the songs.” 

When it comes to the songwriting and creative process for the duo, there’s no set rhythm they adhere to Tone admits. “Each song comes from a different starting point, so it may be a lyric that CC has, or a guitar riff I’ve been jamming. We never really sit down and say okay, we’re going to write a song now. They’re more often than not just ideas that have been kicking around with us for a while and then we’ll develop and transform them into a song from there,” he confessed.

“Everything has been a little more in house with this record too,” CC chimed in. “We hired quite a few different musicians to play backing horn and string parts on our last record [Gold Fever], but this time if it was something we didn’t know how to do, we’d go out and find a way to do it ourselves. For example Tone learnt how to play the trumpet for a few tracks!”

“Bad Business took a while, because we kept going back and fourth with the lyrics,” Tone confessed when discussing a few tracks from the record. “That’s not often the case, but for some reason the song took a few different directions, as far as the lyrics go. But we finally decided on the final version, so it’s done and printed and we can’t change them now!” he laughed.

“I love Lake Tahoe Eyes because it’s kind of groovy, snaky and cooky which is the kind of music I love to listen to,” CC added. “It wasn’t written with any intention in mind other than trying to capture the vibe of Lake Tahoe which is the second deepest lake in The States, I love the vibe of it.”

Recently releasing the music video for OTL, the first single from Same Sun Same Moon, CC went on to tell us how the idea and theme originated. “We wanted something that contrasted with the lyrics,” she declared. “I had this idea where it's the end of the world but we're still having these moments of beauty and happiness. So after pitching the idea to the director, we went with it and the whole concept unfolded all on its own. It was pretty fun because the video is quite dark, but the song itself is pretty upbeat and poppy.”

Aside from writing, recording, filming and preparing for a three month tour across the US, UK and Europe following the release of the record, the duo also made their way to Austin, Texas last month to immerse themselves in the madness that is SXSW. “We’ve been a few times but each year it gets a little easier because we know what challenges to expect,” CC declared. “The first three years for me were really eye opening and made me feel like the smallest fish in the very biggest sea that could possibly be. But the shows and the opportunities keep getting better every time we go and we really understand the way the festival works now which is a huge advantage.”

“It’s fun to go out after writing these songs and share them with people,” Tone responded when asked about their upcoming North American tour. “It’s also a little nerve-wracking, but at the same time it’s great to get the feedback because when we’re in the studio we spend so much time going back and fourth between these songs we don’t even know if people will like.. It sounds silly but the applause and reactions make those three years in the studio creating this stuff, worth it” he acknowledged.

“I grew up in Chicago so it’s always fun going back to play there,” CC announced as we continued talking about touring. “We really like the big cities, to be honest - Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Austin Texas, Portland Oregon.. cities where we know we’re going to have this amazing crowd and it’s not a new experience for us,” she continued. “It’s that feeling of something we’ve done before and we seem to have a lot of repeat fans that come back so it’s always good to see those familiar faces in the crowd too.”

“We had a sound guy who drunk way too much whiskey one night,” Tone explained, as they reminisced about their craziest touring memories. “We had an eight hour drive the next day and we had to pull over every five to ten minutes for him to yak over the side of the highway,” he added with a laugh. “It was a long day!”  

“My favourite experience was when we were touring the east coast and Hurricane Sandy, which turned into a super stormwas basically on the exact path of our tour, which is very ironic,” CC chuckled. “We would play a show and then flee straight after, as the storm hit. So yes, Little Hurricane was basically being chased by a big hurricane,” we all laughed.