By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Two days before the start of Rainer Maria's most recent tour, singer/bassist Caithlin De Marrais is at home in Brooklyn, enjoying what will be her last days there for several weeks. The band's latest Catastrophe Keeps Us Together is yet another evolutionary climb for the band, shedding whatever remained of its emo-laden past for a softer, more melodic sound. De Marrais is still scratching her head about that ol' emo tag, though.
How do you feel when critics call Rainer Maria an "emo band?"
CDM: It's hard for me to see it because when we started as a band, I didn't know what that term meant. I read a review recently where someone had written, 'How could they not have known? Of course they were a part of that scene.' But really, honestly, I was a college student, and for me the scene we were in was a Midwest scene with Promise Ring and Joan of Arc. I was like, this is fun. This is music.
More recently, Rainer Maria recorded Catastrophe Keeps Us Together without financial backing from a label. How did that impact the album, that uncertainty?
Well, the funny thing is it didn't feel as much like an uncertainty as kind of returning to our roots almost. For us, in a lot of ways, it felt like our first album [1997's Past Worn Scratching], because it was a very similar situation to how we made the first album. Going into the studio, the producer Malcolm Burns [Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris] was so into music that he agreed to a leap of faith. He was very patient about receiving payment. It was a leap of faith on both sides, I think.
So how exactly does catastrophe keep us together?
It's so funny, because that question's never been asked so bluntly. People leap to the conclusion that it keeps Rainer Maria together as a band, but that's not it. [The song "Catastrophe"] has been sitting with us for almost two years, and back then, when we wrote it, it meant something very specific. Onion had this funny article a year or two after September 11th about how, after a huge tragedy, people will get married and have babies and things like that. I was relating the song back to that, because I can only think of it in a funny way like that. There's been a quiet explosion of female-led rock bands recently, led by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs but including the Sounds and Rainer Maria among others. Have you noticed the trend at all?
It's awesome. I have a lot more fun on tour, to be honest. I just don't see them on the covers of magazines. I guess the ideal point is when you get to the day and someone's in a band and who they are, whether female, male, whatever race they are, you notice it, maybe it adds to the experience, but at the same time it doesn't pigeonhole them.