Katastro bassist Ryan Weddle is eager to come back to Tempe. Nearly two full years since the genre-bending band last graced the Valley’s stages, Weddle and his bandmates have booked two shows at the Marquee Theatre in July.
Weddle expects the shows could be the band’s most exciting to date.
“None of us expected to go over a year without playing shows, and it makes you realize how much of your identity goes into touring,” Weddle says.
“We’re all ready to get back out there and meet people and have a good time. We’re really excited, and it’s super fitting that our first show back after everything is going to be this massive, hometown Arizona party.”
The July 23 and July 24 shows come on the heels of its new album, “Sucker,” which will hit stores on July 16. It’s the full-length follow-up to 2019’s “Tropical Heartbreak.” Weddle says fans can expect a change of pace.
“Every time we write an album, we try to change the sound a little bit. We keep our style but explore different versions of it,” Weddle says. “Previously, we were focusing on a lot of really dark and introspective lyrics, but after coronavirus, it didn’t feel right to make another sad, down-in-the-dark album.”
Weddle says, initially, the band struggled with finding the correct, positive sound.
“We really just ran with writing more in a major key and using more happy, upbeat music and lyrics,” Weddle says. “We actually found it really difficult at first because we were so used to that dark, deep sound we had been doing for years. But once we got the hang of that, it turned out really fun and completely different from what we’d done before.”
The pandemic played a pivotal role in the making of “Sucker,” Weddle says. Without a real deadline, Katastro felt less pressure, and with time and freedom, it produced music that is entirely new and imaginative.
“This was the first time we were able to make a ton of songs and then have time to sit and listen to them,” Weddle says.
“Because we had no deadline and we didn’t have to go on tour, we just had all the time in the world for the four of us to be together and write and really focus on what we wanted and what we thought our fans would enjoy.”
Katastro — which also includes vocalist Andy Chaves, drummer Andrew Stravers and guitarist Tanner Riccio — made its music industry debut nearly 15 years ago when it eased into Tempe and Phoenix’s underground reggae scene. However, Katastro isn’t necessarily reggae, blending rock, funk and hip-hop. Katastro drew large crowds opening for Dirty Heads.
“We honestly never thought about ourselves as a reggae band at all, but we played with the Dirty Heads and kind of made our way into that scene without playing that type of music,” Weddle says. “We realized that those fans really connected with us even though our music was so different.”
Weddle and his crew are still based in the Valley, although they briefly moved to California to expand their fanbase. Ultimately, Weddle says, the band couldn’t stay away from Arizona.
“Things are really just different here, and I think it’s something that has influenced our entire careers in some sense, just being part of this community,” he says. “It’s really a melting pot of all these different people and cultures that’s sort of all encompassing. So, with that, you really get a lot of inspiration to work with.”
Although it has mostly stayed put, Katastro has been anything but stagnant in its 15-year career. It continues to release innovative music that’s intricate and complex. With “Sucker,” Weddle says the band feels more cohesive than ever.
“We’ve been in this band together for half our lives, and we know each other’s writing styles now,” he says.
“We have learned so much from each other in the last 14 years that it’s impossible not to adapt. This new record was a true group effort, and all of it was really intentional, because we’re at a place where we know what we’re going for.”
As the country begins to return to some form of normalcy, Weddle says he hopes “Sucker” will help fans relax and take their minds off of the negativity of the last year and a half.
“Even though this album was written during a time that was dark and politicized and difficult, it’s more about being fun and upbeat and happy,” Weddle says.
“To release something that has nothing to do with coronavirus feels like the right thing to do at this time. Ultimately, we want people to feel like they can escape with this album, and we’re just really excited to be able to escape with them when we start playing again.”
Katastro w/special guests
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, July 23, and Saturday, July 24
WHERE: Marquee Theatre, 730 N. Mill Avenue, Tempe
COST: Tickets start at $15