NOBRO Interview: Kathryn McCaughey Invites Us To Jump Off a Musical Cliff.

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Kathryn McCauhey has Cobra snake blood in her veins, as we will soon discover.

Her venom is infectious rock riffs that will infect you with a desire to trash about.

NOBRO is a group of extremely talented young ladies, but leaving gender aside, they simply rock!

Montreal Rocks spoke to Kathryn about her origin story, hockey to arena rock and what it means to be one of Montreal’s most desired opening bands.

Watch the full interview!

Origin Story

Kathryn wasn’t allowed to listen to mainstream music, growing up in a strict household.  

She did however love the musical movie: Annie.  

The first song where music went from something she heard, to something she felt was It’s the Hard Knock Life.   

“I loved the story and the melody was really cool.  She was an orphan and I just thought she was the best.”  

The song does have some attitude, which is probably why it was covered by Jay-Z.

“And…she’s in a cool girl gang with the other orphans.  They band together.”  

Kathryn remembers being in first grade, and while her parents were upstairs, she would secretly sneak a peek at Much Music videos.

There she saw Joan Jett, all clad in leather, red bandana around her neck, with attitude to spare, walking into a bar.  

As the song gets to the guitar solo, Joan, now in red leather, climbs onto the bar proving she loves Rock ‘N Roll.

“I was completely blown away.”  

Another major influence was Brody Dalle of the Distillers, whom NOBRO toured with in early 2020 along with Alexisonfire. A dream come true.

Jennifer Herrema of Royal Trux was also a “pivotal point” as Kathryn explains along with Betty Davis.

Kathryn grew up in the small town of Ponoka, Alberta. 

Moms in Calgary would say to their kids: “If you don’t quiet down, you will send me to Ponoka.”

Yeah…it was known for its Provincial Mental Health Facility.

While being respectful to the issues relating to mental health, being in a small town can drive you crazy.  

“I’ve done a lot of crazy things.”

Her craziest memory is from Jakarta about 6 years ago: “I drank a whole glass of Cobra snake blood.  They put the venom in there too.  It just can’t go into your bloodstream or else you will die.”

Afterwards, her mind tried to ignore the possibility of having a cut in her mouth or an ulcer in her stomach, after drinking the warm liquid that could have killed her.

Hockey

“If you are from a small town like I am, you need to get good at something or else you just kind of stay there forever.”

Kathryn considers herself a naturally competitive person.  The winters are long and hockey “was just something I picked up, one day.”

Hockey came naturally to her, but her only adversaries were boys, in such a small town.  

“That’s when everything clicked for me, my personality.  I can go toe to toe with the boys.  They won’t make fun of me.  It doesn’t matter if they don’t like me, they will respect me.”    

Her natural talent made it that she advanced quickly up the ranks and was scouted at 14 for the National Woman’s League and later asked to train at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.

Kathryn moved to Calgary and subsequently played university hockey for a year.  “Then, I just felt like not doing it anymore.”

Hockey was what got her out of Ponoka, but what would soon put her front and center at Arenas would be a completely different kind of sport:  Music.

Uncle Bad Touch

Kathryn was mentored by an established musician in Montreal, and subsequently started a band called Uncle Bad Touch.

It all started with a particularly hot summer where they were both trapped in his bedroom, surrounded by every instrument you would need as a band.

Being stuck in this space, combined with a lot of free time led Kathryn and her mentor to “spontaneously start writing songs together.” 

She learned how to play the bass, and a new trajectory was set in motion.

A mere month after this blossoming skill started to develop, they were asked if they wanted to play a show in New York City.

“I had never played a show before in my life.”  

With only a few weeks to prepare, Kathryn went all in, and learned the songs.

Baptism by fire.

NOBRO

Eventually, Kathryn was to form her own band, but her goal was to have an all-female band.  

As she searched for her future bandmates, guys would ask to play guitar in the band and she would reply: “No, bro!”

I must admit that I don’t like to refer to a band as all-female or female fronted.  To me, it’s not about WHO you are, but WHAT you are.

NOBRO is made up of some of the best musicians this city has to offer.  The fact that they are female, to me, is incidental.

Both Lisandre Bourdages (keys/percussions) and Sarah Dion (Drums) are also members of Les Shirley and seriously talented musicians.  Koralane Carbonneau has some serious guitar chops.

This is a group where the sum of its parts makes NOBRO a band to be reconned with.

“When the band (NOBRO) started, it was out of a lot of frustration after my partner and I broke up and the band (Uncle Bad Touch) disbanded.  For a while after that, I was just known as this person’s ex-girlfriend.  It really made me mad.  I was really venomous towards that.  I just felt that I would be under this person’s shadow my entire life.”

Kathryn never got the credit she deserved for her help writing the songs of UBT.  This time, it would be different.

Out of frustration and anger, and being “an extremely reactionary person, I’m just going to go to the exact opposite and oscillate to the other end of the spectrum:  Something very fierce, very bold and very feminine.”

Other members of the band, past and present, always had people underestimate them.

Someone once told Sarah about her drumming: “If I just close my eyes, it’s a guy playing.”  

Seriously?  Dude…no.  These micro aggressions have plagued them all, so I understand their desire to be an all-female band, proving all naysayers wrong with the sheer rock they play.

By now, that need just isn’t as strong, as they have broken down barriers and proven themselves without a doubt.

Who knows, maybe NOBRO becomes a part of history as the band that helped shatter the glass ceiling, just like Joan Jett did, so many year ago.

Confidence

Kathryn once said she wants people to jump off a cliff with her, musically.

“I feel like I’m a fake it till you make it person anyways.  It just so happens that everyone else seems to believe in it too, which is beyond my comprehension.”  

When Kathryn compares herself to the rest of the band, she confesses: “I am the weakest link.”

But seeing her live, you would recognize that venom in her eyes, that same venom that possessed Joan Jett to step onto that bar.  

Kathryn is a natural born leader, and her ability to control a room is undeniable.  

“Because I don’t know very much, I’m not afraid to take a lot of chances.”

Kathryn is fearless and will jump off the cliff and learn to fly on her way down.

She does give credit to her bandmates who comprise the team that pushes things forward.

Better Each Day

The visual of Better Each Day was all from the minds of Jeremy Shantz, Jenn Wade and Daniel Esteban.

Jeremy might know Kathryn better than anyone, having met off Kijiji and lived together as roommates for a time. 

Kathryn knew Jeremy as an “eccentric, creative person” so she fully trusted him and his team to produce this video. 

“Sometimes you can write something in a second and other times you think:  Maybe it’s gone forever.”  

The song came during a creative dry spell, when their producer introduced her to an orphaned commercial jingle he wrote.  This sparked a creative outburst which resulted in Better Each Day.  

They decided to put it in half-time and add some organ to it for the intro. 

“It just came together fast after that.”  

Tour

NOBRO will be playing with Tokyo Police Club in the USA and in the new year with PUP + Billy Talent and then Rise Against + Billy Talent, once again playing arenas.

Fantasy Rock Band

When asked to create the ultimate Rock Band, and secretly reveal their inspirations, Katryn’s choices were:

Singer:  John Garner (Sir Lord Baltimore)

Guitar:  Matt Goldsborough (Pentagram)

Bass:  Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix Experience)

Drums:  Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience)

Conclusion

Kathryn’s Fantasy Rock Band wins for most obscure members but shows a deep respect for old 60s and 70s Rock ‘N Roll.

In her eyes is a young Joan Jett and in her veins is Cobra venom that create the ultimate rock and roll experience along with some of Montreal best musicians, regardless of gender.

NOBRO invites us to jump off the musical cliff with them, and just like Kathryn, I’m ready to go.

Don’t miss your chance to catch them at Place Bell (Laval) on April 3rd, 2022 opening up for Billy Talent & Rise Against.  

Ticket can be purchased here:  https://www.ticketmaster.ca/event/31005B366B570B52

Judging by the dwindling number of tickets, this will be the must see show of 2022.  

Get there early to get bit by the venom that is NOBRO.


Writer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their day jobs with out-of-the-box advice from Ted Talk Speakers, Best Selling Authors and other interesting Entrepreneurs and Creatives. He created the Rock Star Today MasterMind Experience for musicians. Randal also is a collector of signed vinyl.

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