The Philistines Jr.
About The Philistines Jr.
Brothers Tarquin and Peter Katis and drummer Adam Pierce make up the fun and eclectic Ferris wheel ride that is the Philistines Jr. The Connecticut-based homegrown project has been going since the late 1980s, producing thoughtful, creative indie rock with lyrics that veer from whimsical and playful to introspective and melancholy. Preferring to take their time and develop conceptual song cycles, the group's few full-lengths, including 1995's The Sinking of the S.S. Danehower and 2010's If a Band Plays in the Woods...?, often take a humorous, self-deprecating look at the band's perpetual underdog status, as well as the failures of life. Musically, their music is just as likely to resemble peppy indie pop as well as space rock, exotica, or synth pop played on old Casio keyboards. Outside of the Philistines, the group's members have participated in several other projects, such as the Happiest Guys in the World and the NHL-approved hockey rockers the Zambonis. Additionally, Peter Katis is a highly respected producer and engineer, and has worked on acclaimed albums by Interpol, the National, Frightened Rabbit, and many others.
The Philistines Jr. first began playing when Peter Katis was a freshman at the University of Vermont in 1985; they played their first gig on campus, opening for local heroes Phish. Katis began taking music production classes at SUNY Purchase in 1989. He worked as an intern, assistant, and engineer in various New York City recording studios, and started recording songs with his brother Tarquin. The band's first EP, Greenwich, CT, was recorded and mixed entirely at SUNY Purchase, and was the inaugural release on Tarquin Records, which issued the majority of the group's subsequent output. The record was a hit on college radio, and John Peel became a fan, personally phoning the band up to express his appreciation. The Philistines eventually recorded three Peel Sessions and toured throughout the United States and the U.K. several times.
A second EP, The Continuing Struggle of..., appeared in 1993, and debut full-length The Sinking of the S.S. Danehower arrived in 1995. By this point, Bubble Core Records founder Adam Pierce (later known for his solo project Mice Parade) was the group's drummer. They also frequently played as the backing band for Vermont-based cartoonist and songwriter James Kochalka. Following a few 7" singles (including a split single with a one-off Moby side project called Schaumgummi), the Philistines Jr. reemerged with the sprawling and impressive Analog vs. Digital (Or We Don't Get the Respect We Deserve in Today's Scientific Community) in 2001. The album's concluding song, "55 M.P.H.," featured brief solos by friends and associates such as Guster and R. Stevie Moore.
After keeping busy with side projects and recording duties throughout the decade, the group returned in 2010 with their third album, If a Band Plays in the Woods...? In 2011, the record was reissued as If a Lot of Bands Play in the Woods..., containing a second disc filled with remixes and covers by Mercury Rev, Oneida, Nico Muhly, and many other artists who have worked with Peter Katis. Following another extended period of recording studio work and family raising, the Philistines Jr. issued fourth full-length Help! in 2019. ~ Joslyn Layne & Paul Simpson