Interview: The Great Mistakes

The Great Mistakes are a self-described "cat-punk" trio from Cincinnati, employing ukulele and cello in their instantly accessible folk pop sound. Their recently released debut single, "I Don't Blame You", shares many qualities with other similar acts that I enjoy, namely Jayber Crow and Mrs. Mole. 

Half-Gifts: How and when did The Great Mistakes form? Did all the members have a common interest in the same type of music?

Spencer Peppet: The Great Mistakes formed kind of by accident. My school does a coffeehouse-style performance called the Beat, and last year I decided that I was going to play some of my songs. I wanted a bigger sound than just me and my ukulele, so I asked Nathan and Grace to play. We ended up having a lot of fun and decided to continue as a band. We do have common music interests, though. They're prominent influences on our own music, especially The Velvet Underground, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Mountain Goats, Joanna Newsom, and Cat Power.

You played a show at Everybody's Records this week, how did that go? Have you performed anywhere else? 

Our Everybody's show is my favorite show we've played so far! We had a great turnout, and we were the youngest band to play over the series of live music Saturdays. It was a lot of fun, and I'm really happy we had the chance to play there. We've played shows at the Beat and at Music on the Green in Terrace Park, and we have more shows coming up!

Speaking of live music, what local bands have you seen play?

Local bands are really fun, especially when it's a high school band. My favorite non-high school local bands are Wussy and WHY?, they're both amazing. As for high school bands, Nathan is in another band called Sophie's Dream and they're great. We've seen The Wonderful Sadists, Olivia Frances, Banducci and the Wheels, Greek Myth, Jake Kolesar, Andrew Boylan, and the Social Rejects' Club.

Your Facebook and Bandcamp pages describe The Great Mistakes as a "cat punk" band. A genre tag search only brings up the song "Bounty Hunter" by Mardou. What is cat punk?

"Cat punk" started as kind of a joke, and it started with our first name. We were the Aristocats for a while, then changed to The Great Mistakes. We like to stay true to our feline roots, you know? We've continued using the tag because it still fits the music. It makes sense with the way the songs sound.

You have released two songs as a part of your digital single, "I Don't Blame You". Any plans to record any of your other songs?

We're currently recording our first full record! It's very exciting. We've been spending lots of time in Nathan's basement getting the sounds right. It's minimal, with the cello drone and big sweeping build-ups. The record is called "High School." 

What are your favorite non-musical things to do?

Well, we eat a lot of Indian food. Nathan enjoys quoting the Iliad at length, Grace likes cats, and I read a lot of books. Kundera, Salinger, Diaz, and a bunch of others, Nathan introduced me to all the best ones. Grace and I both do theatre as well, she covers all areas and directs along with acting. Most of our interests are literary or musical.

What are your goals for this year?

The main goal is to get the recording sounding as good as possible, and then to become the Velvet Underground.