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Alpha Cat: Bio

"I've fallen into a black hole
looked like your heart
felt like my soul
Now I got nowhere to go
from this side out looks like the end of the world."

How do you take an image like Pearl Harbor, or a black hole, and make it positive? According to Elizabeth McCullough, aka Alpha Cat, "When I wrote that song I'd just read how astronomers had decided that you could escape a black hole, but only by going all the way through and out the other side. And that leads to all this worm hole and time travel theory, where not only do you escape, but you arrive at a place you might never have reached otherwise. It's an amazing metaphor for transformation, and ultimately hopeful. That's why at the end of the song it says 'you gotta go deeper it's the only way out'.

With Pearl Harbor, it's apparent how longtime photographer McCullough's previous passion has informed her current love. Without an understanding of how equally light and it's absence form the world we see before us, it's difficult to imagine McCullough having had the vocabulary to describe that world musically. "It occurred to me that this place was called Pearl Harbor BEFORE it was bombed, and that it must be because literally, there were pearls in the harbor. I tried to imagine what it might take to get back to where that place was about treasure, rather than destruction.

Alpha Cat started as a band, and morphed into a collective. In the mid-90's McCullough, who had been writing songs on her own, (and with an a couple of exes -including a husband) ran into an some old acquaintances. One, Matt Gruenberg, whom she had met in Boston while he was in a band called the Dark, volunteered to play some open mics with her in New York. Another was James Mastro, who as a photographer she had shot while he was in the Bongos. She asked if he would listen to some of her4 track demos, and Mastro happened to be in the market forpix for his project Health & Happiness Show, which at that time included ex and future Television guitarist Richard Lloyd. McCullough and Lloyd got to talking, the result being that Lloyd played on the first studio demo of McCullough's songs. The Mastro connection also led to a friendship with Television bassist Fred Smith, who agreed to produce a new demo, and ended up co-producing two Alpha Cat cds.

The "demo" became 1999’s ep "Real Boy," which with only 150 copies sent to college radio stations ended up in the CMJ National Add charts not once, but twice, receiving more airplay adds than such formidable and much more widely distributed offerings as Beck's "Midnight Vultures", and Metallica's "S&M". It went on to spend 6 weeks in the national airplay charts, rather unusual for an ep.

At that point McCullough decided it was time to let the photography go, and pursue music. And pretty much everyone who played on the first record played on the second, "Pearl Harbor", and then some. Along with Smith, members of such various groups as Jeff Buckley's, Blue Man Group, the Ordinaires and Paul Anka went along for the ride, and the numbers are growing as she works on the follow-up to Harbor. The Waitresses Chris Butler, who is known for such 80's dark-happy hits as "I Know What Boys Like" and "Christmas Wrapping", as well as the world's longest recorded pop song, (according to the Guinness Book) is now working with McCullough in her home studio in Jersey. In a review of a London show for Britain's Get Rhythm magazine, he described Alpha Cat: "funny, intense and surprisingly beautiful, 'how the fuck do you steer this thing called life', songs." An apt description.