After forming 15 years earlier while in high school, Arizona alternative quartet Katastro finally looked ready to take the next step in 2022.
Vocalist Andy Chaves, bassist Ryan Weddle, drummer Andrew Stravers and guitarist Tanner Riccio were ready to record again on the heels of 2021’s Sucker and had just finished playing at venues like Red Rocks Amphitheatre ahead of their summer tour with Iration. Ahead of those sessions in May 2022, the group headed west to Orange County, Ca. to visit their friends in Dirty Heads’ studio. But just a couple of days later, Chaves was killed in a car accident on May 12, 2022 at the age of 32.
While grieving their friend and bandmate, the surviving members of Katastro canceled the tour, halted the recording process, and ceased band activities indefinitely.
Roughly a year and a half later, Weddle, Stravers and Riccio are ready to move forward with releasing Katastro’s final album — having already launched the first single, the upbeat “Good Time” — featuring vocal takes performed mere days before Chaves’ death.
“It’s been bittersweet for us,” Stravers tells SPIN over Zoom. “It’s so exciting to finally put music out because we’re so used to constantly putting music out during our 16 years as a band. But to not have Andy here while we do it comes with all these different emotions and feelings.”
“I didn’t realize it until [‘Good Time’] came out, but part of me felt safe holding on to this music,” Weddle adds. “I already had it, and it was always there. But now that it’s out, it just feels like ‘OK, what’s next?’ Luckily, we do have a lot more [of Chaves’ vocals], but it made me realize how valuable every single thing we have left is. It all means so much more and feels different than any other release.”
Aside from their gratitude for the remaining vocal takes that Chaves recorded in his final days, Katastro is also thankful for the community that has supported them over the last 18 months. Despite having to drop off of the tour with Iration, the reggae rockers brought some of Katastro’s merch with them on the road and sent them all of the profits from its sales. Earlier this year, Katastro performed for the first time since Chaves’ death at Kampfest, a festival put on in his memory. Iration and Dirty Heads showed up, as did Sublime With Rome singer Rome Ramirez — all of whom are featured on the final album, along with their Arizona brethren in The Maine. Thousands of fans showed up to Kampfest, with thousands more reaching out and offering support online.
It’s the kind of reaction and community appreciation that Chaves would’ve loved, and his memory drives the remaining members to ensure that the final album isn’t just a great release, but a deserving send-off.
“The three of us feel this obligation to keep pushing through not only to withhold Andy’s legacy but also the band’s legacy and everything we’ve worked for,” Weddle says. “It was evident to us right after he passed that we’d have to take a couple of months, but we couldn’t just sit around and do nothing. We all knew that finishing it was the only way we were going to be able to get through it. We had other artists and all the fans supporting us and giving us the strength to be able to do that.”
“We started realizing pretty quickly that we had enough [vocals] to do all this, which gave us hope that it’s not over,” Riccio says. “I thought it was gonna be this huge pressure to make sure everything is great when we finally got to the point of releasing it. There is some of that, but it just feels good that it sounds like what the album would have sounded like if none of this tragic stuff had happened. It feels like the band can still have this moment together, even though Andy’s not here.”