Marc Kelley and Lauren Thomas alone are one part under-the-radar humor and one part self-aware sex appeal, respectively.
Together, they are The Full Catastrophe, a band unafraid to sing out against such issues as Tom Hanks and cocoa puffs. Marc plays guitar and sequences the back-up music; Lauren is the vocalist and not camera shy in their new music video. The duo recently released a music video for their single “Tom Hanks,” which features
an appearance from Grand Valley State University dance team Momentum.
Pretending to like them gets you major indie cred, or so they say. And they’re both from GVSU.
Grand Valley Lanthorn: You obviously have a sense of humor as a group. What part of your music do you take seriously?
Thomas: We really want to make sure that if we release anything — music or a video — that it’s something we think our listeners will enjoy. It’s important to get a lot of your music out there for people to discover but it’s more important to us to have a couple really good, creative songs and hopefully leave people wanting more.
Kelley: The arrangements, productions and performances would mean little if we didn’t take them seriously. If it turns out at a later point that adding funny lyrics to a song will lead to a more interesting product, then that is what happens. Usually, putting a lot of time and effort into making sure the production quality is top notch for an otherwise stupid song, that can be funnier than anything else.
GVL: You called your computer a “third band member,” meaning your pre-recorded electronic accompaniment plays a significant role in your music. What advantages do you hold being equal parts man, woman and machine?
Kelley: As a band member, the computer is very reliable. It never forgets any songs, it keeps time very well, and it always shows up for performances. There’s a lot of potential in the role technology can play in music … At the same time, it helps to have an audience that understands what music software can do. Too often, a person will just see me behind a computer and think all we do is press “play.”
GVL: What’s the best music you’ve heard at GVSU?
Thomas: … The dance team Momentum making an appearance in our new music video for Tom Hanks… If you haven’t been to a dance performance, you are missing out. I was blown away!
Kelley: My personal favorite was probably the Jazz Ensemble, but I may just be geared toward anything with drums.
GVL: How do you define “musician”?
Kelley: You could write a dissertation on this topic, especially considering the influence of technology in modern music. Many formally trained singers will criticize pop musicians for not doing it “correctly,” but it’s all relative to what you’re going for. Ten years ago, I was a kid on my computer clicking buttons while Lauren was at talent shows singing Celine Dion, so who’s to say?
GVL: What advice do you have for students looking to pursue a career in music?
Thomas: The most important piece of information I’ve learned in my experience with music and performing is that you have to stay true to the music you enjoy. … If you start to give in to everyone’s demands, you’ll find you won’t enjoy it anymore.
GVL: Where did the name “The Full Catastrophe” come from?
Kelley: Yeah, it’s a John Mellencamp song. Basically, we just had a big list of song titles and phrases from movies and we just picked the one that sounded like a band name. But for the sake of being poetic, we’ll say that it symbolizes our melding of varied musical styles and a convergence of clashing ideas which cultivate into a higher artistic ideal.
GVL: What’s the hardest thing about playing a live set?
Kelley: Carrying the equipment and drunk people who think it’s karaoke asking us if they can sing a Bob Seger song.
The Full Castastrophe is on Facebook. For more information, visit their fan page or their website, www.fullcatastrophe.net.