MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Fantastic Cat’s “Later On”

Though they’re quite serious about their craft, the four members of Fantastic Cat prefer to keep it light when it comes to packaging and presentation. Recent press releases and band bios are as self-effacingly hilarious as they are essentially useless. And the oversized cat masks that show up on album covers and in videos and publicity photos only add to the good-natured weirdness.

Fantastic Cat’s Anthony D’Amato, Mike Montali, Don DiLego and Brian Dunne are all accomplished singer/songwriters in their own right. And while there’s a faint essence of Golden Smog to their ad-hoc pooling of resources, they sound more like an actual band than that Minneapolis-based supergroup side project ever did.

“Fantastic Cat is a true democracy,” says Dunne. “Everyone in the band is the lead singer and therefore legally responsible should the band get sued—and this band will definitely get sued at some point.”

So much for getting a straight answer. This much we do know: The group’s second album, Now That’s What I Call Fantastic Cat, is out June 7 via Missing Piece Records. Produced by DiLego at his Velvet Elk Studios in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains and various locations in Brooklyn, it features notable guest appearances by Adam Duritz (Counting Crows) and James Felice (Felice Brothers). It also has a surplus of fantastic moments, including “Later On,” which began life in Dunne’s rehearsal space.

“The verses are grounded in existential worries and musings, the choruses a declaration of faith in human connection,” says Dunne. “It was a tender ballad, but I didn’t bring it to the band until I heard a song Don and Anthony were working on with similar chords. That inspired me to reconsider it as a slightly heavier, up-tempo song.”

Dunne also acknowledges Fantastic Cat’s obvious debt to the Band. “When (Rick) Danko and (Richard) Manuel are both singing lead, you can’t tell which one is doing what,” says Dunne. “Mike and I decided to sing ‘Later On’ together, and Anthony and Don filled out the coda with their call-and-response vocals. Don set up the mics at his studio, we hit record, and we got this one down in a few takes.”

Much like everything else with Fantastic Cat, the video for “Later On” is a homespun affair. “We shot it ourselves on our tour of the U.S. and Canada,” says Dunne. “It plays out as a travelogue of sorts, and it’s probably the sincerest thing we’ve done to date. Don’t get used to it.”

We’re proud to premiere Fantastic Cat’s “Later On” video.

—Hobart Rowland

See Fantastic Cat live.