Black Cat Habitat - Bio
Black Cat Habitatis a soulful and shamelessly melodic original indie rock band with a beautifully-worn 90's sensibility, led by singer-songwriter Rachel McCullough and backed by guitarist Neal Blumberg, bassist Tony Simpson and drummer Ron Kirkland. Rachel’s upbeat and bittersweet songs center on themes of longing, triumph, and finding your own habitat.
From their very first beat, audiences instantly know they are in for a high-rev ride. Black Cat Habitatcaptures their attention with Rachel’s “wickedly sweet” vocals, punctuated by Neal’s texture-laden guitar riffs, Tony’s undeniable driving bass lines, and Ron’s warm-to-the-ear drum hits.
Black Cat Habitat’shigh-energy shows feature songs from the Jam the Signal (2016) and Ready to Bruise (2011) EPs. Listeners are greeted by a multi-layered sound reflecting the band’s wide-ranging influences, such as U2, the Beatles, the Jam, The Pretenders, Juliana Hatfield, Nick Drake, The String Cheese Incident, Iron and Wine, The Allman Brothers, Phish, Bootsy Collins, Stanley Clarke, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. It doesn’t make sense. But then it does.
Drawing inspiration from the feeling of being on the outside, it was the yearning for inclusion that led to the creation of Black Cat Habitat. Music was her way to connect. Her habitat. A place of understanding without saying a word. And like the magical healing powers of a black cat’s purr, she found other searchers when meeting Neal, Tony, and Ron. How they found each other is the stuff band bios are made of.
They rejoice at having found each other, and audiences can hear that giddy excitement with every hungry, unapologetically indie-rock song they play, and on-stage banter. “We're not just after the perfect tone, we're after a feeling. When we play, we're looking for symbiosis with each other and ultimately, with the audience.”
Visit blackcathabitat.com and these sites below for music, show dates, and videos.
- “To this writer’s ears, Maria McKee and Lone Justice came to mind hearing the beguiling “Jam the Signal,” the title song from BCH’s 2016 album. You can’t really liken it to most pop or rock, though, it evades comparison.” Route 1, October 3, 2018. Full Page article!
- On-Air News mention: NJ TV12 Coverage (10/3/2018)
- “They're back, and bigger. Black Cat Habitat has been no stranger to area stages. Whether in cozy coffee shops or larger brew pub venues like Triumph, this indie-rock band has been churning out their own style of '90s-esque for years. Their repertoire has nuggets of soul collided with the jangle of guitar and rockin' choruses.” The Times/NJ.COM, May 30, 2018.
- “Their sound is reminiscent of powerful female rock of the '90s; her vocals stand out as a big, bold display of what happens when indie meets grunge and has a rendezvous with alternative rock.” The Times/NJ.Com. January 10, 2018.
- “Black Cat Habitat, fronted by singer Rachel McCullough, is an indie-rock band that brings soul to the stage. They create catchy melodies that linger with you long after the show, and McCullough's vocals leave a lasting impression.” The Times/NJ.COM, August 7, 2017.
- “They've got a sinister sweetness that makes their show oh-so-good. Black Cat Habitat is a shameless indie pop-rock band that puts on a sultry, raw performance every time they take the stage. Their repertoire is dark yet inviting.” The Times/NJ.com, 11/16/2016.
Rachel McCullough - Singer-Songwriter, Rhythm Guitar, Founder
Songwriter From Birth
Try as she might, Rachel can't stop writing songs. Her bittersweet songs about love, longing and finding your own habitat are fueled by observation and inspiration. Drawing inspiration from the feeling of being on the outside, it was the yearning for inclusion that led to the creation of Black Cat Habitat. Music was her way to connect. Her habitat. A place of understanding without saying a word.
Whether the melody comes first, the lyrics, the concept, or all three songwriting components, each song is nurtured and loved until it is ready to meet the world. Her style is undeniably upbeat indie-rock, accented with black eyeliner angst that gives way to joy.
Rachel's vocals have been described as "captivating" and "wickedly sweet" evoking comparisons ranging from Gwen Stefani to Belinda Carlisle, to something else undefinable.
Rachel's musical influences include The Beatles, the Jam, the Pretenders, Blondie, Linda Ronstadt, U2, Aimee Mann, Juliana Hatfield, the Foo Fighters, and all things SubPop.
Rachel's musical odyssey started out in the college rock environment of Albany, NY, performing and writing songs with The Oysters. She then headed down to Washington D.C. where she formed the alternative rock band Rubin Kinkaid.. Writing original music and playing throughout the D.C. Metro are, they recorded EPs: Pink Elephant, Don't Ask, and Not a War. Songs like Pink Elephant, Apathy, and Deserve (John Lennon Song Contest Honor) received press in The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and the D.C. City Paper.
Then she landed in Bucks County, PA and started over. Playing under her name at the time became tedious. Band names were so much fun to play with. After a couple years she created Black Cat Habitat. Still playing as a solo act, she saw herself as the Black Cat looking for her Habitat. Where were all the other musicians at? Turns out they were looking for folks to play with too! She wrote a bunch of new songs and released two more EPs - Ready to Bruise (2011) and Jam the Signal (2016). She has a mess of new songs to record in 2020.
Sounds like "Deb"
Rachel started going by her middle name a few years ago. Earlier recordings find her going by "Deb".
Neal Blumberg - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Neal's love of music started at an early age, learning classical guitar at the age of 6.
After experiencing Jimi Hendrix's Bold As Love, Neal absorbed as much of the music from the 60's and 70's as he could get his hands on. Some of his biggest influences from that time period are Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers, Credence Clearwater Revival, and of course, Jimi Hendrix. In the early 90's, Neal discovered Phish and one of his all time guitar heroes, Trey Anastasio. Led by the jam band scene, he discovered a whole new set of musical influences including Moe., Medeski Martin and Wood, and The String Cheese Incident.
The day Neal heard the Garden State soundtrack was the day he discovered the genre of the singer songwriter. He immersed himself in artists like Alexi Murdoch, Laura Marling, Nick Drake, and Johnny Flynn. He also found another all time guitar idol - Sam Beam of Iron and Wine.
Whether intentional or by osmosis, you can hear pieces of each of these genres fused into anything he plays in Black Cat Habitat.
Tony Simpson - Bass, Vocals
Reflecting on the musical influences who first caught his attention, Tony cites Raymond Earl, the bassist for Instant Funk, and his high school music teacher, Tommy Grice. The first concert he ever saw, as a child, was James Brown. Imagine that as your first concert! His influences today are expansive, including Earth Wind & Fire, Rick James, Phil Collins, James Jamerson, Bootsy Collins, Stanley Clarke, Prince, MJ & Jackson 5, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Hamilton Bohannon. He enjoys it all!!!