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Josh Caterer (born April 1972) is a Chicago-area musician and songwriter. With his brothers, Eli Caterer (born 1975) and Matt Caterer (b. 1968), he was a founding member in 1991 of The Smoking Popes, in which Josh plays lead guitar and sings. After his conversion to Christianity the Smoking Popes split up, and Caterer later founded Duvall. The Smoking Popes have since reformed.
Caterer's father was a successful businessman and his mother, the salutatorian of her high-school class, was a homemaker. Both were of a spiritual bent, and they named their three children with shortened forms of the biblical names Joshua, Matthew and Elijah.
Prior to the formation of the Smoking Popes, when he was a Senior in high school, Caterer formed Speedstick along with his brothers Eli and Matt.
Caterer graduated in 1990 from Harry D. Jacobs High School in Algonquin, Illinois, a city neighboring his hometown, Lake in the Hills, Illinois, a far northwest suburb of Chicago. After graduation, Caterer held several menial jobs such as a job as a machine operator at a plastics company.
Caterer wrote his first song around 11 years old. During junior high he joined his first band, Slavedriver. His early musical influences included Fugazi, The Smiths, Elvis Costello, Mel Tormé, and Frank Sinatra. As a senior in high school, Caterer formed Speedstick along with his brothers Eli and Matt. This band would become the forerunner to the Smoking Popes.
Smoking Popes formed in 1991 and in early 1994 the band opened for Green Day. Caterer referred to his early songs, half-jokingly, as "pop nuggets". His singing voice changed from a punk shout to a vibrato when he tried to imitate the crooning of Frank Sinatra, initially as a joke. His singing is sometimes compared by journalists to that of Morrissey.
The creative mastermind behind the Popes, Caterer composed the majority of their repertoire of distinctive, pop-influenced punks songs, many of which have an intensely melancholy air underneath their driving beat. Lyrics of his early songs evoke feelings of fear, failure, intense despair, purposelessness, and romantic love as a redeeming agent. His later songs are marked by a more positive outlook, and many center upon the uplifting nature of religious faith and upon the importance of examining one's spiritual path. Consistent among both early and later songs is the allusive and metaphorical nature of Caterer's lyrics, often focusing upon man's search for meaning.
Caterer became a Christian in 1998. A collapse due to a cocaine overdose at an all-night party and C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity helped lead him to Christianity. He renounced his rock lifestyle, and began trying to introduce Jesus into the band's songs. Shortly after his conversion the Smoking Popes broke up, after Caterer became disillusioned when seeing Morrissey on tour with them. "I was realizing that he had a bigger budget than we did, but he was basically on the same treadmill that we were on," Caterer said. "It became a reality to us that this was going to be us, this was going to be me. It didn't seem any more fulfilling for him than it was for me." Caterer became heavily involved in his church, working at World Relief, a charitable, non-profit organization. He released a five-song EP of gospel music, Why Me, featuring solo guitar music. In 2001 he returned to the rock scene, founding a Christian rock band, Duvall, which included other former members of the Smoking Popes.
In November 2005 the Smoking Popes reunited for a sell-out show at the Chicago club The Metro. They embarked on a U.S. tour in early 2006 with the band Bayside. Several older, pre-1999 songs were not played due to their expression of views incongruent with Caterer's Christian beliefs. They released a new album in July 2008.
Caterer performed alongside Bayside for the acoustic version of "Megan" on their record "Acoustic."
Early Years 1991-1998: Monaco Yellow American Made Telecaster – Marshall ½ stack Black Fender Acoustic Electric
After Break 2005–Present: Inca Silver “Double Fat Strat” American Made Stratocaster – Marshal ½ stack and volume pedal Jet Black “Double Fat Strat” American Made Stratocaster Wine Red Gibson SG
Josh and his wife Stefanie have two children.
- "Josh Caterer". Hello Beautiful!. Chicago Public Radio. 20 July 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
- Guarino, Mark (2000). "He'd rather have Jesus - Josh Caterer of the Smoking Popes used to attract throngs of fans. Then he turned from rock to religion.". Daily Herald. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
- Wright, Derek (Winter 2008). "Smoking Popes: Staying Down". Soundcheck Magazine. Retrieved 2009-06-07.[dead link]
- Conner, Thomas (6 November 2005). "Duvall to remain a faith-fueled band". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
- Conner, Thomas (6 November 2005). "The Party's not quite over for the Smoking Popes - Josh Caterer regroups, gets band back together". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Conner, Thomas (3 July 2008). "Smoking Popes back with new album, 'Stay Down'". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
- Interview with Josh Caterer by Harvest Bible Chapel
- Shultz, Brian (13 August 2008). "A conversation with Smoking Popes' Josh Caterer". AltPress. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
- Josh Caterer playing at North Central College Union: