|Origin||State College, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Genres||Rock and roll, indie rock|
|Years active||2001 – 2006|
|Associated acts||Forty Pound Test, Lowjack|
|Past members||William Love
Katsu (sometimes KATSU) was an American rock band from State College, Pennsylvania, from 2001 to 2006. Their musical style was self-described as a cross between hip hop and the music of Bob Dylan, along with mixtures of classic rock, alternative rock, punk rock, reggae, and ska. Many of the band's themes dealt with "explorations of life, love, broken hearts and lost innocence in blue-collar America".
Singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist Dennis Fallon, bass guitarist Frank Yarnal, guitarist William Love, and drummer Ralph Jones formed the band Forty Pound Test in State College in 1999. The band was named after Jones' late uncle, an avid fisherman. When Jones left the band in 2001, the remaining members reformed as Katsu and added Eric "Z" Rozzi as replacement drummer. The band's new name derived from a quote in Phillip Toshio Sudo's book Zen Guitar: "KATSU: A shout that emanates from the soul. Martial artists call this kind of shout katsu. Katsu is the roar of a person who knows what it means to be alive."
Katsu began playing mostly as a cover band in popular bars and taverns in downtown State College, such as The Rathskeller, The Saloon, and The Lion's Den, although they substantially reinterpreted cover songs and regularly included original songs into their performances. Along with Dylan, other artists who influenced the band's sound included the Beastie Boys, Mike Ness, Sublime, and Tom Petty. The band chose "Katsu is watching you!" as their slogan for use on their website and bumper stickers.
The band released a basement bootleg album retroactively called Songs for Jake (also Jake's Greatest Hits) in 2001.
Katsu was often featured on Penn State's student radio station, WKPS - The Lion 90.7 FM on an afternoon show titled "State Your Face", which featured rock, oldies, punk, reggae, and ska. They had a number of in-studio interviews and performances in 2004 with WKPS DJ Kip Talley.
In December 2001, the band began recording their first album Gorgeous Mess. Bret Alexander and Paul Smith of The Badlees produced the record, which took six months to finish. Love left during the recording process and was replaced with heavy metal guitarist Mark Klein.
The record, which was chosen as the best independent album by Pennsylvania Musician magazine in 2003, included the songs "Leave Me", "Anymore" and "Walkaway", an anthem rocker about growing up in Pennsylvania. Yarnal explained the band's success: "Our live show is very energetic. We like to interact with the crowd. We have a lot of catchy sing-a-long choruses. There is never a dull moment."
Rozzi left the band after the record's completion and was replaced with Keith Lingenfelter, a high school friend of Klein.
After completing Gorgeous Mess, the band began writing new songs, which led to another basement bootleg album in 2003, Elvis in Furs. Katsu was signed to The Badlees' record label Saturation Acres Music of Danville, Pennsylvania, and from August – October 2003 recorded their second album Disaster at Saturation Acres Studio, again under the production of Alexander and Smith. The record, released in 2004 featured the punk rocker "Cold Stop", "Down The Line" and the southern rocker "Prison Break". Lingenfelter left the band shortly after the album's release and was replaced with drummer Josh Troup, giving the band its final lineup.
During the band's existence Katsu played throughout Pennsylvania, including the Grape Street Pub of Manayunk, Philadelphia, popular for its original music performances, and the Hard Rock Cafe in Pittsburgh, as well as playing in Cleveland, Ohio. Katsu featured at the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon and served as the opening acts for The Presidents of the United States of America and Jason Mraz. Regarding the latter act, Fallon said, "Yeah, we played a show with all the screaming 12-year-old girls. We also opened for the '80s metal band FireHouse. We don't really match that scene, either. It was pretty wacky." State College remained the band's base, however, despite the propensity of a rural university town for cover songs. Fallon explained, "State College is our base of operations. This is where we learned how to play."
For the MTV-produced compilation album Lit Riffs: The Soundtrack in 2004, Katsu supplied a stripped-down cover version of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five's "The Message". In 2005 the band released the EP The Basement Albums Vol. 3, a collection of new tracks (recorded in a basement) and recordings of older songs from live shows. Chris Rosengrant, manager of The Lion's Den, praised the band that year by saying, "Their music is fantastic and their interaction with the crowd is great."
In January 2006, the band released the EP A World on End, a compilation of songs from earlier recordings with the new song "Please Don't Start".
Katsu disbanded in May 2006. Along with three other State College musicians, Fallon and Yarnal formed the band Lowjack in June 2006; the new band premiered at The Rathskeller in August that year. On September 28, 2007, Katsu reunited for a single show at The Rathskeller.
- Songs for Jake (2001; bootleg)
- Gorgeous Mess (2002)
- Elvis in Furs (2003; bootleg)
- Disaster (2004)
- The Basement Albums Vol. 3 (2005; EP)
- A World on End (2006; EP)
- Q94 the Classic Rock Station. "The Backyard Rocker". accessed 17 May 2006.
- The Daily Collegian. "Forty Pound Test brings energy to stage". September 10, 1999.
- The Daily Collegian. "Sev-up". February 5, 2003.
- The Daily Collegian. "Dexter Freebish plays at Crowbar as part of back-to-school concert." September 7, 2004.
- The Daily Collegian. "Katsu to open in capital for national pop act Mraz". August 7, 2003.
- The Daily Collegian. "Katsu releases new CD". February 24, 2005