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What’s in a name? For Katherine, it’s punk chemistry

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Catherine Elicson met Kathryn Keister of Columbus band Katherine. Credit: Courtesy of Cali Sanker.

Catherine Elicson met Kathryn Keister in their first year at Ohio State, during a feminist student group meeting. It wasn’t until Elicson filled in for the drummer of a friend’s band, Goners, during a show that they realized they wanted to make music together.

“It was my first time seeing Catherine playing an instrument, and she was phenomenal, and I cried,” Keister said. The two quickly made a musical connection and formed Katherine, an unapologetic punk two-piece. “I wanted to start a bass-drum band. And here we are two years later.”

Their sound, distinct with grungy bass, frantic drums and often haunting, angry melodies and vocals, but is often more mellow than other bands in the same scene. They balance consistency with diversity in their songwriting, with numbers such as “Carry” in which they focus on melody and structure, and “Get Out,” which is focused more on violent, yelling energy.

On their writing process, Elicson said, “We mostly just jam out until we develop a structure, and then try to add vocals.”

Katherine’s performances for the most part put emphasis on volume and shouting, but after two years of playing together, their ambitions for a good show are low-key in Columbus’ punk scene.

“It’s good when friends come, and everyone’s having a good time. And treating each other nicely,” Keister said.

Despite a focus on punk music, their influences are musically far removed and include Fleetwood Mac and Kate Bush. “Weird pop,” Elicson said. “I feel like I don’t listen to a lot of punk music.” Keister said, “I listen to a lot of my friends’ bands, but they don’t really sound like our band and I think that’s fine.”

Catherine Elicson met Kathryn Keister of Columbus band Katherine. Credit: Courtesy of Cali Sanker.

Catherine Elicson met Kathryn Keister of Columbus band Katherine. Credit: Courtesy of Cali Sanker.

Katherine has also toured the Midwest and East Coast, in cities such as Athens, Boston, and Bloomington, Ind. and are set to play in New York City and Washington, D.C.

“We’ll play with bands from other places and make friends, and then we go where they’re from. It’s like a network,” Elicson said.

“The band Katherine relies a lot on the DIY community in Columbus,” Keister said. “Like people who are putting on shows in their houses and aren’t professionally trained and aren’t making money off of it but they just want to make music and support other people who make music.”

One problem that often arises in DIY punk scenes like Columbus’ is a shortage of venues for bands.

“There was a house club called VVK that put on punk shows for four years, but since the summer, there has a been a lacking in places to put on house shows, which are really important,” Elicson said.

For those aspiring to become a part of the punk community, Keister said, “Start a band, just do it. Play what you want — it’s punk, who cares?”

Katherine is scheduled to play at the Ace of Cups on Saturday and at Used Kids Records on Feb. 1.

Correction: A prior version of this article misidentified the house club VVK as UVK.

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