Artist Spotlight: Little Hurricane

Lindsey Scully / November 2, 2011
Photo via Little Hurricane

Many people view a hurricane as a horrible and destructive force; however, it is quite the opposite. A hurricane is a thing of beauty created by Mother Nature. It has a powerful force that can suck in those around it, and this is exactly what San Diego’s Little Hurricane does. Little Hurricane has been gaining strength and momentum ever since they came together as a dirty blues duo in 2010.

Little Hurricane is composed of Celeste “CC” Spina and Anthony “Tone” Catalano. A couple years back CC put a post up on Craigslist looking for possible bandmates. Luckily Tone was persistent and replied a couple times, and the two have been almost inseparable ever since. The band name “Little Hurricane” truly does fit the duo to a T; they might be small in numbers, but they are powerful in force. “We brainstormed for over a month, and finally when Tone said ‘little hurricane’ it just felt right” said CC. Tone is originally from Santa Cruz, CA and was in jazz band in high school but spent most of his time in a post-punk/rock band where he recorded a few albums and toured. This got him interested in recording and sound engineering. Soon thereafter he met CC and they created Little Hurricane. CC grew up in Chicago and played in jazz band as well and learned the drums at a young age.

CC told us “Inspiration comes from a variety of things, from our own lives to telling someone else’s story.” They mentioned how the songwriting process is a collaborative effort and Tone will create the melodies that are then morphed into new songs. Tone explains how “it could be a feeling or a situation that needs to be expressed with music or a vibe found with a certain instrument,” which might be why this band has such a large sound with an array of instruments. While Tone tends to stick to guitar and vocals and CC mainly does drums and backup vocals, they both branch out on various songs and have learned other instruments to accompany songs. CC will play mandolin on Give ‘Em Hell or even a harmonica while Tone can easily play the slide guitar with a shot glass. How’s that for dirty blues?

People might be surprised to learn that the duo are based in San Diego and not the South, seeing as how they have a true gritty blues vibe. Little Hurricane has a unique sound, making it quite difficult to compare them to any other band in terms of what type of music they play or their personal style. While comparisons to The White Stripes are quite easy to make, the only song that truly sounds like them is the title track Homewrecker, which features distorted guitar similar to Jack White‘s signature sound. CC and Tone like to use older vintage items in their stage decor as well as their instruments; the Little Hurricane dress code has a vintage appeal to it as well. Both CC and Tone continuously look sharp while on stage and that is something that most modern bands lack; personal style and class. The members of Little Hurricane could easily blend in on an episode of Mad Men, with CC typically wearing a ’50s-era dress and Tone looking quite dashing in suspenders and a vest.

Homewrecker, released early this year, is the band’s debut album. The album made it to iTunes‘ Top 100 Blues chart within a month of its release, which is quite the accomplishment for the an unsigned band’s self-released debut album. “Tone mixed the whole thing” CC mentions, expanding by telling us that the whole recording process for Homewrecker was “very unconventional” and that they’d “record wherever we could.” The recording happened in parts of Seattle, Portland, and Santa Cruz, between living rooms studded with three microphones and a studio surrounded by professional equipment. Little Hurricane unequivocally know what hard work and determination will get you. The album is a fantastic nod to their DIY style: they funded, created, designed, and executed it themselves .”CC designed, assembled, and formatted the artwork,” said Tone.

When asked what the most fulfilling part of making this album was, Tone responded with “The night of our deadline to get everything to the printer was a little bittersweet…we were up all night checking mixes and uploading them along with the artwork when the Japan earthquake/tsunami hit and it was hard to be happy about anything at that tragic time. However, the fulfilling part for me would be hearing the feedback from people thanking us for the journey Homewrecker took them on…”

Little Hurricane has covered a lot of well-known songs and artists including “Grounds For Divorc”e by Elbow, “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers, “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith, and also Black-Eyed Peas, Moby,and even Frank Sinatra. To say this group is well-versed is an oversimplification. When asked what Little Hurricane song they’d like to see another band cover and CC responded with “‘Give ‘Em Hell,’ because it has a lot of meaning.”

To say that a song has a lot of meaning for Little Hurricane is an understatement. This is a band whose blood, sweat, and tears are inked onto paper. “Give ‘Em Hell” is inspired by a family member who had a heroin addiction for eight years; the song was written for them in hopes of giving them strength to continue to keep clean. “Clean on up/Or let me be/Set me free” tells the side of the family that has seen the hurt and experienced the pain first-hand. “Sweet Pea” was inspired by the death of CC’s grandmother; many of the lyrics are straight quotes made by her grandfather at the funeral; the title was his nickname for her grandmother. These are songs that they have now played hundreds of times in the last year at various venues all over the country.

The past year has been extremely busy for this band, between embarking on their first tour up the West coast, to recording and releasing their debut album, to having one of their singles the hit ABC TV show Revenge, to playing all the summer’s hottest festivals including SXSW, Austin City Limits, and Lollapalooza. Not bad for a band who just celebrated their one-year anniversary a few months ago. And just six months after Little Hurricane formed they were named Best New Artists for the 2010 San Diego Music Awards. When asked what each of their most memorable moments in the past year were, Tone responded with “The festivals we’ve played at this year have all been amazing… SXSW was memorable mainly because of some ‘interesting’ shows we played there,” and CC said “Playing Lollapalooza was mind-blowing. Going back to my hometown to play the biggest festival of the year was something I would have never expected to happen.” With all of this experience under their belt we asked them if they had any advice to give new emerging bands, “Just follow your dreams. If you really believe in what you are doing, do whatever it takes to do more of it and on larger scales.

Little Hurricane does have plans to release either an EP or LP in the early spring of 2012 and embark on another tour. East Coasters, there is hope for you yet, as the band did tell us that they are hoping to get to that side of the country next year.

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