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Belfast, Northern Ireland, five-piece Catoan had been together for over a year before they decided to call themselves a band. Previous to this, they had been billed as "Paddy McKeown and band" after their multi-talented frontman. McKeown had been recording and performing solo since 2003 and only felt comfortable uniting with his band if he was sure they were there to stay. McKeown's classically inflected, bel canto tenor remains the group's primary focal point, but the sound is of a distinguished whole which takes in influences as wide ranging as rock, metal, folk, jazz, classical, and minimalism. Though superficially compared to Radiohead and Jeff Buckley, Catoan supplements the standard rock setup with a full-time violinist and part-time tenor sax player, and their lengthy pieces traverse a range of styles without necessarily committing to one or the other. This tendency makes the band difficult to categorize, but it hasn't inhibited their commercial success, which has steadily grown outward from their Belfast base. The five musicians who make up Catoan first came together in 2006: Paddy McKeown (lead vocalist and guitarist); Ruadhrí Mannion (violin and backing vocals); John Ferris (lead guitarist); Cavan Fyans (bass and backing vocals); and drummer Rob Baker; while tenor saxophonist Iain McDougall has become a recurring feature of the band's shows. By this time, Paddy McKeown had released two EPs independently under his own name: 2003's DCA EP, named after England's Dartington College of Arts where the songs were recorded and McKeown had been studying at the time; and 2004's Passing By EP, inspired by a trip to New York as part of his studies. Returning to Belfast later that year, McKeown assembled a number of short-lived bands before hitting on the combination which would rename themselves Catoan in March 2007. Having played support to the likes of Starsailor and Leya, Catoan secured a record deal with Northern Irish label Curious Incident Records and began recording songs for their debut release. The mini-album And Will I was released in the Republic of Ireland in August 2007, and a U.K. release followed in October of the same year. ~ Dave Donnelly

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2006 in Belfast, Ireland

Years Active: