In West Philadelphia, Empath Was Born & Hell Was Raised

Empath exists at the intersection of comforting tenderness and overwhelming adrenaline.

The intense experience of the quartet’s music has quiet origins. Empath singer and guitarist Catherine Elicson writes the songs on her acoustic guitar in her bedroom. Once the band gets a hold of her melodies, a sense of urgency blossoms.

“They start in a quiet way and then we finish it off with the band making it loud songs,” Elicson tells BTRtoday. “So, it gives them this interesting collision of hard and soft.”

The band fell together effortlessly when the four friends found themselves together in a West Philadelphia house full of instruments.

“It was just like ‘oh yeah, let’s jam,’[and] everything was set up in the basement, so it was very easy,” drummer Garrett Koloski says about the birth of Empath.

Koloski’s band Perfect Pussy was fizzling out when he met Elicson (guitar/vocals). They immediately discovered they had singular musical chemistry and Empath rose like a phoenix from the former band’s ashes.

“In some weird way it all sounds cohesive—it just kind of happens,” Koloski says. “I think that’s kind of cool in this way that we all know when to plan some freaky stuff, but then also hold back and let others shine.”

Empath, “Hanging Out of Cars”

Elicson soon moved from Ohio into the instrument-filled house where the band started and Koloski and keys player Emily (Gem) Shanahan made it their home as well. After releasing two EPs in 2016, Crystal Reality, Vol. I & II, second keys player Randall Coon joined the group.

With the release of their debut LP Active Listening: Night on Earth last Friday the four-piece Empath is a force to be reckoned with.

Active Listening: Night on Earth creates a pleasantly trippy punk rock where dreamy vocals and hazy synth float over the distorted guitar and pounding drums. The nine tracks take you on a unique and emotional journey, with some tracks burst with anger and energy while others take a gentler route with slower tempos.

The quartet kicked off their first tour with indie rocker SASAMI this past Friday. Find out if they’re hitting a town near you here. In the meantime, listen to the entire interview with Empath and their debut album in its entirety on this week’s The Music Meetup.