Josh Caterer of Duvall
By Jon Gingrich

Since their inception over 2 years ago, Duvall has been turning more than a few heads in the Chicago rock scene. Formed by ex Smoking Popes singer/guitarist/songwriter Josh Caterer, Duvall's music still retains the driving and adrenaline-fueled sounds of the now-defunct Popes, but dabbles in a smoother, almost whimsically commercial pop-sensibility that can be found in bands such as Weezer and The Promise Ring. Moreover, Josh's new sound isn't the only thing that's changed since his sudden hiatus from the Chicago punk scene a few years back. Namely, his decision to suddenly leave his old band and become a Christian, while certainly raising a few eyebrows, has also gained him respect in many circles. Their 2001 debut EP release, Standing at the Door, as well as their split EP with pop band Seville, has been hailed as a success and ultimately a musical breakthrough for underground Christian rock, winning fans on both the spiritual and secular side of the fence. I spoke with Josh about Duvall - their music, their message, and just about everything else in between.

E.C.: So, letís just start here with the basics. Whatís new for Duvall? Are thereany plans for a full-length album on Double Zero records, or perhaps a tour, and if so, when?

Josh: Yes, we're putting together material for a full-length right now. It won't come out on Doublezero. we're talking to another label, working out the details. If all goes well, it will come out early next year, but you never know. These things can take forever. When the album comes out we'll go on tour, but we're just laying low for now.

E.C.: Your original band, The Smoking Popes, was a very influential punk band that got you a lot of recognition and respect in the underground community. Obviously, a lot of people who hear Duvall are going to automatically compare and weight the band against your previous efforts. So, letís just cut to the quick here: What similarities and differences are people going to find with Duvall that either existed or did not exist with The Popes?

Josh: The main difference between the popes and duvall is lyrical. Most of the popes songs were about human relationships, romance, heartbreak, stuff like that. So alot of the songs had a kind of wistful quality to them. But the duvall stuff is more uplifting. Most of the songs are about God. Musically, we've picked up where the popes left off, but the direction we're going is more pop and less punk.

E.C.: Going back to the last question, does the publicís inclination to make automatic and often times judgmental comparisons with an artistís past accomplishments irritate you, and if so, how do you deal with the stress, and how does it challenge you to write new material?

Josh: I think it's natural for people to compare the new stuff to the old stuff. It doesn't irritate me. I do it myself. It's so exciting to follow the progression of an artist and see how they are refining their craft, and there's a delicate balance there, because in one way you want them to stay the same and hang on to the things you like about them, but in another way you want them to keep it fresh, to keep moving. And so far, the feedback we've been getting from the old popes fans has been very positive. They seem to feel that duvall has a vitality of its own, a sense of inspiration. Which, I'm sure, has much to do with the inherently inspiring nature of the subject matter.

E.C.: Okay, letís talk about religion. One of the main differences between your earlier musical career and your current one is that youíve gone through a major transformation in your personal and spiritual life Ė namely, becoming a Christian. How did this transformation come to be? Was there any particular moment, a life-altering event perhaps, that made you take a look back and evaluate your life? Or, was becoming a Christian more of a subtle, continuing progression that you were slowly led to?

Josh: It was both. It was a gradual process that was punctuated by certain turning points. I had a very frightening drug-related experience that caused me to start praying, but then it took me another year to come around to the truth about Christ. Probably the biggest turning point was when I read "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. halfway through the book, it seemed like a light went on inside me and I suddenly got it, but actually I was already on the edge because I had been reading the Bible and trying to get at the truth of it, but I was always seeing it through a kind of filter. So, C.S. Lewis didn't really point me to Christ because I was already looking at Christ, but Lewis helped to remove the filter so I could see Christ for what he really is.

E.C.: How has being a Christian affected your music career? How has this change affected your fan base? While weíre at it, how has it affected your personal life in terms of the effect that your change has had on your peers, family, and friends?

Josh: Well, it caused me to leave the popes in the first place. And every decision I've made since then has been determined by my faith in Christ: Taking a couple years off, putting duvall together, thesongs I'm writing now, the time I spend playing music at church. I'm not motivated simply by a desire to play music for the fun of it. There's a bigger picture to what I'm doing now. And, to me, the most remarkable change is the kind of satisfaction I get from making music for God and about God. It's like I've finally discovered what music was invented for. As if, for all these years I've only been eating twinkies, and then at the age of 26 I have some protein for the first time and I feel great and I realize that food isn't just supposed to taste good, it's supposed to nourish you, too. If you've never sung a song to worship God then you don't know what singing is all about.