What the Cat Dragged In is:
Heather Nye - Keyboards;
Mark Cassano - Guitars;
John McEachen - Bass;
Marco Mazzi - Percussion;
Maurizio Mazzi - Drums.
Softball teammates Mark Cassano and John McEachen discovered their mutual passion for music over pizza and beer at Naples Pizza on the Yale campus during the spring of 1991. At the time, Mark was in the middle of a Ph.D. program in economics and John was pursuing his Ph.D. in electrical engineering. The search began for others with similar musical interests. John had the good fortune of an Italian roommate, Pietro, and all the benefits being tapped into the Connecticut Italian community brings with it - primarily those of a culinary nature. After many meals of fine pasta, risotto, Chianti and tiramisu, John ran into Marco Mazzi, an engineer at the Naval Undersea Weapons Center in nearby New London who was pursuing his Master's degree in electrical engineering and just happened to also play drums. Around the same, time a mutual friend of John and Mark's, Jasmine, mentioned she had a friend, Joanna, in the Yale sociology program who enjoyed singing. At John and Mark's urging, Joanna agreed to give rock a chance and joined the band.
Something about the fall/winter of 1992 finally motivated Mark, John, Joanna, and Marco to get together and start playing some music. At first the band focused strictly on covers of artists such as the Pretenders, Talking Heads, and Elvis Costello. The band practiced in the basement of John's rental at 125 Lawrence Street in New Haven. Practices would always begin with the perennial debate regarding what to call the band. On day in an act of frustration, Joanna sarcastically suggested "Why don't we call ourselves 'What the Cat Dragged In'..." and the rest is history. Shortly thereafter, Joanna announced she was transferring to Boston University. Around that same time, Heather Nye, a Yale medical student who was also pursuing a Ph.D. in Pharmacology expressed an interest in joining the band as a keyboardist. With Joanna's departure, Heather was promptly recruited as a vocalist and the core of WTCDI was established.
During this time Marco had requested the band cover some songs by Marillion. Unfortunately, Marco was the only band member intimately familiar with Marillion's repertoire and their initial cover efforts left much to be desired. Finally, in an act of frustration, Marco took over the mike and a star was born. Marco's talent at the mike eventually led the band to recruit Marco's brother, Maurizio Mazzi, to play the drums. Maurizio's versatility and diversity took the band to new creative heights.
Just prior to Joanna's departure, the band played its first public performance at a party at John's house. Unfortunately, due to the insistence of John's neighbors, the band had to move its practice venue out of John's basement and relocated to Heather's house in rural Seymour, CT.
Perhaps it was the rolling beauty of the Connecticut countryside or more likely the 40 minute drive to Seymour, but the band started seriously focusing on original music in the new locale. With the arrival of fall, the band played another party for John's 30th birthday in September, then a barn wedding reception in October, and finally an official bar gig at Cheri's on York St in New Haven. The first Cheri's gig ended up being a climatic event with a standing-room-only attendance of over 300. Several other Cheri's gigs followed along with shows at Yale's Gypsy Bar and New Haven's Tune-Inn. During this time the band honed their collection of originals and began looking for a producer. In the spring of '94 they connected with Jim Chapdelaine of MultiMusic Services, Hartford, CT (Feathermerchants, Phoebe Snow) and began to lay tracks for their initial CD, scratch tracks.
scratch tracks was released to rave reviews in November, 1994. At this point WTCDI had a strong following and was playing clubs across the Connecticut coast from New Haven to New London. The band had also developed an acoustic show and made several appearances on James Velvets' "Acoustic Sunday Night". The band also made regular appearances at the New Haven Street Festival and at New Haven's famous Toad's Place where bands such as the Rolling Stones and U2 had kicked of their American tours in years gone by.
In late 1995, the band relocated their center to New London and made Pool Hand Luke's their regular gig. Practice was held in the basement of Marco's home and always concluded with a delectable Italian meal courtesy of Marco’s Mom.
By 1996, life was catching up with the band as Heather, Mark and John finished their degrees and started seriously considering opportunities outside of Connecticut. Additionally, John and his wife, Maureen, had their first child in March, 1996 further restricting John’s involvement.
The band played what was to be its last show at the New London Naval Base Fourth of July festival in 1996. The band did manage to get back into the studio with Jim Chapdelaine late in 1996 and record the base tracks for what was to become their second CD, “In retrospect...”. Shortly thereafter, John moved to Monterey, California with his new family, Mark moved to Alberta, Canada, Heather took a residency at Harvard, and not to be outdone, Marco took a position with NATO in Italy. The band continued to work individually on “In retrospect...” and after two long years, in November, 1998, “In retrospect...” was release.
The band still corresponds regularly. In June 2005, Heather, Mark, and John even had a mini, ten year reunion in San Francisco. Out came the instruments and, surprisingly, things didn’t sound so bad. Who knows what the future will hold for the cats...