I know it's never been easy
put together with sticks and branches
if you can just reach a little farther
you'll burn back into a real boy
we'll turn you back into a real boy...
Alpha Cat's Elizabeth McCullough had an addiction to music from childhood, but found an early calling in the visual. She spent a few years exhibiting her photography and shooting bands for Boston music rags before landing in Atlanta as a staff photographer for Creative Loafing. It was there that she found herself shooting two groups a night and knocking back beers with guys like Husker Du, the Replacements, Violent Femmes and REM. One night she gave Michael Stipe some poems she had been working on. His response was, "Why don't you write your own songs?"
And though she had been "banging on an acoustic guitar" since her teens, that was a far cry from seeing herself as a musician. Still, a switch had flipped; and the songs started to come, if not the confidence needed to perform them for others. But in the late-90's McCullough ran into an some old acquaintances. One of them, James Mastro, whom she'd photographed as a member of Hoboken, NJ's Bongos. She asked him to listen to some demos, and he was in the market for pix for his group, the Health & Happiness Show, which at that time included Television guitarist Richard Lloyd. McCullough and Lloyd got to talking, the result being that Lloyd played on the first studio demo of her songs. The Mastro connection also led to a friendship with Television bassist Fred Smith, who agreed to produce a new demo, and ended up co-producing two Alpha Cat cds.
The "demo" became 1999's ep "Real Boy," which with only a few copies sent to college radio ended up in the CMJ National Add charts not once, but twice, receiving more adds than such formidable and more widely distributed offerings as Beck's "Midnight Vultures," and Metallica's "S&M" and went on to spend 6 weeks on the national airplay charts... for an ep - somewhat unheard of.