Haggard Cat, 2000 Trees Festival – Cheltenham, 14.07.2018 Photo Credit: Charlotte Hall

If you’re thinking: “hey, I recognise those two from somewhere else” it’s because you probably do.

Up until August of 2017 Matt and Tom were two fifths of Baby Godzilla – a band whose sound was only trumped in the insanity stakes by the fact that their name once landed them with a threatened law suit from the Japanese film and distribution company Toho. They promptly rebranded as HECK.

Back in 2011 HECK’s bassist, Paul Shelley went to Copenhagen for a few months leaving the rest of the band in Nottingham – bored shitless.

Inevitably ideas began to bubble over until eventually Matt Reynolds and Tom Marsh had created the feral math rock outfit Haggard Cat. A friend swiftly invited them to play at Nottingham’s Rock City and, not being the kind to turn down a gig at Midland’s Best Independent Live Music Venue, they hurriedly accepted.

Haggard Cat was a project that neither of the duo were exclusively focusing on but as the show requests stacked up and the festival offers were rolling it made sense to make it a priority, much to the delight of their ever expanding fan base.

Now with blistering second album, Challenger, and a raucous Main Stage set at 2000 Trees Festival 2018 both firmly tucked under their belts – Haggard Cat are officially and undeniably here.

Released on April 20th by Earache Records (another pillar of the Nottingham music community), Challenger instantly grabbed the attention of reviewers who heralded it’s ‘fuzzy punk chaos’ as an impeccable follow on from where HECK had left off.

Challenger is a frenzied hybrid of intricate math rock influences, furious and full throttle punk vocals with a smattering of just-off-hard-rock guitar scratching. From opening track, The Patriot, Haggard Cat power through at an unyielding pace for ten exceptionally brutal tracks of pure vicious rock.

Storming the 2000 Trees Main Stage in July Haggard Cat played Challenger almost in its entirety only skipping over The Legend, The Felon and High Roller and dropping in Alligator Tightrope from 2013’s debut album Charger.

Vocalist Reynolds donned faded grey jeans and a bright gold metallic shirt that blinded three quarters of the crowd with every reflection of the July afternoon sun. It was more apt a wardrobe choice than Reynolds probably even realised.  

So here’s to an end of talking about how the world came to have Haggard Cat and rejoicing in the fact that they’re here, they’re brilliant and they’re insane.