December 30, 2017

Caterpillar... .......... ...(Philadelphia/Wilmington 1994-2011)... File under "Post-College-American-Goofers"

It's not easy to pin down a synopsis of Caterpillar, who one reviewer labeled "post-college-American-goofers" (Robinson, 1994). They were:

Mike Lenert - guitar, vocals
Dennis Davis - guitar, backing vocals
Brenda DeFeo - bass
John McInerney - drums

I never saw Caterpillar play because my own post-college travels took me to the West Coast for eleven years, so I missed the 90s Philly music scene pretty much entirely. I found my way to them around 2010 via singer Mike Lenert's brilliant and long-running solo project Lettuce Prey. The first thing I noticed were Mike's multisyllabic rhymes and complex lyrics, and figured he was an English major. I was wrong -- it was archeology, and his degree served him well lyrically, but maybe less so on the practical side of playing shows.
...those were some good old days. Good because Caterpillar played well and often. That
is, when there weren't equipment failures. Lenert is notorious for having crappy little amps that never work consistently. 
McInerney: Mike had this Twin Reverb he'd practice with, but then he'd show up at the gig with some piece of garbage. Remember that one amp you had that was literally 2 inches think and all plastic? It was like a Close 'n' Play record player!
Lenert: It was light and I could carry it across town.
DeFeo: We'd be mumbling to each other, "Oh Christ, did you see what he brought this time?" (MacDowell, 1996)
Caterpillar matches lyrics with clever music, and good ol' tongue-in-cheek humor winding all over different styles, so the description is actually pretty accurate. They released three full length CDs in the 90's, and two during a brief reunion in 2010-11. Here's my best of the goofers!

A Thousand Million Micronauts (Compulsive 1994 CD)
Lady Putney
My Buddy Ballantine

Maedorium Chlorium Chloe (Compulsiv 1996 CD)

Peace, Love and Popularity (Tappersize 1999 CD)
Nimble Tongs Walt
Serious Thrill
Olde Salt

Caterpillar (self-released 2010 CD)

Johnstown (self-released 2011 LP)
Johnstown / The Flood

Check out Caterpillar's Bandcamp for more music.
Thanks to Mike for sending me the primary sources!

Works Cited

McDowell, J. (1996, June). Musical Metamorphosis: Local band Caterpillar flies the pop/rock chrysalis. Philadelphia Weekly. Vol. XXV No. 24.

Robinson, J. (1994, July). Caterpillar: A Thousand Million Micronauts. New Musical Express. p. 39.


  1. It's folks like you who really make the world a great place. Never, ever before, have I heard of these cats and now I'm listening to A thousand Million on repeat. The magic of a handful of gifted talents collaborating to knock me on my ear. And your devotion to the region is worthy of high praise. And I see you've a newer post up. Time to dive in. Many thanks.

  2. I loved seeing them live in Delaware during the 90s. They were a stand-out band during a time of great music around the Wilmington/Newark area. I miss them and others (firetribe/clear/slaphappy/puddle/walleye/etc)