William Benton (aka Cat Casual) is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist originally from the panhandle of Oklahoma. He has played and toured with bands for nearly half of his life, playing both guitar and bass in various bands and projects. In recent years he has collaborated with the likes of Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Makoto Kawabata (Acid Mothers Temple), Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate), Ivan Julian (The Foundations, Richard Hell and the Voidoids), and many others as well as sharing the stage with many legendary performers of the past and present.
William first served Louisville, Kentucky, where he carved a unique legacy as an uncompromising songwriter and highly creative, energetic live performer. Bands as diverse as Bodyhammer, Tyrone, and Lucky Pineapple tapped into nearly every musical style, funneling them into an indie-punk-art rock format to the delight of Louisville showgoers and music fans.
William curated the never released Burn to Shine 4, the Louisville installment of the Brendan Canty (Fugazi) released DVD series which featured local bands of a given city performing live in a doomed structure. (Performers included Shipping News, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Parlour, Majik Markers, Lucky Pineapple, Liberation Prophecy, and many others.)
William would go on to enlist in The Phantom Family Halo (Knitting Factory Records) while in Louisville- which would relocate him to Brooklyn, New York- to tour and record bass and lead guitar on two full-lengths and an EP collaboration with Bonnie “Prince” Billy. William left the band in the fall of 2012.
Currently, he is handling bass and guitar duties with Shilpa Ray, recently releasing the EP It’s All Self Fellatio on Nick Cave’s Bad Seed Ltd. imprint. He is also grooming his solo band for live shows in the near future. Most recently, he contributed original music for a production of Marius Von Mayenberg play The Ugly One which was performed at The Bridge Theatre.
When asked about his experimental, solo guitar sets, he explained that he usually approaches the task “cinematically”, citing influences such as Bernard Herrmann, Angelo Badalamenti, Ennio Morricone, and Don Cherry’s soundtracks to the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky- but voiced concern about confining himself to just that concept:
"Contemporary guitarists’ influences always creep in. Nels Cline and Thurston Moore’s Pillow Wand had a profound effect on me and the way I hear improvised guitars; the subtleties juxtaposed with the chaos altered my brain chemistry forever. But I am a huge fan of Fripp/Eno’s No Pussyfooting, Marc Ribot’s incredible bodies of work, James “Blood” Ulmer, John McLaughlin’s work with Tony Williams and Miles Davis as well as his solo album Devotion, Glenn Branca, Michael Karoli, John Frusciante, Rowland S. Howard, Otomo Yoshihide, Link Wray, Zoot Horn Rollo, Grant Green, and on and on. So I can’t accurately forecast where it’ll go. Tis the spirit of improvising, right? I will say that, being that I have been working on the new band, that I might throw in some ‘real’ songs if so inspired- and if it looks like I am hurting people. Again.”
William currently resides in Ridgewood, Queens.
He is also a regular contributor to Insider Louisville, often detailing his life and times as an Okie in New York.
(Photo by Greg Buyalos #studio225bk)