Cactus Attack
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Cactus Attack

Band Folk Bluegrass


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"An Interview with...Cactus Attack"

An Interview with ...Cactus Attack

By Spencer Buell
Assistant Arts & Features Editor

A quick glance at Cactus Attack’s instruments - a couple guitars, a fiddle, two banjos and some silverware - might bring about images of Appalachian moonshiners line dancing in a barnyard.

However, the sound Attleboro hometown heroes have crafted is more quirky, experimental Indie than cattle-wrangling Bluegrass. The boys from this self-proclaimed “newgrass” four-piece stopped by the Clayton and Alexander Show at the FSC radio station, WDJM 91.3, last Sunday to play some of their raucous numbers for the eager crowd huddled in the cramped, soundproof room.

The Gatepost caught up with Ryan Jackson, the group’s bearded, wanderlust-stricken frontman, who, between spastic bouts of his patented down-home guffaw, shared stories about booze, music, catfish and broken bones on the Alaskan tundra.

GP: How would you describe the Cactus Attack sound?

Jackson: Well, we kind of coined a phrase because we couldn’t explain our sound really. We have a lot of traditional bluegrass instruments, but we kind of do what we want with them. We call it “newgrass” because it’s not bluegrass- That’s for sure. I mean, our music has a lot of the same sound, but we put a lot of our own spin on it, so we call it “newgrass.”

GP: I noticed you guys stay true to traditional bluegrass roots by playing the spoons.

Jackson: We actually have a pretty funny story about the spoons. We were in a recording studio in Boston last Tuesday and we told the guy we had to throw down a spoon track. He said, A spoon track? You’re telling me I’m about to use a $5,000 microphone on a set of kitchenware?

GP: Well, how did it sound?

Jackson: Phenomenal. It was a $5,000 mic.

GP: How did you guys get together? How did you find people with similar taste in music?

Jackson: I blew my knee out while I was in Alaska and I was pretty immobile because of the surgery. I had met Tyler earlier because I’d known his girlfriend for a long time and we had jammed together before. I was just trying to get something together. I was like, “You know, let’s do something different,” so we got together. Me and Derek had also been in bands in the past, so we got together and he played banjo. So, the original band was me, Derek and Tyler. We just kind of played a bunch of fluffy gigs - not real gigs, just like playing in people’s bathrooms- It happened. Believe me. We also played some open mics at Stonehill College. Then, we picked up Cole “Big Britches” Wuilleumier here on the side of the road in Memphis, Tenessee. Seriously, though, he’s the youngest one in the band. He’s still in high school and we just kind of picked him up out of the wind. He’s brought a lot to the group. Then, we picked up a bassist named Jessie Bridges, but he left to join a band called Sasquatch and the Sick-A-Billies, which is a wonderful band.

GP: So have you guys been playing shows locally? How have your performances been?

Jackson: It really varies. Sometimes, it’s the greatest thing we’ve ever seen. You know, its like, a lot of people will show up. At the Middle East, we played for a really good crowd. There’s a local bar and grill in Attleboro called Morin’s we play at, and we have a lot of fans in Attleboro who will show up and it gets pretty rowdy. For the most part, though, it’s hit-or-miss.

GP: Rowdy? Rowdy how?

Jackson: There’s always some serious boogy-woogying. The kids work themselves into a frenzy and they throw up and pass out in a fit of joy - And it’s all from the music. It’s like an orgasm.

GP: You played a song earlier called “Catfish.” So what’s the story behind that?

Jackson: Liquor. There was a night of passion with a guitar and a piece of glass.

GP: Catfish? There was a catfish right?

Jackson: Well, I got drunk and I wrote a song and it was about a catfish. I was really embarrassed to show everybody because it was about a catfish. Then, I showed everyone and they were like, “Oh a catfish, good job man.”

GP: So what’s the future of Cactus Attack?

Jackson: Well, today - it’s Framingham. Tomorrow - the world. I don’t really want to go to college and I’d just really rather travel around in a van with my best friends for the rest of my life. I mean, I don’t know what they’re up to, but they’re coming with me whether they like it or not. Seriously, though, I really can’t describe that enough. Each member of this band is indispensible. They all just bring something very unique to the table.

GP: You guys are obviously pretty close. How does the writing process with everyone usually go? Do you all write together?

Jackson: It’s a mixed bag. We all participate. We all help out. Sometimes, I’ll show up with a cool lick or something. For the song ‘Heist’ we played earlier tonight, Tyler showed up with it and I hated it and I wanted to shoot it down. We ended up making it happen, though. I don’t know how we did it.

GP: I understand that you lived in Alaska for a while. What made you decide to move to Alaska?

Jackson: I have something I like to call “idiot syndrome.” I tend to convince myself of things that aren’t real or are just kind of outlandish. Everyone was applying for college and everything out of high school and I was kind of thinking, “You know, college is not my thing. Alaska’s my thing - Alaska’s my promised land.”

GP: Why did you think Alaska was your thing?

Jackson: I have no idea. I was just like, “I’m gonna move to Alaska. Everyone can do what they want, but I’m gonna live life. It’s the journey not the destination.” I got all self-righteous and got in my car and drove the thousands of miles up to Alaska. I had a good time, but when I wrecked my knee skateboarding, I lost my job and had to come home.

GP: Did you write any songs?

Jackson: Not one. I was really frustrated. I was living out of my car for a long time.

GP: So, I have to ask, why the hell “Cactus Attack?”

Jackson: It was written to me in a message from the Lord. I don’t know if you guys believe in God, but you should. Actually, somebody said it when I was a sophomore in high school, and I just thought it was a stupid thing and it ended up being our band name - And now we’re on the Internet. - The Gatepost

"Music in air for city river folk Festival"

"...Catcus Attack, an edgy, new-grass group out of Providence, will be showcased as this year’s emerging young artists in their first appearance at the festival."
"...They bring youth and vigor, and they have a lot to offer,” Radcliffe said. “They’re a lot of fun." - Taunton Daily Gazette


"Cactus Attack" - 6 song demo

Full Length In Progress



One cold January night in Newport, Ryan Jackson was playing a show in the basement of a church with his now defunct acoustic band when he heard a sound he could really take to the hoop. A local folk band was there that night, with a feel that just seemed so new and different to him. That's when he decided that he wanted to take this old sound and try to make it his own. The stars aligned, the sun rose and fell, and Cactus Attack was born out of the ashes of a failed Alaskan dream. Now, Ryan was an idiot and decided that after high school, why waste money on college when he could move to Alaska? Needless to say this was a bad idea. After a 5,000-mile ride home and a major bout of knee surgery, Ryan, with nothing to do but heal, started Cactus Attack. Now there was only the matter of band members.
Tyler Rosenholm met Ryan in a chemical swirl of creativity. Tyler, with his devilish good looks and charm, and even more impressive guitar playing, really knocked the socks off of Ryan when they wrote their first song "Skeletons". Unfortunately, "Skeletons" was lacking the folk sound that Ryan and Tyler were hoping to achieve. They turned to Derek "Danger" Pearson, banjo player extraordinaire, to add that backwater feel to their sound. Cole Wuilleumier, a dreadlock-sporting hooligan entered the picture to add depth and a harmonious sound to the mix with his unique fiddle style. This treble-driven quartet needed one thing and one thing only to make it a full atomic sound, the upright bass, played by Justin Bridges.
With the final addition, this new quintet is beginning to create a voice all their own. Their passion is prominently featured in each and every song, aided by their distinct songwriting style. As Robert Frost once said, "two roads diverged in a wood and Cactus Attack took both of them".