I’m not sure who let me make the warmup mix for my university’s soccer team, but whoever it was must have regretted it. I saw my mix as a standalone work of art (the transition from the Clash’s “London Calling” to Bloc Party’s “Banquet” is pure 2005 goodness), but not everyone agreed. There were some who wanted more Tim McGraw, while others wanted more Kanye. So, I gave them some funky David Bowie, because I’m a contrarian and terrible teammate. There are others out there, however, who are good at doing things differently while not alienating others.
For example, I noticed the Tacoma Stars, my local indoor soccer team, did things a little differently during halftime when the master of ceremonies, Casey Catherwood, performed the first marriage of two mascots in the state of Washington. “I never want to be normal,” said Catherwood, the game entertainment director, “I want people to say they’ve never heard that song at ballgame before.” Catherwood, who works for the Tacoma Rainiers, was seconded to the Stars for the 2016/17 season as part of a front office partnership. Catherwood’s spirit of fun and ear for an inspired track are a joy to experience, and he was kind enough to chat a little bit and answer a few questions:
When you design a playlist for a game, what’s your first step? I usually wake up with a song in my head, like Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grape Vine.” From there I’ll plug it in to some playlists on Spotify, and then that reminds me of the new Phoenix song, and the list grows from there.
Do you have any specific tracks you need to play for the Stars or Rainiers? For the Stars we would play “What A Feeling” because of the Stars’ history and our marketing campaign. After the Stars score a goal, we’ll play the Star Wars theme.
What do you play after a win? A loss? For the Rainiers, “Safe and Sound” by Justice. We were playing “We’ll Meet Again” after losses, but it was too depressing. If I had to have a loss song now, it would be “Please Don’t Go” by Stevie Wonder.
Invariably, when I hear about a music choice from a match in England, it’s usually a reference to “One Step Beyond” after a win. Is that something you play? No, but I love Madness! Any time you can rub an opponents’ nose in something it’s beautiful!
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken with a game’s entertainment? Probably this bit we do called “The Inspector.” There were about 4,000 kids in the ballpark, and we had the mascot, Rhubarb, at the top of the stadium about to perform some crazy stunt. The announcer would shout, “Are you ready kids?!” Of course, the kids are going ape, screaming “YEAH!” So, right before he does it, I come out wearing a derby hat and fake moustache and say, “No, no, no, this isn’t safe!” Basically, I ran around stopping any stunts and fun. It could have gone either way, but people loved it.
What’s your favorite track to play right now? “Heaven Is In The Backseat Of My Cadillac” by Hot Chocolate.
What’s your favorite in-game entertainment piece? Oh, that’s so hard to name just one. I love them all. I really like Epic Sax Gorilla and anything with a confetti cannon.
You’re making a mix tape: how would you do it? You have to set a tone. Are you going to jump through the wall like the Kool-Aid Man or is it a slow climb to the top? I like to come out of the gates hot. The first two songs are firecrackers. Three and four are bringing you back a little bit. The fifth song is always the best song on the record. Six, seven, and eight are whatever you want. Get experimental here. Nine brings it all the way back, and ten leaves you with the message.
Casey Catherwood is the game entertainment director for the Tacoma Rainiers and can be found on Twitter @CaseyCatherwood. He also is an artist and you can find his work at CaseyCatherwood.com.