WHITEFISH BAY - At 47 years old, a stay-at-home mom in Whitefish Bay has rediscovered her inner rock star.
Suzanne Singh sang in an alternative rock band during her college years in Tallahassee, but her creative side took a backseat over the past 26 years as she focused on raising her three children, ages 8, 11 and 13.
When she's not busy coordinating talent shows at Cumberland Elementary School, she also volunteers for 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. In 2015, she decided to "karaoke for a cause" for the radio station's Fall Ball fundraiser the following year. To prepare, she took vocal lessons at School of Rock in Shorewood. When another School of Rock parent heard about her revived singing interest, she introduced Singh to her friend Christopher Guse, who was looking for a singer in his new band.
In March 2016, Singh met up with Guse, a Shorewood guitarist who plays in a band called Parallel, and Dave Maurer, a bassist from Nashotah who plays in Parallel and Signal Daddy. The group now has a new drummer in Steve Vorass, a drummer from Brown Deer who plays with Bright Black, Mouse Corn and I'm Not a Pilot.
Singh said she liked the group's music and got along well with their personality, so she joined the band. Although songwriting was new to her, Singh said it came fairly easy. When the band sends her instrumental tracks, she said the words and melodies come to her without any difficulty.
"I connect so viscerally to the sound they are creating," she said. "Each time they send me bits of music to tinker with, I instantly hear songs in my head.”
The name of their band, Rocket Cat, was inspired by a drawing of a cat that Guse saw in a hallway at Brown Deer High School. He took a picture of the cat with a rocket tail and sent it to the group. They joked about it becoming their band name, and it eventually just stuck.
"We've learned not to joke about things because otherwise it will stick," Singh said.
Singh also uses a stage name, Justine Trudeaux, which was inspired by a combination of her love for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, her college rock band Smack Leveaux and her friends telling her she looked like "Family Ties" actress Justine Bateman in her younger years.
Rocket Cat has a wide array of musical influences ranging from Pearl Jam to U2 to Simple Minds to Nirvana. The band was recently highlighted on 88Nine's 414 Music Live program, a live broadcast in which the band plays songs and answers questions in front of an audience. They also played a 90-minute pre-game show at a Milwaukee Bucks game, along with more traditional rock clubs like Club Garibaldi, Frank's Power Plant and G-Daddy's BBC. They have plans to play the Up and Under on April 28, the Saloon on Calhoun on May 11 and Linneman's Riverwest Inn on May 4 and May 16.
Having lived in many cities in the U.S. and abroad, Singh said her gigs around Milwaukee are helping her become acquainted with the city's bars and clubs, many of which she hasn't visited since moving here eight years ago.
"It's been a fun way to explore the city," she said. "It's also been fun for friends our age to have something to do, somewhere new to go on a Friday or Saturday night."
The band released their debut EP "Radiant Transmission" in February. The CD is available at www.RocketCatBand.com, and digital downloads and streaming is available through iTunes, Amazon, Google and Spotify. Follow the band on Facebook for show listings.