"It was a creative outlet."
He didn't even really play an instrument in the beginning.
"Sure, I'd been like a lot of kids and fiddled around on a guitar," he said. "But I didn't really get my head around it."
His first instrument was an old electric keyboard that he lugged up four flights of stairs to his apartment in Philadelphia.
"I just kind of banged out songs," he said. "And that process sort of informed the music in a lot of ways."
Kattner barely reads music and said that reading music hardly matters.
"It's not really applicable to what I do."
What does help, Kattner added, is that he's surrounded himself with talented players, who, for the most part, are a lot like him.
"Aside from some of the new guys, we're all mostly self-taught," he said. "Our drummer, Chris, is a total badass, and he's self-taught.
"It's great to be in a band where you're still learning."
Writing songs, however, can be a labored process that neither starts with words or music. Kattner said he tackles both simultaneously, forcing the two halves together and letting them change and evolve as the song emerges.
"It's definitely not the most prolific way to write," he said. "But it's how I do it. I keep telling myself that maybe it will change, but with five records, it still hasn't."
Man Man doesn't write a lot of songs -- at least, not compared to mainstream acts, who can sometimes record 20 or 30 cuts for a single record and then just use the best 10.
"I don't have that luxury," he said. "But I kind of feel like you have to believe in all of the babies you make."
Kattner said he believes in Man Man's music, and while the band might not be a household name, he feels like they've carved out an honest, artistic life.
"I guess it just goes to show that just because you don't know something doesn't mean you can't try."
He added the disclaimer, "Then again, it may not work for everyone."
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.