KITTIE: A Goddamn Smack In The Face With A Crowbar!

KITTIE is a four piece phenomenon from Canada. No cute, light, frivolous melodies for these ladies. Oh no, their music hits you real hard in the face. BANG, no mercy at all! Although Morgan Lander (gui-tar/vocals), Mercedes Lander (drums), Tanya Candler (bass /vocals) and Fallon Bowman (guitar/vocals) are young aged musicians, they do speak their minds when it comes to life and being a woman. Next to classes and schoolbooks, KITTIE is their prior number one. While we just came to our senses after hearing their six track selftitled release, a brandnew full length CD called "Spit" is approaching. KITTIE can look after herself, but Metal Maidens dares to.

When did you start to learn to play an instrument? Did you have music lessons?
Morgan: "Most of us all are self taught in our current instruments. We all started to play them at a pretty young age. I took guitar lessons for about two years, when I was about nine years old. Then figured I could teach myself a lot better and understand more on my own!"
Tanya: "I started playing guitar at the age of eight without any lessons. But two years ago, I took up bass for this band. I have never taken a lesson in my life!"
Fallon: "I started playing guitar at the age of twelve, without having any lessons."
Mercedes: "I started playing drums at the age of eleven. I took lessons for about a year and said "Fuck it, I'll just teach myself!"

Have you played in other bands before?
Morgan: "I think all of us have only been in this band as a serious band. KITTIE is all our first real band experience, except for Tanya, who had numerous little garage bands, that never left the garage."

How did it all get started; forming KITTIE? Are you all the original bandmembers?
Morgan: "KITTIE was started in late 1996, when Mercedes and Fallon met at a gymnastics class. They started arguing about who killed Kurt Cobain and soon after they learned that they each played an instrument. In the beginning KITTIE was just Mercedes and Fallon jamming in our basement. There was a guitarist named Sandra for a while, but then she left for Europe and I just joined in her place. We also had another bass player named Mel for about one week before we finally recruited Tanya as our permanent bass player!!!"

Is there anything you'd like to say with your bandname? It sounds very cute, in contrary to your brutal sounding music.
Morgan: "We picked the name KITTIE in order to make a kind of contradiction. Usually females are percieved as being cute, fragile and feminine, like the name KITTIE. The contradiction comes in, when the listener hears what our music really is about: women playing METAL!!!!"

Did you have any idea what KITTIE supposed to sound like?
Morgan: "In the beginning, I guess, we just played the kind of music that we felt most influenced by. We didn't try to sound like anybody. We just tried to be original and experimented a bit. We wanted to be different from normal girl bands."

We can hear the first results of creativity on the independantly release. ''SexizHell''. Can you tell us more about this album?
Morgan: " "SexizHell" was kind of our first attempt of recording anything at all. It was a three song demo recorded for about $300 in a local studio in London (Canada). It is one of those albums that we look back on and laugh hard about."

Who's responsible for writing the songs and lyrics?
Morgan: "Usually, we all collaborate together in order to make a song work. One of us will come up with a neat little part and we will all just play with that and experiment; each adding our own ideas until it becomes a decent song. As for lyrics, who ever sings the song, will write her own lyrics."

By which bands are you influenced?
Morgan: "I listen to a lot of weird metal. I really like stuff sunch as NILE and TODAY IS THE DAY, but I also listen to softer bands as well, like PLACEBO and FAR. I have a wide range of listening stuff."
Fallon: "Everything from WEEZER to ORGY and a lot of industrial metal like FEAR FACTORY."
Mercedes: "Anything 80's new wave, industrial metal and hardcore."
Tanya: "I listen to a lot of girl bands, such as HOLE, TURA SATANA, HUMAN, WASTE PROJECT and lots of Riot Grrrl stuff like BABES IN TOYLAND. But on the other hand, I also enjoy bands like NASUM, THE MISFITS and BLONDIE."

Like I said, your music sounds very aggressive. Is there anything you'd like to tell to the world. Where does all this aggression come from?
Morgan: "It comes from everyday experiences. Like stuff that happens to just about everybody. We just have a different outlook on life, I guess. Our music is very aggressive and angry, but we aren't depressed all the time. We are actually really friendly fun and hyper people. We feel it is important for people, especially women, to speak up and be heard, and not allow anyone to censor them. We try not to have likt this huge message to our music. Just speak up and be heard, and don't let anybody stand in your way."

You recently released an EP named "Kittie". We can hear six brandnew songs. Can you tell us more about the progression of the band since the first album and the way this EP was made?
Morgan: "Basically, on this new EP we got a lot more creative and had really improved on our instruments, as well as lyrically and vocally. We had a chance to grow together and learn how to be a real band and work together. We got a lot closer as musicians, as well as friends. The EP was recorded and mixed in four days in the same studio that "SexizHell" was recorded at. Only that CD was recorded live off the floor. We just worked harder at it more than the first demo and put a little more time into it as well, compared to the demo."

You worked with the famous producer GGGarth Richardson (OZZY OSBOURNE/L7/RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE/ALICE COOPER). How did you get in touch with him?
Morgan: "The guy who runs the studio which we recorded at previously went to school with GGGarth, and he just happened to hear the six song EP that way. He then became interested in doing our album, just as we were getting signed. So things just kind of ironically fell neatly into place. It was like fate!"

What was it like to work with him? Did he add something to the sound and arrangements? What did you learn from him?
Morgan: "GGGarth is the greatest guy in the world to work with. He is funny and like a kid at times, but he really pushed us to do our best and was serious a lot as well. He was really tolerant of our studio antics, and we just had a lot of fun overall. Garth made us sound exactly the way we wanted to and anticipated. He really didn't change a lot of stuff, he just helped us with some vocal arrangements, melodies, and just tweaked certain songs in order to make them sound better. Everything went well, and we really liked how things turned out."

Lyrically, you girls do have some nasty things to say I believe. Where does that come from?
Morgan: "Our inspiration for our lyrics is derivitive from a whole bunch of different topics. We aren't really angry people and haven't had bad childhoods or anything. We just write about things that piss us off, like serial killers, guys, self image and self esteem, insecurities, ignorance and jealousy and the occassional reference to sex, violence and death. Just everyday stuff that anybody can relate to."

The artwork was done by the band. Why did you do it this way?
Morgan: "We wanted to have creative license, so we could show what we stand for and what kinds of things represent us, plus it was just a lot easier that way."

Do you think a certain image is important for a band? How did you see the image of KITTIE? Do you like to provoke?
Morgan: "For us, image isn't that important, but it does play a small role in the big picture. It also helps to create a neat stage show and makes us stand out in the public eye. But we try not to be as contraversial as some of the other bands out there, for our own safety. I think that our image consists of four strong women with different personalities, who know how to rock and speak their minds!"

How come you still don't have a record deal?
Morgan: "We do now!! We recently got signed to NG/BMG Records out of New York. They are great guys and even better to work with!"

How do you operate when it comes to management and promoting the band?
Morgan: "Around here, we usually just self promote our shows and we have some help from some people in Toronto. We are managed by Dave Lander, who is my and Mercedes' dad. We also have a big say in what direction we want to go in in terms of management, etc."

I read you had experienced a tour with NAPALM DEATH. Is there anything fun or exciting to tell about?
Morgan: "Playing with NAPALM DEATH and TODAY IS THE DAY was an amazing experience and we would definately do it again if we had the chance. All the guys were super nice to us and put on a great show. We were kind of scared at first because we thought they were scary mean metal guys, but they were so sweet! It was really surprising. They really liked our music and watched our show."

What does an ordinary week of KITTIE look like? Do you girls work, go to school and rehearsal a lot?
Morgan: "Hmmmm... an ordinary week. Well, if it was school time, a normal week usually consists of a whole lot of school! We go to school Mondays to Fridays and we practise as much as we can during school. Usually two or three times per week. We usually practise all day on Sundays and have Friday nights and Saturdays free, so we can have fun!!! None of us work, as we feel that this band is a real job and a huge responsibility. We try to put as much as we can into the band, but we still need time to party and have fun! Since this is the summer though, we practise every day for about two hours and just chill out during the night. We are all really good friends, so we all hang out together."

What are the ambitions of KITTIE?
Morgan: "More than anything, I believe, we as a band would like to get some recognition, ya know? We want to be able to say stuff like: we've had a successful career, got to go on tour, met lots of nice people and (most importantly), we just had fun, while we were doing it. We all hope that people will enjoy our music and hopefully, we can continue making music for a long time. It would be great to be a person that others, especially girls, can look up to and use us as an example to follow your dreams, and never let anybody hold you back."

What are the near future plans?
Morgan: "We have a lot of exciting stuff going on with us, especially this summer! Our future plans include the release of our first full length CD entitled "Spit" on NG Records and a video to go along with the first single, called "Brackish"; a small tour with the band SKINLAB, a show at the Mil-waukee Metalfest with MACHINE HEAD, CRADLE OF FILTH and one of my favorite bands NILE. We are very excited about it! It's going to be great and we hope to meet a lot of awesome people."

Do you have other musical activities going on, like any side-projects?
Morgan: "As of now, we are mostly concentrating on KITTIE and putting all of our time and effort into the band. We don't have any side-projects at the moment, but later on, that is always a possibility!"

Any messages for our readers?
Morgan: "We would like to tell all the readers at Metal Maidens that we love them and hope they get a chance to hear our new CD, because we know they will love it!! We thank all of you for your support and we will be coming to a town near you very soon!!!! BYE!!!"

Discography KITTIE
Demos
*SEXIZHELL ('98 independent release)

CDs/EPs
*KITTIE ('99 independent release - EP)
*SPIT ('99 NG Records)
[update will follow soon]

copyright: METAL MAIDENS
interview by: Liselotte Hegt, 1999.

This interview was published in Metal Maidens #17/September 1999