Latest release: I’ve Failed You
Band site: www.kittierocks.com
Despite being possibly one of the most critically reviled bands in metal, Canadian all-female crew Kittie have persevered, building a strong fan base during a career which now spans six full-length albums and more than a decade. They’re also making their first trek to Australia in ten years to be part of the Soundwave Festival. Vocalist/guitarist Morgan Lander took time out from watching the Grammys (“I was watching, but I turned it off ‘cause it’s kinda sad”) to speak to Loud about the motivation for their latest record, the festival, receiving back-handed compliments from reviewers and more.
Q: Kittie obviously weren’t invited to the Grammys this year then (laughs).
A: No, actually, we’ve never been invited to the Grammys, which is very unfortunate. I know they do have a metal category. That’s a big step I suppose, for hard rock and metal, that they do give Grammys for those sorts of things now. I’m sure the party would be pretty wild, that’s basically what I would be going for (laughs).
Q: Our awards show equivalent the ARIAs only recently added a metal/hard rock category actually.
A: Really? Wow. That’s kinda strange. I mean, I know Australia does have a thriving metal scene, so that’s kinda strange. But at least, you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?
Q: Indeed. Anyway, on to the band – this is Kittie’s first tour of Australia in at least a decade I believe.
A: Yeah, I think we were there in 2002, so it has been ten years. We had a great time when we were there last; it was just a small tour. Nothing really in comparison to what we’re about to experience with Soundwave. But I know that we have really loyal fans in Australia and I know that they’ve been waiting very patiently, for a very long time. This visit is long overdue and we’re just excited to be able to perform at the level and the platform that we’re going to be given with Soundwave. It’s a huge festival and the lineup is amazing, and we’re just really excited that we’re going to be a part of it.
Q: What can punters expect from your Soundwave performances?
A: Well, there’s a lot of newer bands, so obviously we bring a little bit of maturity and expertise I suppose. We are the only all-girl band, which we try not to really promote too much… Actually, no we’re not, there’s another all-girl band, I lied.
Q: Cherri Bomb.
A: Yeah, yeah. We’re just a really down-to-earth, straightforward metal band; we’re just going to get in peoples’ faces and we’re going to play something from every album, do our entire catalogue. I think a lot of people will be surprised and we’re just going to have fun and make it as interactive as possible.
Q: You have a few side shows with Unearth and a few others as well, which allows you to branch out a little more too.
A: Yeah, definitely. It’s going to be really cool; the Sidewave thing I think is really fun. We know the guys in Unearth, we know In This Moment, and we’ve never met the other band, but it should be cool. It’s kinda like summer camp, you know? You get to do a festival and see people that you haven’t seen in a really long time. So it should make for something really fun and yeah, we are going to try something different for the Sidewaves, because those people are paying to see a more intimate show.
Q: Good to hear. Now, on to your latest record – it seems like all of your albums have been very personal and vitriolic, but this one even more so. Have the past two years just been particularly dramatic for the band members?
A: Well, for me in particular yeah, it has been; which is why the album seems so personal and writing it was a very cathartic experience for me. I definitely had to go outside of my comfort zone in terms of what I wanted to talk about. A lot of the subject matter on previous albums, while it’s personal, it’s not necessarily all that obviously so. And with this new album it was basically an entire life upheaval. I’ve had a really crazy couple of years and everything that I thought was my life really wasn’t. So I was left to pick up the pieces and then it was like, “okay, well it’s time to write an album, where do you start?” And so I just kinda poured my heart out and for me I think it was something that I needed to do in order to look at the situation objectively and then be able to get over it.
Q: You’re fortunate you have that avenue to vent those feelings – most people don’t have that luxury.
A: Yeah, it is wonderful; it’s definitely helped to keep me sane over the years. There’s nothing like getting up on-stage and yelling into a microphone for an hour. It makes you… it’s definitely therapy.
Q: (Laughs) Indeed. I understand Mercedes (Lander, drums/vocals) also contributed a fair amount to this album as well?
A: Yeah, Mercedes did, well everybody has. Mercedes has for the last couple of albums has written some lyrical stuff as well. She wrote “We Are the Lamb” and contributed to a few other things as well. So it definitely is a band effort when it comes to making albums.
Q: Has it always been that way within the band?
A: Well, we definitely haven’t had the benefit of having such a stable lineup. So for a lot of the earlier albums, it was mostly just Mercedes and I. But because we’ve had such a stable lineup now, Tara’s (McLeod, guitars) been in the band for seven years, we do more writing with the three of us. It definitely helps to have another perspective and another brain at work there. It’s not like in the beginning the idea was to not have it be a collaborative effort, but it just kinda ended up being that way for a little while, because of the nature of the lineups, people were coming and going for a long time. We were in a little bit of upheaval. But it’s nice that we feel settled and stable and that definitely comes out in the music. When you’re friends and you are around each other a lot and you grow as a musician together, it really helps you to create the best music and the most cohesive music you can.
Q: You’ve definitely taken a heavier direction on recent albums. Is that a reflection of your headspace, or an indication that you’ve been listening to heavier bands of late?
A: Well, I mean if you look at all of our albums over the last ten-plus years, we’ve always been a heavy band, but we’ve sort of evolved into a more mature, more age appropriate kind of version of Kittie. I think with the last couple of albums, I feel like (2009’s) In the Black was the album that was like the foundation that we built to try and well, build on from there on out. In the Black was sort of written and recorded the way it was in response to (2007’s) Funeral for Yesterday, which was like a complete 180 from a lot of the things that we were doing before. We’ve had a long career and we are allowed to experiment, to try new things. We like to keep things interesting, but first and foremost we are a metal band and we wanted to get back to our roots and get back to basics. With the new album, we’re just building on that foundation that we started with In the Black and it’s kind of like the jumping off point. That’s the direction that we’re going to continue to head in.
Q: Are you influenced by the same kinds of bands these days as say, five or ten years? Or have you also found other sources of inspiration?
A: It has definitely evolved. I mean, when we first started the band we were 12, 13 and 14 years old and we were just sort of getting into heavy music and hard rock. We listened to at that time a lot of gateway bands, like Soundgarden, Nirvana, Tool, Helmet, Marilyn Manson, Deftones, Faith No More the mid-90s kinda harder rock, but more accessible. And those were a gateway for us, we started off with that and then we got deeper into the metal scene. Now, we listen to everything. I listen to all kinds of music; crazy death metal or grindcore, anything. I listen to a lot of different things. But with maturity and age comes a little bit more diversity.
Q: It seems the past two albums have been far more accepted by critics as well. I remember reading a review a few years ago on Blabbermouth and the journalist was almost apologizing for praising the album, like he was in utter disbelief that you had created something worthwhile. Have you found you’ve received a lot of those kinds of back-handed compliments from reviewers and fans, especially recently?
A: Well, it is difficult for us because I still feel like our first album, it was the biggest-selling album of our career, and it was also written when we were 14 years old. From there on out, we were judged solely on that. That’s what most mainstream people when they hear about Kittie, that’s the music that they think of. We’ve actually grown and matured. I mean, I’m 30 years old now; we’ve become a viable band. I think anybody that’s kept up with our career could be like, “well yeah, of course, of course they’re a great band now and of course they put great albums out. They’ve been honing their craft for over 12 years”. But for a casual listener that all of a sudden they hear the new Kittie, they’ve heard what people say about us or the rumours or they’ve heard stuff from the first album, and they listen to like In the Black or I’ve Failed You. They’re gonna be like, “wow, I’m actually really surprised, this is a great record”. And it’s like well yeah, we’ve been around for a long time and we’ve been working very, very hard to continue to make quality music that reflects where we’re at emotionally and musically. I don’t know, coming from Blabbermouth, even a back-handed compliment is still a compliment (laughs). For the most part, Blabbermouth is pretty brutal, so I’ll take it.
Q: What are the band’s post-Soundwave plans?
A: Well, we’re doing Soundwave and all the Sidewaves, then we’re home for a month. Then we head out on a six-week tour of Canada and the States. We don’t really have a lot of days off though; it’s going to be six intense weeks. We’re going all over North America and it’ll be nice to get back out on the road and see some of our fans, especially in Western Canada. We haven’t played in Western Canada even longer than it’s been since we’ve been to Australia. I think we haven’t played in like Vancouver and Edmonton in 12 years, so this year is kind of a big year for us. We’re getting to do a lot of things that we haven’t done in a very long time and we’re getting to visit some places that people have been waiting very patiently for our return. So we’re really stoked about that.
Q: Any famous last words?
A: Famous last words? Oh my God (laughs). I don’t know, I guess I’ll plug the band – go pick up I’ve Failed You, it’s definitely not what you would expect if you are an old school Kittie fan and I think you’ll appreciate it. We cannot wait to come to Australia; not looking forward to the flight, but as soon as we touch down it will be glorious and we’re really excited to play, so thank you very much and have a good one.
*Editor’s note: A day after this interview was done, bass player Ivy Vujic announced she was leaving Kittie. Former bassist Trish Doan will be returning to the band after Soundwave.
Kittie will be touring with Soundwave 2012 on the following dates-
25/2: Brisbane Showgrounds, Brisbane QLD (SOLD OUT)
26/2: Sydney Showground, Sydney NSW (SOLD OUT)
2/3: Melbourne Showground, Melbourne VIC (SOLD OUT)
3/3: Bonython Park, Adelaide SA
5/3: Claremont Showgrounds, Perth WA
You can also catch them with Unearth, In This Moment and Heaven Shall Burn on the following dates-
28/2: Esplanade Hotel, Melbourne VIC
4/3: Amplifier Bar, Perth WA