Morgan Lander, January 25, 2003

 

Written & Photos by: Jason Perlman

 

Seems you have been on tour non-stop for a while.
Well, it's been more that a year. We started touring with Oracle in August of 2001. It's been a good, long time.


How has the addition of Jen Arroyo been with the band?
It's going to be amazing. Because even with the stuff that has previously been written, Jen has added so much more dimension and depth. I really think her playing just really flows with our style. It's really technical, but she knows when to do the right things at the right times. I am amazed by her. She is not just here to fill space. I think she will help us change up a lot of things, but it will be more of a fluid kind of sound.

When the band first started, Kittie was out on Ozzfest touring and there was a novelty of the band that garnered the attention. But now, that novelty has just about wore off and you are getting press mostly about the music.
That's a good thing. That's what we wanted in the first place and now we are able to claim our musical integrity, so to speak. Instead of being judged on being young and girls and whatever else they wanted to judge us on, it's great for them to be honest about our music. Whether it was we were really horrible because we were young girls or we were real great because we were young girls, now the music can stand on it's own and that's the great thing. But you know, sometimes even now they will throw in the some of the girl stuff here and there, but by far it's much less than it used to be, which is cool.


It seems Kittie always have bands on tour that you are fans of or friends with. Do you have control on who you take out?
We have 100 percent say in what bands we take out with us. Whether it's a request list of bands we are fans of but have never met before and we just want to take them out because we enjoy their music or bands we have met previously and want to take out because they are good people and a good band. It's always up to us and we wouldn't have it any other way. But because this business has its politics, sometimes you have to make those sacrifices, but I think for the most part its about making our fans happy with bands we like and think they will like and bands that have influenced us. And it's a bonus when you are having fun on tour.


With the addition of Jen, you have another growling voice that allows you to sing more while allowing Jen to take over some of the roars of Kittie. Will that change your thinking when writing for the new record?

I don't know. I mean, I think I do both pretty well. And personally, I think for me stylistically that's what I do. But I think it will be interesting because Jen also does have a very nice, pretty voice so harmonizing and doing things even now on tour that we weren't able to do beforehand. Say in 'Winter' in the chorus she is able to harmonize there and or she's singing when I am singing 'Pain.' We both have the ability to trade off and both sing and scream so it will be interesting to see the kinds of things that will come out. I think there will be some more of that screaming on top of singing. But we'll see what comes out of it.


There is no doubt that coming to a Kittie concert, you have two kinds of fans. The kids who want to be like you and old perverts like myself who just want to see chicks play metal.
Yea, it is kind of strange. But in a way, it is a neat thing to see that many different kinds of people that have come out to appreciate our music, whether they are sick pedophiles who think we are hot or 12-year-olds who look up to us. I mean usually the kids that are yelling, 'I want to FUCK you' are like 14. But it's cool to see so many different kinds of people and so many different walks of life. I mean, our music isn't for one specific kind of people so it's great to see different people appreciating it.

 

Starting out, you were opening for bands and now you are able to headline your own shows. Do you prefer the headlining the smaller clubs?
Definitely. It was a different situation in the beginning as well because we were opening up for bands as well. And a lot of times the fans are there to see the headliners and are scratching their heads wondering what they are going to get from the openers and are like, 'To hell with these bands! Get whoever on!' So we had a lot to prove then in that sense. But as a headliner, it's neat to travel around and know these people are here to see this band and they enjoy the music. But there are a lot of curiosity seekers as well. There are always people coming to shows who buy Oracle and never heard it before. So some people are still coming out of curiosity and that's a good thing. We get new fans all the time.

 

Because your growl is so deep, do you ever have people come up to you wondering if that is really you on the record?
Yea, it has happened. I have had people say, 'That's not you. Scream in my face!' And I am not going to scream in somebody's face, are you insane. That's crazy. But every once in a while there are people saying, 'That's not you.' And I am sure there are chicks with deeper voices that me. That chick's voice in Arch Enemy is out of control. It's not necessarily deeper; it's just biting. It's like a rabid dog eating.


Growing up, when you listen to metal, you call everyone else pussies that listen to anything else. But as you get older, you tend to appreciate more music. Do you listen to music your fans may think only pussies listen to?
Whenever this question comes up, I am trying to picture my CD booklet and mentally flipping through the pages wondering what is so odd about my CD collection. Like I do listen to a lot of metal, and for the most part, I have only metal. But I like the new Cave-In. That's amazing. I like old Cave-In, but I like what they are doing now.

You pretty much grew up on the road. Starting at 16 or 17 and still being out here a few years later. Has it been difficult?
I don't know, I think for some people it would have been a lot more difficult. And obviously it was. But for me personally, I had nothing to lose. This was the greatest opportunity of my life. So why not drop school, say goodbye to my friends for a year and go. I could live with that. If anybody is really serious about what they are doing, they are able to make those sacrifices and take those risks. But at the same time, it has been kind of tough. Relationships are different now. Like, I haven't had the opportunity to meet a lot of new people at home because I am never there. So I do still hang out with my friends from high school, so that is cool. But I like to think my friends are out on the road with me.

How does the band write? Music or lyrics first?
Well, it's usually music first and I would like to say I know how it's going to go, but I really don't. Because again, the dynamic has changed. But personally I have a lot of ideas that I will be like, 'Hey guys, do you wanna try this out?' For the most part, a riff could be a whole song and it's all about arrangement. But it's great to have other people around for other ideas. So I think we will just have to see how it goes. But I definitely have tons of riffs and tons of ideas that are very Kittie so we will bring them out.


I remember seeing this photo in Guitar World of the band in the basement. Is that how the band practices and write? Together and in the dingy basement or can you write separately?
Oh no, it has to be a together thing and it has to be spur of the moment. But we have always sort of worked in this really lo-fi kind of environment. It has always been practicing in my parent basement. The gear is set up there. It has turned from having our small, little crappy Peavey to a Triple Rectifier Mesa Boogie stack. But it has always been that homely vibe where we can run upstairs and grab a snack and some juice. You know what I mean? I think we just really thrive in that. The familiarity in that is really comforting and it really helps us bring out the best in our performance by cutting out all the distractions because we are just having a good time in the basement.


How much writing is done in the studio verses the basement?
You know, we forfeit pre-production. We don't do any of that. What we have from the basement goes right in the studio. That's the best way to do it. It captures the raw feeling. But we always have after thoughts in the studio. Like, 'Ohh, I should add something here.' But we are never like, 'Okay, let's write a song.' That's Metallica, that's not Kittie. For one, we don't have the budget to say, 'Let's go in the studio for two weeks and see what we can some up with.'


But I think that can me the CDs sound like the band live.
I like to think we sound better live. It's more energetic and more upbeat and you can see everybody getting excited. But our albums do have more of a raw, live sort of feel to them. It's all very, very basic. It's drums, two guitar tracks, bass and then vocals. Mercedes has like the easiest job in the world. Like her drums, 12 songs will be done in three days. Every vocal track has to be done in three takes and we use the best out of that. We are very efficient like that. We know exactly what we want to do and how we are going to do it and plan it out ahead of time. And then just go in there and get it done.


The new EP has a techno song called 'Safe.' Is that a direction Kittie is going?
I don't think it's a direction the band is turning to, but I think it's interesting to flirt with other styles. I mean, the song 'Safe' within itself is not what is expected of this band anyway. So why not take it a step further and throw a curve ball the other way. It was just an interesting thing we wanted to try and industrial music can be considered a little more in the metal realm. So it was just another texture.


Did you have fun being able to just do something totally different?
Well, it was pretty fun and pretty easy. We were just like, 'Hey Sasha, you wanna do this?' And then it was just speed it up here, do a little bit of this. We pretty much just put it in his territory. We didn't really mess around with it too much at all. He was the expert. We don't really have too much knowledge about this techno stuff. We are just the band with guitars and drums and just pretty much left it up to him. Which made it a lot cooler to have someone take our song and completely debaucherize it and just put their own perspective to it.