The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

Todd talks to all-girl metal band Kittie about touring, vitamins, their latest videos and, errr... "Kittie-Porn"!




The word conjures up a couple images… maybe it is a little child playing with a young feline… perhaps it is the vision that is arguably one of London, Ontario's greatest exports to the music world. To listen to the new album, In The Black, one is reminded exactly what there is to love about the band.



Sure, they are great looking. Yep, the young ladies that comprise the band are cordial and love mixing it up with their fans. Most important, they take the music serious. You read right, the band, which includes band founders (and sisters) Morgan (v) and Mercedes Lander (d), along with Tara McLean (g) and Ivy Vujic (b), are serious about the music they present, whether it be in the studio or on stage.


Although Morgan needs to prepare for the evenings performance, the other three members sit down with The Rockpit for a little chat. Just prior to the technical part of the interview, we all just shoot the breeze and chatter back and forth. Afterwards Mercedes takes her daily dose of Vitamin D, Calcium, and mixes a veggie drink, "You don't get all the healthy veggies and nutrients you need on the road, ya know", Mercedes comments as she gets herself ready for the evening.



In the midst of a tour with God Forbid and Gwen Stacy in supporting roles, this fan and lucky interview recipient is at Flint's Machine Shop to see the third Michigan show in 8 days (after shows in Traverse City and Mt. Clemens).


There are only a handful of shows left on this swing before the band starts to ramp up for the next tour, seemingly a mismatch of bands: Kittie will embark on a tour with Insane Clown Posse (more commonly known as ICP), Kottonmouth Kings, Coolio, and Necro beginning May 9th. According to Mercedes, ICP came to the table with an offer to join ranks and assault venues together for a month. "This isn't the first time they have approached us about a tour together, it is just the first time everything lined up to make it happen."


When asked if the diversity of music and fan base was a concern, the drummer smiles quickly and responds matter-of-factly, "We don't care about that. This tour is positioned for success. They have a large and dedicated fan base that we can pull from and we also bring a lot of fans to the table." She went on to speak of the differences between booking a tour like this and a tour of their native Canada. "In Ontario, we can book shows one after the other because of the concentration of people, but for other provinces, sometimes we will drive 20 hours to get to a venue, so booking shows can be prohibitive."


This prompted questions about the current tour and a recent tour to Europe, how everyone seems to be getting along, and what has made it special. According to Tara, "Everybody gets along. There are no princesses in this band."


At this point, Doc Coyle (guitarist for God Forbid) comes into the dressing room to change for their set, and we are all treated to the sight of Doc's boxer briefs. Ivy points out this is a great part of the tour. Mercedes adds to Tara's comments, "There is just great chemistry between the four of us. We are all dedicated to the band and not our individual efforts or results." Ivy pipes in, "The album is being received really well, as is the set list. This tour has been a blast, especially Europe." Mercedes and Tara nod in agreement and smirk in reaction to the Europe comment.


"That tour was SO much fun," affirms Mercedes. Tara continues, "This tour has been great in that there are two great bands that are well known and have their own following. By touring with bands that are similar, but have different fans, we can try to pull their fans and convince them we rock too. It seems to be working too, because the fans we see rocking out to God Forbid seem to enjoy our show as well. It's a healthy competition between the bands to persuade the other bands fans." When asked about a live CD or video from the tour, that would display how tight the band has become musically, Tara blurts out, "Yeah, maybe we can call it 'Kittie Porn'." I think most of us in the room at that point busted out laughing.



Moving to the discussion of other current things going on and soon to be happening, in addition to the ICP tour, The Rockpit wanted to know who thought of taking the band out of its comfort zone and developing a video that won't soon be forgotten by anyone who sees it. I am referring to the video for "Sorrow I Know." This video is very visual and puts the band back in a 1920's/1930's club, including all of the aspects of the era, from props to makeup to wardrobe. "Morgan and I came up with a loose concept and thought it might be fun to set the song in a 1920's speak easy. I was really hoping to put a dance sequence in the middle, but with limited money for the production, it wasn't possible," said Mercedes. "David Brodsky took our idea and made it as it is now."


Since that video was so fun and enticing, we wanted to know about the next video. "We are filming a video for "Die My Darling" in April. Tara and Ivy start checking their schedules and different dates are being thrown in the air… "Fine, we are shooting in April or May for a summer release," quips Mercedes, with her bright smile lighting up the room.


As Doc departs to go watch Gwen Stacy, I ask about the current set list and the obvious absence of the first album from the choices being played on the current tour. Mercedes is quick to say, “We are really happy with the new stuff and with the set list.” Yes, but the fans all want to hear certain songs, even if you are getting sick of playing them year after year. “Not really,” she counters. “Morgan and I will typically remove songs that are constantly being yelled out for so we can mix it up.” Ivy enjoys playing the older songs because “they are easier and allow me to really get into the music and thrash.” Tara, who loves playing “Whiskey Love Song” from the new album, agrees, “It is easier when the songs aren’t challenging, but we like to set the flow.” Ivy is biased, as this is her first recording with the band, so when asked which her favorite is, she starts naming all songs from the new album, but is quick to blurt out “Forgive And Forget” and to agree with Tara on her choice. After spinning the album several times myself, I am reminded of the bands second album, Oracle. When I make this reference, with the stipulation that instrumentally they are a better and tighter unit now, they agree. When the conversation turns to their last album, Funeral For Yesterday, Mercedes is quick to point out, “That album was recorded and produced differently. The fans and media don’t realize that we have not always controlled things and called our own shots.” I ask if the band regrets that recording. Mercedes continues, “I wouldn’t say regret, we would have done it differently.”



Knowing they need to get their game faces on, I want to depart asking them two simple questions: 1) What song in the history of rock do you wish you wrote; and 2) Of all the women in music, whom do you think well represents the gender (this was not specifically a rock question, just curious who they like).


Mercedes said she loves DLR version of Van Halen and wishes she had her hands in the song “Dance The Night Away” and digs what Lady Gaga is doing for the music scene right now and mentions two female fronted or co-fronted bands out of the UK this reviewer has never heard of: The Duke Spirit and Band Of Skulls.



Ivy could not wait to blurt out “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Then she throws out “Cemetery Gates” by Pantera. When asked why this song, she gives you a combination smirk and WTF look and says, “Because it is sheer awesomeness!” Can’t say I argue with that logic. She cannot (or will not) cite a favorite female artist, but says all the girls joke about the possibility of one day seeing the Spice Girls live.


Ivy and Todd


Tara is the quintessential guitarist. She cites Led Zeppelin, specifically Jimmy Page, most classic rock, blues (she LOVES Stevie Ray Vaughn) as her influence, but mentioned the Dixie Chicks as a fav female band. She stipulated, “I am not a country fan. I went with some friends that were going, and my jaw dropped. They can all sing and play instruments. They are talented.” Mercedes only comment to this was “Yucky.” When asked about one song she wishes she had written her only answer is Red House by Hendrix.


After their set an hour later, I am chatting with Morgan over a Molson XXX. This is a story in itself, where we were discussing the quality of different Canadian beers. She was quick to defend Moosehead. We started discussing different favorites and agreed on Labatt’s 50. Unfortunately, this is all but impossible to find in Michigan, so I surprise her with a six-pack of the Molson XXX. Back to enjoying a cold one and just chatting, I ask her about women that she respects in the rock world. She really contemplates her answer before saying anything. Her answer is well thought out. “I really respect Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy.” We further discuss the issue of Angela calling out Revolver Magazine for pushing metal chicks as sex objects first and performers second in their Hottest Chicks in Metal issue. “I really respect that she held her ground.” She says.


Morgan onstage


You know, I have to mention, this is not my first rodeo. I teased the band earlier that my first concert was KISS and Cheap Trick in 1979. I have seen a ton of bands, met a lot of them, and truly enjoyed a few of them. If I had to pick a female group I thought helped shape music, Kittie would be near the top of my list. Forget the fact that we have gotten to know each other a little over the last week. This group of rockers was in on the ground floor in 1999 when this type of rock started its emergence. They took the lumps of growing up on the road and in the public eye and are some of the most real people I have met in this industry and came out on the other side pretty normal. I have to give props to four of my newest friends… Morgan, Mercedes, Tara, and Ivy. Thanks for everything… so far!!!



Morgan & Todd after the show


Words & Pics by Todd Jolicouer
March 2010