By Carl Begai
It didn’t matter that I was a huge believer in and supporter of Canadian metal and assorted aggressive offshoots; the hype that surrounded their 1999 debut album Spit rubbed me the wrong way. It blew my mind that a band featuring a singer with zero vocal control was able to sell a song like ‘Brackish’, Kittie’s teen angst calling card featuring one of the most annoyingly memorable choruses known to man, woman and pub crawling beast. Any attention I paid to the band after that record was out of masochistic curiosity, and fleeting at best.
Fast forward to 2007 and a four song EP entitled Never Again dumped in my lap by management via BW&BK HQ. I couldn’t believe my ears even after repeated listens, and I was left wondering what the four women masquerading as Kittie had done with the Lander sisters. They were, after all, the creative core of the band and had proven limited in that capacity as far as I was concerned. This new material, this was music. Hell, it was fucking metal.
And singer Morgan? She’d picked up control, shred-ability, and a Flying V along the way.
Calls were made, emails were sent, and I learned that Kittie was a family affair, with Morgan (vocals/guitars) and Mercedes’ (drums) parents taking care of most of the band’s legal and promotional affairs. The interview with the sisters that followed, for the Funeral For Yesterday album, proved to me that the ladies could stand on their own feet rather than needing to rely on mommy and daddy. They were also real musicians with a clear view of where they came from and a vision of where they wanted to take their music. They turned me into a Kittie fanboy.
Sadly, in August 2008, David Lander passed away unexpectedly.
We weren’t close friends by any means; we were business associates with a mutual respect for one another. David appreciated my honesty with regards to Kittie’s music – old and new – and he understood I wasn’t interested in raking his daughters over the coals in the press. I appreciated the fact he didn’t play the car salesman pitch trying to sell the band’s new album, and his enthusiasm for his daughters’ work was down-to-the-core genuine. There’s a stack of emails here to prove it.
No question, David Lander would be proud of how far Morgan, Mercedes and Kittie have come.
In a recent interview for BW&BK about the band’s new album, I’ve Failed You (the guts of which can be found here), Morgan discussed the not-so-new and improved Kittie, who can finally boast about having the same line-up for more than one album, and have a killer record to show for it.
“It’s weird,” Morgan says of the band’s evolution. “The way I look back at that now, we were all really young and there was a lot going on in our lives. It’s a really hard thing to endure. People grow up and change, their paths change, so it makes sense to me that those old line-ups didn’t stay together. We’re older and wiser now, definitely a little bit jaded because of all the things that have gone on with the industry, so it’s easier for us to roll with the punches these days. We’re also a lot more laid back, so that helps.”
“You also have to have fun doing this. Growing up the way we have in this industry has created something of a paradox in our lives. On the one hand we had to grow up really fast and take on a lot of responsibility, and on the other hand it’s enabled us to stay 16 forever. I think we’re pretty normal human beings to be able to carry on as we have.”
Over the past 12 years Kittie have experienced everything from major league tours to legal hassles, overbearing critics and numerous line-up changes, as well as the loss of a key element behind the scenes. The fact they’ve had the tenacity and willpower to keep pushing forward is more than merely admirable.
“A lot of that has to do with the particular work ethic instilled in us a long time ago,” says Morgan. “There’s also the passion to create and to prove that we still have something to offer, something that’s worthy of people’s respect.”
Family members taking part in a joint venture, no matter how close, are bound to butt heads every so often. Morgan and Mercedes have avoided the magnifying glass with regards to any sibling rivalry, and given everything Kittie has been through it’s a bit surprising they’re sharing the same rehearsal room.
“I’m surprised, too (laughs). But again, we try to remain as professional as possible when we’re out there, and keep the bickering and stuff that’s between the two of us to a minimum. You mentioned that you were corresponding for ages with my mom and dad, so you know that they are good people and that all they ever wanted to do was support their daughters and our friends, and help us achieve our dreams. They have a lot to do with why we’re still here.”
“My dad was always our biggest fan,” Morgan adds. “He always wanted to see us succeed and was really, really proud of us and the things he helped to build with us. Whether it was driving the van for us because we couldn’t drive yet (laughs), tour management, going on Ozzfest with us, he was a really enthusiastic guy. He loved his family and wanted to see us happy. I guess that’s his legacy, and we feel that continuing with that same attitude is a good thing.”
Check out Kittie’s new single ‘We Are The Lamb’ here. For more info on I’ve Failed You and the accompanying live mayhem, go to their Facebook page.