Kittie Drummer: We're Not A 'Girl Metal Band'

Teenagers in raunchy London, Ontario, heavy-metal quartet want people to see beneath surface.

If you think of Kittie as four raunchy, sex-crazed teenagers who rock

really hard, you're almost right.

The London, Ontario, female quartet does rock really hard, but

some things about Kittie — song titles such as "Choke," "Suck" and

"Do You Think I'm a Whore" — are designed to give you the wrong

impression.

"People perceive a song like 'Do You Think I'm a Whore' to be about sex,

just because it's coming from women," 18-year-old singer Morgan Lander

said from Kittie's tour bus Friday (Jan. 21), en route to a show in Myrtle Beach,

S.C.

"In reality, the song is about not judging a book by its cover and digging

deeper into the substance to reveal that ... things aren't what they seem.

The title is like that basically to prove people wrong"

(RealAudio

excerpt of interview).

On their first album, Spit, Kittie attack such subjects as hate,

ignorance and sexism while serving up a sound that's equally unforgiving.

As their first single, "Brackish" (RealAudio

excerpt), attests, Kittie combine a heavy-metal sound with vocals

— either from Morgan or guitarist/vocalist Fallon Bowman — that

move from a tempered tone to a guttural scream.

Filling A 'Cultural Vacuum'

The single helped Spit debut on the Billboard 200 albums

chart this week at #147.

Danny Goldberg, founder of the band's label, Artemis Records, said Kittie

are giving hard rock a breath of fresh air.

"There's a generation in rock 'n' roll, epitomized by Korn and Limp Bizkit,

and for that generation of rock fans, there are literally no women," said

Goldberg, 49, who formerly managed Nirvana and was chief executive officer

of Warner Bros. Records. "[Twenty-five-year-old singer/songwriter] Alanis

Morissette, who I think is a wonderful artist, might as well be my age,

in terms of the relevance to a Korn fan. And the same goes for most of

the women who played on the Lilith Fair.

"[We] have a phenomenon where rock 'n' roll is 100 percent male. ... So

this, to me, was a tremendous cultural vacuum."

Kittie don't see themselves as filling a void in heavy metal but rather

proving that the genre is fair game for anyone who can rock.

"Metal is quite the testosterone-injected, male-dominated scene, at this

point," said Lander, who at 18 is the oldest member of Kittie. "Equality

is basically the theme that we like to express, but we're not necessarily

preaching about it. We're not feminists; we don't even talk about equality

in our songs.

"I just think it's time for another voice, not necessarily speaking for

women, because we speak for everyone, but something new and something

different," she continued (RealAudio

excerpt of interview).

Drummer Mercedes Lander, Morgan's younger sister, said that Kittie want

to be recognized as simply a metal band, not a "girl metal band."

She added, "You don't call Machine Head a 'boy metal band,' you call them

a metal band ... Why should they make an exception [for us] just because

of the gender? It's almost the exact same kind of music, except we don't

have penises" (RealAudio

excerpt of interview).

Fighting Preconceptions

Kittie's origins date to 1997, when Mercedes and Bowman decided, in

gymnastics class, to start playing together. Morgan, who had been taking

guitar lessons since she was 9, joined them a few months later in the

Landers' basement. She was "elected" as the band's singer shortly thereafter.

The lineup later solidified with the addition of bassist Tanya Candler.

But when Kittie started to take off, Candler decided to leave, Morgan said.

She was replaced last fall with Talena Atfield.

Morgan said the band got a taste of the preconceptions it was up against

when it played the local scene in London, in southwestern Ontario. The

attitudes some local bands had toward Kittie inspired the song "Spit"

(RealAudio

excerpt).

"There were some local bands who took a disliking to us and said, 'You

guys are what you are, and you'll never make it because of that,' " Morgan

said. "It fueled our fire, even more, to grasp success and achieve what

we wanted to achieve" (RealAudio

excerpt of interview).

(Staff Writer Chris Nelson contributed to this report.)