June 10, 2004  
Volume 98, Issue 04  

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Kittie claws back with a new member and a new album

By Mark Polishuk
Gazette Staff

Gazette File Photo
GWARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Kittie prepare to rock out. From left to right, Mercedes Lander, new guitarist Lisa Marx, Morgan Lander and Jennifer Arroyo.

If cats truly have nine lives, then Kittie is embarking on its second as the band prepares to release its third studio album Until the End on July 27.

“It’s kind of like a new beginning for us, and we wanted to put our best foot forward,” says guitarist and lead vocalist Morgan Lander. In addition to Lander, her sister Mercedes on drums and Jennifer Arroyo on bass, Kittie is welcoming a new feline into the fold in guitarist Lisa Marx, formerly of the Seattle-area metal band To See You Broken.

“Lisa was one of the first people we thought of,” says Lander. Marx and several other guitar players were invited to jam while Kittie was recording Until the End, and “it just really clicked. She’s really laid-back and she’s a great guitar player. We tried some other people, but we knew in the back of our minds that she was one we wanted to go for.”

Marx joins Kittie after the band parted ways with guitarist Jeff Phillips after he chose to concentrate all of his time on his own band, Thine Eyes Bleed. The split was “amicable on both sides,” according to Lander, who adds that Thine Eyes Bleed will be releasing its upcoming album on Kittie’s own record label.

Though Marx joined the band too late to play on the new album, she joins the group as a full creative member of Kittie as opposed to merely a touring musician. “I think we wanted to be able to feel whole,” explains Lander. “We started as a four-piece band, and now it’s like we’ve come full circle.”

This feeling of starting anew and being ready to face whatever the world can toss at them is apparent in both the band’s attitude and in the new record. Until the End is Kittie’s first studio recording since 2001’s Oracle. Issues with their record company prevented the girls from getting into the studio sooner, but Lander feels the extra time helped them mature as musicians. “It’s been three years since Oracle, and in that time we’ve been on countless tours and become a tighter unit as a band.

“Oracle was kind of a dark album, kind of mid-tempo and reflecting how some personal relationships weren’t going that [well]. Now we’re happier and I’m not saying that the music is all happy pop stuff, but it reflects how we’re all comfortable with one another.”

Kittie even took a more down-home approach to recording its new disc, spending last March living in rural Massachusetts with producer Steve Thompson. “We literally lived in a barn, with horses and all that,” laughs Lander. “It was pretty cool to record in more of a natural atmosphere as opposed to being in a studio in the city.”

Working with Thompson, a veteran producer and technician who has worked with some of the biggest names in metal (eg. Korn, Metallica, Anthrax) and pop (eg. Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers) also helped the band achieve a more focused sound.

“We weren’t looking to really change anything, but [Thompson] likes to bring out the best in our performances,” says Lander. “We concentrated on doing one song at a time and perfecting it as opposed to doing all the guitar tracks and all the drum tracks at once.”

Kittie is currently hard at work rehearsing for the latest tour, tentatively scheduled to begin in late June or early July. There are no plans as of yet for a show in London, though Lander says that it’s a “definite possibility.”

 

 

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