Kittie

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Kittie
Kittie in 2022. From left to right: Ivy Jenkins, Morgan Lander, Tara McLeod and Mercedes Lander.
Kittie in 2022.
From left to right: Ivy Jenkins, Morgan Lander, Tara McLeod and Mercedes Lander.
Background information
OriginLondon, Ontario, Canada
Genres
Years active1996–present (hiatus: 2017–2022)
Labels
Members
Past members
Websitekittieonline.com

Kittie is a Canadian heavy metal band from London, Ontario, formed in 1996. They formed after guitarist Fallon Bowman and drummer Mercedes Lander met in a gym class. Mercedes' sister, Morgan Lander, became the lead vocalist and one of Kittie's guitarists and Tanya Candler completed the band's line-up on bass. Kittie was chosen as the band name because the name "seemed contradictory".[1] The Lander sisters have remained the band's sole constant members. Collectively, their material released via independent record labels has sold over two million copies worldwide.[2]

After signing to Ng Records, Kittie released their debut album Spit (1999), which saw a wider release under Artemis Records the following year. The album, which primarily exhibited a nu metal sound, sold at least 600,000 copies in the United States and was certified gold by the RIAA. Kittie's subsequent output, including Oracle (2001) and Until the End (2004), saw the band transition towards a heavier, more aggressive albeit melodic sound featuring characteristics of alternative metal, groove metal and death metal. Neither album was able to replicate the success of Spit, and Kittie parted ways with Artemis Records in 2005.

After leaving Artemis, Kittie created their own label, X of Infamy, and released their fourth album Funeral for Yesterday in 2007. In 2009, the band signed to eOne Music, with who they released In the Black (2009) and I've Failed You (2011), both with bassist Ivana "Ivy" Jenkins. After the release of I've Failed You, the band's members pursued various other projects.[3]

Kittie went on an indefinite hiatus following the death of bassist Trish Doan on February 11, 2017.[4][5] In 2018, a documentary, Kittie: Origins/Evolutions, chronicling the history of the band was released in co-ordination with its 20th anniversary. In 2022, Kittie reunited to perform at the Blue Ridge Rock and the When We Were Young festivals.[6][7] In February 2024, the band signed to Sumerian Records and released their first single in thirteen years, "Eyes Wide Open".

History[edit]

Formation and early years (1996–2004)[edit]

Kittie was formed in 1996[8] when drummer Mercedes Lander and guitarist Fallon Bowman met in gym class.[9] Morgan Lander, sister to Mercedes, became the lead vocalist and guitarist after weeks of Fallon and Mercedes jamming.[8] Tanya Candler completed the line-up by joining as the bassist. Kittie recorded their first demos and began playing concerts in 1998.[8] The band performed at Call the Office and the Embassy and signed up for Canadian Music Week in 1999.[8] Kittie approached Jason Wyner, who was second-in-command at NG Records. After Jason saw the band perform live, NG Records signed Kittie in 1999.[8] Kittie initially released their debut album Spit on NG Records on November 13, 1999;[10][11][12] however, shortly after, NG Records was purchased by Artemis Records, and production was halted. Around the same time, Candler left the band and was replaced on bass by Talena Atfield. Artemis subsequently reissued Spit, with different artwork and photographs, on January 11, 2000.[10][11][12] It is the band's most successful album, being certified gold by the RIAA.[9][13] Spit has sold at least 600,000 copies in the United States and at least 40,000 copies in Canada.[14] They supported the album by touring with Slipknot.[15][16][17]

Their debut album and supporting tour earned Kittie coverage in Metal Edge, whose readers voted Morgan Lander for "Female Performer of the Year" and Spit for "Home Video of the Year" in the magazine's 2000 Readers' Choice Awards. The band was also voted "New Band of the Year", "Who's Going to be the Next Big Thing", and "Most Underrated Band", earning them a total of five Metal Edge Readers' Choice Awards that year.[18] On July 11, 2000, Kittie made a home-video called Spit in Your Eye which featured interviews of the band and the band playing shows with the band Slipknot.[19] The success of Spit led Billboard to call Kittie "the most successful female band in modern metal" in December 2001.[20]

After returning home from touring, Kittie were tasked by their label with writing their next album in three months. During this time, the band's relationship with Fallon Bowman began to deteriorate; Bowman and Morgan Lander found themselves at creative odds,[21] and their interactions became increasingly argumentative.[22] Bowman ultimately quit the band following an argument at a rehearsal for a radio show on May 28, 2001,[21] and her departure was announced in August 2001.[23][24][25] They have since reconciled their differences.[26]

On November 13, 2001, Kittie released their second album Oracle.[27] Sounding more aggressive than Spit,[28] the album features elements of death metal[29] and thrash metal.[30] Morgan Lander noted how the band members were only 14 years old when writing their debut album and said "We haven't written in 4 or 5 years." She acknowledged a change in influence from their early days, stating, "Then we listened to bands like Nirvana, Silverchair, and Alice in Chains. Now we listen to stuff like Cannibal Corpse and Nile." However, the band would continue to write in the same fashion by first composing the music and then using that "as the backdrop behind the vocals."[31] The album Oracle was recorded with Morgan Lander and Jeff Phillips, the latter who worked as Kittie's guitar technician and who filled Fallon's position.[32] The album went on to ship almost 225,000 copies in the United States by 2018.[33] On March 2, 2002, Talena Atfield left the band and was replaced on bass by Jennifer Arroyo.[34][35] In April 2003, Kittie and Garth Richardson sued Artemis over unpaid royalties of $900,000 and eleven breaches of contract by the label; the dispute was settled out of court in March 2004.[36][37][38] In 2004, the group added guitarist Lisa Marx, and Jeff Phillips went to work full-time on his side project, Thine Eyes Bleed.[9] On July 27, 2004, Kittie released their third studio album Until the End.[39]

Departure from Artemis and Funeral for Yesterday (2005–2007)[edit]

On March 23, 2005, Morgan Lander reported that both Lisa Marx and Jennifer Arroyo had left the band.[40] Jennifer Arroyo's split was amicable while Lisa Marx's came as a surprise. Morgan cited financial difficulties, which they attributed to Artemis Records' poor promotion of their releases, as the reasons for both members' departures.[41][42] Lander also revealed that Artemis and the band were in negotiations over whether the band's contract would be renewed, expressing her desire to leave the label.[43] Arroyo confirmed that the split was amicable, and also cited her desire to work outside of Kittie full-time was an additional factor. She would go on to join Billy Graziadei of Biohazard in the band Suicide City.[9][44]

On March 31, 2005, Kittie announced they had parted ways with Artemis Records due to "a proposed amendment to the recording budget for the pending fourth Kittie album."[45]

In 2005, Kittie added two new members: Tara McLeod on guitar and Trish Doan on bass. In 2005, Morgan and Mercedes Lander's clothing line, Poisoned Black clothing, started.[46] Morgan and Mercedes also appeared briefly in the documentaries Metal: A Headbanger's Journey and Heavy Metal - Louder than Life. On February 7, 2006, Kittie released their Never Again EP through Rock Ridge Music.[47] Also in 2006, vocalist Morgan Lander provided vocals on the song "It Turns to Rust", from the album In the Arms of Devastation, by the Canadian death metal band Kataklysm.[48]

Kittie created their own record label, Kiss of Infamy Records, and used it to release their fourth studio album. The label name was later changed to "X of Infamy" after a cease-and-desist letter from attorneys representing Kiss Catalog Ltd. (the owner of the intellectual property rights pertaining to the musical group Kiss) alleging that the Kiss of Infamy trademark was "confusingly similar" to their client's trademark.[49] Kittie's fourth studio album Funeral for Yesterday was released on February 20, 2007, through their record label.[49] Along with the release of Funeral for Yesterday, Morgan Lander announced that Kittie would release a 45-minute-DVD with the CD.[50] In February 2007, Kittie toured as part of the Funeral for Yesterday Tour alongside Walls of Jericho, 36 Crazyfists, Dead To Fall, and In This Moment.[51]

In the Black and I've Failed You (2008–2011)[edit]

Kittie performing at the Opera House in Toronto in 2010

On March 4, 2008, Kittie announced the departure of Trish Doan due to the eating disorder anorexia, which she developed during the recording of Funeral for Yesterday.[52] Doan had battled the disorder for nearly two years. Soon after, Ivy Vujic officially became the new bass player. On August 2, 2008, David Lander, father of band members Morgan and Mercedes and the band's manager, died of a heart attack.[53]

On June 26, 2009, it was announced that Kittie signed to the E1 Music record label.[54] The band's fifth studio album In the Black, was released on September 15, 2009.[54] Videos were shot for two singles, "Cut Throat" and "Sorrow I Know". "Cut Throat" premiered on MTV 2's Headbangers Ball on September 5, 2009, and on the Canadian show Much Loud on September 20, 2009. "Cut Throat" also appeared on the Saw VI Soundtrack released on October 20, 2009,[55] and also in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, released on March 25, 2011. On September 16, 2009, an announcement was made that German label Massacre Records would distribute In the Black in Europe.[56]

In January 2010, Kittie returned to Europe to promote In the Black. Supporting bands on the tour included It Dies Today and Malefice. This tour included dates in Scotland, England, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. In a January 27, 2010 interview, Morgan Lander revealed that the band was in talks to film a video for the track "Die My Darling".[57] In March 2010, Kittie embarked on another North American tour with God Forbid, Periphery and Gwen Stacy as support. From May through June 2010, Kittie took part in the Happy Daze tour headlined by Insane Clown Posse and featuring Coolio, Kottonmouth Kings and Necro.[58]

Kittie participated in the 2010 Thrash and Burn tour through July and August which also featured Asking Alexandria, Born of Osiris, Evergreen Terrace, Stick to Your Guns, Chelsea Grin, Through the Eyes of the Dead, Impending Doom, Periphery and Greeley Estates.[59] This was followed by a one-month stint as one of the two opening acts on Devildriver's 2010 North American tour.[60]

Kittie's sixth studio album, titled I've Failed You, was released on August 30, 2011.[61] Two videos were released for the songs "We Are the Lamb" and "Empires (Part 2)".[62] In 2011, Mercedes Lander joined the all-female band the Alcohollys featuring former Kittie bassist Tanya Candler.

Documentary, death of Trish Doan, hiatus (2012–2020)[edit]

On February 13, 2012, Kittie announced that Ivy Vujic was resigning from the band and that Trish Doan would be returning.[63]

In early 2014, Kittie posted information about a secret project that was in the works to their Facebook page. On March 8, Kittie posted photos on their Facebook and Instagram of past and present members all together in the same room with a camera. On March 28, 2014, Kittie launched an Indiegogo campaign celebrating the impending 20th anniversary of the band, with a DVD documentary featuring past and present members and a tell all book.[64] Their goal of $20,000 was reached in eight hours. The campaign closed on April 28, 2014, with a total amount of $40,525 raised, 203% of the initial goal. Kittie slated Rob McCallum to direct the documentary and Mark Eglinton to help pen the biography.[65]

In October 2016, it was announced that drummer/vocalist Mercedes Lander had started a new sludge/doom metal band called the White Swan that released the single "Illuminate". The debut EP, Anubis, was released on November 1, 2016.[66][67]

On February 11, 2017, bassist Trish Doan died at the age of 31.[68][69] Doan had moved to Australia in 2013 and had frequently used her social media accounts to speak of her frustrations with depression.[70]

On August 30, 2017, the band announced that they would performing a three-set single concert on October 27, 2017, in their hometown of London, Ontario in the London Music Hall, featuring three different line-up variations made up of both current and former members. The concert marked the launch of their 20-year anniversary documentary,[71] and featured the return of Candler, Bowman, Phillips, Arroyo and Vujic to perform songs from their respective eras.[72] The concert was released on DVD format on March 26, 2019.[73]

On March 30, 2018, the documentary Kittie: Origins/Evolutions, which was filmed prior to the reunion concert, was released on Blu-ray and DVD for the very first time. Like they did with the reunion concert, Atfield and Marx declined to participate; according to Morgan Lander, Atfield was supportive of the documentary, appearing in the initial crowdfunding pitch video, but "didn't think it was the right move for her" to appear.[74] Packaged with the movie was a CD featuring a collection of live performances by the band.

In 2019, Morgan Lander expressed uncertainty about the future of the band, the primary reason being that she didn't feel right moving the band forward without Trish Doan.[75] Several months later, it was announced that Lander had joined the melodic death metal band, Karkaos, as their new lead singer.

In October 2020, Mercedes Lander stated that it was unlikely that Kittie would reunite to perform again without a significant financial offer and the ability to include all of the band's former members. Like her sister, she also stated that she found it difficult to go forward with the band without Doan.[4]

Return to performing (2021–present)[edit]

In late 2021, coinciding with a renewal in nu metal's popularity with Generation Z, Kittie was contacted by bookers to play several shows,[76] prompting the band to officially end their hiatus in January 2022 with Jenkins rejoining the band on bass.[6] On September 8, 2022, Kittie performed their first show since 2017 at the Blue Ridge Rock Festival at the Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia.[77] In October 2022, Kittie performed on all three days of the When We Were Young festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.[6]

On May 13, 2023, Kittie performed their first new song in 12 years, "Vultures", at the Sick New World Festival in Las Vegas.[78] On November 19, 2023, the band confirmed that they were recording a new album with producer Nick Rasculinecz at Sienna Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.[79] It is expected to be released in 2024.[80][81]

On February 13, 2024, Kittie premiered their first new song in 13 years, "Eyes Wide Open", on Sirius XM's Liquid Metal channel.[82] The following day, the band formally released the song as a single with a music video and announced that they had signed to Sumerian Records.[83][84] Upon release, Consequence, Exclaim!, Metal Hammer and Revolver listed the song as one of the best of the week.[85][86][87][88]

Musical style and influences[edit]

Kittie has been put under multiple genres of music. They have been categorized as nu metal,[89][90][91][92] alternative metal,[93][94] heavy metal,[9][61][95] death metal,[96][97][98][99][100] extreme metal,[101] groove metal,[102][103][61] thrash metal,[104][61] gothic metal,[105] punk,[106] and hard rock.[107] Kittie has often used death metal and black metal vocals in their songs and often had clean singing in those songs as well.[90][108][109][110] On the Spit album, Kittie used screaming, clean singing and rapping.[111][112] Kittie have been compared to bands such as Pantera,[113] Slayer[113] and Mudvayne.[1]

Kittie's formative influences were based within the Seattle grunge scene;[114] Morgan Lander has stated that when Kittie made Spit, the band were listening to bands such as Silverchair, Alice in Chains and Nirvana.[31] Later on, when Morgan joined the band, Kittie transitioned from a grunge band into a nu metal band, taking inspiration from recent releases of the time by Korn, Deftones and Sepultura.[114] When asked about their influences in an interview with Metal Maidens in 1999, the members of Kittie cited Nile, Today Is the Day, Placebo, Far, Weezer, Orgy, Fear Factory, Hole, Tura Satana, Human Waste Project, Babes in Toyland, Misfits, Blondie, and Nasum as influences.[115] With the release of Oracle, Kittie abandoned the nu metal style found on Spit in favour of a more extreme metal sound.[116] In interviews, Morgan has cited Marilyn Manson, Korn,[117] Metallica, Cannibal Corpse, Nile, Carcass, At the Gates, Acid Bath, and Testament as influences on the band.[31][118]

Kittie is often known for being an all-female band. Kittie's drummer Mercedes Lander said that she wants Kittie to be seen as just a metal band instead of a "girl metal" band saying "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 exactly the same kind of music, except we don't have penises."[95]

Band members[edit]

Current[edit]

  • Morgan Lander – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano (1996–present)
  • Mercedes Lander – drums, backing vocals (1996–present)
  • Tara McLeod – lead guitar (2005–present)
  • Ivana "Ivy" Jenkins – bass (2007–2012, 2022–present)

Former[edit]

  • Fallon Bowman – lead guitar, backing vocals (1996–2001)
  • Tanya Candler – bass, backing vocals (1997–1999)
  • Talena Atfield – bass (1999–2002)
  • Jeff Phillips – lead guitar, backing vocals (2001–2003) bass (2007)
  • Jennifer Arroyo – bass (2002–2005)
  • Lisa Marx – lead guitar (2004–2005)
  • Trish Doan – bass (2005–2007, 2012–2017; died 2017)

Timeline[edit]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums

References[edit]

Citations

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