KITTIE: Canadian schoolgirls show the boys how it’s done
Funeral For Yesterday
X of Infamy Records
by Todd K Smith

For the London, Ontario band Kittie, getting this far in the music business has about used up their nine lives. Founding the four-piece when only in their teens, siblings Mercedes and Morgan Lander have proven to be astute businesswomen as well as musicians. Their fourth and current release Funeral for Yesterday is launched on their own label, X of Infamy, teamed with Bon Jovi / Alice Cooper producer Jack Ponti. After a string of success with New York’s NG/Artemis Records including gold sellers Spit, Oracle and Until the End, the group took full control of their direction and forged into the future as an independent entity. With that came a change in their members replacing bassist Jennifer Arroyo with Trish Doan and swapping out guitarist Lisa Marx for Tara McLeod.

The freshened lineup has added distinct maturity to the bands’ songwriting elevating them from the dirge of death metal to a more polished almost Evanescence sound. Singer/guitarist Morgan Lander, known for her more throaty approach settles into a clean, melodic timbre, adding to the impact of the newer songs and opening up a wider vocal range. When speaking to Morgan from the road, the Reno Gazette Journal asked about her voice texture and her shift in delivery. “When I listen back to our first album, I remember doing things a bit different ‘screaming wise’ than I am now,” she says. “Over the years I’ve been able to develop control and learn what works for me. On stage, we still play songs from all the albums, so we mix it up with the new stuff. The songs we wrote for Funeral for Yesterday are some of the most vocally challenging stuff that we’ve ever done.”

Aside from its macabre title, the new record is a liberating passage for the Lander sisters. “It’s based on a lot of the things Mercedes and I were going through while we were writing it,” says Morgan. “There was a time it felt we were losing ourselves, losing each other, our band and our purpose. A common thread through all the songs is of one facing mortality and death. In the same regard, you must have death in order to be reborn. The symbolism is letting go of the past and being recreated as a completely new beast. It allowed us to let go of the trouble, the heartache and become fresh again.” For Kittie to survive Morgan and Mercedes had to come to terms with what was and was not working. “Not everyone is cut out for this kind of work,” relates Morgan. “Not everyone is willing to make sacrifices in their family life, with school, and with relationships. This is an all-consuming 24-hour job. It requires all of you and you need to be emotionally stable beyond your wildest dreams.”

In the past Kittie has worked with a number of different producers including GGGarth (Melvins, L7 and Chevelle), Steve Thompson (Korn, Anthrax) and now Ponti with Kevin Shirley (Iron Maiden) mixing. The rotation has schooled the band and given them focus. “This time around we are trying to re-define who we are by doing a lot of multidimensional stuff, different textures and lush harmonies,” says Morgan. “This album is a rebirth for us, the beginning of something totally new and different. Sure, the seed was planted in our past records but we were so young and inexperienced, we lacked the ability to capitalize on that. Now we are definitely coming into our own.” Motivational factors drawing from a number of influences including classical masterworks had its advantages. Says Morgan, “Being able to draw from the past and create something new for the future is what has made our music evolve, grow and move forward.”

When Kittie thinks of siblings in bands they refer to Van Halen, Pantera, and Heart - groups that don’t necessarily have a lot of tension between siblings and rely on each other as the band’s foundation. “Mercedes and I are an interchangeable team when it comes to writing,” says Morgan. “We both come up with the guitar riffs, arrangements, melodies and lyrics. The two of us function as one. You have to have a solid head on your shoulders and a really strong backbone in this business. It helps to have my sister beside me. There’s a song off the new album called ‘Everything That Could Have Been’ and when I sing the words, I go back to that place I was at when I wrote it. Singing it in front of an audience makes me realize how thankful I am to be able to continue doing this.”

Website: Kittie