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Hear Them Roar

The young women of Kittie, ages 16 to 18, add their aggressive voices to the typically testosterone-fueled sound of metal. They'll be at Ozzfest.

August 31, 2000|KASTLE WASERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

While it may seem obvious that Kittie's all-female lineup makes the band stand apart from the testosterone-filled nu-metal pack, singer Morgan Lander is quick to shut down any suggestion that the they are any different from their hard-rock peers.

For instance, they are the only females on the Ozzfest 2000 tour. Has that . . .

"Nope," says Lander.

Have the other bands or their fans . . .

"Nope."

Surely, having a female perspective has . . .

"Nope."

You get the idea that Lander doesn't much like questions about the band's gender.

"I don't even like talking about it. It's just complete idiocy," says the singer, who will front the band at Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion when Ozzfest, one of the summer's biggest concert tours, pitches camp there on Saturday.

"We're pretty much the same" as the other nu-metal acts, she says. "We are very aggressive, testosterone rock. I don't think we inject anything feminine into our music. I have a deeper, more aggressive voice than a lot of guys on this tour."

As true as that may be, Kittie's growing notoriety has more than a little to do with issues of gender--and age. While all-female metal bands are rare, Kittie provokes even greater fascination among the music press because its members range in age from 16 to 18. With high-profile coverage in virtually every rock magazine and regular video play on MTV and the Box, the Canadian quartet is becoming the poster band for women in metal.

Which is not a responsibility they set out to take on.

"I don't think it's necessary to do that," says Lander, 18. "That's not the way we want to be seen. Our music speaks for itself and that's all there is."

Lander's bone-chilling, guttural roar and menacing guitar work, backed by her sister Mercedes on drums, Talena on bass and Fallon Bowman on guitar, grabs audiences by the throat. Kittie was a hard band to miss at 1999's Canadian Music Festival in Toronto, where it was discovered and signed by NG/Artemis Records.

It recorded its debut album, "Spit," in nine days and then experienced a brief crisis when its original bassist, Tanya Candler, dropped out just before its release last September. They weathered the change, which Lander says made them "more serious" about the band, and "Spit" has now reached the 441,000 sales mark in the U.S.

The members of Kittie have indeed proven their ability to stand tall in the boys' club of nu-metal, first on a tour with Slipknot last year and now in their appearance on this summer's Ozzfest docket.

However, they continue to fight misperceptions, including the common one that Kittie's music is laced with sexual references.

"That would be perverts reading into it!" Lander says. "People perceive things differently, and some try to read into it due to exterior factors--age, gender, what have you. There's nothing sexually explicit about our lyrical content. A lot of those songs were written when I was 14 years old! I think people are looking too deeply into it."

Despite giving their songs confrontational titles such as "Choke" and "Suck," Lander says their inspiration comes from everyday life. 'These are just experiences we've all gone through. We're just reacting to our environment and society and things we've come in contact with."

Kittie's assaults were spawned from basement jam sessions in the girls' native London, Ontario, in 1996. While they began by playing Slayer and Silverchair songs, Lander says the style that evolved had little to do with the music scene in London, which wasn't exactly set for breaking metal acts.

"We're pretty much a one-off--but we don't pay attention to what other people are doing. We are in this band to satisfy ourselves and our need to create music that we enjoy playing."

As opportunity knocked for the young musicians, school went on the back burner.

"I don't know if it's a good example for the kiddies out there, but we dropped out," Lander admits. "It was a career choice--but we're definitely getting an education on the road. A lot of what you learn in school doesn't apply to business life."

As Kittie makes its way on tour, Lander and company are determined to make the most of those lessons.

"We definitely have a vision, and we're very stern about how we feel about our music," she says. "If anybody tries to tell us differently, we'll rip out their heart out and eat 'em alive!"

BE THERE

Ozzfest 2000, Saturday at Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion, 2575 Glen Helen Parkway, Devore, 10 a.m. $22.25 to $65.25. (909) 886-8742.

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