rah rah rah of punk music is just the thing that our country needs in
these chaotic times marked by the threat of nuclear war, a serious
divide and a President who think that white supremacist torch bearers
are good. Given the shaky political and social landscape, why is a
band like KITTENHEAD not more well know? The band's sound is rooted
in the energy and spirit of punk, but there is a hell of a lot more
than that on the band's raw and rambunctious debut album. Produced by
PAUL ROESSLER (SCREAMING TREES, NINA HAGEN), the band's innate punk
smarts illuminate on tracks such as TUESDAY and the politically
charged TIN MAN, but the reach of this band is proved with the ballad
(or power ballad if you wish) ENOUGH. Setting the band apart from
other punk rock fair is the classical training of both vocalist KIVI
NEIMI and bassist/guitarist DEE DEE LEE. Non-indicative of such
classical training is the band in-your-face live show which has
earned them raves up and down the Pacific Coast.
had a chance to speak with KIVI NEIMI of KITTENHEAD regarding the
band and their music. Here is how the interview went.
LP has been out there for a little over a year now. After all of this
time, how do you feel about the finished work?
love our music. I love rock music with loud guitars and entertaining
people." says NIEMI. "Our music is high energy music with a
positive message that people can get behind. I feel really positive
about it. Not only is is a decent product but it translates well into
our stage show. We can reproduce everything on the CD into a live
show. People do things on CD these days that they can't do on a
stage. I read this article about MUMFORD AND SONS and the first
paragraph said "And they play their own instruments!"
I'm like 'Really?' Like that's a highlight. In KITTENHEAD, not only
do we play our own instruments, but we put on quite the show. I love
our stuff. It's fun a and contagious and everyone has a great time at
our shows. You hear that in the music. We're having a great time when
we perform and we're inviting you along for the ride."
who all helped you guys behind the recording console. Who helped put
this thing together for you guys?
recorded it at KITTEN ROBOT STUDIOS in Los Angeles with PAUL
ROESSLER. He's from the band SCREAMING TREES and played keyboards for
NINA HAGEN for years. He's such a cool dude. I call him the Wizard.
He created such a positive space. It was so mellow and zero pressure
and all about the creative process. He's a musician with years of
experience. He'll come up with ideas for us but they are only
suggestions. He's not attached to them. We have this big eighties
sounding ballad on the CD called ENOUGH. When we first played it we
thought it was missing something. We asked PAUL if he'd put some
keyboards on it. I was thinking piano but he wanted to put an organ
on it. My first impulse was "Hell no!" I couldn't
hear it. But one of the things that happens in KITTENHEAD is we let
the person who knows the instrument play the instrument and if you
have a disagreement afterwards, then say something.
shut up and listened and thought it was fucking genius. It filled the
space perfectly. It added texture and brought the guitar forward and
didn't overwhelm the vocal. It was a perfect fit.
there been any reactions to the band's music that have surprised you?
love the ballad ENOUGH. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that people
like those kind of love songs. It's a hard thing to pin down because
everyone likes a different song. We have the song ZOMBIE at the end
of the CD. That song was a jam that we threw together in 15
minutes. We weren't going to put it on the CD but one of our
friends heard it and said we had to put it on the CD. TO us it was
just a jam. There was not structure to it. Reactions like that are
surprising to me. TIN MAN is a very political song and we've gotten
some push back from it but I totally expected push back for that. I
don't take it hard when people say negative things about music.
Everyone has their own opinion. There are things that I don't
like to listen to but that doesn't mean it's horrible. It's just not
my taste. As a band we don't fit into an easy box.
me back to the beginning of KITTENHEAD. How did this whole thing get
off the ground?
graduated from law school and then realized that doing law wasn't
something that I wanted to do. I had been in a band in Seattle years
earlier and I had told some friends that in order to be a full happy
human being, that I needed to start playing music again. I had gone
for years without a regular outlet and I was going a little crazy. A
friend of mine was friends with this girl named DEE DEE who
in a band called WHITE TRASH DEBUTANTES. I remembered the band.
Another friend of mine knew this drummer and we all started playing
together. We had a tour throughout the Pacific Northwest before we
even had a name. During our fourth rehearsal , we were like "Oh
yeah! We need to write some music!" It happened really fast!
talk about the other members of the band. Tell me who they are and
what it is you think that each of them brings to the table that makes
this thing work?
the drummer, is Mr. Consistency. He's one of the few drummers
I've had who is always on time with his gear already set up and ready
to go. Sometimes I can't believe he's a drummer. They can keep time
in the band but they never show up on time for anything else. He's
got a great sense of humor and he steadies the whole process. DEE DEE
and VICTORIA switch back and forth on bass guitar. DEE DEE LEE is a
huge STAR WARS fan. I'm not. She roots for the dark side. I don't
quite get that. She's a classically trained guitar player. Very
talented. She never played bass before this band. You can hear the
classical training in her bass lines. She has the training and the
ear to expand the sound of the band. And she's funny as hell.
VICTORIA or VJJ, those really are her initials, is hyper creative.
She's always bringing in new riffs into the band and is
looking to expand. She's a super hard worker and not formally
trained. She works hard to catch up with DEE DEE who has had
years of classical training. She's also the partial comic relief for
this band. Don't know if you could tell but we have a lot of
fun together in this band.
the big idea behind the band's music that you would like for people
come away with when they see you onstage or hear your music?
me the message of our music is you've got to follow your own drummer.
You have to follow your own beat and follow it. You've got to follow
your passion and walk your own course. You can't follow the crowd.
That's not going to make you happy. If we promoted that , we'd be
doing this talky schlocky thing with a DJ throwing a beat down. You
have to find your own way in the world. You have to figure
what's going to make you happy and have the courage to do it.