Kittie Return to Set the Record Straight: "Fuck You, We Were Right"

Having been rediscovered by a new generation and recorded the incendiary new album 'Fire,' the Ontario band say they "deserve a little pat on the back"

Photo: Dante Dellamore

BY Manus HopkinsPublished Jun 20, 2024

"We're burning shit!" laughs Kittie vocalist and guitarist Morgan Lander, before adding, "Sorry — I guess I'm in a mood today."

The retort comes in response to a question about the significance of Kittie's new album's title, Fire (out June 21). In 2022, Kittie officially reunited after a lengthy hiatus for what was initially a run of festival dates, before increasing interest found the band back in full force. While an awful lot has changed for the band, some things have stayed just the same.

"It felt like no time had passed," says bassist Ivy Jenkins about the first time she stepped back on stage with Kittie. "It's one of those things, you feel like you're doing the same old thing you remember doing. Other than feeling physically older, it felt exactly the same; it was just a continuation."

Kittie has been helmed by Morgan Lander and her younger sister, drummer Mercedes Lander, since 1996, when the two were teens in London, ON. Their 2000 debut album, Spit, turned the nu metal world on its ear, bringing a more sophisticated kind of rage to a scene becoming dominated by frat boys and rife with misogyny. Picking up innovative shredder Tara McLeod in 2005 and Jenkins in 2007, the band pivoted towards a sound more in line with the new wave of American heavy metal (NWOAHM) when nu metal had overstayed its welcome and become a parody of itself. When many of their peers bowed out or rebranded as divorced dad butt rock bands, Kittie trudged forward as a modern metal outfit — something they continue to do today.

But there was a time when they too saw their momentum die down, and conceded that the world just wasn't that interested anymore.

"It almost feels like, because we hit the low, low lows together, we deserve a little pat on the back," says McLeod. "So let's do that together, too."

The 2020s have brought an odd new trend in music: a renewed interest in nu metal among young listeners. While many of metal's current heavyweights spawned from that era, it wasn't enough for the younger crowd to embrace the Slipknots, System of a Downs and Korns of the world, who still regularly headline major festivals and tour arenas. This sick obsession crept beyond the biggest names in the game and saw even inactive bands like Kittie connecting with a whole new audience who were hungry for more. Mercedes created a TikTok account during the pandemic, and was surprised to see Kittie's debut album cut "Brackish" in videos by kids who weren't even born when it was released.

"There's kind of two schools of thought for me, anyway," she says. "My first thought is: wow, I can't believe this is happening. Thirteen years ago, when we made that conscious effort to stop touring and stop actively making music. That was that, and we turned the page. The other school of thought, for me anyway, is: 'Fuck you, we were right.' It actually mattered."

Recognizing that the nostalgia train can only be ridden so many stops, Kittie are intent on continuing their journey rather than stalling on memory lane. Fire proves that the burning passion in Kittie is back, and when the smoke clears, a new, matured version of the band emerge forebodingly, ready to snatch the world in their claws once again.

The album, made with producer Nick Raskulinecz, shows Kittie at their most musically developed and with their strongest chemistry, exhibiting a sense that this band who stormed the world when its members were barely old enough to rent a car have truly grown up. And growing up has never looked this cool.

"Our difference on this one in comparison to the previous ones is that we had a lot more intentional attention to detail," says McLeod. "Parts got changed many times. I think Morgan was adjusting her lyrics and melodies until the end, and the guitar parts, we were flipping them back and forth to get the best version we could bring to this record."

Nobody in Kittie is shy to shout out the other members' talents, with McLeod saying each of her bandmates is the best in the world at what they do, and Morgan making sure to point out this version of the band is bonded forever by having walked through fire to get to where they are now.

Mercedes, who calls this quartet the "GOAT" lineup, says the new music came naturally. "With this iteration of us making this record, it really seemed to just flow very easily," she says. "It was almost effortless once we got into the groove of it."

Jenkins remembers being awestruck hearing the first completed song on the Fire, and Morgan says she still listens to the entire album when she's out for a run, and has yet to get sick of it. "It feels so great to just be so epicly stoked about something you've created,"  says McLeod.

Morgan has a different way of looking at Fire's creation. "Making an album is a weird process for those that have never been a part of it," she says. "It's like building a seven-layer taco dip. You've got to put something down first, and then another thing, and then another thing down, and it's not until the very end of everything that all the elements tie in together and you put that chip in and it's delicious. Maybe I'm just hungry." 

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