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Sunday Old School: Kittie

Photo of Kittie

Band Photo: Kittie (?)

As has been said several times throughout the history of this column, the saddest reason to feature a band is following a death in the family as it were. Following the tragic passing of bass player Trish Doan on February 11th, it seems appropriate that Sunday Old School takes the time to look at one of North America's most famous all female metal bands, with whom Doan made her name, Kittie.

Kittie began life in 1996 in London, Ontario when drummer Mercedes Lander and guitarist Fallon Bowman met in school and began jamming together. They were quickly joined by Morgan Lander, the sister of Mercedes on lead vocals and guitar and after a search, recruited bass player Tanya Candler. With a full lineup, the quartet began recording demos and performing live in 1998, with a record deal arriving the next year after the band asked NG Records executive Jake Weiner. Though they signed with NG, they were switched to Artemis Records following a takeover.

In January 2000, Kittie's debut album, "Spit" was released, receiving a mixed response from critics but striking a chord with fans of the then popular nu metal genre. "Spit" went on to be certified Gold after selling over six hundred thousand units in the United States and produced music videos for the songs "Brackish" and "Charlotte," as well as earning them a supporting slot for Slipknot, who themselves were promoting their debut album at the time. The record was notable for featuring a picture of the original lineup, despite bassist Tanya Candler leaving in October 1999 and being replaced by Talena Atfield. After further touring with the likes of Suicidal Tendencies and Chevelle and a slot on Ozzfest, the band released a home video entitled, "Spit In Your Eye."

Before the group entered the studio to record their sophomore full length, Fallon Bowman decided to leave the group, leaving the band to record their second album as a trio for the only time in their career. The result was 2001's, "Oracle," which was a distinct shift away from the nu metal sound of their debut, with the group citing such bands as Cannibal Corpse and Nile as more of an influence on their modern sound compared to the grunge acts that inspired the music previously released. The single, "What I Always Wanted" gained heavy airplay in both North America and the United Kingdom, where it reached #121 on the British albums chart.

Once again, Kittie were forced to recruit new members when bassist Atfield left the group and so they brought in New York native Jennifer Arroyo as her replacement, before finally finding a second full time guitarist in Lisa Marx. This incarnation of the band recorded an album, "Until the End" which received some solid reviews and featured another popular single, "Into the Darkness," which was included on the MTV Headbanger's Ball compilation album and achieved chart success in the United States and Great Britain. It also featured the radio singles, "Pussy Sugar" and "Red Flags" which were both popular on the airwaves, before the band took part in the thrash metal documentary, "Get Thrashed," though by the time the film was released, both Arroyo and Marx had quit the group, with the former going on to form Suicide City with Biohazard guitarist Billy Graziadei and participate in the reality show, Big Brother.

After losing two members again, the Lander sisters found replacements in Tara McLeod on guitar and Trish Doan on bass, while they also left Artemis Records after a tumultuous time together which saw Kittie take the label to court over unpaid royalties and numerous breaches of contract. The group then partnered with Rock Ridge, through whom they released the EP, "Never Again," before forming their own label, Kiss Of Infamy, though they were forced to change the name by a certain makeup wearing rock band who felt the name of the company was "confusingly similar" to their own Kiss Catalog Ltd. Instead the label name was changed to X Of Infamy and Kittie released their first album through the company entitled, "Funeral For Yesterday," which came with a bonus DVD which showed the making of the album and debuted at #101 on the Billboard Top 200, with the title track also becoming a charting single.

The band promoted "Funeral For Yesterday" by touring with the likes of 36 Crazyfists, Walls of Jericho and In This Moment, but unfortunately parted company with Trish Doan in May 2008 after she was diagnosed with the eating disorder, Anorexia nervosa. She was replaced by Ivy Vujic, who joined in time for the group to embark on their first European tour in six years, before they signed with E1 Music and released their fifth album, "In The Black" in 2009, with European distribution being handled by Massacre Records. Promotion for the album saw them headline a North American tour supported by God Forbid and Periphery, as well as supporting Insane Clown Posse on the Happy Daze tour which also included Necro and Coolio, in addition to participating in the Thrash and Burn tour alongside such bands as Asking Alexandria and Impending Doom, another supporting slot, this time for Devildriver and the release of three music videos for the songs, "Cut throat," "Sorrow, I Know" and "Die My Darling."

Two years on from "In the Black," Kittie released their sixth album, "I've Failed You," which despite the title, was praised by some publications for displaying what was described as their best songwriting to date, particularly the songs, "We Are the Lamb" and "Empires (Part 2,)" with the former being released as a single. Although "I've Failed You" marked their first release without a change in personnel, Kittie split with Ivy Vujic in 2012 and announced that Trish Doan was returning to the fold. That same year, the band released a compilation album, "Not So... Safe," which featured material from all their releases except "Until the End," as well as a live rendition of "Do You Think..."

Numerous projects were announced following the release of "Not So... Safe," including a "tell all" book and a documentary chronicling the history of the band directed by Rob McCallum, which was funded via Indiegogo, through which they raised over $40,000, surpassing the $20,000 goal in only eight hours. In 2016, Mercedes Lander announced her new doom metal group named White Swan, who released their first EP, "Anubis" in October of that year. Tragically, the band would not get to record another album with Trish Doan, after her passing on February 11th aged only 31, with the group making the news public two days later. It's still too early to speculate on what future plans Kittie has, save for the release of the documentary, "Kittie: Origins/Evolutions" but whatever happens, their legacy of music and constant struggle against detractors, sexism and mental illnesses will see them cemented as one of the toughest bands of their era, who always did everything with 100% determination.

Kittie - "Brackish"

Kittie - "Charlotte"

Kittie - "What I Always Wanted"

Kittie - "Into the Darkness"

Kittie - "Funeral For Yesterday"

Kittie - "Cut Throat"

Kittie - "Empires (Part 2)"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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