Originally published in ‘zine issue #28, 2003
Kittie is a name which you may not have heard, but that’s not for the band’s lack of effort. A Canadian band that started when the members were in high school, they have amongst other releases two full-length CDs on Artemis Records, Spit and the newer Oracle, and they are playing shows right and left with an updated lineup, trying to promote themselves. This is instead of them shouldering the job of spreading the band’s music with their label, Artemis Records. Here Kittie speaks about their business dealings and business attitudes. [Taryn Wilkinson contributed to the interview.]
As with many bands, Kittie says they are having problems with their label on more than one level.
“Actually, right now we’re in the middle of a lawsuit with them, ‘cause we audited them and we found out a lot of breaches of contract on their behalf. And about $900,000 they owe us,” says Mercedes Lander, the drummer.
Since Kittie plays so many shows, that which seems to pain them the most is the lack of tour support from the label. As Mercedes explains, Artemis’ representation of the band changed around June of 2000. After that, “they wouldn’t give us tour support, which any normal record company would do, I mean, especially for a band in our situation,” which explains why Kittie itself is going about the business of touring and promoting the music.
“We’re basically a do-it-yourself band … We’ve gotten by just fine on our own,” Mercedes says, even making their own music videos. “We budgeted them ourselves and distributed them ourselves,” says Mercedes, adding “we have purchased our own publicist, we pay for our own bus, we pay for our own crew.” Even so, they would prefer to have a positive working relationship with Artemis. When they are on tour and observe their opening bands, “we see that they’re in these big, lavish buses and they get all this great press and they get all the nice treatment from their record label,” laments Mercedes.
An opening slot on a larger, popular band’s tour means good exposure for a smaller band, a point not lost on Kittie, however. For their first major tour, Kittie opened for Slipknot and were asked to open for Creed. Unfortunately, says Mercedes, returning to their situation without tour support, “with these opening tours, you don’t get paid a lot of money. And in order to run this do-it-yourself ship, you have to have do-it-yourself money. It doesn’t grow from the do-it-yourself tree.”
Artemis shouldn’t have had a problem marketing Kittie, as Morgan Lander, the guitarist and singer, explains. “At least we sold a million albums. The marketing potential … just by looking at it … if you’re some big wig sitting in a chair, an executive kind of thing, it’s pretty easy. It can’t be too hard.”
The band says that that their newer album, Oracle, is more radio friendly and features more radio singles than their first record, Spit, even though the band considers the latter a heavier record with better song structures. “Everything that we did on Oracle, it was exactly the same, like gear wise and tuning wise,” as on Spit, reveals Morgan. “It’s just that we had money for better production and that’s why it was a more clean-sounding album.”
Still, continues Morgan, “I really don’t think that they would’ve had a problem if they’d’ve put even half the money that they put into the first album that they did on Oracle. It would’ve done just as well. They cut us off halfway through the first album cycle.” Mercedes concurs, adding, “If they had’ve given [Oracle] the time of day, it would’ve done a lot better.”
Morgan concludes, “We don’t know what their problem is, but whatever it is, it’s very unfair.” ■
Photo: Kittie (by Wes While, courtesy Artemis)