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Exclusive! Kerby's Interview With Morgan, Mercedes and Jennifer of Kittie

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Friday, November 21, 2003 @ 12:35 AM

“Scooping the Litter Box”: Ker

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Bands that stay together for any appreciable length of time invariably go through certain tribulations that threaten their very existence. Kittie has not only proven to be no exception to this rule, they have actually managed to become involved in more entanglements and controversies than other bands who have been together for a decade or more. By far, the most serious obstacle Kittie has had to contend with concerns their ongoing two million dollar lawsuit against their current label—Artemis Records. According to reports, an independent accounting firm found that the group is currently owed more than nine hundred thousand dollars by their employer. The immediate result of the suit being filed is that Kittie has been severely restricted in what they can do which has made the recording and releasing of a new record a hypothetical proposition at best.

More than two years removed from their last full length album, Kittie is back on the road playing to a surprisingly consistent number of fans considering the absence of a new product and the promotion that would theoretically have gone along with it. That isn’t to say they are selling out stadiums or anything of that nature, but they have nevertheless continued to support themselves and have remained surprisingly visible throughout the onset of the legal process. This month’s police-mandated show stoppage in Abilene, Texas recently thrust the band back into the scope of the national eye and helped publicize the band’s current tour more proficiently than any number of press releases could have accomplished. When reports of the incident first surfaced, readers had to believe that parts of the story must have been missing because it is hard to believe that something this one-sided or unfair could really happen in 2003, yet when talking to the band you truly do get the sense that what happened in Abilene was more the result of overzealous law enforcement than any infraction committed on the part of Kittie or their management.

If there is any justice, the rock ‘n roll gods will allow Morgan, Mercedes and Jennifer the opportunity to succeed or fail based on their musical merits rather than the normal record label bureaucracy that has engulfed a myriad of bands before them. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but what shouldn’t be doubted is the group’s commitment to bringing slamming, aggressive metal to all those who aren’t afraid of chicks rocking on stage harder than the majority of male bands do. In this day where females are continually becoming more and more relegated to roles requiring absolutely no musical prowess, Kittie truly is a different animal altogether.

KNAC.COM: Okay, I’ve got ask, what exactly happened in Abilene, Texas? There have been more than a few different accounts of what occurred.
MERCEDES LANDER: We nearly got arrested, so I guess that’s why it made big news.
MORGAN LANDER: We had to shut the show down early. The police were waving the cuffs and talking to the manager and said we were going to go to jail.
RICK DIESING (MANAGER): The told me they had warned me five times about turning down the volume, but no one had said anything at all to me throughout the whole course of the show. Then, at the end of the song “Brackish,” they said, “Stop the show now or you’re going to jail. You were warned five times.” I told them I was never warned. Then, the officer said, “I’m not arguing with you. Stop the show or you’re going to jail.”
MORGAN: So Rick runs on stage, and we’re like, “What the heck is going on?” He’s like waving his arms around doing a funny dance, and we’re thinking how crazy it was. Then he’s like, “If you don’t stop now, you’re going to jail, and I’m going to jail too.” Needless to say, we didn’t want to go federal ass raping prison.

KNAC.COM: Yeah really, and knowing Texas, they were probably pretty serious.

KNAC.COM: Did you have any idea previously that there was going to be a problem?
MORGAN: No, actually not.

KNAC.COM: It was really that abrupt and with no warning?
MORGAN: No, I mean it was a great show, and we were about an hour into the set.
JENNIFER ARROYO: Yeah, and to be completely honest with you, I saw no homes anywhere around the place when I looked around.
MERCEDES: I didn’t see any either.
JENNIFER: We must have been loud as fuck or something.

KNAC.COM: There was no curfew issue or anything at all to contend with either?
JENNIFER: I think the cops must have owned the bar, to be honest with you.
MERCEDES: The cops just wanted to… well, apparently in Abilene -- we actually have a cousin who lives there that we hadn’t seen before -- but anyway, there are cops who just sit there and hang out in the bars and will arrest you if you pass out. I think the cops were just there to cause trouble.

KNAC.COM: What do you think the profanity accusation was about?
JENNIFER: The hell if I know.
MORGAN: It’s not like we were doing any sexual acts on stage or anything like that. I mean, we don’t run around in a little leather jock like Marylin Manson. You know, we were just up there playing our show and doing our thing. There might have been an f-word here or a “shit” or an “ass” there, but nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing like, “suck on your mother’s cock.”

KNAC.COM: And you didn’t pick on a security guard—
JENNIFER: No, there was nothing like that. Honestly, it happened just as we said. Our tour manager was all of the sudden on stage, “They’re gonna arrest us—we’re goin’ to jail!”
MERCEDES: It was like, “What are you doing on-stage? You should be at the soundboard or something.”
JENNIFER: We finished the rest of the song, but the PA wasn’t on or anything.
MERCEDES: They started playing AC/DC.
JENNIFER: It was louder than how we were playing, too.

KNAC.COM: That has to be the strangest exit you’ve ever made from a stage then.
JENNIFER: I would say so. It was like, we didn’t know what was going on or anything. All we’re doing is hearing that we’re getting arrested or our tour manager is getting arrested. We were just like, “What the fuck is going on?” The cops even stayed and hung around for a while.
MERCEDES: They were just standing around trying to catch people doing bad stuff.
JENNIFER: I just think they didn’t have anything better to do.

KNAC.COM: How fortunate did you feel to get out of there?
JENNIFER: I was just ecstatic to get out of that place.

KNAC.COM: Was there ever any discussion of a tour bus search?
MORGAN: They would need a warrant to search the bus, and they can kiss my ass.

KNAC.COM: Needless to say, you didn’t waste any time leaving town afterwards, right?
JENNIFER: Yeah, we almost got some equipment stolen, and bunch of weird shit went down that night. I’d love to go back there though and play a different venue.

KNAC.COM: It just seems like such an odd story.
MORGAN: This has just been kind of an odd tour.

KNAC.COM: Why did you have to cancel the upcoming Utah gig?
MERCEDES: There were some interesting things going on there. There was some mix-up with the tickets.
JENNIFER: Everything under the sun.
MORGAN: The sheet said the 15th, the show as actually the 14th, and the tickets said the 21st.

KNAC.COM: There were three different dates involved then?
MORGAN: Yeah, it was too fucked to even try to rectify.
MERCEDES: We’ll be back in Utah some time when Good Charlotte isn’t playing. Yeah, and I think Korn and Limp Bizkit were playing, too, on like a $15 ticket.

KNAC.COM: Hey, would you be interested in touring on that bill? Opening for Korn and Limp Bizkit?
MORGAN: Maybe Good Charlotte, but not Limp Bizkit.

KNAC.COM: No love for Fred Durst then?
MERCEDES: He seems like a diddler—I don’t know.

KNAC.COM: Would it even be safe to tour with him given your ages?
MERCEDES: If he started rumors about me like he did about Britney Spears, I’d be like, “Sure, whatever.” It would be good press.

KNAC.COM: You’d really welcome that? That’s a weird mental picture. He could be like the guy behind the corner or something.
MERCEDES: He’s like the guy who sits there and diddles himself in the corner.

KNAC.COM: Speaking of diddling, what can you say about the pending lawsuit with Artemis? The last time I talked to you, you guys were pretty disgruntled, so it was no surprise when the suit was finally filed.
MERCEDES: We’re even more disgruntled now.

KNAC.COM: You guys had an audit done that showed you were owed $900,000?
MORGAN: Yeah, it was a company that you hire and that’s what they came up with plus another $120,000 owed to our producer Garth Richardson. Artemis is obligated to pay him because that’s what labels normally do when a producer has a point on the album.
MERCEDES: That’s when you’re working with a label though that can find its asshole with a flashlight—unlike Artemis.

KNAC.COM: What does that do for you guys as far as being able to put out another record?
JENNIFER: We have big issues to work out.
MORGAN: As it stands, we are still contractually obligated, and we have to resolve that issue before we can go in and do another album. That’s definitely holding us back in terms of when the next album will come out. We haven’t gone into the studio yet, and we’re not finished writing either. We’d like to say next year.
MERCEDES: We’d like to get off of Artemis and just get on another label. We don’t even care that much about getting paid. Getting paid is the last thing on my list, but making a new album is first. I could care less if I made five fucking cents off of Artemis records, I just want to go and make a new record.

KNAC.COM: So, if you were just to go and say, “Forget the debt, but let us out of this contract” they wouldn’t go for it?
MERCEDES: No, because Artemis is sinking, and we’re the only band on there who has sold any records. I think that we are also the only band who could help them out because they’ve signed so many shitty bands off of the money that we made for them instead of them putting it back into us. They don’t know the ethics of proper promotion—they don’t know anything. They have no idea what they are doing. As I said before, they couldn’t find their asshole with a flashlight.
JENNIFER: Think about going to work for about three years and not getting paid.

KNAC.COM: You’ve also missed out on some touring opportunities as the result of this as well, haven’t you? You had talked about maybe doing the Warped Tour or Ozzfest, but it hasn’t happened.
MERCEDES: They wouldn’t let us. We’re not allowed to do soundtracks either. They refuse to let us do soundtracks because it makes us money. We have done some video game soundtracks, thoug,h which has kind of helped us out a little bit, but we can’t open up for other bands. We had a chance to go with Creed and play big arenas in front of 15,000 people and that would have been a big opportunity for us, but we weren’t allowed. We could have also opened up for Rob Zombie or Marylin Manson. We could have done Ozzfest the last two years and the Jagermeister Tour—just the things they’ve done wrong to us--it’s retarded.

KNAC.COM: You’ve had to decline all of those offers?
MORGAN: Yeah, and it looks bad for us.

KNAC.COM: At what point do you think that people will stop asking because they would just assume that you wouldn’t be able to do it?
MORGAN: Yeah, that’s the bad part, but being able to go out like this and to be able to still have fans that are very supportive of us just shows that we are still very viable in the community of metal.
JENNIFER: Yeah, just look at how many fuckin’ people are inside—the place is packed.
MERCEDES: This is for a band that hasn’t released an album in over two years. Actually, it was two years and two days ago.

KNAC.COM: How surprising is it for you to see any significant number of people here considering what the band has been through?
MORGAN: It’s heartening because it shows what could have possibly been accomplished if we had the opportunity to do everything we could have done. It also shows what the possibilities are if we could get the promotion of a regular label—there is so much more that we could do.

KNAC.COM: Does it seem odd or normal for you guys to have had these many obstacles at such a relatively early stage of your career?
MERCEDES: Yeah, it’s strange, but so is life. If you think about it, if we weren’t worrying about the record company or whatever, we would probably be worrying about our jobs or car payments or school or this and that like other people our age. This isn’t too much different, it just kind of comes with the territory.

New Web Addy: www.KittieRocks.com.

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