Kittie World: An Interview with Morgan Lander
Morgan Lander of Kittie is arguably the best female metal vocalist out there today. I found her to be extremely intelligent, opinionated, and well informed. I think you are going to like her too, and remember something as you read this. Kittie Rocks!
MI-What is your birth date?
MI-So tell me how the band got together.
Morgan-It was 1996, and my sister and myself and another friend sort of wanted to learn and play together. It was really just an innocent sort of thing starting on our instruments after school and on weekends.
We came together very innocently to learn together, play together, and to emulate our heroes. It became something bigger after that. After awhile we started playing shows and we made a demo and become a monster that reared its ugly head, and here we are today.
MI-What was it like to be in Newsweek?
Morgan-They were covering some Ozzfest stuff and followed us around for a couple of shows. It was a really cool experience.
MI-What is your average day like?
Morgan-Well, it depends on if it is an average day at home or an average day on the road. Usually on an average day on the road we are still driving from the night before, so we wake up get a hotel room and a shower-I lie in my pajamas for another hour or two, make some coffee and drink it to get up and start the day. I do some interviews and I scope out the venue and see if there is anything to do around there like a mall. By that time it is usually sound check. We do the sound check and see if the monitors work and the pa’s work. You know, all of the fun questionables that go with a venue. Then we wait around until we play. MI-What about when you are home? Morgan-Usually when I am home I stay out until the sun comes up and sleep all day. I party and chill at my apartment. I try not to overdo it too much, but sometimes it just happens.
MI-Who were your musical influences growing up?
Morgan-Growing up? Obviously my parents were very influential. I remember my first concert being the Damn Yankees with Ted Nugent-a lot of hard driving guitar-oriented stuff was my first exposure to music. Everything from Janis Joplin to Jimi Hendrix. Pink Floyd to AD/DC and Van Halen. We had a steady rock and roll diet growing up. It wasn’t that I came from a musical family at all, my parents were just music fans. The musical gene got passed down and skipped a generation. As time progressed, we gained our own insights into what we liked.
MI-How do your parents feel about your career?
Morgan-They have always been really supportive. They have always been the sort of parents that let the children make the choices, whether they were good or bad choices. Once things got pretty serious with the band, they took over managerial duties because a bunch of sixteen and seventeen year old girls could have become the puppets of industry people and that sort of thing. They took it upon themselves to make sure that what we were doing was in our best interests. They made sure that we were being looked after and that we weren’t being used and overworked. –Now because we are having label problems, we don’t really have a record label right now. We have been doing everything ourselves and have had the chance to learn firsthand what this industry is really all about. We are not so sheltered and are learning to get the label to tell us what we need to know and that sort of thing.
MI-Have you ever inhaled?
Morgan-Of course (laughing).
MI-Describe your music to me.
Morgan-I would say that Kittie is a mix of dynamic, melodic, and heavy. I definitely have to say melodic metal would be the best description. There is a dynamic in the music that goes from a screaming fast-paced drive to a singing chorus in one beat. That is what sets us apart from a lot of stuff that is going on out there-the dynamic of the band and how the pace can change.
MI-So why are you having label problems, if you don’t mind me asking?
Morgan-Actually, our label hasn’t been supporting us for quite a few years and this year we decided to speak up about it. There have been a few breeches on contract on their behalf. They really haven’t had us and the band’s success in mind. We have decided to pursue legal avenues. It is really unfortunate, because we see the potential in this band. They put no money and no support into the band, and it is really depressing and unfortunate.
MI-Who would you compare yourself to vocally?
Morgan-I don’t know. I like to leave that up to the listener. To me, it is definitely a mix of heaven and hell. There is that whole dynamic where I can scream and then switch in a second. That is just something that comes naturally. It is definitely a battle and a mix between good and evil. MI-Did you do all the vocals on the album? Morgan-Yes. MI-I thought you did. We had a fight about that in the office.
MI-If a nuclear bomb were to wipe out everybody but you and three other people, who would you want those people to be?
Morgan-Oh wow. That is tough. Me and three people, well I would definitely have to take my sister. MI-I’ll give you six, go ahead. Morgan-You will give me six? Myself. My sister. The bass player in our band. My mom. My dad. And I would pick my boyfriend and take my cat. The kitty counts as a person. I have a cat, and his name is Tiger.
MI-Do you believe in psychics?
Morgan-I do. I don’t necessarily believe that all people that claim to be psychics have the ability to see into the future or that sort of thing, but I believe that there are people out there that have a sixth sort of sense with tarot cards and that sort of stuff. I am into that and I am into astrology and that sort of element. There is some sort of map to our lives.
MI-Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
Morgan-Yes actually, I have. I have never actually seen an apparition or anything like that. I was staying in a hotel in England once and it was sort of like a hospital once that was converted into a hotel. It was three or four hundred years old with giant wooden doors and that sort of thing. The room that we were sleeping in was fairly easy to get to from the elevator. The second time we went to the room, we had already been there before-we went out and came back, we couldn’t find it. This sounds totally creepy. We got lost and wandered around and finally found our room. In the night, we heard somebody howling and screaming outside our door. We opened the door and nobody would be there. Someone kept knocking on the door too. In the middle of the night, and keep in mind we had the chain on the door, my sister looked up and saw the door open and she saw somebody walk in. She paid no attention to it and fell back to sleep. When she got up the next morning and looked the chain was still on the door. That was the one weird thing that happened to us. It was crazy. It was really pretty scary.
MI-If you could play anyplace in the world, where would it be and why?
Morgan-We really didn’t get an opportunity to play in Japan. We only played one show there and I would really like to do that again. We had a great time in Australia, and I would like to play there again. As far as touring, I would like to go all over the world. It doesn’t really matter where as long as we have a good time with it and we will rock.
MI-What would you say was your worst job and why?
Morgan-I can’t really say that I have ever had a real job other than rock and roll. Rock and roll has been my one friend and the one that has paid me, but I have mowed lawns and I babysat. Pre-teen stuff.
MI-So what made you decide to give up all that pre-teen and babysitting stuff to become the musician that you are today?
Morgan-I think just the love of getting people’s reactions. It is not so much the fact that people love you and they are all over you. Seeing people enjoy what you are doing and the reactions made me what to continue doing this. I love writing, and I love challenging myself more and more. It is about the reaction, but at the same time I enjoy seeing what else I can come up with and how good I can get and what else I can learn about myself.
MI-How do you think you are different than anyone out there doing metal today?
Morgan-I think the fact that I am a woman sort of narrows it down to the question are women doing metal. That is a big thing that cuts a lot of people out of the similarity part. Because I am from Canada, I have a different take on things. I think we are just down to earth people, and we really appreciate the fans. Musically again, there is the whole vocal dynamic. There is the fact that we are capable of doing so much and still having it sound like Kittie. We can have a really fast thrash song and then have a beautiful ballad on an album and have both songs still be a part of who Kittie is.
MI-What do you think the greatest thing that ever happened to you was and why do you think it was the greatest thing?
Morgan-I think doing this, playing music, being in a band, being signed. As of late, Jennifer joining the band was probably one of the better things that has happened for this band in a really long time-other than the fact that we have albums out and are able to tour and that sort of thing. Everything is in its place now. We found the missing piece of the puzzle. We are having a better time. Everyone is becoming better players.
MI-Who is your hero and why?
Morgan-That is a really tough question. I look up to a lot of people, but there has never been someone who I want to emulate in particular. I look up to people who are strong enough to speak their mind and be different. My mom, for instance, is different and an outspoken woman. That is the sort of person who I really appreciate -people who speak their mind and express that part of their personality and don’t really give a shit about what people think.
MI-If you could open for anybody, who would it be?
Morgan-Oh wow. We would like to open up for a lot of bands. Right now, we are unable to because of the whole lawsuit thing because the label isn’t giving us tour support. But if I had my wish I would like to do the Summer Sanitarium thing with Metallica. Slayer would be great. Opening for Life of Agony would be awesome. There are tons of bands we would love to open for.
MI-How was it working with Sascha from KMFDM?
Morgan-He was really cool. He is really a laid back kind of guy. We didn’t really necessarily work together so much as I was the musician and he is the expert when it comes to electronic stuff. –It was pretty much like we want something upbeat and here are the tapes, here is the song. Show us your take on it. We gave him the stuff and let him run away with it. I think it turned out great. KMFDM is really innovative.
MI-What are your goals as a musician?
Morgan-I would love to become a better songwriter. I would love to be able to put out a third album along with my band-that would be really great. I would like to be able to just continue to tour. We are really realistic when it comes to our goals. Just to be able to continue is a goal in itself. The songwriter thing definitely. To become a better singer and a songwriter.
MI-If you could pick any label in the world, what would it be?
Morgan-I don’t know. I would like to try a major. I can’t have the ability to say where I would want to go. We would like to try a major. That would be fun.
MI-Tell me what it was like to work with Sharon Osbourne and Ozzfest.
Morgan-It was amazing. Sharon runs a tight ship. She has a vision and knows what she wants and how she is going to get it. It was a blast. They are just a family that likes to have fun. I really could appreciate that, because our families in a way are kind of similar. I felt right at home.
MI-Tell me what you want people to know about you.
Morgan-I am pretty sure I have been truthful and open about everything. I don’t really have a lot of secrets.
MI-What about the world pisses you off the most?
Morgan-In terms of where I am coming from with the music industry, I think the artists need to be compensated a little bit more. We are the ones out here in the trenches busting our asses. The artists deserve more credit and more compensation.
MI-What would you say to a young band starting out in the business?
Morgan-Be innovative first of all. Don’t try to emulate anyone else. Know that you can trust in the band. Be yourself, and don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do, because if you put your mind to it you can do absolutely anything.
MI-What would you tell a young musician going to sign with a label?
Morgan-Do your research. There are books out there that illustrate the workings of the industry. Read your contracts. Make sure you understand the royalties and percentages and all of that stuff. Look into that before you put your name down on paper because once you do that it is final and you become a property. Make sure you do your research.
MI-Where were you when 9-11 happened?
Morgan-We were actually in England. We were set to fly into Boston the next day to do a radio show. Our crew was actually in the air when it happened. We were in England doing an extra day of prep. The crew was in the air, and we were hearing reports on the radio of a planes being hijacked and that sort of thing. Initially there was mass confusion. Nobody really knew what the story was. It was 100% chaos. Everybody was really crying and upset. We had a photo shoot for the cover of Metal Hammer magazine, and it was sort of like hell was going on. It was scary watching it unfold on TV. We were up and awake when it was happening and we watched it all live. Obviously, we couldn’t fly because all of the airports were closed everywhere. We ended up being stranded there for a week, and when we could finally fly home it was very unnerving.
MI-If you could design a memorial for the victims of 9-11, what would it be like?
Morgan-I would like to be serious about it because it is a serious matter, but in a way I would like to build a giant middle finger pointing in the direction of the Middle East.
MI-If a genie came to you and granted you six wishes, what would they be?
Morgan-Make it three. You gotta narrow it down. If it was six, I could own the world. MI-Ok. Three. Morgan-I would wish for my band to be released from the contract with Artemis Records. I would wish for a generous amount of money to be put into my bank account. Two million, I am not out of control. I would save the third wish.
MI-If you were not a musician, what do you think you would be doing with your life right now?
Morgan-Before I left high school, I was gearing toward biological stuff. I really enjoyed the whole forensic side of things. I was looking at that, because that sort of stuff fascinates me.
MI-Tell me about the EP Safe.
Morgan-Safe was released last year, and we decided to release it because we really didn’t have plans for an album. The objective was to really just try something new. We are all about taking risks and experimenting. The song Safe is a really beautiful song, and it is really a standout track on Oracle. We wanted to see what someone else’s take on it would be, and a remix is really a great way to spice up a song and breathe new life into it as well as let somebody present their point of view with the song. We had our dream list of people we would like to do it, and KMFDM had the same merchandise company as us and we decided we would approach them. Sascha was really cool about it, and we were like okay lets do it. We have that version of Safe and we added some live tracks-which is an opportunity for people who haven’t seen the band live to get the idea of what it is like to come to a live show. We wanted to let people know that we aren’t the little girls that people think we are anymore. We are a real band and we are very powerful live. It was recorded at The House of Blues in Anaheim.
MI-What inspires your lyrics?
Morgan-Everything. Mostly reflecting on a lot of things in my life. A lot of how I feel about certain issues comes out. Action and reaction. It is the way the people are in general, and the way that people take certain things in certain ways. –It is just all about my personal take on things and experiences that I have gone through.
MI-Who do you think the greatest rock star of all time is?
Morgan-I’ll say Janice Joplin, because she was the epitome of talent, sexuality, and free spirit. To me, that is what a rock star should be. It doesn’t necessarily mean how many albums you have sold. –She did a lot in a short period of time and left quite an impression. To me, that is what a rock star is all about.
MI-What do you think about the Kurt Cobain diaries being released?
Morgan-I read the Robert Croft book, and it was definitely an interesting read. They guy who heads our record company was Nirvana’s manager, so I could see a lot of different things there. –In a way, it is an insight into the mind of a genius and what he was thinking and feeling. On the other hand, those were his personal feelings and I am sure if he were alive today he wouldn’t release them.
MI-Who do you think presents a more honest news broadcast-America or overseas?
Morgan-I don’t know. I think American news broadcasts are sort of curbed and control what we hear and what we see and what we are being fed. I think the difference became pointed being in England on 9-11. The reports that we were hearing that day were the reports that were released in the next year.
MI-Do you think Bush knew about it before it happened?
Morgan-Yeah. I think there is a good possibility that there were some indications that that was going to happen. I am not saying that they knew when and where things were going to happen, but all of the important people were magically not in the places where they should have been.
MI-What do you think about Bush as a President?
Morgan-I don’t know. I am not an American, so I am not inclined to say. America is a great nation, and I enjoy working here and I enjoy being a visitor but I am from Canada. Things are different there. MI-Tell me from the Canadian point of view then. Morgan-Well, speaking generally from the Canadian and European point of view-and I consider Canada to be more European-the majority don’t like him as a President. I am not a political person. I don’t discuss my views in my music. This is not the economy that I am living in-not that Canada’s is any better. America has not blown up yet, so somebody must be doing something right.
MI-Do you believe in reincarnation?
Morgan-Yes. MI-Who would you like to have been? Morgan-If I was somebody who was poverty stricken and sick in my last life, then this life is supposed to make up for it-so I would like to say that.
MI-If you had a million dollars to donate to any charity, what would it be?
Morgan-I would donate it to a cancer research fund because cancer is a really horrible disease.
MI-If you were stuck on a desert island and could bring three people, on book, one cd, and one bottle of liquor-who and what would you bring?
Morgan-I would bring my sister; my boyfriend and my cat-you know there are three people. I would bring a big ass bottle of red wine. The book would be The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail. As my cd, I would bring Fire Water and Solutions.
MI-If you could have lunch with three people, living or dead, who would it be?
Morgan-Somebody that could pay for a really big bill (laughing).
MI-Where do you see the band five years from now?
Morgan-Hopefully continuing to make music. Continuing to tour. Probably five years from now we will be parked outside the House of Blues in Anaheim. It is where we were last year at this time.
MI-What is your favorite book of all time?
Morgan-1984 by George Orwell.
MI-What is your favorite movie of all time?
Morgan-I’ll say Mommy Dearest. I love watching that movie. It’s great.
MI-What do you think about legalizing pot?
Morgan-I think it could possibly be beneficial in certain instances. In Canada, we are sort of working toward that right now. I have visited Amsterdam and Holland and it doesn’t actually cause problems. People aren’t rioting in the streets. It could be all right. MI-What do you think about legalizing other drugs? Morgan-I think that is silly. It just wouldn’t be a very good idea. Society would crumble.
MI-Do you have a message for your present and future fans?
Morgan-Well, first I would like to thank everyone for sticking by us. We promise to deliver with the third album whenever that happens. We really respect you guys and hope to see you on the road soon. Visit kittierocks.com, because that is our brand new official web site. It has all of the stuff about the band and all of the up to date news. We will see you on the road very soon. Thank you very much, and rock on.
It must be said again. Morgan Lander is arguably the best female metal vocalist out there. Thanks for the interview Morgan. We look forward to seeing you live and catching that third album soon.