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A Conversation With Mercedes Lander
by
Samuel Barker
January 17, 2001

Kittie (Front to Back: Mercedes Lander, Morgan Lander, and Talena Atfield

Samuel Barker: Howís the tour been going, anything interesting happen thus far?

Mercedes Lander: Itís been awesome so far. Weíve been playing at some pretty awesome places. Weíve been having a lot of fun. Thatís about it, thatís what itís all about. Meeting awesome people.

Samuel: Have you enjoyed the bands that have come out on this tour to play with you all?

Mercedes: Oh yeah, definitely. Theyíre all really cool people and definitely very good musicians.

Samuel: After playing all the large tours, like Ozzfest, has it been nice to get back to the more intimate settings of club gigs?

Mercedes: Yeah, definitely. Weíre not playing really small places, but weíre not playing really big places, and those are the kinds of places we like to play. Theyíre intimate, but you can fit a lot of people into them.

Samuel: Oracle just came out in November, and itís definitely a step forward, was it a conscious effort to move forward or just a natural maturing of the band?

Mercedes: Oh yeah, definitely. Thatís what has been happening. With Spit it had been six years since we had written anything, a lot of the material is really old on Spit. We worked on those songs for a very long time and we just perfected those songs, and when it came time to write Oracle, everything shot out in five month.

Samuel: Did it help to have a period where all you did was concentrate on writing?

Mercedes: I donít know. Weíre kind of, sometimes, if you sit down to write something, itís not going to come out. You just start jamming, thatís the way things happen with us. Itís not a conscious effort usually.

Samuel: I notice there are a lot of overlaying vocals and multiple guitar parts on this album, was the band already a three-piece when recording began?

Mercedes: Yes.

Samuel: On this tour, is it just the three of you, or do you have anyone else playing with you on guitar?

Mercedes: There are three of us plus the touring guitar player.

Samuel: Is the band looking to add a "real" fourth member?

Mercedes: Weíre not sure yet. We havenít really decided. Whatever happens will happen. Weíre happy with the way things are going.

Samuel: So as long as itís going good, donít mess with it?

Mercedes: Yep.

Samuel: Playing on a tour like Ozzfest with a lot of bands you grew up listening to, is it fun to share the stage with them and get to meet them? Mercedes: Oh, definitely. Ozzfest is probably the most memorable thing about my career so far. We definitely had a lot of fun. Itís like a big band summer camp. Everybody hangs out with each other and everybody was really cool. It was a lot of fun. We got to meet Ozzy, that was awesome. Got to hang out with Pantera a lot, that was awesome too.

Samuel: As you said, Spit being a lot of your first songs, and this album had a definite progression in musicianship, was this the first project for all of you?

Mercedes: For Morgan and I, this is our first band. For Talena, this is her second. She used to play drums in another band in our hometown. So, yeah, this is my personal only project right now and in the past. Itís a lot of fun. Itís definitely progressed a lot, and itís helped we are all focused on this one band.

Samuel: The album was released in November, but when did all of you write and record the material?

Mercedes: We wrote for five months in...we got home in February and wrote until June, and went into the recording studio in July and it took two and a half weeks to record the CD.

Samuel: Since itís now been a while since Oracle was written, has their been any songwriting on the road?

Mercedes: You know what? We canít write on the road at all. Weíve tried to before and we just suck at it. Because we donít have a recording studio in our back lounge. We donít have that kind of money. Writing on the road is definitely is not for us. Having the comfort of home, just to be there and to write there, itís a familiar atmosphere, itís the same place weíve been writing for...ever, as long as this band has existed. Itís definitely the level of comfort we have with it.

Samuel: With the lyrics, do all of you write them?

Mercedes: Morgan just does.

Samuel: I was wondering, because everything on this album seemed a bit more edgy and the vocals were a lot harsher.

Mercedes: Definitely. I think that also comes with Morgan being more comfortable with her vocal range and her lyrical content or what not.

Samuel: Was it every hard for this band, especially in the states, with you having two strikes against you, a) youíre female and b) youíre Canadian? Did bands ever give you a little more pressure?

Mercedes: No, not really. I think, if anything, weíve had problems with the media and the press. Those are the only people who have ever given us problems really. There have been isolated incidents, very isolated, where we have had problems with people, our peers in this business, and thatís okay, because theyíre idiots. So, the only real problem weíve ever had has been with the press. I think people understand and respect us because weíve worked so goddamn hard to get where weíve gone.

Samuel: I know a lot of people have lost money after seeing all the people Kittie has played with and after being on Ozzfest, that you didnít add a DJ or do anything crazy. How important is it to this band to stick to the roots of metal?

Mercedes: I think metal is definitely for us. Itís our kind of music, itís what we gravitate towards, itís what we like. I donít think becoming the next Limp Bizkit is for us, and definitely not our idea of fun.

Samuel: What led to you getting into metal? Itís never really been the most accessable music to the young music fan.

Mercedes: I think with our upbringing, our upbringing had a lot to do with music my parents listened to. Also, with Talenaís parents, they all listen to the same kind of music. Itís just inevitable, that if your parents listen to heavier music like KISS, AC/DC, and Van Halen, youíre going to gravitate towards that at a younger age.

Samuel: Were your parents very musical? With you and Morgan both being musically inclined, were they?

Mercedes: No, my parents are musically retarded. I think I get it from one of my grandparents, heís a musical genius, he can pick up any instrument and play it. So, thatís kinda cool. I think it skipped a generation though.

Samuel: After you wrap up this headlining tour, do you have any plans to anything else after that?

Mercedes: Well, hopefully this year weíll get to do Ozzfest, because weíd really love to do it again. Itís amazing, we had a lot of fun last time we did it. We would have a lot of fun doing this year as well. But there is always other things we could do. Itíd be great to do Ozzfest, I would really like to. I think weíre going to tour for about two years on this.

Samuel: Right, I saw after Spit that you all toured for a really long time, does it ever get tedious spending that much time on the road?

Mercedes: No, not really. If anything, I think this is where Iím supposed to be. I enjoy it to itís fullest extent. Touring is something that I enjoy doing and it makes me happy. And, I donít like being at home. At least not for extended periods of time. When we wrote the album I was pulling my hair out. We had few weeks off before we started writing and I was calling all my friends up and being like ĎCan I come out on the road with you and tech?...You donít have to pay me.í

Samuel: So you enjoy getting out on the road and seeing everything?

Mercedes: Oh yeah, definitely, itís great.

Samuel: Do you have any European tours coming up.

Mercedes: In February weíre heading back to Europe for the fourth time. We were just there in August and September. That was great.

Samuel: Is the reception over there as good as in the states?

Mercedes: Oh yeah. I think with Europe, people live what they listen to. Itís all about heavy metal over there in places like Sweden, Norway, people are crazy about heavy metal. People over there are less fickle and more die hard. You can tell.

Samuel: Yeah, over here weíre always watching the passing of trends.

Mercedes: Definitely.

Samuel: One of the main complaints people have about being on the road is missing their families, does it help having Morgan on the road with you?

Mercedes: Yeah.

Samuel: Well, I have a brother when we lived together we fought a lot and argued constantly.

Mercedes: I get along with Morgan really well. I know people in other bands, when they find out weíre sisters, theyíre like ĎDo you fight a lot?í and Iím like ĎNo.í Then theyíre like ĎIf my brother was on the road with me, Iíd fucking kill him.í

Samuel: Right, for most people their siblings are their arch-nemesis.

Mercedes: Yeah, I donít get that. I donít know. Iíve never had a problem with that.

Samuel: Coming from Canada, are there a lot of bands that people down here havenít heard of, but should?

Mercedes: No.

Samuel: (laughs)

Mercedes: (laughs) Canada is definitely...have you ever heard of the band Our Lady Peace?

Samuel: Yeah.

Mercedes: Okay, theyíre Canadian. A lot of bands sound like Our Lady Peace there. There are some metal bands there, but itís all underground. No labels or really small labels in Canada. Where Iím from, thereís a really, really, really big punk rock scene and a thereís a really big hardcore scene.

Samuel: Well, hardcore today is pretty metal.

Mercedes: Yeah, I love hardcore though.

Samuel: Anything youíd like to add?

Mercedes: I donít know, I canít really think of anything right now.

Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.

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