A Kittenhead Exclusive
By: Matthew MacDermant
Recently, I had a conversation with Kivi from Kittenhead; a raw lo-fi cadre of badass rockers dropping in with one brilliant track after another about things that matter. Fresh off their set at Pride Festival, where the band received a rousing response, Kivi was very enthusiastic about Kittenhead’s present and future. I’m grateful to have shared a bit of that enthusiasm with her.
The band has serious presence. Their songs make you move, but they also make you think. Their content is stellar and quite broad. There are political anthems, social commentaries, love songs, thrashy garage songs, and just plain fun songs. As Kivi said, “I play music because it brings joy to my life. I am devoted to music, creativity, and action.” Kittenhead gives us the best of both ends of the spectrum. They are a group that simply rocks, producing what people often dub, “music for music’s sake.” Yet, they are really saying something with their music beyond it fueling mosh pits and crowd surfing. Kivi, Victoria, Dd, and Danny really are saying something as a band. Their work is a statement. There is this well-balanced blending of the carefree and the deep with them that escapes many groups. It’s a feat to pull off and they nail it.
I asked Kivi about that statement and about what Kittenhead stands for, fights for, and hopes to build. She said, first and foremost, “We are leftists,” and as such, “we fight for people over profit, the dignity and equality of all people, the health of our environment, the right to food, justice, healthcare…” We fight adamantly against, “the war on women, the war on the working class, the war on all marginalized people.” She spoke about the fear and judgement that is driving us apart and pushing us down, the mechanisms of control, and the constant violations and violence we see all around us. There are many songs which illustrate these points and Kivi mentioned a few of them.
On the album “We’re Here,” Kittenhead wrote a song called “Angel” which speaks to the struggle of everyday people trying to make it in a system completely stacked against them. The lyrics are all about the struggle of working people just trying to make ends meet. The whole society is “built on the workers bones” and “now they want your soul.” This speaks to the alienation all of us working people feel day in and day out. The process of making profit with our body, mind, and soul is dehumanizing and Kittenhead is speaking out for a world without exploitation, where each person can live in dignity as human being instead of as an overworked and underpaid part in a monolithic machine.
“Tinman” is a song that talks about the incredible violence in our society. There is so much hate, racism, homophobia that pervades everyday life even though legal protections have long since been put into place. There is still so much fear mongering and still so many marginalized people painted as criminals or as threats to some mythological American way of life. We can’t open our news feeds without seeing yet another victim of this violence. Kivi told me that the inspiration for the song came from the brutal beating, torture, and ultimately murder of Matthew Shepard, who when found was described as appearing like a scarecrow. Tinman being the most famous scarecrow, perhaps of all time, is what I surmise gave rise to the song’s name. Like many of Kittenhead’s other tracks, “Tinman” packs a serious punch. It is raw, emotional, eye-opening. I also love the well-placed rap track added to this song. It really hits the spot.
“Not Your Bitch” is one of mine and so many other peoples’ favorite Kittenhead tracks. It’s a refreshingly in your face punk anthem with great backing and killer lyrics. It covers the gamut of bullshit that women have to deal with everyday, from mansplaining to objectification to the plain disregard for female voices on any subject. It’s both a political and social mantra (I am not your bitch, I’m a full actualized human being) and also an incredibly fun, dancy, mosh-pit sing along. NYB just gets in your head, has you humming the tune to yourself, while also keeping your head shaking in agreement with the resistance to patriarchy in modern culture. When I inquired about this further in my interview with Kivi, she pointed out to me that, yes, it is certainly about the abuses and inequities that women face, but that it also applies to people of any identity anywhere. In our society, each of us is made to feel like someone’s bitch. People are constantly putting themselves on a pedestal, standing above us, and trying to dominate us. It is an anthem against all types of hierarchy. Either way, I’m on board. Even in such cases where I am not directly oppressed, I agree fully that “an injury to one is an injury to all.” Amazing Song!
Kittenhead is extremely talented. They showcase so many different styles of music, so many lyrical forms, and they have such a badass style. It is exciting to see their rise as one of Southern California’s coolest punk rock bands. Now that a full length album is out and their touring regularly, I have a feeling we’ll start to hear a lot more about them, see them play more festivals, and generally broaden their audience to a national following. As a new fan from the opposite coast, I hope this to be the case. Philadelphia, New York, DC are all fertile ground for Kittenhead’s raw, in your face, fun, truth-speaking style. Keep putting out the tracks. This stuff is genius.