Yoga, Hard Rock Zombies, & Doom Metal: Talking with Kittie’s Mercedes Lander

ML:  Hey Robin, how’s it going?

RG:  Good, good, and how are you?

ML:  Good, and by the way I really like the name of your website.

RG:  Oh thank you, it’s a Simpsons quote.

ML:  Oh, okay.

RG:  Yeah, it’s from the Simpsons, but it’s also representative of being a spooky goth kid.   That’s what I did when I was younger.

ML:  Oh yeah, makes sense.  Getting drunk in a graveyard, that’s some normal people stuff.  I used to do that.

RG:  So, to start off with, tell me who you are and what you do?

ML:  Cool, well, my name is Mercedes and I play drums in KiTTiE and also sing and play guitar in a band called the White Swan.

RG:  So, lett’s get right to it and I’m going to nerd out here.  So, you and I are pretty close in age, I think you might be slightly older than I am, but I grew up a young and spooky Canadian angry female and I remember the first time that I heard SPIT, it just blew my fucking mind, and like, I remember you guys so vividly.  I’ve forgotten friends I went to high school with, but I remember SPIT so vividly.  Do you ever think about that, or think about how the music has effected so many young and angry spooky girls?

ML:  Yeah, actually, to be honest with you, it’s something I at least run into once a day, where I either have somebody say that to me or I have somebody reach out and write me a nice message or you know I find out later on – one of my friends is like hey by the way I don’t wanna be a creeper but I used to love your band,  It’s something that kind of effects me daily, it’s really cool too..  Because I’m not from some big metropolitan city, um, we are from a fairly small town in Canada, smaller city, anyways, in comparison to a lot of other places.  It’s pretty small and not a lot of people have come out of London, Ontario.  Mostly hockey players.  It’s interesting, I feel like we were definitely a fluke, we weren’t part of a scene or anything like that.  We weren’t part of Toronto’s scene, and we didn’t come from a big city so we didn’t have that kind of way of reaching the masses.  We just kind of..  you know, we ended up in the right place at the right time and got lucky.  It’s very interesting that still to this day I get so many people who are like “Oh, I love your band!” or even “Hey, you gave me..  you changed my life”.  To me that is mind blowing.

RG:  Yeah, absolutely.  I remember so specifically this one article about you guys from back in the day and it detailed all the piercings and tattoos you guys had and I was like oh they’re so cool.  And it also detailed how you guys had bracelet collections, from gifts given by fans..  so right after that I started my own bracelet collection, and yeah that’s how nerdy we are going to get, that’s where we are going.  

ML:  Oh perfect, this sounds like it’s going to be the best interview ever.

RG:  So do you think there’s still a place in music for angry women, and yes I understand that’s a bit of a sexist question..

ML:  I think that nowadays it’s not necessarily something that’s mainstream, it’s harder to come by I feel like.  You can’t just open a magazinee and be like oh, there’s KiTTiE or oh there’s Courtney Love.  You don’t have that now.  It’s more or less, more underground, you really have to search for that type of music now.  Of course, though, there’s going to be a place for it, because there’s always going to be young teen girls that don’t fit in.

RG:  Totally, that was a very good answer.

ML:  Oh, thank you, every now and then my brain works.

RG:  So, tell me about Origins/Evolutions, I watched it the other night, I loved it.  I was very excited to see it, and what led you guys to want to make a documentary?

ML:  Uh, we were really uh, kinda toying with the idea for quite a while.  We never really talked about things that went on behind the scenes and we felt like it was time after the last tour that we did, that it was time for us to as things started to wind down a little bit, for a number of reasons, and we felt like it was a good idea to think about thanking all of the people that stuck by us for all those years.  It was a pretty long, long go there, we were a band for a really long time, and we wanted to really thank people, and it just kind of started off with that and then just spiralled out of control.

RG:  It was such a good documentary and I got to watch it with my partner and he hadn’t been a KiTTiE fan, obviously he grew up knowing about KiTTiE, having heard the music, but he was more of an outsider, and he enjoyed the film as well.

ML:  So that was definitly a dialogue we had with Rob a lot of the time, where we wanted to make sure that we had, and weren’t just making a movie for the fans, that we were making a movie to explain some things about the music industry and have a dialogue about what it’s like to be kind of an outsider in the music industry and what it’s like.  We wanted a different dialogue and we wanted different people to be able to like the film.  The die hard KiTTiE fan is obviously going to be able to come away from the film and they’re going to like it, I guess they’re going to like it, but, who knows right?  I think it’s got enough content in there for the diehard fan, and I think there’s enough in there for a random person who’s never heard of the band to pop it on and come away liking it.  That’s kind of what we wanted to do.  We wanted to make it for everyone.

RG:  It definitely read that way, and it was also a very well made documentary.

ML:  That’s all Rob.  Rob is pretty bomb.  And on top of that too, we had all this footage that was just kind of sitting around and you know what better way to use that footage, because it was just going to sit and rot in my basement for the rest of my life if I didn’t put it to use right?

RG:  Was it difficult to sift through that footage, the flyers, and articles, old memories and what not?

ML:  I’m going to tell you a secret, I actually watched every tape that we had and that was probably a couple hundred.  All the VHS, all the digital Hi-8s, all the digital tape, I watched everything, which is crazy right?  So, you know, I’d usually stay up til 2 or 3 in the morning and then have to get up to go work the next morning.  It was almost like a therapeutic thing almost, you know, to sit there and watch everything.  To sift through it all, there was a lot of things.  At one point Morgan and I were thinking that we would give Rob some time codes but by the end of it and when we got everything switched over to digital, we just told Rob to have fun and that we trusted him.  There was definitely a lot of trust put into Rob, because A) he’s from London, he’s from our hometown, and we didn’t really know him beforehand but he went to school with Trish, he was maybe a couple years older than her.  We actually originally had someone else who was maybe going to do the documentary for us and that didn’t end up working out, so a year in we switched directors, which is why it took so long to put everything together.  We obviously made the right choice and things happen for a reason and everything turned out exactly how we wanted it to.

 

RG:  Some previous members didn’t participate in the documentary, was that a bit disappointing for you guys?

ML:  Well obviously we wanted everyone to be able to come and say their piece or what not but at the same time it is what it is, it wasn’t any hard feelings or anything like that.  Sometimes, you just can’t make it work.  And it’s not like they’re not in the documentary, it’s just that they don’t have an updated interview.  At the very least they’re in there, and you know, no hard feelings.  Sometimes that kind of stuff just doesn’t work out.

RG:  Well sometimes life gets in the way right?

ML:  Oh of course, especially the older you get too.

RG:  You had a big reunion show with most of the past members of KiTTiE, what was that like to get everyone together?

ML:  It was a lot of fun.  Morgan and I got to the venue super early, loaded in all the gear and everything like that, and it was really cool, as we were setting up people started to show up, and Tanya lives right around to the corner, so I see her a lot.  Her and Rob are engaged, which is another kind of weird fun fact about this documentary.  Rob and Tanya are engaged and expecting their first child together,

RG:  It’s funny how that stuff works out.

ML:  Yeah its really cool, and everyone started showing up and it was just really nice  to see everybody, because I don’t think we have all been in the same room like that.  Obviously we were missing some people, and some for obvious reasons and stuff like that, but it was really cool to think that at some point in time that you know..  I never thought this was going to happen, I never thought this would happen at all.  I mean, Jennifer lives in New York, people travelled quite a far ways to come, and people travelled too to see the show, and it was definitely really a great experience to have everyone in the same room and this close, to have this many KiTTiE members in the same room, past and present.

RG:  So, looking back on all of this, is there anything you’d change if you could?

ML:  You mean the documentary or?

RG:  The whole thing, KiTTiE, everything up to this point.

ML:  Well if I could go back in time with the knowledge I have now, I’d change a bunch but if not then no, I wouldn’t change anything.  I like where I’m at right now, and obviously I had to go through all those steps to get here.  If I had the knowledge I had now, then of course there’s others things I could change, things I would say to people, but right now, then no.  There’s no time machines yet.

RG:  No, and hindsight is always 20/20, right?

ML:  Yeah.

RG:  So when you aren’t playing music, you’re a real estate agent…

ML:  No, no, I don’t sell real estate anymore.  I just now buy houses and make them pretty.

RG:  Oh you’re like flipping them then?

ML:  That was the whole kind of reason why I got my license, was to start doing that.  I actually let my license lapse a while ago, just because to be honest with you.  Well, with London, the housing market is pretty crazy now, but I enjoy more of the work aspect of it, if that makes sense.

RG:  The more hands on type of stuff?

ML:  Yeah, that’s what I like to do now for fun.

RG:  Oh okay -what was it like to lead that kind of double life?

ML:  Well, I’ve always worked, I’ve always had a job when I came home.  The first job that I had, I was 18 and it was right after Oracle came out, and when we would be home I would go work at a record store.  I have a little bit of a problem..  I have to keep busy all the time.

RG:  Oh I’m the same way.  Totally the same way.  I totally understand.

ML:  Well I don’t know if it’s a problem, some people think it is.  I’ve had a lot of jobs.  I worked at a record store for a long time.  I was a bar tender for eight years, and I worked at about six thousand different bars here in town.  I’m a yoga instructor as well and I’ve been teaching yoga for ages.  I sold real estate for a while, and I also work for fitness companies, and then yeah I buy houses, one at a time though.

RG:  I definitely hear you about needing to stay busy.  Idle hands are the devil’s playpen.  So on being a yoga instructor, what’s the most valuable thing you have gotten from practice?

ML:  To slow down.  That’s literally the one thing that challenges me every day and makes me stop and think and stuff like that, just to slow down, and on top of that too, I enjoy the interaction I have with people.  I enjoy interacting with people and I do that on a daily basis, I teach like ten, twelve hours a week right.  So, it’s nice, I get that teaching and then I go and chat with people, and it’s like chatting with people after a show, except less weird questions, well, sometimes there’s weird questions.  It’s just another outlet to be creative, and I really like the fact that I can do whatever I want and be creative with it and do whatever I want and people will enjoy it and take something away from that.

RG:  Last year you released the first White Swan EP, how does White Swan differ from KiTTiE?  What led you down the doomy /stonery metal?

ML:  I was in a band called the Alcohollys and I played drums for that band, and our singer ended up having a baby and things started to slow down after that.  Right after she got pregnant, and while she was pregnant obviously.  Kyra, the bass player for the Alcohollys was really bored and so was I and I go through these crazy writing spells where I write 16-20 songs in a month and then I won’t write anything for three months and then I will go and write ten songs, and then I won’t do anything..  Anyways, I had all these songs that were super slow and doomy and I was like hey Kyra you wanna start another band and she was like “Absolutely!”  I played drums for Kyra’s solo project a while back and so we ended up getting the guitar player Shane who plays on all her solo stuff, and we actually didn’t play a show or all of that, we just went into the studio, spent a bunch of time demoing the songs and then recorded them and that was our first EP Anubis.  And after that we found our live drummer and we have had like eight hundred live drummers and then that’s kind of where we are at now.  Last year we put out our second EP the White, and obviously we try to keep things really super grass roots.  It’s another outlet.  I like that people are really enjoying this band and it’s so different from anything else that I’ve ever done before.  There’s weird similarities of course too.  Probably just listening to it.  Obviously, I’m sure you can tell it’s me writing those songs.  It’s really nice to have that different kind of outlet as well.

RG:  You have a beautiful singing voice as well.

ML:  Thanks, I always felt it was kinda weird.

RG:  Nope, not even a bit.  I really loved the White, your new EP.  I’m really interested in the resurgence of that kind of doomy, almost psychedelic stonery – White Swan, Ides of Gemini, that very ethereal kind of sound, it’s very cool.

ML:  It’s a great outlet for me and I get to do something completely different.  I like to challenge myself and do different things, right.  Totally taking a left hand turn to play guitar and try singing is totally a jump.

RG:  So, what’s something you’d say to someone just starting out in music right now, what’s something you wish someone had said to you when you guys just started?

ML:  That’s so hard because things are so different right now, but always trust your instinct and trust no one but yourself.

RG:  That’s fair.  So what’s some music you’ve currently been listening to?

ML:  To be honest with you I’m currently such a huge classic rock person, I always have been.  I listen to a lot of classic rock, I’m trying to think of what else I’ve been listening to lately.  Lots of Torch, I love that band.  I haven’t really found any new bands where I’m like, “Oh I love this band”, I’ve kind of been going through a new band dry spell.  But for the most part I’ve just been revisiting all the good old stuff, like..  lots of doom, lots of Type O Negative.  I was at the gym the other day squatting to Type O Negative.

RG:  Oh totally, I have October Rust in my car right now, I found it at a thrift store so I’ve been with you on that one.

ML:  Pete Steele is the bomb.  A friend of mine’s band put out a record a couple years ago and it’s actually on my yoga playlist, a band called Copeland.  Love them.  Definitely not heavy at all.  Every once in a while, you know..  I haven’t found a lot of new music that I think is awesome.  But I haven’t been looking, really.

RG:  What’s in the future for KiTTiE?  Do you have plans to record more music or tour again?

ML:  Well that kind of depends on what everyone wants to do.  I think if we were to do anything, it would be, where I dunno if we would go out as a four piece, if it were to happen I think we would want to do the big thing with the whole band, like we did in London, but that would involve so much planning and logistics and Morgan and I are always going to be jamming together so you never know what will happen, right?

RG:  Okay so we are just going to kind of wrap it up, so had been doing the kind of serious metal and documentary questions, so we will do a little game to get things kind of ended on a bit of a lighter tone.  We do this, it’s called the Lightning Round, and I’m going to give you two options and you pick one.

ML:  Uh oh.  Just so you know, I have a warped mind.

RG:  Love it.  So, Puppies or Kitties?

ML:  Kitties.

RG:  Daffodils or daisies?

ML:  Oh I don’t like flowers

RG:  That’s fair.  Coffee or tea?

ML:  Coffee.

RG:  Rainy days or sunny days?

ML:  Sunny days.

RG:  Black metal or death metal?

ML:  Oh, death metal for sure, black metal nope.

RG:  Nu metal or metal core?

ML:  Metalcore.

RG:  Hot Topic back in the day or now?

ML:  Hot Topic back in the day, obviously.

RG:  Digital or analog?

ML:  Analog.  Still to this day I record my drums on analog.  On tape.  The only album that hasn’t been like that is In The Black.

RG:  Unsolved Mysteries or America’s Most Wanted?

ML:  Unsolved Mysteries.  By the way Morgan is obsessed.

RG:  I recently found out the whole series is on Amazon Prime and I’ve been scaring myself watching it all and it was really cool to see Morgan’s Unsolved Mysteries collection in the documentary.

ML:  That theme song used to make Morgan and I cry when we were kids.

RG:  Goth or punk?

ML:  Goth, obviously.

RG:  Black Sabbath or Motorhead?

ML:  Black Sabbath.

RG:  Whiskey or beer?

ML:  Beer.  If you asked me fifteen years ago I would have said whiskey, I’m old now.

RG:  Haunted house movie or slasher?

ML:  Slasher.

RG:  Smoking weed or eating it?

ML:  Oh god, if I’m going to do it, I’m going to smoke it, because if I eat it, I go crazy.

RG:  So our last question is themed.  Because we are called Drunk in a Graveyard, our website focuses on horror movies, heavy metal, and getting drunk and stoned with our friends, and I know that you are a horror fan based on your Jason tattoo, so with that in mind, what horror movie would you pick to watch and what is the intoxicant of choice that you would pair with it?  It’s kind of like a food and a wine pairing.

ML:  Oh okay, that’s really cool.  I would to kind of, go with the music theme of this interview I’m going to pick… uhh it’s so hard, because there’s actually two movies I’m thinking of right now and it’s so hard because they are both equally terrible.

RG:  Do a double feature!

ML:  Is it okay if we do a double feature?  Okay.  So first feature is Hard Rock Zombies and I think we would be drinking like a German style beer or something like that because it’s got such weird stuff in it.  The second feature would be Terror On Tour and I feel like because the band in the movie is called the Clowns, that they definitely would be more of a whiskey and scotch kind of drinking band.  Jack Daniels chugging even.  So if you haven’t seen those movies, I highly recommend them.  They’re terrible.

RG:  Well thank you very much, you’re in the Drunk in a Graveyard history books as our second double feature.

ML:  Oh, I was hoping we would be the first.  Who was the first?

RG:  It actually only happened yesterday and that was Phil Anselmo from DOWN/Pantera, etc.

ML:  Oh I bet he had some good movies.

RG:  He had movies, food pairings, and specific wines, it was out of control.  It’s on the graveyard so please go have a look.

ML:  Oh absolutely.

RG:  Well thank you for spending some time with me.

ML:  Oh you’re welcome.  Cheers!

Thank you very much to Mercedes for talking with me. This was truly an honor.
You can find Kittie online on their Official Site, twitter, Facebook, and instagram.

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You can find me (Robin) on twitter, and on instagram.

Be sure to like Drunk in a Graveyard on facebook, Instagram, and on Twitter to stay up to date with our ridiculous ramblings.

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