words: Daniel Hughes
During the past 12 years as a band, Kitten Forever has proved time and time again that they are a force to be reckoned with. Consisting of members; Laura Larson, Corrie Harrigan, and Liz Elton, Kitten Forever will be self-releasing Semi-Permanent, their fourth full length album on May 4th, on their very own Rat Queen Records, label. With each previous endeavor, KF has interwoven punk, with catchy pop hooks, that guarantees you'll find the track to be stuck in your head. This album delivers on what we have come to expect from KF, and much more. Semi-Permanent, recorded by Minneapolis' Matt Castore, dishes out catchy melodies, and might be KF's most punk album yet, as demonstrated by the first single off the album, "Hell Hole". "Hell Hole" is a hard driving punk anthem, with an explosive karaoke style video to match it. The brand new video, shot and directed by Kitten Forever, and edited by KF's own Liz Elton, feels like it might just burn away the rest of the long Minnesota winter. I was lucky to get a chance to sit down with Kitten Forever and discuss their history as a band, and their new album, Semi-Permanent.
The Grey Estates: Can you tell me a bit about the video for this first single, Hell Hole?
KF - Corrie Harrigan: Well, aside from the Temple music video and the Double Disco music video, we've done all of our own videos before. We shoot them ourselves, Liz edits them. Liz does the majority of the work on the videos.
KF - Liz Elton: But I feel like we all conceptualize it together, and shoot it, kind of like... we've never had someone help us shoot a [self directed] video. It's the three of us operating a camera, when the other person is in front of it, so they're made collaboratively.
KF - CH: For the most part we're doing them ourselves, and this one is no different. I think we always have this weird thing going on, where with most of our albums lately, since we've started switching instruments, we're trying to make a music video for each of us. For a song that each of us sings on, and this time we're starting with one of Liz's songs. But the Hell Hole conception, I think, a lot of the aethstetic of this record we were trying to move away from things we had done previously, and move into more things that don't seem like something we would do. I think that’s easy for us to say that it seems that way, but I think a lot of people will watch the video and say, "Of course that's a Kitten Forever video, there's a Beanie Baby in it."
What are each of your favorite tracks off Semi-Permanent?
KF - Laura Larson: I know Sour Cherries is absolutely one of mine. Sour Cherries, and Pinky Swear are my two favorite, but I always really like the ones where we do our "original lineup," where Liz is writing the lyrics, Corrie's on drums, and I'm playing bass, because I feel like we write in this very specific style, and it comes across as us feeling very comfortable and confident in what we're doing. Even though, we've been switching instruments for years now, I still think that the way we write in that original lineup, I feel like, takes the songs to this weird other level of exciting for me. Oh, and No Man's Land is one of my favorites, that's super fun to play.
KF - CH: Sour Cherries is one of my favorite ones too, but it's my most hated one to play on the new record. It's really hard. It's funny, because it is an original lineup one, and so sometimes when we do the original lineup stuff now, I always feel like I have to write drum parts that are things I've never done before, to push myself more. With Sour Cherries, its not necessarily something I've never done before. It's a pretty easy drumbeat, but it's also hard. It's really fun to play, but really exhausting. I think my favorite songs are maybe Sour Cherries, and I really like Air Dry.
KF - LE: I was gonna say Air Dry, is one of my favorite ones to play, because it's always really scary to play. It feels like if I mess up, it's gonna be bad.
You previously re-released Pressure, as a cassette, on Rat Queen Records, and are now putting out Semi-Permanent on Rat Queen Records. Can you tell me more about the label and the future of it?
KF - LE: Well, Rat Queen Records is born out of the need for the three of us to have a place to put all of our projects we've worked on, or will work on, and so it's not like a label, in the sense that we're actively putting out work by other artists, but exists to showcase things we have done or will do.
KF - CH: I think at some point, we started talking about wanting to have some kind of archival project, where we could be housing previous projects that we've worked on, and have it in one consolidated spot, that’s not the corner of my basement, that has piles of all the old tapes and CDs we've put out. Essentially it exists to archive our own personal history.
Listening to Semi-Permanent, it definitely has the Kitten Forever signature to it, but I personally feel like it might be your most punk album yet.
KF - CH: I think I thought it was gonna be the poppiest thing we'd ever done.
KF - LE: I feel like, we've always identified as a punk band because we came out of basements, and listening to punk music, but when you listen to those early things like Born Ready, or Magical Realism, those aren't really like punk songs. They're like weird homemade pop music or something. It's like a funny, different thing that only sounds punk, if you listen to it through the lense of knowing the background of where we're coming from.
KF - LE: I feel like Pressure, after the fact, to us, felt super poppy, and like we wrote a bunch of fun dance songs. 7 Hearts was like a reaction to Pressure, and feels kind of heavy and dark.
KF - CH: I feel like we had a lot of people say that album felt darker, but they didn't say more punk.
KF - LE: Semi-Permanent came out of this, kind of... Like, it wasn't intentionally made, which is also kind of how Pressure started, where it was like, "Let's see what happens, and go with it," not that 7 Hearts is any worse, for any reason.
KF - CH: It was more organic, whereas 7 Hearts was a little more intentional.
KF - LL: I think when we were recording Semi-Permanent, too, we were really focused on making the album sound as good as possible, and if that means we're doing things to it that we couldn't necessarily do live, or replicate at a live show, we put a lot into it. We did a little bit of that on 7 Hearts, like doubling up the bass line, but I feel like we went into it a bit more intentionally this time, and really focused on what we can do to beef up the sound. In a way it's kind of not punk at all, because it eliminates that whole hard and fast, one and done sort of thing, but it also created that other layer of heaviness that adds to a punk quality of it.
KF - CH: I definitely felt like, when we finished this record, I remember saying, "This is so poppy, is it embarrassing?" But then I played it for my roomate, Alex, who's in a band, Tiffani, which is a pretty heavy punk band, and she was like, "Nah, dude. This is a punk record..."
Kitten Forever Tour Dates:
5.03 - Semi-Permanent Tape Release @ Loring Bar
5.04 - Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
5.05 - Omaha, NE @ The Pet Shop
5.06 - Kansas City, MO @ Kum and Go
5.07 - Oklahoma City, OK @ Warehouse B
5.08 - Springfield, MO @ The Outlander
5.09 - Memphis, TN @ Lamplighter
5.10 - St Louis, MO @ Bonerville
5.11 - Chicago, IL @ Happy Gallery
5.12 - Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon