Throughout your life you are destined to fall in love with a variety of different women (or men), some are blonde, brunette and red heads, most of the time it's not really love, sometimes its lust, other times its like my brother said "funny w(h)ere things wanna go,"
Music is the same, throughtout our lives for one reason or another we fall in love with bands, my first love was Smashing Pumpkins, who channelled for me all the teenage angst when no other bands could. But my real teenage music affair where bands in Norwich, most importantly Bearsuit (who I will talk in another one of the Why I Loved...) and KaitO. For me at one point these bands were all far more cooler than the biggest rock stars in the world and far more important and scary, they obviously weren't in actual fact scary but I was massively in love with the Norwich Scene when I first heard these bands via radio/early blogs from the age of 14.
KaitO got me into so many bands that I love from personal recommendations to the bands I saw them play with, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Liars, Radio 4, Le Tigre. I got a copy of their debut album through SpinART "You've seen us... You must have seen us..." (and I certainly did see them, by my count at least thirty times). While I'd been too young for brit pop, kraut rock and not cool enough for techno parties, noise bands and guitar pedals, KaitO were the perfect starting ground for how much my music taste would be shaped through those formative years of record buying, poppy enough to be danceable, noisy enough to be daring, cool as fuck and from Norwich! I would still now pay a small fortune to have a copy of the never released third album which I travelled miles to see them play songs from even after I moved to Brighton for University in 2005.
The band in my opinion never receieved the critical acclaim/popular fanbase to which they obviously deserved and I still hope that in 20 plus years time another band (in a way that Franz Ferdinard lead to a re-release of the Fire Engines) will credit KaitO as a huge influence in their sound, they certainly are/were a huge influence in my adopted sound. The band split in 2006 and went onto different projects (one of which Factory Floor have received a fair amount of press recently and fulfiled my teenage dream of a bigger audience when they were referenced in the NME Recently). Unike a lot of bands and girls I've loved in my lifetime, KaitO never stopped being my band and I'm still immensely proud that I had a (very little) part of it. Essentially KaitO were way before their time and have already been recreated and ripped off by a hundred bands as diverse as Bloc Party, Klaxons through to Sleigh Bells and the new generation of girl lead pop noise bands.
Check Out Their Debut album You've Seen Us You Must Have Seen Us or it's follow up Band Red released on Mute (2004)
Below is a interview I did as a 16 year old for the fanzine I was writing for at the time...
KaitO have been around for a long time as Nikki will say later in our interview but is it hasn’t been until recently that KaitO have started to get the attention over here they deserve. For KaitO endless touring of the US has seen them because a famed band in the US Underground receiving similar plaudits as US underground darlings Pretty Girls Make Graves. But Over Here the Release of their 2nd Album “Band Red” was delayed in this country by nearly a year, meaning that fans had to import the album from the states just to hear it. Eventually after years of struggling, touring the US and sleeping on people’s floors, KaitO finally got a record label deal here on Blast First/Mute, a major independent with ties to the infamous Rough trade. The Album received critical applause that resulted in there being an actual buzz about the band for the first time. We spoke to the band, Nikki Colk (Vocals/Guitar) Gemma Cullingford (Bass/Vocals) Dave Lake (Guitars/Vocals) and Dee Quantrill (Drums/Vocals) about the band without asking about where the name KaitO comes from, so if you want to know the answer, ask them yourselves.
But in order for those of you who have never heard of KaitO here is some background knowledge, but you really should know the story now.
“We kinda formed in 1997, and the other two (Dee and Gemma) came in 1998/99 or 1997, did you?” Turns to Gemma who nods, “That’s when it really started to get our arse moving into gear.
“I Knew Dave from our home town and we just got together cause you know in the country you need something to do, and we just met these two from the “Norwich Band Scene,” not any great historical story like meeting on the tube.
“We had been through a couple of bass players and drummers, we just gelled together.”
Where there any changes to the band when Gemma and Dee Joined?
“It Just Felt Right” Nikki Replies
“I’ll cover my ears, just be honest.” Gemma Jokes which makes everyone titter.
“When you do work with musicians some bass players…”
“Want to be guitarists” ends Gemma
“Gemma played Guitar, but then she took up Bass and she kept it all together because me and Dave go off on a tangent with experimenting on our guitars. So she put a discipline on it. Dee, his percussion isn’t straight forward it’s just played with the sounds.”
“It’s in time with the music, it’s just chaotic.” Gemma Muses
“I Think that’s a compliment” Dee Jokes
After The Magnificent albums the band have created so far and given the current support that KaitO are achieving in the underground music circuit at the moment. I for one really want to hear some new songs from the band, so we asked if a 3rd album was on the way.
“We’re working at the moment, we’ve got about five songs.”
“There’s a couple tonight that we’ve never played before.” Dave Says
“They might be a bit messy so bare with us.” Gemma Laughs
“We’re going to record for a couple of days in July. We’re looking to emulate our live sound because we’ve got more confident live and got more confident with songs, and everyone says we’re better live then on record. Recording on a small budget is a learning process and we’re really happy with it, but now were on a label, it’s given us the chance to experiment in different studios and producers if we need a producer.”
“We Met Jon Spencer briefly in New York” Dee Explains when we ask if they have any producers in mind, “nothing definite but he mentioned that he would be interested in working with us.”
“We’d probably go to his studio just do an EP in August and go to Andy Gill from Gang of Four’s Studio. We’re going to take Charlie our sound guy to come into the studio with us this time; we just want to find the right people, not necessarily big names. We’re quite controlling over what we want we sound like, so we want people to work with us, rather than people telling us what they want.”
“Lyrics are usually the last thing I will do, the songs you hear tonight don’t have any lyrics, so I just make up the words. Lyrics are usually written like 2 seconds before we had to record, because of the pressure thing, and I know I have to do it. The Actual Melody and Vocal Line is always there, there’s just no formula to how we make songs.”
“They Grow a lot, I record most of the songs when we practice them and they change a lot. The idea is there, but then Dave will add a noise and then it will change because of that.”
“Like With Band Red, I can’t remember how those songs we’re recorded or written.”
“We all feed off each other so much that it’s hard to say how songs we’re made.”
Band Red sounds more like KaitO live then the debut, so noting back to Nikki’s previous comments about trying to emulate the live sound, they have already partially achieved that with their 2nd record.
“We did have more time in the studio for You’ve Seen us… so Band Red is more basic, with our instruments.”
“I haven’t listened to that record (The Debut) For Two Years, I keep meaning to put it on but I don’t want my flat mates to know that I’m playing KaitO.” Gemma Laughs “I think it would be a real treat to hear it.”
“We don’t really know what the new album is going to sound like ourselves.” Dave Replies when we ask what can we expect from the new album.
“More Structured Songs” Replies Nikki “Some of them haven’t got any distinctive choruses but they are still poppy, becoming more clever because we have more time to think things through instead of just banging it out. But we haven’t got any ballads, no nervous breakdowns… yet.”
The Real Meaning of Life in KaitO’s songs are hidden in the yelps is a theory that Lack of Communication are pleased to put forward, as the yelps seem to be a minor criticism that the band sometimes receive.
“Yeah, you yelp when you see a spider.” Nikki Says “I Think Moi on Band Red Really is emotional, there are really emotional songs and other angry angst songs that make you think.”
There are lyrics if you look for them in KaitO which you would never expect to be there just like when we spoke to Ikara Colt Last Month, and found a hidden surprise in the lyrics.
“But its funny in Europe on Try Me Out when they sing along to “He’s The Cool…” bit and one person thought we were singing, “He’s the cool, He’s the Cool, he’s the police.” I was like What?”
“There was this time when I made Band Red T-shirts and we were selling them somewhere like France. When it got printed out it actually said Band Er because my design wasn’t clever enough.” Nikki Explains “But Anyway apparently it means erection in French so we were selling all these badges and T-shirts and this little kid comes up and goes oooh.”
From Left To Right: Dave Lake (Guitars) Dee Quantrill (Drums) Nikki Colk (Lead Vocals/Guitar) and Gemma Cullingford (Bass)
KaitO have played with some of the most successful bands in the world at the moment, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars, The Walkmen, Clinic, British Sea Power the list goes on and on. So we asked if the band had any particular Favourite people to tour with or places to play.
“Liars” Gemma and Nikki say collectively
“There has been so many it’s hard to say just one, venues in America are hard to say, places in the mid-west which you always dread. But they are so entertaining because the people are so different. They are also more fun gigs but hard.”
“Oh… Yeah” Nikki Laughs “Norwich of course, Norwich is scary to play.”
“Playing in front of your friends.”
“You go home and talk to your friends about what you are doing and they expect something of you, and your up there and you think oh what they gonna think. So it’s quite scary.”
“A Good Thing about all the tours we’ve been on, is the bands we play with want us to play with them, its not going through booking agents. They’ve come and approached us. They are so diversified as well.”
What’s it like being on these vast tours with people.
“It’s a bit weird because you know your going to spend weeks and weeks with these people but as long as the people are really great which they have been so far. Like With British Sea Power none of us really knew their music too much and after a while we just really liked it.”
“All the bands have been about the music in their own way, no posey bands, real genuine people, so we’ve at least got that in common even if the music is different. It’s always worked out.” Dee Says
“I was listening to that CD the other night.” Gemma Says “and it brought back some memories” They Laugh
Nikki offers up an explanation for why the band get on so many diversified tours;
“You can’t put us in a genre, we’ve got different influences and we never stick to one type, we haven’t got a plan. We just play from an honest thing.”
“I think people have categorized us in the New York Thing, my concern is that people are going to think we sound like that sort of thing.” Gemma Says
However in KaitO’s music there is a real Britishness, although you probably could align it with whatever you want, as however diversified as the tours the band have done they seem to fit with everyone.
“I’m glad you say that” Dee Replies, “That’s one of the things I liked about British Sea Power, such a Britishness to them, it’s great to see.”
“Le Tigre was a scary tour at first because of Kathleen Hanna (Legendary Riot Girl and Queen of DIY.) But it was cool because we were soundchecking and she was dancing on her own to us. But the biggest thing for me was meeting Jon Spencer because he is such a hero of mine.”
The Next Time you will be able to see KaitO is as a part of a package show with The Gin Palace and Selfish Cunt. The Vortex of Now Tour, free shows for fans and potential fans to have a good time for nothing.
“It’s about bringing bands together and letting people go to a free show again. Seeing what’s going on.” Nikki Explains “There are so many underground things in London, we figure that putting it together is the best way to go. There’s the NME and stuff who kinda dismiss it a little bit, so we figured we will try our own thing, because we’re doing it for the music’s sake rather then getting hoards of fans, we just wanna play our music.”
“There all English bands as well, because the sort of scene we’re on, people say what English bands are there about?” Gemma Explains about the reasoning behind the tour, “There doesn’t seem to be many in England, there all from New York or America. So we want to show that there are bands here as well.”
The band prior to this show has just played a festival in Bologna with Morrissey and Muse, when we asked how it was, Nikki replies;
“It was raining and muddy and it was voting day and it was the start of the football so we didn’t play to that many people but then neither did like Morrissey or Muse.”
“We met this band called TV on the Radio and they were cool. I Felt a bit small.”
“I Felt like a bit like an outcast, like you do at school” Gemma Says
“We had a dressing room at the start of the day and half an hour after we played they told us to get out cause Jet need to use your dressing rooms.”
The Band will play at Truck Festival July 24- 25 and you can find out more about that at www.truckrecords.com, and a feature about the whole festival will feature in Next Month’s issue. But hopefully KaitO will explode onto the Carling Weekender next year.