Interview with vocalist "Metallic" Kitty Saric
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: January 5, 2020
If you are in need of some quality, melodic and absolutely punishing Swedish Thrash Metal that is as much inspired by the likes of Kreator and Testament as it is inspired by Death? Then you have come to the right place. Decadence, formed in Stockholm in 2003 by the dynamic duo of vocalist "Metallic" Kitty Saric and guitarist/bassist Kenneth Lantz, had only one mission, to thrash their hearts out, and everyone else's for that matter.
Believing in their mission since the very beginning, gigging hard and as much as possible and somewhere in between releasing six full-length studio albums, their thrashy and metallic train has been almost unstoppable, minus a few hiccups (like letting this beast rest between 2012 and 2016).
The Metal Crypt was curious to know what has driven the band for the past 16 years and still allows them to fire on all cylinders, making music that's close to their hearts and souls.
Kitty politely took some time to talk about the band, its history and what they have been up to lately—among other things, of course!
Luxi: How's life in Stockholm in the early winter of 2019? Cold, chilling and miserable, I guess, eh?
Kitty: I like the winter actually! There's a line on our latest album Six Tape that goes, "Zephyrs of cold heal the pain. They seek burnt up energy." and "the Nordic cold" is also mentioned... So yeah, when people are in, I'm usually out and about in the ice and snow! [*laughs*]
HISTORY OF DECADENCE
Luxi: Decadence has a long history as the band was formed back in 2003 by you and Kenneth Lantz. Can you remember what original spark burst into flames and led to forming the band?
Kitty: Kenneth and I found each other through music. We both love Bay Area Thrash and that brought us together in Decadence. This allowed us to experiment with these influences further and create this thing we call melodic Thrash Metal that characterizes Decadence. Back in the day you could find us sitting outside, sharing one headphone each and digging tunes, with guitars and computers writing songs or at some underground gig somewhere in the mosh pit. That's how it all started really, music everywhere and all the time. Nowadays we write on our own and then bring it together in the studio because for practical reasons as we don't live nearby anymore. But we know each other so well after all these years so it all fits perfectly when it's time to piece everything together.
Luxi: The band's first official outing was a 4-track demo titled Land of Despair, released in May 2004. Can you recall the experience of letting the whole world hear your music? Did you receive mostly positive feedback from it, like it was a decent calling card to expose Decadence to the whole world?
Kitty: The studio was in the same building we were rehearsing in, so we had brought extra bags as we planned to stay the night. We recorded the four tracks for Land of Despair that night. Kenneth was actually the session bass player at the time, but he also recorded most of the guitars too [*laughs*]. It was kind of meant to be that he would run the guitar show in Decadence for a long time going forward. Kenneth was also the studio tech for this demo, and he would remain so for the following four full-length albums as well. Shortly thereafter, we presented our new tunes at a music competition (that was also in the same building actually!) and we won the 2nd place and a prize of using the studio for free. So, we recorded our first full-length album, Decadence, the following year and on the next music competition, we won! That was the sign we needed to get serious with what we do.
COME IN THRASHING—AND GETTING EXPOSED
Luxi: I suppose a bigger challenge was getting a proper debut album recorded and your self-titled debut album saw the light of day at the end of February 2005. Thinking back 14 years, how do you view the band's debut as an ice breaker? How was it received?
Kitty: 2005 was an interesting year, and an intense one, to say the least! After we had recorded our debut Decadence and won that first prize in the music competition, it was time to move on to real stages. We really exposed Decadence when we hit the big stage in Stockholm in a self-financed and self-arranged and promoted show. It was so crazy and extreme in the eyes of people in that early stage of our career, so I guess that created the buzz we needed to break through in the way we did. That summer we also had our first international gig, in Italy.
Luxi: 2005 overall seemed to be a very creative year for Decadence. Your follow-up album, The Creature, came out in November 2005 and featured eight new songs. Would you say the band was on fire that whole year?
Kitty: By the end of that summer and an intense six months, I fired the whole band except for Kenneth. The reason was mainly because they were all holding us back in my eyes. I found new members within a month and we recorded our second full-length, the evil twin brother of our debut, The Creature, with eight brand new songs, that same fall. So indeed, two full albums in one year! The band was not only on fire, it was a freaking inferno with all the plusses and minuses that come along with that! The line-up since then became our solid base for many years to come.
Luxi: There was never an official, factory-pressed release available for this album, it was put out as a CD-R. Did you try to get the band signed to a label back in those days? Do you think you missed an opportunity as far as the promotional aspect was concerned?
Kitty: That was totally by choice. The first two albums and the demo were made independently because that was what felt natural. The thought hadn't even crossed my mind to search for a label. I still have my little press here at home and I press those albums as orders come along. So, to answer your question, I didn't try at all to get the band signed, we were and still are a DIY show.
Luxi: I assume that the band was also pretty active on the gig front, playing as much as possible to get the band's name on people's lips, right?
Kitty: Now that's something I worked hard for, booking and managing the shows and traveling all over. That was where the majority of my time was spent during those years, to get the band's name out there.
3RD STATE OF SUCCESS
Luxi: Moving on to 2006, the band's creative period seemed to be unstoppable because nearly a year from your previous album, it was time for Decadence's third full-length, carrying the name 3rd Stage of Decay, which was received really well around the world amongst both industry people and fans. Do you see this album as the band's breakthrough album in terms of how widely spread it was as also the fact Japanese label Spiritual Beast and Germany's Massacre Records put it out? There certainly was some hype there behind Decadence in 2006...
Kitty: Oh, definitely yes. 3rd Stage of Decay was in a way our first real album. It was professionally pressed, had a barcode, was able to be sold in stores, got distribution and three separate license deals to be spread locally, in Asia and at last, worldwide. Also, Earache Records used "Corrosion" off that album on their new wave of Thrash complication Thrashing Like a Maniac. But the best part was that we could still do it all staying true to our ideology, two own it all and do it all on our own terms while having full creative freedom. This was an amazing time in our career.
Luxi: Why did Massacre only do this one album with the band? I assume you had a "1 + 1" kind of option deal with them and their expectations may have been a bit too high regarding the band's popularity back then? Please enlighten us on those things happened behind the scenes. Was there a lack of decent promotion from the label's side perhaps?
Kitty: Not at all, we were never signed to Massacre Records. We had a license deal for one album, the third edition of 3rd Stage of Decay. Maybe it was too much of a hassle for them to deal with license agreements instead of signing the whole package. At least in my eyes, that is what it's about. I am grateful for our cooperation at that time though and if it would have been a question of adding another license to the following album or albums, I would be open to that.
CHARGEPOINT: THE POINT OF HITTING IT BIG?
Luxi: The band's fourth studio album, Chargepoint, released in 2009, did not lack anything musically. It was one nice shredder of an album that had Decadence's trademark catchy melodies and hooks with lots of Thrash Metal aggression as well. My question is how pleased were you with that album? Did you feel like you had reached another level as far as the band's creativity and musicianship were concerned?
Kitty: The part I don't like with Chargepoint is that we did not release it the way we wanted. Things were really rushed as far as the license deal with Spiritual Beast was concerned. They are a Japan-based record company that had previously released the 2nd edition of 3rd Stage of Decay and then Chargepoint with distribution by Universal. I was scheduled to be in Tokyo to do promo work and the album had to be released by then and as we did all studio and production work ourselves, Kenneth had a massive load on his shoulders. I did as well with all the administrative work needing to get it done in time. It took away parts of the fun working with a new release. But we did make it! Anyways, musically I like the album. It has all the elements we love, perhaps lacking a "hit", but what the hell. It's super fun to play live and allows some nice headbanging along with the tunes! Someday, I hope to re-release this bad boy in our regime.
Luxi: What were the gig opportunities like due to the attention that Chargepoint generated? As I understand, the growing success of the band brought you to countries like Venezuela, Portugal, Italy, Lithuania, etc. Must have been fun times, right?
Kitty: Chargepoint did lead to amazing gig opportunities, Venezuela being the real summing up of our 10 years together. That was also our biggest show as of yet and we co-headlined with Hirax and played in a venue that was an amphitheater. It was really a great experience being able to perform on a stage that was placed below all the fans in the open air. Memory for life for sure! The Venezuelan fans still celebrate anniversaries since that show yearly and I'm so grateful for having experienced that.
Luxi: Covering other bands' songs live is also a common practice. You have played "Disciple" by Slayer, "First Strike Is Deadly" by Testament, and "Spirit Crusher" by Death at your gigs. How do you select a cover song that you want to play live for your audience? What other live songs do you have in your repertoire?
Kitty: We select songs/bands that mean something to us, things that have influenced us as a band in one way or another. We have never recorded a cover, but we've often played them live with Death being the band we've probably enjoyed the most. I mean, that band is something else. It's hard covering them, but we've kept trying because it's inspired us so much through the years. We've done some more covers, can't remember them all, though. Metallica and Pantera to name a few.
95% IS COMPROMISING—100% IS NOT
Luxi: How do you keep your voice in good shape for recording and live sessions? The growling style you do must be a huge stress on your vocal cords, so caring for your voice is something that you pay extra attention to, if I am not mistaken?
Kitty: I'm a gym rat and live an active lifestyle in general. For me the vocal cords are like any other muscle and need to be kept in shape to be able to perform and grow. I rehearse twice a week at home for half a year before recording an album and I keep in shape by working on my strength and cardio in general. When I enter the studio, I just go for it 100% and record it all. The latest album Six Tape was recorded in five hours. Not rushed or anything, it's just that I try to be as ready as I can possibly be, figure out all parts that could go wrong, so that I'm prepared in the studio. That way it doesn't become as much of a strain on the vocal cords as it could be, considering I mix vocal styles a lot between harsh screaming, growls, grunts, high pitches and even falsettos!
Luxi: There was always a full band lineup until the camel's back was unfortunately broken in 2012. What was the straw that did it?
Kitty: Overall, we were quite tired. We had lived an intense ten years being super productive and gigging a lot, so we simply needed to rest a bit. The rest of the band except Kenneth and I wanted to move on to different bands and so they did, while Kenneth and I mostly chilled for a while. For me, it was totally necessary. I could experience a different life during the "pause" and I focused on my health, my other professional career outside of music and just finding stability, balance and the fun in music again.
Luxi: Do you think the more master chefs one has in a band, the more difficult it is to cook the soup with the right recipe? The other side of the coin can be a blessing as well, if you know what I mean by this...
Kitty: I totally get it, yeah. I guess the recipe is different for each band but for us it always worked the same. Kenneth and I split the song writing 50/50 for the first four albums then, after the comeback, Kenneth took over the song writing as a whole, with me still writing all the lyrics, though. This allows me to focus on the management part of things instead of being "everywhere" all the time and it works quite well.
STOCKHOLM THRASH METAL SCENE—IS THERE SUCH A THING?
Luxi: The Stockholm Death Metal scene in the late eighties and early nineties was a successful worldwide phenomenon. What about Stockholm's Thrash Metal scene in 2019 Anno Bastardi? Is there a decent Thrash Metal scene in the capital after all these years? Besides Decadence and Altair, my knowledge about the Thrash Metal scene of Stockholm sadly ends right there...
Kitty: It seems Thrash Metal is not growing at the same pace as Death Metal in general, not only in Stockholm. I hope I'm wrong but that's my impression at least. This makes it even more important for Decadence to keep doing what we're doing. We're not an old school Thrash band but the roots of our music definitely lie there. If there's anything good we can do for this scene, we will. I recently highlighted some bands from the Stockholm Underground Thrash scene on a New York-based radio show I'll be doing every now and then on Metal Messiah Radio called Metallic Kitty's Backstage. Last time I played Chainsaw, Demented and Vörgus on the show.
Luxi: How much do you correspond and cooperate with other local Thrash Metal bands, like getting events arranged together, just to gather like-minded people for these good 'n' friendly violent fun gigs?
Kitty: As we've had a break in gigging, we haven't had the opportunity to do these kinds of things since the previous run of Decadence. But we're definitely up for it so just reach out if you're a band or promoter wanting us to join in. That would be super fun!
Luxi: Promotional activities have been changing a lot over the years due to the digitalization of the world. How much does Decadence exploit all the opportunities of digitalization in promotion? Do you think Decadence could even do something more in regard to this whole promotional aspect?
Kitty: Luckily, in my other profession, I'm in the middle of digitalization-driven activities so I'm up to date, so to speak. I have applied that knowledge in full with Decadence since the comeback. So far it seems to work well and we're making use of it as much as we can. But one can never learn enough, right? For us, more collaborations of different kinds are always sought for. We're alone enough in what we do as it is [*laughs*].
COMING BACK WITH THE RIGHT VITAMINS IN THE VEINS
Luxi: Moving on to 2016, that's when Decadence did, if not a grand entrance, at least an entrance back to the limelight of Thrash Metal, after being in a sort of half-frozen state for four years and now getting those vital vitamins back in your veins. This time, it was both Kenneth and you, backed up by session drummer Lawrence, who were responsible for creating the next 8-track beast, named Undergrounder, which came out on January 30, 2017. How challenging was it for you to make this comeback as a duo this time? Was it more or less a relief to start with a clean slate, so to speak?
Kitty: [*laughs*] I love that explanation! Half-frozen state getting vital vitamins injected. Awesome! That's exactly how it felt too! Actually, while Kenneth was sitting with loads of new music in his chamber that no one knew of, I had been convinced by another band to get back to music again. I was kind of enjoying my life as it was, but it ended up with them locking me in the studio to record a single with them and one month later joining them on stage for a duet. When I entered the stage, the crowd started cheering, "DECADENCE!" louder than the band was playing and that experience was life changing to me. I spend the night hanging out with the fans, talking memories. The next morning at the hotel, I was eating breakfast and I picked up the phone and called Kenneth. I told him about it and said, "Man, we gotta do this again!". So, I travelled back to Stockholm from the north of Sweden and went straight to his place. He showed me all the music he had done. And, as in the good old days, I was pointing my finger saying, "Put this there... Move that to here...". It felt amazing and we were back then and there. I reached out to my friends and that way I found Lawrence and he was sold on the idea after the first listen, and there you have it.
Undergrounder was released for free share in 2016 and then as a physical CD in 2017. Even though we miss our old members, we're back and we're having fun again and the music seems more "us" than ever!
Luxi: Did you play live after the new album was out or did you sort of want to keep things a bit more underground on purpose this time, just to get the word out basically that the beast has been unleashed, so you'd better watch out if we come nearby you?
Kitty: [*laughs*] Exactly like that yes! No, but we didn't plan on getting out on the road with Undergrounder. It was kind of a way to ease back into things again, feeling the ground and all. To be honest, I didn't do much to promote the album either so I'm really happy to see it got the response it got! This time around with the follow-up Six Tape, I pressed the "Kitty at the time of the first two albums"-button and all hell broke loose [*laughs*].
SIX. SIX. SIX TAPE
Luxi: Six Tape, the band's sixth (surprise-surprise!) album, released on November 1, 2019, brought us nine new songs that represent the best material to date in my sincere opinion. Could you tell us a little bit more about this album and the process of composing the songs and eventually recording it?
Kitty: On-the-spot name, right [*laughs*]? So, you think it's the best material as of yet? Greeeeat! That's the way we're working. Sticking our heads up from deep down the underground and... BAM [*laughs*]! Kenneth was just a beast this time around, he was just pumping out riff after riff after riff. The man got his mojo on steroids or something. Super fun! I was just leaning back, writing my lines, rehearsed like bloody hell and then we met up in the studio and it was just like that... BAM! Oh, I love this music. Plus, it's just a straight on, in your face, independent war cry if you ask me. This is who we are, and we want it to show, loud and clear.
2020 AND FROM THERE ON...
Luxi: I also assume you still have the hunger to hit the stages and play live for your fans again. What kind of plans have you made around your (un-)holy Thrash Metal table as far as playing live is concerned? Are you aiming to play at some well-chosen Metal festivals in 2020 perhaps?
Kitty: We go where we are asked to play basically, so anything is possible! Be loud enough, talk to your local promoters, talk to us and we'll be there. That's one of the perks of being independent. We don't go with the flow, we go with the show!
Luxi: How do you overall see 2020 working out for Decadence? I bet you just keep on writing new material constantly and see where it may take you...
Kitty: Damn straight. We're already writing new stuff and I even have the name for the next album. But hey, that's just how we are! I'm curious to set up the new live line-up for Decadence as well and see which cool shows we can do next!
Luxi: Well, that's the end of my questionnaire and if you survived this far, then my humble congrats! I also want to take this opportunity to thank you for your time, Kitty, to make this interview happen. All the best with all of your future endeavors with the band and may there be some gold at the end of the band's road, too. Now you are entitled to the last comments if you have any...?
Kitty: This is probably the best interview I've ever received. Honestly! What a trip down memory lane reminding me of things that are inspiring to me. You've really dug into Decadence, tried to dig deeper than the usual "tell us who you are and what you do and how it is to be a female in the industry" and I really appreciate that. It gives the readers who follow us more substance and hopefully you all can understand us a bit better after this. I know, we are a bit weird with how we do things, but what would life be without weirdo's right?
The Metal Crypt is celebrating 20 years I hear and you have reviewed our music for many years now, this is special to us and we appreciate your hard work a lot with getting the music out there to people, especially the underground stuff.
And thank you all who are reading and supporting Decadence—you are the ones carrying us forward, because without you we couldn't exist. Horns up and see you around!
|Other information about Decadence on this site|
|Review: Six Tape|
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