MetalKat

MaineList Article: MetalKat

Introduction

“If you were buying metal records between 1982 and 1989, then you’ll probably appreciate our band” Says MetalKat, a Classic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal band out of New Market, New Hampshire.

Being from New Hampshire technically puts them off the map as far as Maine-based bands go. However, majority of their gigs are in Maine. I decided to interview the band due to their involvement in the Maine Music scene. I asked the band how they felt about working in Maine, and they proudly admitted; “The Maine Music Scene Rocks! The people in Maine are very supportive of live music, which makes it easier to book gigs there.”

So, despite the fact that they are not from our state, I felt the desire to cover a band who is making an impression on show-goers throughout Maine and New Hampshire. I met up with MetalKat on New Years Eve at Cuddy’s Tavern in Brunswick, Maine.

The Songs

The Songs

This band features songs from the 80’s Hard Rock and Metal scene, with listener’s favorites ranging from songs by Guns-n-Roses, AC-DC, Metallica, Motley Crue, and Judas Priest to name but a few. You’ll hear songs by Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Ratt, Tesla, Skid Row, Dokken, Cinderella and even The Bullet Boys as the evening progresses.

Many first time listeners react with a surprised expression, often in disbelief that the band is actually able to do this. It’s the kind of thing that if you really appreciate the style, can easily be sucked in, yet if you are unfamiliar may be scratching your head in wonder.

I spoke with a variety of listeners as the band performed, and many were pleased with the band’s overall performance, dancing or banging their head as per the old tradition.

One listener seemed horrified by the band saying; “I think I’m going to go somewhere else, I can’t stand this kind of music.” I asked how old she was, and despite her youthful appearance, she said she was 33 years old. I was puzzled why she thought they sounded so bad. She said; “They aren’t bad, it’s just the vocals, I can’t stand all that screaming. It’s not what I really feel like listening to right now.” I think she missed the point, this is an 80’s metal band! He’s supposed to be screaming like that!

Staying True To The Time

Staying True To The Time“We like to pick songs that people remember, but don’t necessarily hear other bands performing.” Says Jim, the band’s front man, and also the newest member of the band. It seems the band’s strategy is to bring the listener back into the 80’s mind set. Providing an evening of entertainment as if you had actually stepped back in time. Bands back then wouldn’t necessarily have picked the same songs that are still popular today. They would have selected songs that were popular at that time.

As a musician, I personally remember the 80’s too. I was in a dozen bands just like this back then! We did a lot of the same songs, and played with the same attitude, mocking the original songs to the best of our abilities, and showing respect to the original bands by providing an accurate representation of their songs. Except, none of the bands that “I” ever jammed with had a good vocalist. That’s because none of the guys our age were capable of singing the vocal parts. I don’t’ know how many ego-filled, long-haired dudes we auditioned, but no matter what personality or equipment they brought to our band room, they all lacked the ability to hold a note, or represent a variety of vocal talents.

There were guys who specialized in singing songs by one band, but lacked abilities to sing songs by other artists. Let’s face it, 80’s metal was hard to sing! People aren’t really so keen on seeing a tribute band covering songs that are still new on the radio. (It’d be like going to see a Buck Cherry, or White Stripes Tribute band today). People just don’t do that.

“It’s true! Back in the 80’s, none of the metal bands had a singer. But that’s because we were all younger, and only a more mature vocalist would have been able to pull off vocals like that!” Confessed Jim, who now realizes the experience required to be able to perform such intense vocal parts. Jim doesn’t pretend to be a super-talented vocalist, in fact, he was a drummer before joining the band, and still practices drums on the side.

Jim has a hobby restoring and selling drums too, often parting out individual pieces for profit. “It’s more like a drum chop shop!” the band jokingly chimed in as Jim explained his hobby.

Vocal ExperienceI remember the attitudes back then too, and agree, even if an older guy wanted to be in our band and was fully capable of reaching the notes, we might not have let him into the band if he didn’t have the right look. Most of the older guys weren’t interested in what we were doing anyway! That’s just how it was back then.

The 80’s were a time when music listeners were much more narrow minded than listeners today. The irony is, most of the bands that we “worshiped” back then were older than us. Our idols weren’t teenagers like us, they were guys in their late 20’s to early 30’s. Some of the best vocalist were guys who had already been booking gigs for 20 years. Sure, there was some young talent, but guys like Jeff Tate, David Coverdale, Ronny James Dio, Rob Halford, or Steve Tyler were already doing it our entire lifetime before we ever became enchanted by their songs.

Strength In Unity

Strength In Unity

As the saying goes... A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. For MetalKat, it seems that each of it’s members share about an equal level of talent on their own instruments. Their minds are each wholeheartedly in alignment with the music that they are playing, and it’s obvious that they share an appreciation for what they are doing together. This band is all about teamwork, and their musicianship stands out as a band, rather than as spotlight performers.

“We try to focus on imitating the original songs to the best of our ability.” The band seems more interested in replicating songs, than creating their own version of it. This was the ideals of band members of the 80’s, and seems to be something that was washed away with time. “This is the music we grew up on. The same riffs we spent long hours learning note for note back then.” It only makes sense to make use of all those years of preparation and devotion to the music they loved back then, and still love today.

One element that is important for any band is the sound guy. “We sound good because we have a guy who knows all of our cues.” Gary, of “K Productions”, is as far as the band is concerned, the band’s 5th member. “He handles about 90% of our stuff!”

Finding A Front Man

Finding A Front ManMetalKat has been together for about 3 years, however they only acquired their front man “Jim” on vocals about a year ago. Much has changed since they invited Jim to join their ranks.

“Early in our involvement together, before Jim joined the band, we had a gig booked for the wrong crowd. People were actually lining up to leave the room.” Chuckled one of the band’s members. Their experiences in the past have taught them to book accordingly. They are now able to laugh at some of their mistakes, with a better understanding of how to avoid inevitable pitfalls like that.

Everything seemed to change when Jim joined the band. Suddenly, with a vocalist who could actually reach the notes, the band didn’t feel so limited in their 80’s selections. Today, they carry an ambitious attitude, willing to learn a wider selection of tunes that people request, knowing that with their combined talents, it’s now possible to tackle just about any musical feat.

Kids These Days!

Kids These Days!

“It doesn’t make sense to book a gig for a crowd of people who don’t remember the 80’s”, explained the band, realizing that most of today’s youth only know the songs broad-casted by classic rock radio. “People either know the music and love it, or don’t recognize it and wind up hating it.” Most often it’s because they are too young, or perhaps weren’t into the heavier rock, or metal music back then.

I have been discovering that many kids are learning about these classic hits through popular video games like “Guitar Hero”, which seems to be the pool of knowledge for classic rock awareness today.

Here’s an interesting note about video game’s influence on our youth’s awareness of classic songs. I was playing Halo 3 on Xbox Live recently, and some kid started singing “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, which is a song by Pat Benatar from the 80’s. I asked the kid how he knew the song, and he said; “It’s one of the songs in Guitar Hero III!” I asked him if he knew who sang it, and he had no response. I couldn’t help but chuckle, the kid was probably 12 years old. Once I reminded him that it was Pat Benatar, he said “Oh Yeah!” and then as he sang another part of the chorus, “Fire Away!”, the kid sniped me down while giggling at me for not paying closer attention in the game.

So MetalKat doesn’t’ necessarily cater to the growing popularity of today’s Guitar Hero players, but are instead more geared towards those of us who were there in the 80’s, and remember the songs that influenced a new revolution of rock. In summary, if you desire to take a time capsule back to the year 1989 and see a band stripped directly out of time, I highly recommend MetalKat for an unforgettable evening of memorable metal music mayhem!

Meet The Band


Jim - VocalsJim – vocals
From: Gloucester, Massachusetts

“MetalKat is a band that I would go to see.” confessed Jim, in fact, that's how he met the band in the first place. “The songs are not the same stereotypical radio songs that you hear today, but more like the typical radio songs you’d expect to hear back then.”

Jason - GuitarJason – guitar
From Newton, New Hampshire

Influences include; Randy Rhoads, George Lynch, Warren D. Martini.

Other than playing guitar at least 2 hours per day, Jason also spends his spare time surfing and playing hockey. "I guess thats how I stay fit. Growing up man, all I did was play Hockey, Football and guitar."

Jason started the instrument as a freshman in high school, but was also blessed with the ability and desire to excel at contact sports, and actually received a scholarship to play ball at The University of Miami of Ohio. "The only thing that feels as good as nailing a good solo is smashing someone on the football field!!!" States Jason, who's physical appearance seems to stand behind his comedic taunt.

This isn't the same old story you hear from every guitar player, but staying fit sure helps with his stage presence.

Mick - DrumsMick – drums
From New Market, New Hampshire

Influenced by Bonham, Tommy Aldridge, Tommy Lee, and Black Sabbath.

Some might remember Mick while he was involved with a previous band; “Ring of Fire”. He started working with those guys doing their sound for the first 5 years, while gaining inspiration from their previous drummer “Al Silva” (now in a band called “3-Way”) who Mick admits was a huge influence on his own playing. After doing sound for 5 years with “Ring of Fire”, he found the opportunity to play drums for the band which lasted about 2 years.

Pat - Bass GuitarPat – bass guitar
From Dover, New Hampshire

Influenced by a wider spectrum of music from The Beatles, James Brown, Frank Zappa, Yes, Black Sabbath, Sabotage, and even selections from Motown.

Pat happens to be a DJ radio personality who works out of seacoast New Hampshire.

Pat opted to leave the radio station's identity nameless, confessing that people only know his radio name and voice, and he’d prefer not to mix his radio career with his band.


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