Way back in 2000, as I was gearing up for GCSE exams in the Summer, my burgeoning and nu-metal obsessed taste in music was looking for the next big thing. The next unique band that would complement my growing obsession with metal.
As a 15-year-old still finding my feet, I was game for everything and everyone which is how the all-female Canadian metal band, Kittie was introduced to me. Well, that and a snigger about how they had a track called Get Off (You Can Eat a Dick). Give us a break, my friends and I were pubescent teens after all.
At the time, seeing female members in metal bands was rare (aside from a life-long love of Rayna from Coal Chamber). So, seeing an all-female band that could absolutely slay? My mind was blown.
Their debut album, Spit got some serious play and I probably watched the video for the track Charlotte more times then was healthy. I was bang into them… and then I wasn’t. The follow-up album, 2001’s Oracle failed to really land with me and changing tastes meant 2004’s Until the End was nothing but a blip on my radar. After that? I kind of forgot Kittie existed until around 2008 when I decided to go and relive my youth by checking them out at the Underworld in Camden at their headline show.
I don’t remember much about that show aside from this very important detail… I left early.
Thus ended Kittie in my eyes even though the band themselves were still carrying on, releasing In the Black in 2009 and I’ve Failed You in 2011. The latter is the last record the group have released as of 2020.
Regardless of my modern lack of interest in the group, a healthy respect for Kittie exists. They were ahead of their time and are partially responsible for my taste in metal getting heavier and heavier. So, upon finding that they had made a career-spanning documentary called “Origins/Evolutions”, I had to see it.
Four years in the making, Origins/Evolutions was released to coincide with the band’s 20th anniversary. It also comes with a bonus live album, featuring never-released recordings dating back to their early years.
Directed by Rob McCallum, the documentary is split into two parts. The first is Origins and focuses on the first ten years of the band. Whereas Evolutions focuses on the latter half of their 20-year career.
We get a load of unseen footage, interviews with the band, family, friends and past members, and a ton of detail regarding the creation of the Kittie and their first album, Spit.
It is fascinating seeing and hearing how the Landers’ sisters (Morgan – lead vocals, guitar and Mercedes – drums, backing vocals) came together and created what we know as Spit. As well as the phenomenal success that followed; signed to a four-album deal, Spit going gold and playing massive tours around the world. All before they had even finished school.
Such success would have gone to many band’s heads but Kittie stayed surprisingly grounded. Enough so that some members realised it wasn’t for them and began what would be a bit of a revolving door for second guitar and bass duties.
It is the line-up issues that takes up a lot of time. Interviews with the likes of original bass player Tanya Candler and guitarist Fallon Bowman really offer interesting insight into why they left. There’s very little bad blood, although some members who were briefly in the band refused to take part in the documentary. For the most part, every member loved their time in Kittie and left for their own reasons. Be it creative, be it the pressures or be it health issues, in the case of bassist Trish Doan. Who sadly passed away in 2017 with the documentary dedicated to her.
Her battles with anorexia do have a light shone upon it but rather than dwell, it instead shows just how important she was to Kittie. Her interview segments are some of the most interesting and honest feeling.
Although that’s not to suggest the two sisters are anything but honest. Sharing their own struggles, how they dealt with the sudden death of their father and manager, their disappointment with certain albums and more. They’ve been through a lot and it could have turned them into cynical characters, yet each new member was greeted with open arms. Each new idea was welcomed (even more so later in their careers) and they were constantly willing to try different things.
It’s particularly refreshing to see long-time member Tara McLeod really get to share her voice on this documentary. Kittie at its core might be the Landers sisters but the evolved Kittie, McLeod is an integral part of.
It’s a very well made and interesting documentary lacking only the finer details to really make it a more in-depth expose. While you find out so much about the Landers sisters early on, they never allow us a deeper look behind the curtain for the latter portion of Kittie. Issues with the label are just brushed under the carpet and the level of detail behind later albums just isn’t there compared to Spit and Oracle. It’s warts but not warts and all.
It ends in a bittersweet way. Who knows what the future of Kittie holds? Morgan and Mercedes Landers certainly don’t.
Kittie: Origins/Evolutions (2018)
The Final Score - 8/10