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metal talk
8th May 2017

ian sutherland
Words and Pictures: Ian Sutherland

lounge kittens

Southampton's own lounge Kittens have made a hugely colourful splash in the rock and Metal scene with their patented brand of fun and diverse covers from Slipknot to The Darkness. Out on the road on yet another tour, MetalTalk caught up with the pink kitten Zan Lawther, the blue kitten Timia Gwendoline and the red kitten Jenny Deacon backstage before their recent Glasgow show.

You have called this the 'Bringing Up The Rear' tour. How is it going and who is bringing up the rear?

ZL: "Well hopefully we're not bringing up the rear! The tour was named partly because it's the very end of the album cycle, we did the 'Sequins & C-Bombs' tour last year and these are dates where we're going to places that we missed off that tour. But also because we're going with the Heavy Metal Truants cycle ride to Download in June and we're collecting and fund raising for that on the tour so we thought we'd call it 'Bringing Up The Rear' tour because we think we''ll probably be the people at the back of the cycle ride [laughs]."

TG: "Good effort girls!"

JD: "We tried really hard but... [laughs]."

There's always someone slower than you, right?

ZL: "I don't know, it might be us! Someone has to be last!"

Won't they have to wait for you?

ZL: "Yes they do, but then you get sucked up by the support vehicle of shame and moved along as there is not an infinite time line for us to complete the ride [laughs]."

How long is there between you arriving at Download and going on stage?

ZL: "About twenty-four hours."

Do you have massage therapists on standby?

TG: "I wish, I wish [laughs]."

ZL: "They might have massage people backstage, sometimes they do."

TG: "They might be a bit expensive though!"

ZL: "Some artists have their massage therapists and their tattooists and sports therapists..."

TG: "For all your emergency tattoo needs..."

ZL: "For all the real musicians, you know..."

lounge kittens

Well we hope you get to use them. You're playing Download again, which is a consequence of how well known you've become for doing covers of Metal songs by people like Slipknot and Metallica and Limp Bizkit. Was it a deliberate strategy to go for the Metal audience?

TG: "We really just covered the songs we liked."

JD: "That was it really. Heavy Metal fans just enjoyed hearing the songs in a new way, it totally opened up a new genre to a lot of people and it also brings in a lot of people who listen to shall we say, nicer, prettier sounding music into the Metal world which is quite nice."

ZL: "When we first started we had quite a broad range of things and we did a lot more sort of pop and stuff like that but as soon as we started working on a few Metal tracks, although Alice Cooper's 'Poison' was the first track that we ever arranged together so we had already started with the rock. As soon as we started venturing into Limp Bizkit kind of territory we were like this is what we want to do, this is way more fun than doing the 'nice' stuff..."

TG: The more different we can make it, the more point there is to us doing it. If we cover a song that's already sung by a female singer who's quite pretty and it already has a lot of piano in it then what's the point? But if we can transform something into something completely different then there is a lot more reason to do it, isn't there?

JD: "Yes, it's much funnier!"

It is very interesting to be able to hear the lyrics in a Slipknot song!

ZL: "It is! So that's what he said..."

You are including more pop and hip-hop in your sets now. Is there a natural progression going on in your style?

ZL: "There is in that our arrangements are getting harder and harder; they're more complex. We're constantly challenging ourselves as we don't like the arrangements to get too easy, they're more and more complicated. The girls keep chucking more and more difficult things at us, at me..."

The hard stuff is specifically aimed at you Zan?

ZL: "I don't do the arrangements, Jen and Timia handle all the arrangement side of things. So I have twice as much to learn as one of them has worked on every song before we see it. So we're just getting more and more complex and trying more difficult songs. Songs that may have been on the list for a long time that now we go ah ha, we know what to do with that now."

You seem to add new songs to your setlists at a remarkable rate. Are you always working on new arrangements?

TG: "All the time, definitely."

JD: "There are four new songs in the setlist tonight."

TG: "It's refreshing for us as arrangers to maybe do a Metal song then sing that out and then go I'm going to do something totally different so let's do a little bit of r'n'b or let's do a theme..."

JD: "Don't want to spoil things for you tonight but there might be a theme thing in the set list..."

ZL: "It keeps the show interesting as well. Our show is over an hour long. If we came on and did just an hour of Metal song covers part of the way through you'd be like, 'yeah I've got the joke'. But if we start with a couple of Metal covers then whack out some Usher... also we get a lot of different fans who come to our shows. A lot of Metal fans who come and see us would never listen to Usher or Sean Paul or anyone like that, so we're opening it up to different people really. It keeps it fresh and interesting for us."

TG: "It's for the fans too. We have a lot of really, really committed fans who come to very gig that they possibly can, and the fact that we so rarely play the same stuff, the fact that we change up the set list means it's really nice that we can throw out at least one or two different songs for them. I feel like it makes it more worthwhile for them, it's nice that they can hear one or two new things at every show they come to."

JD: "We also take requests from the fans as well."

ZL: "Yeah, they message us and say they're coming to Glasgow, can you play this and if we can fit in the set then we'll fit it in the set. That keeps us challenged when you're out on the road rather than just constantly playing all the same songs every time."

lounge kittens

Your show is a lot of fun with some very comedic moments as well as all the great music. Do you work on the comedy side of stuff the same way you work on the music?

ZL: "It's very organic."

JD: "We have a kind of basic outline of stuff that we are going to talk about but most of the stuff you see on stage really is ad libbed."

ZL: "We have certain bits, you know we introduce each other and we've written several different versions of the introductions which we switch around dependant on where we are and they kind of grow organically depending on what happens on the night. Certain songs we have introductions for them which have just kind of worked themselves into the show."

TG: "There's nothing written, nothing that we've sat down to write, it's just grown and flowed out and it's nice that over the series of gigs that we do that you see that people get a laugh out of it so we keep that bit in then it turns into something else."

ZL: "If you come and see the first show of the tour and the last show of the tour they'll be different because by the last show of the tour we'll have worked out what works and what doesn't. There's always something different every night because something stupid always happens on stage and we always have to laugh about it. However if you come and see our cabaret show for example that is predominately scripted as it has to fit into a particular time slot and so on. But most of it is just us dicking about though [laughs]."

You are doing very well as a covers band with your own style. Do you have ideas about including songs of your own, writing your own stuff?

JD: "They're always there but we're enjoying what we're doing at the moment and there's so much we want to experience and try out before we want to go down that route. Once you start down that route you are committed to that route and whilst we're having fun doing other things..."

ZL: "We are really proud of being a covers band. There aren't many covers bands that have achieved what we've achieved. We still find it really fun, we're still challenging ourselves. We get asked it a lot and we've started penning lyrics and things like that and jotting things down but if we do it, it will be comedy songs. We're not suddenly going to turn into the Sugababes and start releasing heartfelt ballads. Never say never though!"

Finally, you have already mentioned the charity cycle ride that you're doing. Can you tell us more about that?

ZL: "We are cycling 164 miles from London to Download Festival in June with the Heavy Metal Truants who are music industry Heavy Metal professionals and bands and fans and every year they get together and cycle to Download. We've supported them for a couple of years now and have run out of ways to do that without actually getting on a bike. So this is it, no excuses left. We're raising money for Nordoff Robbins, Childline and Teenage Cancer Trust.

TG: "It's all for a brilliant, brilliant cause."

ZL: "People can donate online and we're collecting money at the shows."

You can read about and donate to The Lounge Kittens charity cycle ride right here.

lounge kittens

The Lounge Kittens: The Garage Attic, Glasgow

Is there a more fun night out to be had than a gig by The Lounge Kittens? These colourful, crazy, talented ladies have a made a real splash in the rock and Metal scene with their now famous covers of songs by Slipknot, Limp Bizkit and the rest but a look around the audience in Glasgow's cosy Garage Attic venue shows that they are attracting not just rock and Metal fans of all ages but a broad spectrum of people, such is the depth of their repertoire and reputation.

They looked sparkly and glamourous in their outfits, each designed to match their hair and to apparently show off their legs which all look very toned, no doubt from their training for a forthcoming 160 mile plus charity cycle event. It's the way those three voices combine which keeps grabbing the attention though. From the opening tones of their snappy arrangement of The Who's 'Who Are You' through the ribald comedy in beautiful harmony of Steel Panther's 'Gloryhole' to the inevitable charity ride inspired version of Queen's 'Bicycle Race' the vocals are never less than stellar, even in the face of some complex arrangements.

They have so much more to offer too, adding a mostly ad libbed comedy schtick to their musical prowess and tongue in cheek view of the world to create a happy vibe. You will rarely see so many smiles in a room at a gig whether people are joining in with Zan Lawther's T-rexican wave or laughing at the witty intros they give each other. 'The internet says Timia Gwendoline is the kitten most like a man, but they still would' for example, though she looks like a sexy, sparkly superhero in her stage outfit so you do wonder what exactly the internet is on about.

Doing individual tunes seems almost too easy for the Kittens so tonight we get three medleys too, their impeccably put together Rammstein set, a selection of hugely famous songs called 'Bangers' which sparked a huge singalong and a collection of eighties and nineties cartoon theme tunes which delighted many and puzzled others, depending on their age! I have to say as a Metal fan with a long memory, covering Erasure's 'A Little Respect' did push my love for this band to the limit as it's a song I couldn't stand back in the day, but that's just my own prejudices. When you watch the rubber faces and brilliant piano playing of Jenny Deacon, join the audience in hushed silence at their emotional rendition of The Darkness' 'Love Is Only A Feeling' or bounce along with their irreverent, jaunty take on Metallica's 'Sad But True' you just have to accept that resistance is futile and smile and sing along with everyone else.

These three talented ladies are obviously enjoying themselves when they are on a stage and it is entirely infectious. Add the superb vocal and piano playing talent and the eclectic choice of songs and it simply adds up to a fabulous night out, the kind of gig that sends you out into the street with a cheery grin afterwards. Highly recommended even if black t-shirts are your preferred apparel.

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Check out more of Ian Sutherland right here.


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