"A band of note is Stiff Kittens who have been knocking on the door for some time now. They had an untamed rawness that you hoped somebody could grab and point in the right direction. That somebody turned out to be producer Steve Brown, famed for his work with the Cult and the Manic Street Preachers amongst many others. He has managed to capture the live sound of the band in a studio without losing any of the dynamics they have; the pre-album sessions for Bullets...The New Black have turned out really well, and lead track The Hunger shows a band full of exactly that. Gutless and Comfort Blanket again hint at great things for this band."
Every now and then something special comes along in music, maybe not a complete re-invention but a new take on a classic genre; the same incredible view from a different and higher vantage point. Stiff Kittens definitely raise the bar on Big Riffing, High Octane, Monster Melodic, Rock Music. Think the Nirvana for a new generation, think Pearl Jam on a good day, with Neil Young plugged in at N# 11 on the Amp but not allowed to sing. If you like your music to grab you by the unmentionables and sling you about in a heavenly way then you are there. Not to mention the diversity they are capable of in their more reflective moments.
The Stiff Kittens story started in a humble way with two friends, from Blackwood South Wales, kicking about with every band going (see band history) until they finally meshed their song writing abilities in the summer of 96. Steve Price (guitars and vocals) and Gary Law (lead guitar and lead vocals) are the founders and core of the band, working with many flavours of musicians along the way until arriving at the current line up, with a thumping new rhythm section consisting of Rob Rickenbacker Tucker (bass) and Geraint HAC Thomas (pummelling the skins).
Stiff Kittens have followed a well worn route towards the top of highs and not so highs, having eventually performed as warm up act for Feeder, as part of the Ross-on-Wye International Music Festival; and whilst on an opportunistic photo shoot became the last band ever to play Wembley Stadium. This was closely followed by a triumphant show at London's infamous Borderline, where they were seen by world renowned rock and pop producer Steve (Sanctuary) Brown, who later joined them back stage to declare his keen interest in the band and set potential dates to record new material, more of which below...
"You Have A Stadium Ready Band" John Porter - Red Distribution - Sony USA
"Stiff Kittens, They Can, And They Will !!!" Steve Brown - Producer - Mentor
"On this evidence I think I agree on the Stiff Kittens breaking through this coming year ... I love the drum sound & the guitars sound like guitars are supposed to" - Jase Burns - Power FM
" ... the natural heirs to the Valleys Rock Crown of the early Manics ... " BBC Music Website
" The Post Nu Metal Kids Are Gonna Love This Stuff " Deano UK - Editor - WWW.TOURDATES.CO.UK
They are good, very good, expect to be hearing them more on Total Rock Soon - Malcolm D - Total Rock FM & WWW.TOTALROCK.COM
Strange Fruit Said:
"...it's not the sort of thing we'd normally go for here at Strange Fruit, since there are clear traces of The Alarm, The Pixies and At The Drive In at work, but I have to admit I really like it ... has a dangerously catchy air of Motorhead and it's so down and dirty and compelling that you can stuff your Limp Bizkits and your Linkin Parks and listen to a rock band that manage to be loud AND have tunes. For this is anthemic stuff indeed ... with forceful choruses and compelling jump-up-and-down moments. When they're focusing on making you dance around like you're thirteen again, they're very good indeed"
Rhythm & Booze:
" ...shows that the Stiff Kittens are superb songwriters and arrangers. The title track is a catchy pop rock number with gorgeous male/female harmonies on the huge chorus. Strawberry Hill is the kind of song that just begs to be on the radio itÂ¹s bright and breezy number that you can imagine playing at full blast down the motorway on a summer's day. Bound has the band on a more muscular trip with choppy guitars and rockier vocals, the sound of a band destined to be huge, itÂ¹s an anthem in the making. Bound has an air of the Cult ... Stiff Kittens write the kind of songs that most of the current crop of Welsh bands can only dream about writing, you only need to listen to Strawberry Hill and Bound once and youÂ¹re be hooked ... "
Z-Warp HardRock Radio:
What can I tell you, we were blown away by the artistic ability of this band. They are billed as Welsh rock's hottest ticket and last great hope. I can tell you that the Welsh rock scene is in good hands.
New Welsh Music:
" ... Nice chimes and distant guitar crashes, rich layers and a slow rolling chorus make this sound very good and highly professional ... influences from U2 to the Manics. Big riding guitars and spaced vocals, rousing chorus and pounding hooks. I like this one a lot, sounding like a an escapee from Bono's early songbook ... "
US Rock Tipsheet:
"Vibrant, viscous, and altogether charming ... they're Blink 182 exchanging pleasantries with Slade, meeting Mike Peters, "Boy" era U2, then a welcoming dose from The Waterboys ... well collected Modern Rock that's neither clichÃ© nor contrived, but well composed and sensuous ... They weave Radio Ready Rock tones with breezy effects and chugging chord changes; melodic charm with spiritual undercurrents, comfortable to rise above the mainstream as they are gliding two or three feet beneath, unafraid to bend a note or two, plagiarize A Ramones Riff or cop a chorus or three or four. Their style is "BIG" yet earthy, Cult-like in stature, with a post-Punk freshness ... "Won't Reach The Fifth" is sensationally charged with an anthemic passion that combines a hard edge with lush melodies, vocal clarity and spacious backing, reverberating arena-based audibility with familial sincerity ... quite simply a class act !!! ... editor"
Rockzilla USA Commented:
"As a bonus track, the Kittens have included an acoustic version of "Strawberry Hill" that shows a completely different side of the band. There is a bit of a John Lennon vibe about this passionate, melancholy version. Take away the British vocal lilt and this song will fit smack dab in the middle of the American Radio Dial."
Local Press Say:
"STIFF KITTENS, the up and coming Welsh Rock act and, unbeknownst to security, the last band to play Wembley Stadium, were recently confirmed as support for Feeder at this year's Ross International Festival ... a joyous guitar-laden racket driven along by the heavy drums ... "You Crush Me" seems to have a Bluetones vibe to it, suggesting that the band are interested in more than just jumping on the Cool Cymru bandwagon, the Stiff Kittens desire to be "tomorrow's news" ... professionalism and determination second to none"
Music Fan Review:
Band: Stiff KittensCD: Promo
With influences as diverse as The Cult, The Cure, Nirvana, the Mission, and the Manics, Stiff Kittens come across as a very solid band simply brimming with musical talent. The three tracks on this promo sampler are taken from their second album 'Won't Reach The Filth'. The opening track on this offering is a tribute to Kurt Cobain simply titled 'Kurt Cobain'. A catchy track that soon has you bounding around in your seat with your foot tapping furiously. Hugely addictive, it's one that's guaranteed to get the crowd going at even the coldest of gigs. Starting with a mid tempo guitar solo it soon bursts into life with the help of loud and proud drums and guitars. This particular track smacks very much of the Manic's and without sounding like a poor mans copy of this legendary band, the song stands strong on it's own. Indeed if this were a band to go in for singles then this one would be a prime choice to hit the airwaves with. Well structured it balances the need to keep the tempo lively enough to get the listener to actually listen, while combining this with some thoughtful pauses before bursting into action again. Nothing hurried, nothing rushed, but certainly nothing sleepy about this little gem. By the time the second track comes on you realize just how talented these four musicians are. 'The Liar's Song' has all the ingredients of a rock anthem with its catchy chorus and exciting guitar riffs. Almost punk like in attitude it's in your face and teases you into quick submission. Ever stage dived before? No?? Well just wait till you hear the band perform this live, I bet you'll be up there climbing above the heads of your fellow man to ride the waves of frenzied fans. Last song on this sampler is 'The Moth Collection'. Now when I saw the name of this I thought ... what the heck is that all about? Oh but when it comes on, gradual building up with the guitars like a horse breaking from a trot to a canter to a gallop, it captures your imagination as you eagerly wait for it to break into song. An excellent example of the diversity this band are able to produce in their work it's the closest thing to the spirit of U2 I have heard in a long time. It's slightly more sedated than the earlier two tracks but sang with commitment and passion. Such an emotional song that will catch you rather surprised in comparison to the other two tracks. If this was put on in a club I am sure that 99% of the people there would just get up and dance automatically to it and presume it was the new U2 single. Believe me it really is that good and is probably my favourite out of the three. Well saved till last.The band are currently working on their third album, which they hope to release later this year. Watch out for "Bullets ... The New Black ???" and the tour, which is destined to follow. Hailing from the Blackwood area of South Wales, this band are here to show you that there are alternative exports to sheep coming out of there JI for one will be keeping my fingers crossed they venture up North so that we can check them out and see them perform these songs in all their glory. This is not a band that you say will 'perhaps' make it, this is a band that you know 'will' break it and when they do they'll do it big time. Track Listing:1. Kurt Cobain2. The Lair's Song3. The Moth Collection
The Whole Sorry Tale For The Completeists Out There:
Gary was in a band with three other "no-hopers" from Bargoed, South Wales (his home town), called SHAKE DOG SHAKE and Steve was in band with four other "no-hopers" from Blackwood (his home town) called MIDNIGHT FX.
SHAKE DOG SHAKE was a sleazy rock band in the vein of Faster Pussycat, LA Guns, and Guns 'n' Roses whilst Steve's band was an altogether more pop rock affair, with cover versions of Bryan Adams Summer of 69 etc. Following a Rock n Roll defection Gary had a brief spell in Steve's band and made a few immediate suggestions on improving their sound by maybe grunging it up a bit and was promptly sacked. He went back to SHAKE DOG SHAKE with his tail between his legs, and they continued, for a while, as the gloriously loud no-hopers they had always been.
Then one day, young Gary was at home working out a new song with a double harmony guitar part, which was proving a bitch to pin down and knowing that Steve was highly competent at working things like this out, he made that call. Steve gladly assisted in figuring out the guitar section and casually mentioned that MIDNIGHT FX had since imploded. Gary immediately invited him over for a jam with the no-hopers and an unlikely, and unholy, alliance was formed.
SHAKE DOG SHAKE split through lack of enthusiasm and the drummers predilection for Night Nurse but the newly joined partnership of Steve Price and Gary Law continued to write songs, eventually forming a new band: BRAVE NEW WORLD.
Steve got in touch with TY, the bass player from his old band and TY sorted out a drummer, who's name was Tapper. Tapper was about 268 years old and had played in bands since he could beat his very first skin. TY would never rehearse though and they found another Bass player Adam, a recovering addict but fine player. They also found themselves a singer, Richard Pullen, who was into soul music and started playing stuff like Mustang Sally and Stand by Me mixed with stuff by the Cult and Led Zepllin etc. Adam never got on with Tapper, not good for a rhythm section, so, after a huge and bloody bust up, following a gig in deepest Maesteg, Adam quit. Tapper and Gary immediately found Bill at a jam night at the local rock pub (most towns have one, just follow your nose) Bill was a punk who had once successfully auditioned for the Manic Street Preachers but decided that they weren't hard enough (DOH!!!).
They continued playing their unique set of punk, soul and rock covers plus about 10 of their own songs that Steve and Gary were writing. "Circles" and "Tracks" were two of the earliest and having a lot of laffs until... Richard got ill. He was constantly in and out of hospital, which was very frustrating for the band. Then one day he dropped out of a Cardiff gig and they decided to do it anyway as they had already packed the van and filled it with diesel.
The reluctant Gary was voted singer for the night, by default, as he was the only one who knew most of the words. They played a few more gigs with Richard and then he started cancelling more and more gigs. Unbeknownst to him, they would just play the gigs anyway without him. They were not happy with the situation but needed the money to progress. Eventually they sadly had to part company from Richard, Gary being the unlucky b^stard that had to tell him he'd taken over is frontman duties for the sake of the band and move things on.
They played all over the place from then on, building a respectable if strange following all across the UK. Then one summer, Tapper suddenly finished with the band, so after using a session drummer to cover a few gigs they found a feisty new drummer, Lisa. So began a new era and a new name, STIFF KITTENS. They all played their respective balls off (including Lisa) for the next year or more and also found some time to record their debut disc, PROGRESS, at BIG NOISE RECORDERS, CARDIFF, with Greg Haver who worked on the Manics "Everything must go album". The Manics previous album, "The Holy Bible" had been recorded in its entirety at BIG NOISE RECORDERS.
The late 90's saw them making more headway, touring Scotland and France, along with a hectic schedule of home gigs and the recording of new material MAN OF STRAW EP, at LE'MONS STUDIO in Newport, in 1998.
Bill decided at the end of that summer that he wanted to spend more time with his family, so the video for the Liars song, shot for Channel 4 TV was his last appearance with the band. Richard Murray, a former roadie, ably stepped into the breach but this was to prove to be another problematic arrangement.
Richard was a "lovable rogue", who liked his ale, which at times affected his performance on the bass, but they managed to get into TWIN PEAKS STUDIO in 1999 to start work on their 2nd album WON'T REACH THE FIFTH, completing this epic work during 2000. The album was recorded and produced by Adam Faust who is perhaps best know for his work with The Who. Adam has an impressive and expansive collection of old vintage guitars and amps that the band used to great effect on the WRTF. Recording was occasionally strained but Won't Reach The Fifth was bravely delivered ahead of schedule and released to much critical acclaim, gaining the band very many new fans. Following the WRTF's big success, they returned to Twin Peaks at the end of the year to record some more new songs for what will eventually become the first tracks of their highly anticipated third studio album: BULLETS THE NEW BLACK ???
Just as things were set fair, their first real taste of potential success and unbalanced commitment caused the band to self destruct, leading initially to the dismissal of Richard the Bass Player. Steve manfully took on the roll of Bass and they continued to play as a Trio throughout 2002 with gigs all over the UK, including several important showcases in London. A recording session was arranged with Producer Steve Brown (Cult/Manics/Mansun), who had seen them at one of their gigs, but both parties were reluctant to work with the now unreliable drummer. An excellent session drummer Sarah Jones was used to record the three tracks that made it onto the resulting double A Side "Hunger"/"Gutless the Wonderboy" single. Sarah's studio work was incredible and complemented the professional and proficient Riff engine that is STIFF KITTENS. Steve Brown and the management team were delighted by the results and the bands future was secured. So it was time for Steve and Gary, not without trepidation, to search for a suitable replacement rhythm section to take on the road. Salvation was found in the shape of their new drummer Gez and Bass man Rob! Amen! A rhythm section to die for! Stiff Kittens are now writing new material faster and better than ever, packing all the explosive riffary they are known for with an added dimension of power playing to up the anti. Some of this new material will see the light of day very soon as "The Raven Sessions" EP, accompanying this pack.
Now thoroughly deserving the current attentions from the likes of Producer Steve Brown, Kodak, a number of UK "Indie" labels and a division of Sony Music in the US, they are finally being recognised for their years of hard work at the sharp end, it's glory time...
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