When chatting with the members of Kitten Forever – the Minneapolis-based punk trio who treated fans on the third and final day of Riot Fest to an early afternoon performance full of grit, gusto and the type of down and dirty rock and roll that felt tailor-made for attendees of the beloved Chicago music festival – it is instantly clear that they love punk music.
From sharing their DIY performance approach to singing the praises of their friends in the scene, to fanning out over their love of acts like That Dog., Gogol Bordello and Cap’n Jazz (a throwback personal favorite of multi-instrumentalist Corrie Harrigan), Kitten Forever preaches the gospel of punk with unabashed passion.
Rebellious Magazine got a chance to catch up with the band – comprised of Corrie Harrigan, Laura Larson and Liz Elton – backstage at Riot Fest to talk about new music, upcoming tour dates and the experience of opening the Radicals Stage where Paramore headlined later that night.
“I think we had a lot of people camped out for our set, who were there from the moment the gates opened, to see Paramore, which was kind of awesome,” said Elton of their Sept. 17 set. “We were talking earlier about how, ‘If you like Paramore, you just might like Kitten Forever.’” Larson added, “It was super fun. We were a little nervous about playing so early in the day, but it actually ended up being really great.”
Fans soon learned that a Kitten Forever concert is unlike any other as the group seamlessly swapped instruments during their set, creating a fluid exchange that kept festival-goers on their toes while blurring the line between performer and crowd. Their use of a telephone-style microphone produced an interesting degree of vocal distortion as the familiar object subtly relaxed fans into a realm of familiarity.
“The phone feels like an iconic image,” said Elton. “I always think about that snippet in ‘The Punk Singer’ where Kathleen Hannah talks about how you can be in your own room making a Julie Ruin record. I always think about our mic phone as this thing that if only the audience had the wire connected to them it would really all come together.”
Harrigan, who also provides vocals, enjoys the telephone mic’s feminine twist. “It does an interesting thing too which is it changes the way you sing as a front person. There’s an image in my mind of punk music being sung into a traditional microphone as really masculine. It’s like some Henry Rollins’ sh*t or something,” she said. “Holding the phone up to your face the way we do changes how you move around.”
Kitten Forever certainly knows their way around large stages like those at Riot Fest, but they plan to truly get up-close and personal with fans during their upcoming midwest tour, which finds the trio returning to Chicago in October. “We just recorded a new album that we will hopefully put out in the early new year. We’re going to be touring on it so we’re really excited about that,” said Larson.
Houses, basements and other intimate spaces associated with the DIY scene will play host to Kitten Forever throughout the upcoming trek. “There’s something magical about DIY punk,” explained Harrigan. “Despite its shortcomings and flaws, which there are many of, it’s an incredible network of people – that feels like a weird community – that you’re a part of and that tour the country together, play in each other’s homes, stay in each other’s homes, buy each other’s records and support each other.”
Just because Kitten Forever is well-bonded in the DIY community doesn’t mean that they don’t rock out to pop music every now and again. “We’re all super into Carly Rae Jepsen right now,” said Elton. The group has even covered the “I Really Like You” songstress a time or two.
As Riot Fest veterans, Kitten Forever took time out to give a few recommendations for future festivals, saying, “Bring us back, put us on the same stage as Carly Rae and book even more women bands.”