Kitten: The SXSW Q&A
If music is a young person’s game, then Kitten are in good shape. The under-21 band from L.A., led by the way-too-charismatic-for-a-teenager Chloe Chaidez, has already gotten a bunch of blog love (including a thrilling little performance they did for us) and a spot on Paramore‘s tour without even releasing a debut album. And they’re here in Austin to show everyone at South by Southwest that they’re no fluke.
Upon meeting the affable, endearingly odd five-some, I got to thinking about how weird music is. That you can throw a bunch of strangers in a room, and when a smaller bunch of strangers makes music in the center of it, everyone relates to everyone else and has a collective emotional experience. I thought that because I realized these guys had spent most of the week (and their time as a band) entertaining people who are one, two decades older than them. The whole “connecting through music” thing is helped, of course, when your songs have the mature sonic structure and atmospheric pull demonstrated by Kitten.
But enough of that music blogger philosophizing. In between Kitten’s nine SXSW shows, I spoke with the five members (Chloe, Lukas Frank, Bryan DeLeon, Waylon Rector and Zach Bilson) about important things like stage banter, rock ethics and their favorite barbecue in Austin. Check it out below.
When you’re doing a string of shows in one day, are there patterns? Is the last one always best? Waylon: The middle or the last are always the best.
Chloe: When everyone’s drunk.
Waylon: Wednesday we played a show in the morning, it was whatever. Then we played one at The Belmont, it was awesome, and at night a good one at a little bar.
Do you generally like performing for drunk people? All: Yes!
Chloe: I think every band does.
Zach: Drunk people like to party, and we like to party, so it works out. Symbiotic relationship.
What’s your philosophy on stage banter? Chloe: I’m terrible at it. I try to say as little as possible.
Lukas: Keeps it mysterious.
Chloe: Some people think I’m mad, but I’m not.
Lukas: I like it when bands don’t talk. That’s why you watch interviews. I like just a thank you at the end.
Chloe: If I have a joke, I’ll then repeat it at other shows. Oh, I just gave away our secrets!
What’s the best food you’ve had here? All: Iron Works.
Lukas: And we had some great pho, too.
Zach: I had a burrito from the Chi’Lantro truck and a guy I was talking to in line bought it for me, so shouts out to Lee if you see this. Southern hospitality, man.
There’s quite the corporate footprint here. What’s the most ridiculous sponsorship ploy you’ve seen? Lukas: I like the Dr. Dre pills thing.
Bryan: Except, they were using ambulances for advertising, using real ambulances with sirens on them, that had the Dre logo on them…And there’s the big Doritos bag of course. It could’ve been bigger, to be honest.
How many fans have hit on you here? Bryan: Last night I had to play on the floor, and I was actually playing the keyboard during the show, and this girl was being really flirtatious while I was playing, and touching my arm. I was like, “That’s nice but I need to, ya know.”
Chloe: Some dude tweeted at us and just said “number for singer please.” The old fans are weird, like the kissing of the hand. But when it’s cute guys, it’s fine.
So cute guys kissing on the hand is fine? Chloe: Oh yeah, that’s totally cool.
Waylon: What about cute old guys?
How many fans have you guys hit on during South By? Bryan: Oh man, come on!
Chloe: No honestly, you have to keep that relationship separate. That’s a serious thing.
Bryan: When I first joined the band, there was this girl I thought was really cute, and I told Chloe I was gonna go talk to her. And she’s like, “No dude, you can’t do that. She’s a fan, she’s been to multiple shows!”
Chloe: It makes things awkward.
Bryan: Chloe was right.
Sounds like you’re one of the most ethical bands in rock history. Waylon: This is the first I’ve heard about this! I flirt with fans all the time.
Bryan: Yeah we’re a pretty tame band. We’re not trying to, like, have crazy hookups after the show and get fucked up. We just like to hang out and play.
Waylon: Play video games.
Bryan: I meant play music, but.
Zach: I also meant video games.
Which ones? Waylon: At Lukas’ house we play Super Smash Bros. on the GameCube. That’s a fun one. That’s just a classic.
Zach: I’m an RPG guy, I’ve been on Persona 3 recently. Yeah, I’m just gonna stop myself here before I embarrass everyone.