SPIDER KITTEN AND PUS are two of the most prominent bands in the heavy music scene in Cardiff. I have had the pleasure of shaking their hands (as a greeting, nothing sinister) and here they share their thoughts on all things riff related.
Please tell the readers something about your respective bands – a potted history if you will.
Chi (Spider Kitten): Spider Kitten formed in 2001 as a 2 piece, guitar and computer, and spent a few years making eerie drone. After a while we decided to write some more structured material, so we got another guitarist and a bass player and started using a drum machine. We spent many years working like this, putting out releases on CDr and mp3. Then, last year, Chris West (the bass player in Taint) offered to play drums for us. Of course we were up for that so we started playing shows with him. At the moment we have 2 drummers and we play a different set with each. Over the years we’ve put out about 18 releases. Personally I prefer the recording process more than playing live. We don’t tour, none of us have the desire to, but we do play gigs all round the UK. The band’s at the stage now where we’re so able to adapt to personnel changes and other things, that I doubt we’ll ever split up. There’ll always be at least one member making music under the name Spider Kitten.
Rhys (Pus): PUS was the bastard love child between Rob and John, they were making droning noisy music for a few years before I joined. The first PUS gig wasn’t one to remember from what I hear, They got put on to the bill with Insect Warfare and Atomck after Desecration had to pull outlast minute, but John couldn’t make it, so Rob had to make do with our mate Huw Davies, who from all accounts just sat there with the guitar as a hand bag (since doesn’t play). The second was with Spider Kitten and Atomck which went somewhat better.
So to cut a long story short, I talked to Rob at an Electric Wizard gig, and then met John and Rob down the local just for a chat about trying out, we got pissed and discussed our love for everything heavy. I tried out and it worked. At this point we didn’t have a drummer, or any rhythm section, so the third gig was my first; I got way to drunk, messed up the songs, and then we ran out of songs, so played them all again. To be honest I don’t know how we did it, but it was awesome!
So we needed a drummer, I only knew Huw Morgan, so he tried out and again, it totally worked, I think it was the best thing we ever did ,cause now we could keep in time! We gigged twice since Huw joined, and it just keeps getting tighter and heavier. The latest addition is Al from Spider Kitten who is on Bass duty (it’s a fair trade since Huw does some drum work with Spider Kitten as well) which has given our sound a whole new dimension, it was low before with just two guitars, now its just crushing.
Please tell me what you think of each other’s bands?
Chi on Pus: Pus are fantastic. They are the nastiest, crustiest, filthiest band I’ve ever heard. There’s no fucking about, 2, maybe 3, riffs per song, badass drums, and Rhys shouting about Lovecraft or Cthulu over the top. We’ll be doing a split release with them this year and, as we now share a rhythm section as well, we’ll be playing lots of gigs with them.
Rhys on Spider Kitten: I saw them for the first time in Newport during the Doomfest back in 2008 I think, and they totally blew me away, I had known of them for a couple of years, and knew that they changed their sound, but that time in Newport was special, I don’t think I stopped head banging all the way through. Another great aspect about them is that at a live gig, your never a 100% sure about where its going to go, and who will be playing! They play anything from Sludge, Drone, Punk, Grunge and Industrial. Best band in South Wales at the moment, hands down.
The scene in Cardiff is pretty cool, seemingly many a keen ear for your sort of music. What is it about Cardiff that helps to promote this sort of music? What are the promoters and venues like in general?
Chi: I don’t think Cardiff has been especially good for this kind of music until the last few years. Spider Kitten had very little luck in Cardiff for the first 6 or 7 years of our existence. We were much bigger in Newport. There’s been a lot more bands of our ilk forming over the last few years, which helps with the overall awareness in Cardiff. However I still think Cardiff is a hard town to play. The rise in popularity of weird heavy music has been helped a great deal by Lesson Number One who are local promoters. They’ve put on all kinds of bands and it’s now sort of accepted within the scene that one of their shows is worth going to even if you’ve never heard of the bands playing. They’re putting Cough on in April and they’ve given us the support slot, which is jolly decent of them.
Rhys: I think there is a great DIY vibe down here, if you want it, go out and do it, no one is going to come to you if you just sit on your ass and complain about not getting any gigs. There are also people willing to put this sort of thing on, especially the Lesson Number One boys, they do a lot for the Underground down here, and give bands who other promoters wouldn’t touch, a chance.
Describe your best gear purchase of the last 5 years?
Chi: Too many to list, but if I had to pick it would either be a Sovtek Mig50 or a ’67 Marshall 4×12.
Rhys: Does my Xbox 360 count? If not, Aradite glue, it seems I have a tendency to be a bit to rough with mic stands, so it comes in handy when they break in half during practise.
If money wasn’t an object which piece of music gear would you buy, and why?
Chi: Sunn Model T. Cliched I know, but I’d love one.
Rhys: I honestly have no idea, umm maybe Lemmy’s Rickenbacker.
If you have one riff played as a loop at your funeral, which riff would it be?
Chi: Almost impossible to answer this one. Probably the opening riff of Boris by Melvins.
Rhys: The opening riff on “Bridges” from Warning’s Watching from a Distance, I love the heaviness of the riff, just makes you want to buckle under its weight, plus the whole feeling on that LP is fit for a funeral, or the riff at the start of “Mind Flowers” by Ultimate Spinach, it’s got a serious trippy vibe, I think it would be an interesting contrast to a funeral, any way, how morbid is this!!!! Haha planning my funeral music when I’m 26!
What are your plans for the band in 2011?
Chi: Well 2011 is our tenth anniversary, so we plan to put out a “greatest hits” type affair, with tongues firmly in cheeks of course. Also we’re going to release one album with each drummer and hopefully Billy Anderson is going to be mixing at least one of them. We’re going to put out a split CD with Pus and a 4 way split 10″ with Pus, Thorun and the mighty Conan. We’ll be doing some gigs as well, but not until the spring as we’ve got a lot of recording to do.
Rhys: We are working on a few things, currently writing the follow up to “Colin” and hopefully being ready to record early this year, sorting out new shirts, as well as a 4 way split with some local bands, as well as a split CDr with Spider Kitten, plus looking for more gigs.
Of your recent releases, which have you been most proud of and why?
Chi: “Rats From A Sinking Ship” is one I’m very proud of as it’s very personal for me lyrically. I write all the lyrics in the band and I tend to write in metaphors or obfuscate what I’ve written, but with Rats.. I just wrote exactly what I was feeling. Pretty scary being laid that bare. I also love our split with Atomck. They’re a grindcore band and as such their songs are very short, so they did 13 one minute songs, and we did 1 seventeen minute song.
Rhys: to date we only have our Demo “Colin” out, the sound on it is terrible, its super low fi, no production, it was basically Rob, John, Me and Huw, with a tape recorder and a mic, in a very small room. I’m proud of it in the sense we got something out there, and it’s just grim as fuck, I love the sound on there, yeah everything was done in one take, but it just sounds so primitive and horrible haha. The art work was done just before a gig we had with Ghast, Spider Kitten and Atomck and we just wanted something to give to people.
Name your 5 top albums?
Chi: In no particular order:
Earth ‘Phase 3’
Pink Floyd ‘Animals’
Leonard Cohen ‘Songs Of Love And Hate’
Black Sabbath ‘Vol4’
Electric Wizard ‘Dopethrone’
Black Flag ‘My War’
Sylvester Anfang II – S/T
Saint Vitus ‘Saint Vitus’
From the top of my head, I think that was the hardest question of all haha.
Describe the difference between these three musical genres and tell me which (if not all) you consider that your band falls into – Doom, Drone, Sludge?
Chi: Doom should have a lightly theatrical gothic feel to it, like St Vitus or Candlemass. Drone does what it says on the tin, so no drums, no coherent vocals or riffs, just tone eg. Earth2. Sludge is like Black Sabbath played whilst on Quaaludes and heroin eg. Eyehategod or Buzzov-en. I think over the years Spider Kitten has fallen into each genre and more. I don’t like to be tied down by labels or have to work within specific rules.
Doom – I think of just great riffs, atmosphere, heavy, and has a groove to it.
Drone – Atmosphere and Tension, kinda consumes you in a wave of sound.
Sludge – Fast and Slow, a fuck you attitude, and usually gets me in trouble after drinking a shit load of whiskey.
Thanks very much for taking the time to answer these questions. Please use this last for any last comments…
Chi: Please go to our download page and get some of our music. It’s at http://spiderkitten.bandcamp.com Almost everything we’ve ever released is available and you can decide how much you want to pay or just download it for free. Or if you’d like to buy a CD, go to http://spiderkitten.bigcartel.com, at the moment we’re trying to raise money to get Billy Anderson to mix a release for us, so every little helps.
Rhys: Yeah, I’d just like to thank the following people and bands for helping us out in 2010, for putting us on or playing with us: Spider Kitten, Atomck, Ghast, Conan, Noel and Adam from Lesson Number One, Chest Rockwell, Andi Morris, Wayne and Vick @The Green Rooms, Volcano Prints, The PUS w.a.g’s (who actually have to put up with us 24/7) Huw, Wayne, and Rod, and all the heads on South Wales Massive and D.f.f.D who have supported us, one way or another. Thanks alot.
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Interviewed by: Jon Davies