“Being as individual as possible at all times and following your own path is generally a good thing in the field of music, and an idea which I come here to praise rather than to bury. It brings its own problems, though. Music, in 2011 as in the last fifty (eighty? Ten thousand?) years, tends to be organised into a series of scenes and social groups, based around sonic similarities and/or shared ideals. This helps forge connections and builds an interest in your band. You know all this though, right? Well, a lot of people don’t know Spider Kitten, even though they have now been a going concern for a decade, so I’m here to give you a bit of a nudge in that direction.
Spider Kitten began in 2001 in Newport, a tatty and despondent city in South Wales, as a two-piece band with no drummer. They are now (at their most populated) a seven-piece band with four guitarists and a drummer called Chris, who used to play bass in dearly departed South Wales metal band Taint but now hits sonorous surfaces like he wants them to be actually dead. The two longest standing members are Chi and Al, who over the last ten years have guided Spider Kitten through:
– monstrously slow experimental drone metal in thrall to Earth’s ‘Earth 2’ and the Melvins’ ‘Lysol’
– slightly less slow, significantly more structured doom-tinged grunge of the pre-‘Nevermind’ kind (which predated the rebirth of grunge cool by a good three or four years)
– a near-impossible-to-categorise hybrid of muscled-up classic rock and drum machine-driven industrial
– shockingly lush epic psychedelia that’s like 70s Pink Floyd if they were private pressing basement outsiders
…which brings us up to now, and a band who still have big chunks of all these things floating in their DNA but have painted themselves into a glorious corner, where almost any new musical direction seems plausible and logical. When not doing Spider Kitten stuff, members of the band also make depressive solo black metal; punky sludge filth a la Eyehategod; spazzed-out grindcore; nerve-shredding digital harsh noise and jangly slacker indie. Dudes wear Saint Vitus patches on their jackets and post proudly on Facebook about nights in listening to Eagles LPs. Spider Kitten is where it all comes together in one towering, enveloping dirge.
If you profess to have an interest in guitar music that is heavy, doom-laden, crushingly amplified (the band are obsessed with vintage analogue amps and perfectly tweaked guitar tone – I don’t need to go into detail, but suffice to say it’s all for your benefit) and underground, you should really be listening to Spider Kitten. Note! This is not me ragging on you for not having done so yet. Although the band has been a determinedly DIY pursuit since the start, releasing all their stuff either on their own Rugland label or as free downloads via www.spider-kitten.com, they have never been ones to fire off rounds of indeterminate spam, or ingratiate themselves with the ‘right’ people du jour. Also, there’s that thing I was banging on about at the start, of never quite fitting into one category or another.
And yet: over time, drop by drop, smart folks from round these parts have picked up on Spider Kitten’s independent spirit, and indeed their megariffs. People go and watch them play now; they hosted a six-hour Cardiff mini-fest in August called Loserpalooza, where a ton of local rivetheads and curious Georges came in right at the start, and stayed until the end. A kind of payback for plugging away doing this shit when no-one cared. Now it’s time to get this show on the road and pressure-hose it into the ears of smart folks from elsewhere who ought to care. Why not be one of them? Come on, you read this all the way to the end, it’d be a shame to bow out now.”
Words by Noel Gardner 2011