An Interview With The Hyperdrive Kittens
A new single and video release from The Hyperdrive Kittens hits those classic punk and rock sweet spots that touch on a theatrical style and a ton of character which is what this band is really all about. The Hyperdrive Kittens are bursting with character, and it shines with that perfect edgy balance and gusto.
The new single is called "Rocky Road" and it just feels exciting and fun to crank out loud as the band and singer all come together with a lighthearted but closed fisted style that hits surf and motorcycle rock with a charm to boot.
The single leaves its mark with a soiree of rock fun that has a way of getting you off your ass to start jumping around the room or singing along.
You also get the feeling this band is insane to see live and from the video it looks like a lot of damn fun.
The music video itself also just does an amazing job of showing their presence as a band. It's all quite colorful but never loses that rough edginess to it which is a great balance all in all.
The Hyperdrive Kittens are known for rocking out and creating a good time doing it and this single is no expectance to that rule whatsoever. As a matter of fact, "Rocky Road" is the embodiment of what this band is all about.
A great way to start off your infatuation with The Hyperdrive Kittens, this track gets you hooked fast and if you like than you'll like other releases from them without question.
With the release of such a lively single, we wanted to touch base with the band to find out where this came from and what may be next for them
Here's what happened.
BuzzSlayers: Let's kick things off with "Rocky Road". This song has a classic style and attitude to it. Where did this song come from?
Rocky Road is a song written by Kittens founder Lee Sanders brought to new heights by this batch of Kittens—it was an easy first pick when we decided to record a new album. It really started with Lee and Jenene talking one day, you know just the typical conversation about Candy and Sex Play. It became Candyland only with a whole new rulebook! ....using Pop Rocks, there was a Big Hunk joke, Mr. Goodbar, Junior Mint – musings like “what do they really mean” and “are Candy Bar names sexual”?
A hard driving punkabilly groove and raunchy guitars suited and so Rocky Road was written---Lee loved The Cramps and The Ramones.... got inspiration from Eddy Cochran and Collins Kids.... and the Pogues.
BuzzSlayers: When did this all start for you guys?
Jenene met Lee Sanders in the late -80s, probably 1989 on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley. At first they were just goofing around with a 4 track and Ziggy Stardust....but raised the bar to wanting to drink some beer and play New York Dolls and Ramones covers. From this the Kittens were borne and played most the
East Bay and San Francisco haunts with Singles distributed on Outpunk and Munster Records. In the 90’s...maybe 1994 or 95, Marta connected with Lee at Subway Guitars on Cedar St. in Berkeley.
She had come back from New York where she played in a band & wound up meeting Alex Scolnick from Testament. He was teaching guitar as a side hustle and she signed on. Marta admits she “was a terrible student”. Lee had a workshop right near Subway where he did guitar repairs and one day mentioned to
Alex “I see you have a female student”. Alex called Marta and said “this guy wants you to audition in band” and she did. She adds “I didn’t make it as guitar player but got promoted to Bass”. Kittens had variety of lineups and finally an extended hiatus caused by creative differences – tumultuous romantic relationships and breakups. Marta recalls “Jenene was out prowling around already but we played until Tigger left the band. Lee didn’t want to do the Kittens without a female singer so we morphed to a power-trio.” As Rabid Rat Fondue, the band put out three records, then did a Partridge Family act billed as the three surviving members of the 1977 fabled bus crash. Marta remembers playing at Borders bookstore in Union City and sinches the success as “people would buy the Patridge Family records and have us sign them.”
2015 Kittens reformed thanks to good timing and Dave Dalton of the Screaming Bloody Mary’s. Dave was getting his band together and told Jenene, “you (Hyperdrive Kittens) should really get back together”. The timing was right and that’s exactly what Lee, Marta and Jenene did. Lee met Billie
Duffey at Thin Man Music on Webster (Alameda) and since she played bass, Marta got promoted again-- this time to Guitar! The 1st practices were even held at Thin Man in a room they had out back.
In 2016 The Kittens put out Back to the Alley which included early hits like Addiction and previously released Singles, plus new songs Roommate Hell, Vicki and Child of the Night. It was the last release with Lee who unexpectedly died in 2018 and the Kittens were once again on hiatus. Within a couple of
years though, it was clear this band needed to keep going. Some demos and unfinished songs by Lee exist, yet unreleased and the spirit to continue three decades of raging and rocking remains....it was a purrrfect place to start. Pat Duffey got pulled in for lead guitar and eventually after some stalking,
Tymber (Slam Suzzanne, The Deadlies) agreed to come jam and everything just clicked –the drummer Lee always would have wanted.
Fast forward to today, the Kittens are back! ...and sassier than ever. Lee posthumously joins the current gLitter of Kittens for a track on the upcoming EP The Meow Factor in a song called 6th Street Rendezvous.
6th Street Rendezvous is a true recount of the early Kitten days and features Lee on vocals with Jenene, as well as playing guitar, banjo and various other instruments. Then, the Kittens use up one more of their
9-lives when mishap detains Billie and Pat in Mexico for an undetermined duration during the recording and producing Rocky Road. Tommy Lafferty (Voodoo X, Crown of Thorns, Jean Beauvoir, From the Fire) stepped up to the plate and is featured on Rocky Road solo so we got the record done. Plus, he now has Tommy Cat officially added to his Axeman moniker as he and Rob Niedel--the Robcat-- completes us on bass as we leap into the coming year with awesome live shows and more mewsic coming. New Kittens
bring exciting new twists and sounds to the band currently vocals, two guitars, bass and drums—their own parallel backgrounds blending and amplifying the Hyperdrive Kittens story... TO BE CONTINUED!!
BuzzSlayers: What inspires you to write a song?
Emotions and Life!! Roommate Hell came from horrible roommate and Jenene having lyrics & the muse—knowing it would be rock and roll / angry rock ---and Lee cooked up the particulars. Lee wanted to write a song about Jenene and her friends which turned into Cruisin and Boozing. Like that. It can be some words, a thought or reaction or hearing a riff or groove and what it makes you feel..... always with a playful Hyperdrive spin added.
BuzzSlayers: This song has some great styles! Can you give us some of your top musical influences?
Yeah sure, there’s shared influences and then some divergence with individual influences, especially as new Kittens come in and the sound changes a bit. For the main course, musical influences definitely include The Cramps, Rocky Horror, New York Dolls, The Ramones, Rancid. The Stones were huge for Lee, and later in life Terry Kath guitarist from early Chicago, Underdog, The Beatles. AND Pop Culture as musical influences too.... cartoons, jingles, the Partridge family. .... and for side dishes toss in some Runaways, Pat Benatar, B-52s and Olivia Newton John, Husker Du, Brian Setzer, Chuck Berry, Krupa and the Clash.
BuzzSlayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
Ha! There’s time outside of working on music? Really?? Okay, so if we can’t count any music related stuff we do –that doesn’t leave much time!! Our respective side gigs to pay the bills, get out and support our musical friends & scene, hangout with friends, get some sleep, catch a movie, do outside stuff like biking, hiking,
yoga—normal fun stuff. AND scheme of new songs, new shows, new places and new friends and having more fun making music!
BuzzSlayers: Who's in your headphones right now?
Black Sabbath, Bee Gees, Bowie, Pat Benatar, Cheap
Trick, Mott the Hoople, Husker Du, Sweet, The Jellyfish Method, Jim Croce and Deep Purple, Joyous Wolf and White Reaper
BuzzSlayers: Are you doing any live performances right now?
Yes & booking 2023 right now –clubs, festivals, private events!! (wink/wink) We ended 2022 with a super fun show back where it all started –
Telegraph Ave Holiday Street Fair – it was a blast. We kick off 2023 with three awesome shows and plan to be busy playing out to support The Meow Factor coming out February. The three local dates are: South Bay show at Quarter Note Saturday, Jan 14th with San Jose locals The New Nothings. Then a blow-out planned for Jan 28th at Winters Tavern in Pacifica – the best dive bar on the coast!
We’ll support SoCal’s No Small Children and The New Nothings join us again opening the show. THEN, and we’re super excited to announce our official EP Release Party is Friday, February 10th at the Fireside
Lounge-- hometown show in Alameda!! We’ll have The Meow Factor CDs available, as well as all our merch plus play a very steamy set with plans for that party to go well into the night!
BuzzSlayers: This song feels like a big undertaking, is there any advice you'd give to other up and coming bands out there?
Absolutely.... Go be a doctor – run don’t walk away. . . work in tech, get a
job at google!! jk -- If it’s in you, you’ll have to do it--- and be yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously and just have fun. If you’re having fun and are excited, others will be too. Be bold, take chances, be humble, play with the best people that will tolerate you and keep your eyes, ears and heart open.
BuzzSlayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
Budokan 2024! More cat videos! A little magic, new music, escape of doomsday.
Rocky Road is our first single, along with the music video, from our upcoming EP The Meow Factor which drops February 2023 and was mastered by East Bay Ray. The video for Rocky Road was so much fun to make and Jenene’s 1st official video and we are thrilled that Dennis Willis stepped in to produce what we shot, and
SoundwavesTV for premiering it – we hope you love Rocky Road and it brings good feelings to all! Really, check out the great things Soundwaves is doing to bring us all together and elevate Bay Area music scene!
More videos are planned for The Meow Factor plus we’ve got more music coming down the pipeline for live shows and future releases. Come join us in our hyperdrive world. More purring, definitely MORE PURRING.
BuzzSlayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
A really really Big Thank You..... we feed off of that energy! The Kittens are carrying the torch of Lee Sanders and his music – plus we’re breaking new barriers that he would have loved. Friends and Fans keep us rolling. It is so f’n cool to we see a fan that still has the shirt from the ‘90’s and is still wearing it ---and then they come to this new iteration and are grabbing a CD and rocking out to the show. A comment, a hello, a smile – bring it! This is our musical family, this is our why --- we love you. Meee-ow!
Our website and YouTube channel has more story, music and Kitten mews!
Rocky Road /Smart Link: https://hyperdrivekittens.com/landing-rocky-road-release
Tour Dates: https://hyperdrivekittens.com/shows