SF Local Band Spotlight: Sit Kitty Sit

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How’d you come up with the name of the band?
Kat:  A friend of ours was making fun of the way I move around in my seat while I play the piano.  “Sit, Kitty. Sit still!” And the name was born. An ongoing joke is that my legs are the third member of the band.

How would you describe your sound?
Kat: We call it “hard piano rock,” like The Dresden Dolls mixed with PJ Harvey and a dash of Muse.

Mike: Imagine a tiger riding a Vespa …  Ferocious, yet gentle.

When did you first become interested in playing music?
Kat:  Since I started breathing I think, haha.  I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t completely enthralled with music. Even as a baby.

Mike:  At first when I was about 7 or 8, but that was short lived.  Then when I turned 10 I saw Pink Floyd’s Delicate Sound of Thunder concert on video and that flipped a switch for me.  I really got into the drums and percussion and started taking private lessons from there.   My dad is also a drummer so it helped to have him show me a few pointers as I was learning the basics.

What’s the strangest or funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show?
Kat:  The mosh pit in front of us hit the microphone and it nailed me right in the mouth.  I was bleeding but just kept going, haha. It was pretty awesome.

Mike:  Haha, I remember that show.  It was in Reno and one of our first shows on the road.  There were like 5 people there making noise as if there were 500.  Epic. 

There have been quite a few bizarro shows along the way.  Like the time we played a hockey rink in Germany, or on a broken toy drumkit in the basement (dungeon) of a club in Paris, or a pretentious coffee shop in Colorado that kept telling us to “turn down” so much so that I had to stop playing all together, or maybe playing next to the buffet at a Chinese restaurant in Oregon.  Man, I love the road.

What are you listening to these days?
Kat:  Lately a lot of Paul Simon and dance music.  I’m also really into podcasts when I drive. Right now it’s My Favorite Murder and Last Podcast on the Left.

Mike:  Pretty much a constant stream of The Howard Stern Show.  Best interviews ever.

What’s your take on why so many musicians are leaving San Francisco for Oakland?
Kat: Cost of living first and foremost.  I got priced out of SF myself. I live down closer to Santa Cruz now and commute into SF two or three times a week for rehearsals and such.  It was sad to leave but it just got too hard to live on what a working musician makes. It’s still a real struggle. The folks I know that went over to Oakland aren’t having any easier of a time.  It’s rough out there.

Mike:  Nailed it.

What are some of your favorites hangs in the Bay Area?
Kat: For live music Bottom of the Hill and Amnesia are still my favorites.  We have had all four of our Record Release parties at Bottom of the Hill. It’s tradition!

Mike: Honestly, I don’t do all that much hanging anywhere anymore.  Between the day job and all the SKS work, it doesn’t leave for much free time.  If I find I do have the energy on nights I have free I’ll try and check out any one of the several shows my friends are doing at any given time.

What does music mean to you?
Kat:  Music is just me.  I don’t know life without it so it’s hard to say.  I constantly have music running through my head. When I’m lucky or have enough time I write it down and that’s what you hear on our albums.

Mike:  And thank God for that! Haha … Yeah, I may have had a 100 jobs in my lifetime but I’ve only ever identified as a musician.

How’d you guys first get together to play music?
Kat: We sort of officially met when a mutual friend of ours asked me to record some organ parts on an EP they were recording.  A few months later I had a recording project of my own where I needed heavy drums and ended up asking Mike if he could help me out.  We played together so naturally, it freaked us both out a bit.

Mike:  Yeah. It was only supposed to be one song and see ya later type thing.  I don’t think we even rehearsed the song together before going into the studio.  So naturally, when we unleashed hell outta nowhere we were both like “Uhhhh, what?!” Our engineer was equally perplexed.  Clearly, we were onto something.

What inspires you to write?
Kat:  Haha, everything and nothing?  I constantly have music running through my head and it took me a good while to learn how to just write it down without trying to edit it.  Sometimes I will purposefully write music to be “about” something, other times it’s just whatever was in there and sometimes. I don’t even know what the songs are about for a long time afterward.  It feels kind of like a love/hate relationship you would have with a sibling.

You just came out with a new album entitled Tectonic. What’s the meaning behind the title?
Kat:  Very soon after our last album came out in 2014 both of us started going through a bunch of tragedies in our personal lives.  It was just a really bad time. One blow after another that ended up lasting for years. When the sun finally started to come up Mike suggested we dedicate the whole album to purging all that negative stuff so we could move on.  Tectonic describes how what we went through changed us. Our tectonic plates have shifted. We are the same, but we are also different.

Can you describe the recording process for it?
Kat: Sure. We fine-tuned everything in our studio here in SF.  Figured out all the arrangements and such. Then we headed to Reno, NV for a week solid last September to record with Rick Spagnola at Dogwater Studios. We record everything live facing each other in the studio.  I sing at a fraction of my regular volume as a scratch vocal track with the keys going direct so we can capture Mike’s drums. Then if I need to go in and change my piano parts I do that to the playback of his drum tracks.  Vocals are always done last.

Mike:  Yup. Then comes my favorite part, piecing everything together and tweaking the mix and adding layers of piano or percussion.  I absolutely LOVE being in the studio, which is fortunate because Kat usually can’t wait to leave, haha.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you guys?
Kat: We were complete strangers when we started working together.  We didn’t hang in the same social circles or even have more than like 3 or 4 friends in common.  In fact, we were pretty much just work colleagues for the first 3 years that SKS existed. It wasn’t until we went on our first national tour in 2013 that we started actually talking to each other and became real friends.  Now we’re basically attached at the hip, Haha.

Mike:  Ha!! Yeah, I don’t think we really “met” until our first tour.  What a trip.

What’s your favorite neighborhood in the city and why?
Kat:  That’s a hard question to answer.  I have such good memories in so many of them.  The Tenderloin will always have a soft spot in my heart because that’s the first place I had my very own huge studio apartment and every day just going outside was an adventure.  Bernal Heights always feels like you’re escaping to a small town in Colorado for an afternoon. My first job in SF was in Hayes Valley which I still love even though it looks completely different now.  The Embarcadero, Cole Valley … the list goes on.

Mike:  I gotta go with North Beach on this one.  Being an Italian boy from the East Coast that neighborhood feels most like home.  The food is obviously great but I also love the underlying seediness and history of the neighborhood 😉

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
Kat: About me personally?  That I’m an introvert. I have to gear up to be around a lot of people and then afterward I need to be a hermit to recharge my batteries.

Mike:  I love opera.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?
Kat: Yes!  We just released an album. Please check out Tectonic on Spotify, Bandcamp, iTunes and all the usual places.  We also have our music video for the first single, “Paper Doll,” out on our Youtube Channel.

What’s next for Sit Kitty Sit?
Kat:  We’re hitting the road to promote the new album.  In June we’ll be in the Pacific Northwest, in July in the Wisconsin and Chicago-land area.  In August we’re heading down to SoCal and September in Texas, October in New England. All of that will be mixed in with a lot of fun Bay Area shows.  As dates are confirmed they’re all on our website and on Bandsintown.

Mike:  Onward through the fog!

An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

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