Featured Guest is where I interview various cool people I have crossed paths with over the years from musicians to artists, actors, authors and more. Tonight we catch up with the very awesome Kayt Vigil from the group Sonic Wolves. Kayt and I had a great talk about her music history, inspiration and news. Too cool to catch up with the mighty Kayt and talk about life, music, movies, books and more. - G
1.Hey Kayt how’re you and good to talk to you today.
Kayt- Hey there, it's great to talk to you too.
2.Right on thank you. What have you been up to lately and how are things with your band Sonic Wolves? You guys had a 7” record entitled “He said” and then now there is the new full length “Before The End Comes” on Taxi Driver Records.
Kayt- Things are moving right along for Sonic Wolves. In the last few months, we have been playing out to promote both releases, including a recent festival in Genova, Italy that our label Taxi Driver hosted. We have some confirmed dates for a mini EU tour in January of 2017 and we will have more details on that soon. We are also working on booking some other dates in Europe for the next few months. Lately, I personally have been focusing on writing new songs and lyrics for our next album. I'm working out new riffs and just jamming a lot. I've been studying a lot of documentaries, doing online research and reading plenty of reference books to educate myself on my lyrical subjects. Basically, approaching the music as I always do, sorting through a bunch of ideas and streamlining everything in the most creative way possible.
3.Tell us about your experience recording “Before The End” at Ampire Studio in Pistoia with Stefano Tocci?
Kayt- It was great. Stefano is so easy and fun to work with and his studio is really beautiful. It feels like home because it is his home. He has great band mates from his band I.C.O , Deaf Eyes and Karl Marx was a Broker, who came to listen to and support us during the sessions. He and his awesome lady Sabrina would make us dinner while his dog Mia kept us all company while chasing her tail for hours. Even though his studio is located within the city of Pistoia (near Florence), it's in a beautiful and inspiring setting where you can see the Appennini Mountains, so it adds a very empowering feeling to a studio performance. To speak of the experience in the studio for the "Before The End Comes" full length, I must first speak of the "Wolfwitch Demo", for they share the bass and drum lines. Between the two releases it was a somewhat lengthy process taking three separate sessions of 4-5 days on average and many months in between these sessions to transform it from the demo into the full length. So, the first session, which kicked off the "Wolfwitch Demo" era of the recording was begun by Vita, Stefano and me in December of 2014 . Specifically, it was Stefano at the controls and on guitar, Vita on drums and of course me on bass. The second session in April of 2015, was my vocal session. It was done amidst some significant allergy/laryngitis problems I had been suffering. Since visiting a doctor and rescheduling the session in a timely fashion wasn't an option, I downed a lot of lemon and honey, took some antihistamines and I was able to complete my vocal tasks, but with the intention of redoing them later on for the full length. So, in April of 2015 after the demo was out, we were still on the hunt for a guitarist or two because Stefano could not join us as a permanent member. It took a little while, but eventually in July of 2015, our guitarists Diniz and Paul Melotto learned the songs and joined us. We all began jamming and started working on the third and final phase of the recording- the one that transformed it fully from the "Wolfwitch" Demo to the "Before The End Comes" full length. In November of 2015, the four of us went back to Pistoia to add the new guitars, I rerecorded my vocals and we added Paul's vocals as well. This session went very smoothly and we knew at that point we could function well as a band. Taxi Driver Records picked us up and released the album and the story continues.
4.How did you meet Vita (former drummer of Ufomamut) and form the group?
Kayt- In November of 2011, I met Vita on Facebook. He is now as he was then the drummer of Ufomammut. Meeting him was the touch of the Hand of the Fate. I was living in Los Angeles at that time and was playing bass in a band called ...Of The Horizon. One day at a rehearsal, while taking a break we got to talking about great local LA shows and the Ufomammut show from October of 2009 came up. My band mates both said "Wow, Ufomammut was probably the best show we'd seen that year...too bad you missed them, Kayt.." After that rehearsal when I went home, I logged into Facebook and immediately the "People You Might Know" category in the friend request section displayed itself. Lo and behold, guess whose name was the first to appear on that list? That's right. All I could think was "Hey, that's that guy in that band!"! So I sent Vita a friend request and we started talking. We found that we have similar musical influences and philosophies of life in general and about how to operate a band , so we decided to meet in person. When I came to Italy to meet him in May of 2012, we jammed and wrote some songs. It was magic on so many levels- so now here we are, 4 years later with a demo, a 7 inch and two full lengths if you also count album by Rogue State called "Poetry Is Not For Me", another band we both play in..
5. That's awesome Kayt. I know you had previously been in the groups Zed, Syzslak, Hatchetface and The Hounds Of Hasselvander. What do these time periods with each band represent to you in your musical story?
Kayt- Well, Zed(MKE/Philadelphia) was basically the time in my life as a musician when I got a chance to begin reaching out and making my first national/international music friends/connections from the road, most of which I have to this day. Lots of ups and downs and great learning experiences. I learned a whole lot about vans. It was when I had everything from my earliest two month USA tours to shorter jaunts, especially along the East Coast. We would often play with bands such as Burn The Priest (now Lamb of God- who we did a split 7'' with), Damad, Dystopia, Stinking Lizaveta (we shared a rehearsal space), Converge, Cave In, Spazz, Man Is The Bastard, His Hero Is Gone and many more.
When Zed had parted ways, I moved to Denver, Colorado for about 3 years and played in heavy grind band called Catheter. My time in this band undoubtedly inspired and influenced the creation of my next band, Syzslak which was founded in Denver in 2001. In 2002, after relocating the band to Philadelphia, it became apparent to me that it was a continuation on what had been achieved by Zed. It was consistent stylistically as it was heavy and down-tuned. It was also during this time that I was rekindling my love of playing slower, more fuzzed out metal, so Syzslak was a band that played both fast and slow tempos; doom to grind and anything else in between. I toured with all three of these bands, rooted myself more thoroughly in the metal/grind/heavy/stoner/doom scene and really tried to develop a style all my own on bass. Since Syzslak had some slower doom songs, especially toward the end of it's existence in 2006, it wasn't long before I would form a doom band of my own after we split up. Hatchetface was that band. It was the first band in which I played guitar and sang. Although It had only women in it, it was definitely not all-female to have a gimmick. It was this way because I feel/felt that there is a different power and life force behind the music when played by all females. However, we didn't focus on that aspect of the band much if at all. We just wanted to rock, pure and simple. This HF era was one of lessons on tying up loose ends. There are almost two albums worth of music recorded between 2007-2010 with some songs that still need to be completed. The one exception is a song called "Words To Live By" that made it onto a compilation called "Planet Doom Volume 1" on Doomanoid Records out of the UK. In all, I really enjoyed myself in this band and it opened many doors for me. It put me in contact with the right combination of shows and people to bring me to the doorstep of The Hounds Of Hasselvander. My time with that band was a step into a much broader world with higher expectations. Joe was particular about most every aspect and detail of the band no matter how big or small. Because of this, I became more aware of many small but crucial things in addition to focusing on the stage performance. These were some of my favorite shows to play, including those times when Bobby Liebling would step onto the stage. This era represented to me being a part of something bigger than myself- being present during the onset of the rebirth of an incredible band. People were eager to see Joe on guitar and to see Bobby get back on stage. These concerts gave the crowd a "two-for-one THOH/Pentagram" show - while spinning the entire performance into another dimension. It was completely surreal. It was an era that I owe a lot to. It was an amazing opportunity that helped to bring me where I am today.
6.When you were starting out, what bands or albums inspired you to pick up the bass, sing and start bands?
Kayt- I always loved many different styles of music throughout my life. So bands like Black Sabbath, Kiss, Rainbow, Hendrix, ACDC, Cream, Steppenwolf, Deep Purple Blue Cheer and Motorhead were always a part of my background. But, when I started playing bass in the early 90's, I was also influenced by what were then newer bands like EyeHateGod,16, Unsane, Grief, Melvins, Mule, Jesus Lizard, Cherubs, 13, Helmet, Clutch and Zeke... too many to list.
7.Very cool bands. What were some of your favorite concerts you saw back in the day?
Kayt- Motorhead has always been my favorite live band. Equally impressive to me were Blue Cheer, Pentagram, Unsane, EyeHateGod, Sonic Youth, Grief and Mudhoney. Whenever I would see them, right after the show, I would be super inspired to go to my rehearsal room and work on music. Some of my favorite songs I've ever written were the ones written on a post-concert high...haha..
8.Did you pursue other artistic things or have you always been drawn only to music?
Kayt- Music has always been a big draw for me and I can't imagine my life without it. I have other creative outlets as well. I make leather jewelry and belts with a heavy metal/70's/biker style incorporated into them. I do a bit of painting- mostly oil or acrylic. I write a lot too. It's mostly in the form of poems that usually end up as lyrics. Pretty much everything I do artistically can find a place in my music in some way, whether it's album or flyer art or something that I end up wearing on stage. It all comes full circle.
9.Where are you from originally and where do you call home now? Your music has taken you many places from the USA to Italy.
Kayt- Currently, I live in Italy near a town called Alessandria in the Piemonte region. It's basically between Milan and Torino. It sort of reminds me of a weird cross between the West Virginia hills, the plains of Missouri, the mountainous/river regions of Colorado and the swamps of Louisiana. It's very beautiful and very diverse for such a small area. I of course am originally from the USA and have moved around a lot. Over the years, I've called places from LA to Denver, from Milwaukee to Philadelphia home.
10.What are some of your favorite memories from your music history thus far?
Kayt- I'd have to say just being up on stage in front of enthusiastic crowds, big or small are always my favorite memories. It's hard to pick a favorite when I think of all the amazing people I have shared a stage or toured with. I do have a favorite fan memory that will always stay with me. In 1998 in Albuquerque, New Mexico after I stepped off the stage, a teenage girl approached me and asked me for my autograph. I was so honored because nobody had ever done that before. But that wasn't the best part. She said that she had never seen a woman play up close in a heavy rock or metal band and that after seeing me, she was inspired and determined to start playing music too. I truly believe that it was she who showed me something even more powerful. She opened my eyes to the fact that through music , it is possible for me to influence someone in a far reaching and positive way. In my experience, playing shows with musicians and bands that I love and respect is the best reward of all. To me, playing music is a perpetual feedback of that positivity.
11.Any favorite films or books?
Kayt- I've always been one for reference books and documentaries. I get a kick out of taking away some real information after I invest time watching or reading something. That's not to say you can't find something valuable within fictional works, for they stoke the imagination, but I prefer facts over fiction for the most part. That being said, as far as films go, I love 60's/70's cult/biker films. I love a lot of 60's and 70's movies in general, even some that were mainstream. I'm not very fast to criticize the quality or the way in which it was made, the graininess of the picture or the buzz in the sound. It's old, that's how it's supposed to be and it's beautiful. I just love looking into the past and the way the actors behaved, spoke and presented themselves. If it was reflective of that time period, then it's fascinating to me. I really love the soundtracks for these films more than anything though. Examples off the top of my head are "Angel Unchained", "Northville Cemetery Massacre" , "Dirty Mary Crazy Larry" and the 'ever popular' "Werewolves On Wheels". Overall, my favorite book to date is "Where White Men Fear To Tread" by Russell Means. It's much more than his autobiography and can be a very enlightening, in-depth read on how badly the Native Americans have been treated over the centuries. It's a heavy read so I balance it out with "White Line Fever"..
That's well said about films and very insightful. It's amazing you mention that. I also have that Russell Means book. I bought it when it came out in 1999. I had always hoped to meet him but I never had an opportunity to do so. I was sad when he passed away. Yes you're right, heavy book for sure. You are one of the only people I know who has also read it, cool to hear.
12. You also played bass in Pentagram around 2007-2009. What were your memories of that time and what was it like playing in such a highly acclaimed band?
Kayt- For the most part it was a great experience. It had it's ups and downs as was to be reasonably expected. Never a dull moment. It started with me playing bass for Joe Hasselvander's project The Hounds Of Hasselvander for live performances. That in and of itself was bad-ass. Then one day, Joe discussed with Bobby Liebling the possibility of having him on vocals for live shows to perform Pentagram songs in the middle of the THOH set, with the agreement and understanding that each time Bobby stepped on stage, the band was then performing these Pentagram songs as Pentagram. Performing on the stage with both Bobby and Joe was an intense trip. It was also a lot of fun just to watch those two interact on stage. This era 2007-2009 was an important transitional time for the band. There were a few other people who helped to bring Pentagram back to life who did some extraordinary things to make it happen. I did my part to help out as well and I was presented with the opportunity to record something with them. Hell yeah. For me, getting into the studio to record "Flaming" for a Syd Barrett tribute comp was a really special experience. It was not only because I had a chance to work with Bobby in the studio, but also because it meant that I would always have a little slice of recorded history with a band I have adored for so many years.
13. Yes I'm sure. How would you describe your live show to fans of the album who haven’t seen you live yet?
Kayt- I would have to say that fans could expect a loud and heavy performance, with shifts in the vibe and attitude of each song. Mountains and valleys, crescendos and lots of effects. We are constantly developing the specifics and nuances of our approach to the music, but in the end, it's all about putting 110% into the live show and bringing that energy to the fans.
14.Any new of last words today for your fans you’d like to share?
Kayt- Thank you so much for the interview, Gideon. It's a real pleasure. To you and everyone else out there -Keep rockin' and I'll see you when Sonic Wolves hits the road- Peace!
Fantastic Kayt. Very rocking to catch up with you. You are welcome and thank you for such a killer interview. Much respect and appreciation to you for taking the time, to you too. Please stay in touch and look forward to hearing all your new music and seeing you live one day. Peace! – G