Wednesday, 1 April 2009

"It was a woman who bore me"


You might think that acoustic music can sometimes get a bit dull, but if you give Kitty and the Can Openers a listen your opinion could very easily change. It’s not often that you hear full acoustic bands but these guys pull it off really well. “We don’t try to sound like anyone else; we make songs that reflect who we are. We have a DIY ethos so we like to keep it acoustic as possible and prefer glockenspiels, melodicas and any other weird and wacky instrument that give unusual flavours. We do our own thing.” Ronan tells me. If you listen to Kitty and the Can Openers it won’t be easy to think of another band in the Northern Irish music scene who sounds like them right now. They’re one of few who aren’t afraid to break away from the indie cliché and make the music that they want to make. And what about that name? “Well we initially found it in an arts catalogue (like a cat out of a garbage can) and we thought it was quite playful and unpretentious. I had this surreal image of a very happy cat surrounded by giant tin openers holding musical instruments, which made me laugh. It is also a reflection of the old-fashioned tastes that we were enamoured to at the time. I think those fifties style names are underused, like Buddy Holly and the Crickets- ‘somebody and the somethings’, you know?”

Kitty and the Can Openers have been going for about two years and have only recently experienced a bit of attention from the Northern Irish press: “We're very grateful for that. It's important to be patient and persistent and to hone your craft and allow your sound to develop because sooner or later, if you're good and you work hard and you're honest in your writing, someone will take notice.” In Northern Ireland bands are either noticed very soon after forming or after a long run of gigging and getting publicity, and it seems even harder for acoustic acts who can’t instantly play the well known venues, so Kitty and the Can Openers definitely deserve the attention they’re finally getting. “There’s a long road ahead with ups and downs aplenty, I'm sure, but we're loving it and are so excited about all these songs we've got that are just dying to be heard.”

If you’ve paid attention to Kitty and the Can Opener’s lyrics you might have noticed that they’ve been written from a male perspective (I assume Ciara’s hairline isn’t receding, but you know what they say about those who assume...), so who is writing them and why isn’t he singing? “The song writing [is] Ronan's job,” Ciara tells me, “He has a way with words and all the songs have little characters and stories attached to them. He also has a great knack for one-liners. Some are written from a male perspective, some aren't, but we’re telling a story so it's immaterial whether a particular lyric is sung by a female.” I can’t really imagine a man singing for Kitty and the Can Openers. Even though artists like Dallas Green and Damien Rice make amazing music, there’s something about acoustic music that sometimes needs a softer voice.

“There’s always going to be a style that’s more popular than others at any given time but we’re still seeing musicians taking risks and displaying that independent streak, which is a local characteristic I think.” Ronan tells me his opinion on the current Northern Irish music scene, “One thing that the local DJs, [journalists] and promoters and bloggers have in common is that they are all genuinely passionate about the music, and there's still a sense of camaraderie there too, ego isn't really an issue here, thank God.” From listening to Kitty and the Can Openers it’s clear that Belfast life has a big affect on their music. They all have stories to them and feature people who songwriter Ronan has clearly encountered in his day to day life, if not known for years. “The other day a dishevelled looking fellow stopped us on the street and said “I have seven words that will change your life” he counted them out on his fingers-‘it was a woman who bore me’ then he walked away looking dead pleased with himself. He'll probably find his way into one of our songs someday.”

While Kitty and the Can Openers have some new songs planned for the website, what else will be happening with them over the next few months? “[We’ll be making] our first attempt at a DIY music video which hopefully won’t be an embarrassment. Actually scratch that- it'll be awesome. Over and out.”


You can check out Kitty and the Can Openers at www.myspace.com/kittyandthecanopeners
Photo by Phil O'kane.

1 comment:

colettemchugh said...

They're a really great band. Seen them play a few times now