Mercedes Lander of Kittie

By Andy Doerschuk Published March 31, 2010

Age: 25
Hometown: London, Ontario Canada
Drums: Yamaha
Cymbals: Zildjian
Hardware/Pedals: Yamaha
Sticks: Ahead
Drumheads: Evans

As teens, sisters Mercedes and Morgan Lander shared a love of heavy metal, and entertained the idea of forming a band one day. That day finally arrived in 1996, while both were still schoolgirls. After playing covers of such diverse artists as Silverchair, Nirvana, and Corey Hart, the young outfit defied convention by attracting the attention of veteran hard rock producer GGGarth, who produced their freshman CD, Spit, which was released in 1999 and was quickly certified gold. The band now has two EPs and five albums under their belts, including their latest release, In The Black. We talked to founding drummer Mercedes Lander about the making of the new CD.

How would you describe the feel of the new album?
In The Black is our heaviest album to date. It’s dark and unforgiving but at the same time has great melodic parts that go quite well with all that double kick!

What is your favorite drum part on the new album?
The album as a whole is my favorite part. I think we’ve grown into a great band and this album showcases it. i also love the drum production. It has huge balls.

Did you change your drum parts much throughout the recording process?
Actually, I never really play the same thing twice so that happens on a daily basis.

What was it like working with your producer and engineer?
We’ve known Seiggy [Siegfreid Meier] for years, as he engineered on our second album. He’s so much fun and knows exactly what we as a band want to sound like.

How prepared were you before going into the studio?
I’m one of those people that have to have everything done and mapped out in my head before I do anything recording-wise, so I would say very prepared!

How long did it take to track your drum parts?
Actually this record was the fastest for me. I did the tracking in two half-days. Seiggy had some personal things he had to do the first tracking day so I only got three hours in. All in all it took about six hours to do everything drum-wise.

Did you record your tracks with the entire band or alone?
I usually just record my drums with my sister playing along, just to have that extra sense of comfort.

What do you like most about touring.
I love waking up every morning knowing that I’m going to meet the people that made my dream come true, and in turn, hopefully, make their day too.

Describe the worst gig you've ever played.
So many to choose from! When we were in London, England in November 2008, I had to borrow one of the opening bands drums because there was a mix-up with the shipping of my drums. I guess I didn’t realize that they were super crappy because first song in everything started falling apart. The snare stand started falling over and one of the toms actually fell off! It was so bad.

Do you play your drum parts onstage exactly the same way that you recorded them?
I like to change things up a lot, especially with our older songs. It keeps things fresh with the band and sometimes happy accidents make the song that much better.

How much room do you have to improvise on stage?
I don’t have as much room on the new songs off of In The Black because I’m not as comfortable with them as, say, a song from Oracle — but for the most part I like to try different things.

Do you warm up before going on stage?
I love stretching. I usually do it throughout the day just to keep myself limber and ready to play.

What was the worst injury you've sustained from drumming.
Back in 2000 I had tennis elbow, which was very painful and required months of physical therapy. I also have two torn ligaments in my knee and have to be very careful how I move while playing drums.

Do you mute your drums or tune them wide open?
I like to tune wide open for the most part. It makes everything that much boomier.

Do you use the same setup on stage and in the studio?
I’m at my most comfortable on stage, so while recording I try to be as relaxed as possible. Keeping the same setup is key!

Do you feel perfect time is mandatory in creating a groove?
Not at all! I think that in the end it’s all about the feel of the song and not the timing.

Do you practice when you're off the road?
My sister and I pretty much play every day in my mom’s basement.