Kittens Ablaze, despite its name, does not sound like a gang of fluffy kittens playing with fire. Its edgier than that. Consisting of six members, Kittens Ablaze plays a wide variety of folk rock with eccentric lyrics. The band even includes a cellist and violinist, a rare finding in current mainstream rock bands.
In an interview with The Badger Herald, Grant Rafter, who plays the acoustic guitar and synthesizer, explained the band’s formation, their unique qualities and how they came up with their band name.
“(The band’s name) was an accident. We created a list of like 300 ridiculous names trying to figure it out, and we were recording our first EP and the sound engineer came out saying he needed something to name these tracks and so we randomly put it on there and we were like ‘Well, we’ll change it later,’” Rafter said.
“We’ve been playing in Brooklyn and there’s always 2,000 other bands playing there. Having a name that’s memorable is a huge asset, especially when you’re doing it yourself. We don’t have big label. We’re doing everything on our own.”
For a band relying solely on its members, Kittens Ablaze is fiercely pushing through the battle of “making it” as an independent group. They play an average of four concerts a month and are always ready for the next experience with their fans and each other. Cellist Michelle Young jumped in to explain the process of touring.
“I think what’s great about us for touring is that we were already friends. Being packed in a van together is like a continuation of life. We’re blasting music and we’re making jokes,” Young said. “We stopped paying attention to where we’re going next. It’s a great lifestyle. We just play a city a day.”
Doing what they love most and being able to hang out with friends along the way is a huge benefit for the members of Kittens Ablaze. Coming into the band as friends, the band members are able to work together to create music they all are passionate about.
“Well, (our songs) come from all over the place. Each song is kind of its own animal where you let them grow into what they are,” Rafter said. “What it really comes down to is there’s six of us in the band, and we all have different musical tastes. The great thing is when we go in and play together and if we all agree that it sounds good than I guess it’s fine. That’s kinda how we found where our middle ground is.”
But their eclectic music can’t be easily categorized. With sounds similar to Bright Eyes and a touch of Owl City, Kittens Ablaze can’t even place itself into one explicit genre.
“We’re too punky for pop. I guess one of the band mates said (our genre) best as ‘orchestral pop with punk songwriting styles and pop sensibilities,’” Rafter said. “We bring in sounds from all over. We try to write things that are catchy and interesting without getting overly musical or just getting boring. That’s kinda the goal I guess of all the songs.”
Their music definitely has the upbeat theme the band is striving for. The unique lyrics, and strong incorporation of string instruments bring a different quality to each song on its album, The Monstrous Vanguard. But Rafter insists the band’s creative style of music is best displayed at their live shows.
“If you like what’s on the record, our live show has amazing energy,” Rafter said. “It changes the whole dynamic of what you hear on the record. And for us that’s cool because we try to make it really entertaining and not just stand there and play our songs.”
And Kittens Ablaze is committed to playing live and building their musical repertoire until the fun dies down.
“Its everyone’s dream to go as far with it as it will go,” Rafter said. “I mean, we’re committed to doing it as long as its fun and everyone’s having a great time.”
Kittens Ablaze will be opening for Papadosio alongside Crane Your Swan Neck tonight at 9:30 p.m. at The Frequency. Tickets are $5 and the show is 21+.