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By the time the band got around to their next Stateside release. Kitten Licks, you'd think they made a quantum leap, because in large part they had. Trading in the flavor of the month for the brand of tuneful distorto-rock that their home country brethren Pollyanna were simultaneously making their calling card as well. "Static" and "Dart" are worth the price of admission alone, but Kitten Licks is relatively consistant held up against the rest of the band's LPs. Screamfeeder never made an album like it before or after - bittersweet circumstances, much like the music it contains.
The first album with Dean in the band! Feaures "Dead To The World" and "Broken Ladder" which are unavailable on the U.S. edition. Recorded by Paul McKercher at Rocking Horse near Byron Bay, NSW (except Ant by Jeff Lovejoy).
Released in America in 1999. There was one song different - Summertime (a Dart single B side) replacing Dead To The World, and Broken Ladder was cut off the album too. Static was remixed and Dart was released as a promo only radio single.
Low Transit Industries released the deluxe edition of Kitten Licks in July 2009, to coincide with a tour we did playing the whole album in sequence. The album was re mastered and had 7 bonus tracks - the original single b sides. It was also re packaged in a digipack and had liner notes by Steve Bell, Andrew Stafford and KellieBuy This Release
static I’m going to build a radio with static from the stars / and broadcast at a frequency you’ll pick up in your cars / I’m setting out on airwaves where I will feel right at home / I’m going to call it nothing because you don’t need to be known / my signal will get lost in all the white noise floating by / it drifts above the cities invisible in the sky / and if I transmit long enough someone will roll through the dial /and they’ll stop on some static and they’ll listen for a while / though they’ll feel some mysterious transaction has been made / a message slipped through interference has been received some way / because thoughts don’t need to be worded for you to understand / you listen through your eyes just like you hear through your hands / I’m feeling far away
bridge over nothing don't talk about what you thought about alone / it's not true that you can make it on your own / don't think about what you heard was true before / nothing's holding any water any more / don't be scared by laws that keep you in your lanes / it's a cruel scheme that's keeping us the same / don't be cornered by the corners in your mind / you can't build bridges or put up barriers inside / bridge going nowhere over nothing / don't make a sound it's a moment just for you / a tiny second amplified to hear through / it's a come on from the force you would deny you can't bridge the gap or build a wall to hide the lie
dart I’m neat in cycles / mess on the floor / cram you in twice a day / you ask what for? / with every mention you make and every lesson you take / every question at stake is one big lie / with all the soul that’s on sale and all the lost / ones you bail / every boring detail is one big lie / bite with incisors / try all your might / denial’s exciting / treason’s alright / I’m in denial / losing litres by the mile / I’m cruising up your dial
bruises Bruises are self-inflicted packets of pain / mysterious punishment reminds you again / I know I know I know I know I know / markings that show the secret feelings below / subconscious condones it but it won't let you know / I know I know I know I know I know / so I'll hibernate and sneak right out of the cold / freeze up the hate somewhere and leave it on hold / suppose suppose suppose suppose suppose / when I awake and crawl out into the sun / bruises have faded and resentment is done / suppose suppose suppose suppose suppose / little punishments you don't deserve but you take / I won't I won't I won't I won't I won't
Explode your Friends Forced to abandon it / competition is stiff / let's forget talk it's dead / we'll talk another day / let's not compete no more / it's there to make us sore / I'd rather be let down / but it's the other way / oh come on / promises never stick / too tired to manage it / I can't live up to you it makes me feel inferior / everyone knows by name weaknesses guilt and shame / they don't belong but still they fill up their interior / oh come on / they're there to fuel the fear / and burn you with embarrassment / they're there to use their selfish standards as a punishment / explode your friends
Down the Drinker In a second i never fall never fall / looking under me I would always be so small / when is this over? tell me it's over / coming second is never first never first / beat into my head I could never be so tall / when is this over? show me it's over / winning doesn't me anything to me / family policy there's a plan for me drafted out for me / with all this weight on me no wonder I couldn't grow at all / when is this over? show me it's over / winning doesn't me anything to me
Dead to the World Full moon I look to you / you've got time locked / while we're in the grip of motion sickness / from calendars and clocks / four weeks have gone and been / I can't believe / the ones you need no distance between are the first to leave / your sight is dull and selective as you move out of range / I ain't got time to get reflective as focuses change?opinions that you relied upon to save you will be upside down the first / attitudes will vanish and codes of behaviour will be acting in reverse / they're acting in reverse /the air is filled with canaries / they carry thoughts to think / the room has become the ocean / but you won't sink / a kitten licks and asks you to hold her / today's friend has arrived / a small bird lands on your shoulder and whispers "the world is alive"
Gravity I like a warm red glow (i like fast I like slow) / I like you sitting away from me (so I can stretch right out) / I like forgetting my name (and all these things you remember) / I like the smoothness of cheese (the way it slides down) / your tongue is silvery (as it touches mine) / your hands push me to be (they’re pushing me away) / a scared lamb to the slaughter / spiteful and petticoated / waiting for the sentence / is there safety to the silence? / saw the sun go down today (you write my name in the sand) / violent orange turned to grey (the sea turned silver) / gravity is good cos I can’t slip / comfort feels safe but I’m repulsed by it / lick the salt right out of my lips / my teeth sink in but they won’t stick / I like sitting in the dark (no one can see me smile) / I try not to touch the sides (no one can hear me breathe) / I drag it into the air (no one looks at me) / I stick pins inside of me (i just think it feels good) / when I close my eyes I can see the sun
Ant I went to school and I was six / the teacher said "you all must sit" / I didn't do it so she got a rope / tied me to my chair to keep me there / I will be good I will be good I will be good I will be good / sit down sit down sit down / I am I am a business man / and there's no time in business land / the sky is blue and I'm an ant / I know I want to but I know I can't / I wish I could I wish I could I wish I could I wish I could I wish I could / sit down sit down sit down
End of the Wire They took a bird's egg into space / hatched it out in a brand new place / it was very special as they waited for him to fly / staying up late conducting tests / instincts get lost in weightlessness / where no genetic memory could guide him when he tried / will you be proud will you be proud? / he stretched his damp blue wings and cut a path across the cabin / it was very confusing but he reinvented it all / they filmed him weaving around the room / he didn't have to fly but he flew / the astronauts were very proud - he got a seed bell for being so brave / would you be proud would you be proud if I learned how to behave? / would you be proud would you be proud if I ever was that brave? / I will try I will try I will try I will try / now gravity has been turned up / unconditional achievement's too much / it's very demanding and i'll make no guarantees to meet your expectations / but I will try to please
Broken Ladder Wrote a letter left it on the shelf / never call me worse things than you get called yourself / listen to you never calm / never realise that words could do such harm / bones can powder blood can catch fire in my veins / it won't compare to what i've carried in my brain / you apologise like it's an accident / you're not sorry I know what you meant / every morning nothing's gone / every part of how you got it wrong / if I told you everything I felt ;/ maybe then a little part of you would melt
Pigtails on a Rock You said hey what's your name? / coming on like i've got an attitude / well that's news to me / guilty head down I try to escape the power that my words bring / they fly and sting / make us both suffer when I've got a problem that I can't talk through / overdose on power / giving me a lecture saying it's my attitude / expose my pride I didn't say you could come inside / naked and unaware of my feet nailed to the floor / it's weird I can't conceive it / you swear you can't believe it / I'm tired I try to break it / I know I don't deserve this / make us both suffer when I've got a problem that I can't talk through / overdose on power / giving me a lecture saying it's my attitude / go back and step inside / there's nothing to see here / pigtails on a rock
Harlan Electric ecstatic into the stratosphere / it leads to admission no destination’s clear / conspire then fire destroy the atmosphere / controller the tower exploit the greatest fear / hate ain’t a part of subversiveness / seems like there’s something amiss / confusion and power keep the people feeding / on poisons and toxins / make sure the poor are needing / diversions diverting paranoid reactions / and channel delusions into a clearer thinking / hate is apart from subversiveness / seems like there’s something amiss / depressing realist acknowledges / what’s going on with his fist / provoke a fear and loathing inside of every home / instill unrest and anger / gunshops on every corner / restrict the information / cos ignorance is bliss / keep hate within religion / then blow the world to bits / hate ain’t a part of subversiveness / seems like there’s something amiss / depressing realist acknowledges / what’s going on with my fist
Summertime Every time I hear another story I could change my mind about you / information’s strange I can’t ignore it / it turns a page to situations new / how can i can I count on what you tell me? forgot it’s true / every time I hear your conversations I could change my mind about you/ I try to disguise all my accusations/ I only ever want you to approve / feels good to pretend so you like it / feels painful too / every time I misread your expression / I could change my mind about you / feelings could be overflowing or they could lessen / or they could just be going away from you / inside of every hour there’s time to die / inside of every flower it’s summertime
All you can Know You can use all the force you can beckon but you’ll never speak to my soul / if you talk 99 words a second and one of them isn’t hello / you can shout about all of your power but doing so leaves you hollow / you can turn up the heat in the shower if you feel you need some kind of glow / all you can know / your touch on my skin is so gentle but your gestures are only cold / while you’re skimming the surface for metal / down deep there are pieces of gold / all you can know
Fooferon Lost all sense of patience I’m so sick of waiting / let me move my leg i feel it’s almost dead / like all your domination it saps my every breath / let’s not call it names cos labels are just frames / I’d rather bit my tongue than try and hide the focus of exactly what I’m saying / I’m saying you let me down / each time another reason I can’t keep playing blind / friends don’t understand / they think I’m playing dumb / they think I’m getting tainted / but I don’t have a plan I don’t need one there is no guilt that I must leave behind / let me move my hand / my technicolour land is waiting to be painted / I can’t keep playing bland I can’t keep playing bland / my technicolour land is waiting to be painted / it’s waiting for me to paint it
Oh Tom Oh tom she didn’t come home again / oh tom you were there to meet the train / oh tom you watched it pull out again / oh tom you walked home alone again / oh tom down the long road again / let’s say maybe she’s there maybe there’s a message / let’s say maybe i could undo some of the damage / oh tom wait for a new day to begin / oh tom what will tomorrow bring? / oh tom let’s not go through this again / oh tom it wasn’t the arguing / oh tom she’s just not coming back again / let’s say maybe she’s there maybe there’s a message / let’s say maybe i could undo some of the damage / oh tom let’s not go through this again / oh tom let’s not go through this again / oh tom let’s not go through this again / oh tom it wasn’t the arguing / oh tom she’s not coming back again
Early Talker my eyes are getting watery but you’re not in my way / you were an early talker now you don’t have much to say / but if that’s all you’ve got to give i’ll make sure it’s ok / hello to all the souls who can grab onto every moment / they form a bond with nature and inside they are a giant / but you’ve got to do your homework there’s no time to make a flame and set alight to all the bridges you may need another day, hey! / our heroes are the ones who have conquered all their fears / they escaped the desperation of their timid living peers /but all along the watchtower their sunsets will go grey from friends they’ve alienated or just let slip away / so i’ll ask for your opinion though it holds no real power / but it matters what you think and i feel less of a coward / but i don’t need to climb up to a sunlit mountaintop to die / cos if fulfillment is a ticket then i’m not gonna buy
Liner Notes - featured in Kitten Licks Deluxe
The heavens opened up for thirteen of the fourteen days we were at Rockinghorse studios just outside of Byron Bay. It just wouldn’t stop raining. On the last day, day 14, we had a guy called Luke come down from Brisbane to put some cello on the closing track Pigtails on a Rock. He and I got up early that morning, the sun was out and the sky was blue, it was like a new world we had woken up to. We took chairs out on the lawn and sat in the sun. I played the song on the guitar while he practiced his cello parts. Slowly everyone in the house woke to the haunting tones of the cello and came outside to see the sun and listen to the song. It was magical.. you had to be there.
This is our 1996 album Kitten Licks. This album not only changed our lives, but it seems it had an impact on a lot of other people too. Over the years it’s been noted that this could be the album we’ll be remembered for; it was likely our most successful albums in terms of sales and was widely critically acclaimed, it got us a whole legion of new fans, opened up our worlds and got us out touring solidly for a couple of years in Australia. Because of this album we played a lot of international supports, we got to program RAGE, appear on Recovery 4 times and play about a million festivals over a period of about 5-6 years. In 1999 it was remixed and re-sequenced and released internationally by an American label.
Now it’s being re-packaged and re-released by us. Most importantly for Screamfeeder, this album brought us together as the band we are today. It’s Tim, Kellie and Dean. We hope you enjoy.
Dragging out my by now well-battered copy of Kitten Licks to write these liner notes immediately brought back a slew of memories – a sure sign of a fine and much-loved part of your record collection. And while most of these recollections harked back to the (seemingly more innocent) time when the album first came out and spawned that incredibly strong string of singles that seemed omnipresent on the radio for ages, the sight of the album cover also – as befitting an album that has subsequently taken on “classic” status – triggered a raft of more recent reminiscences.
In particular it made me remember my time managing bands, when the monotony of life on the road was often alleviated by the addition of Kitten Licks to the stereo, and how the opening salvo invariably assured an onslaught of smiles and singalongs. It’s never easy to get a whole rock band to agree on anything let alone a record that they all like, which is why Kitten Licks quickly became a tour van staple, definitely the benchmark of a great album. But I digress... The mid-90s was something of a golden period as far as the Brisbane rock scene was concerned.
After a period of comparative stasis bands such as Powderfinger, Regurgitator and Custard had begun to make the rest of the nation sit up and take notice of what was happening in the oft-neglected climes of Queensland, and it was in this precise climate – August of 1996 to be exact – that Kitten Licks was dropped on an unsuspecting world. Of course, Screamfeeder had already been local faves for a long time at this point, having released three strong albums as well as a heap of singles, EPs and even compilations, plus they’d accumulated a fearsome reputation for their live shows. But Kitten Licks was something else. To start with, it was the first album to feature eventual band stalwart Dean Shwereb on drums, consolidating what would become to be known as the “classic Screamfeeder line-up”.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it showcased a new maturity in songwriting for the already impressive outfit. T im and Kellie had been writing together and apart for years now by this point, and this collective experience seemed to distil into a burst of songwriting unparalleled in its depth and consistency. It’s not just the radio staples such as ‘Dart’, ‘Static’ and ‘Gravity’ that make Kitten Licks so special, but what’s around them – Kellie’s intoxicating voice coming to the fore on ‘Down The Drinker’, or the gritty introspection of ‘Explode Your Friends’ jump to mind in this regard, but if you’re reading this you have the album in your hands so you don’t need me pontificating about individual tracks.
The collection of songs still had spades of the Screamfeeder indie sensibilities that brought to mind all of those cool overseas bands that were so enchanting at the time, but that was now augmented by a melodicism and pop structure that made the tunes far more accessible without relinquishing any of that hard-earned street cred. Even the album’s title and artwork evoked a warm, fuzzy feeling that complemented the catchy music perfectly... History shows that Kitten Licks was the album that introduced Screamfeeder to the rest of Australia and, eventually, the world, making it the high water mark of the great band’s canon.
Which is why it’s awesome that Kitten Licks is being released in this new, expanded format and is once again available for public consumption – it’s a really important album in the overall scheme of Queensland and Australian independent music history. It’s not the first great music that Screamfeeder released and certainly not the last – and hopefully there’s plenty more to come – but it still exists as a snapshot of a brilliant band in their prime capturing the national zeitgeist perfectly. Plus it goes equally well with either your dancing shoes or your drinking boots...
Steve Bell, Editor, Time Off
It’s Brisbane, mid-1990s. Some long-gone club – maybe it’s the Roxy, or maybe the Crash & Burn, maybe even the improbably named Van Gogh’s Ear Lobe. Or even The Zoo, which somehow still exists in downtown Fortitude Valley. Back then, the Valley was a vibrant inner suburb, yet to be completely sold down the river/sewer of gentrification – or “urban renewal”, as I think the euphemism for it is these days. A few years earlier, there was this old disused warehouse, right in the middle of the Brunswick Street Mall. A weird place – floor plans carpeted in primary colours with windows like submarine hatches.
The old offices were carved into rehearsal spaces. Bands used to practise there. Some of them even got famous, but no one had that much on their minds back then; this was all pre-Nirvana. Anyway, Screamfeeder was one of those bands, and here they are, at the aforementioned forgotten club. One of the River City’s great, yet somehow still underrated groups, maybe even by me back then, and they’re tearing up the stage – Tim Steward, the affable string-bean transplanted Londoner (via Townsville), firing out rounds of guitar that ricochet around the tiny room; Kellie Lloyd, her low-slung bass buzzing like a chopper as she locks in with Dean Shwereb, the band’s great new drummer. He’s a maniac, all over his kit, his dynamic and flat-out musical clatter reminding me, not entirely bizarrely, of the great Rob Hirst...
Listening to Kitten Licks again brings all this back. It’s Screamfeeder’s finest, most consistent album, the band given a new dimension by Shwereb’s addition. It’s energised power-pop with a nod and a wink to the band’s peers (Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom) and forebears (the great Husker Du). It’s got Dart – the great single with its magnificent boy-girl call-and-response chorus (there’s another bonus, a demo that sounds like the band is exploding with the sheer joy of just playing this tricky little number all the way through for the first time – although I’m sure it wasn’t).
It’s everything that’s good about the band – fuckin’ rockin’ with wide-eyed fervour, all powered along a great big beating pop heart. Enjoy.
Andrew Stafford Author, Pig City: from the Saints to Savage Garden (University of Queensland Press) Brisbane, April 2009