Questions and answers from The Great Kat.


By Alun Thomas.

If there’s one thing The Great Kat can be given credit for it’s perseverance. Since her 1987 debut, ‘Worship Me Or Die’ she has been relentless in her quest to merge classical music standards with thrash, resulting in some of the fastest guitar work ever heard in the genre. One could say The Great Kat’s extreme image has nearly exceeded her considerable talents, as she continues to portray herself as a tough dominatrix with a bad attitude, the exact opposite of her days as a student at New York’s exclusive Juilliard School Of Music.

Recently however Kat obtained a top ten placing in Guitar One magazine’s top ten shredder’s of all time poll. This feat seems to have placed the emphasis squarely on her music, resulting in some overdue publicity for 2002’s ‘Wagner’s War’, a seven song, eleven minute, three part opera based on the 9-11 attacks. Like previous efforts ‘Rossini’s Rape’ and ‘Bloody Vivaldi’ the songs feature Kat’s impossible guitar technique as well as escapades on violin also, plus dozens more instruments programmed through Midi. It is sheer brutality, something Kat has never sacrificed in her career. Recently The Zephyr had a chance to catch up with the great one and see if we could tame her. Would she be forthright and open or downright fierce and unforgiving? Somehow I think you already know the answer…

Z: You pack in more speed and aggression in eleven minutes than Dave Mustaine did in sixteen years in Megadeth. What’s your take on why one time tough guys like that went soft, e.g. Rust In Peace to Risk?

The Great Kat: I do not know why anyone would go soft but The Great Kat is on a mission to take genius classical music into the 21st century with shred metal

Z: In contrast how do you maintain a sense of purpose in acheiving your vision while never toning down the heaviness?

TGK: The Great Kat’s vision comes from years of classical training and discipline of practicing violin to become the new Beethoven and revolutionize music!

Z:Has Juilliard disowned you? Would your current guise sicken them?

TGK: Who cares about those out of date, archaic, ritualistic, religious morons? Paganini was called the devil; Beethoven was attacked; Wagner was laughed at!

Z: How long does it take to compose your music despite it running at such short lengths? Mainly in terms of recording time etc.

TGK: It takes months of composing, editing, arranging and reorchestrating actual authentic classical scores.

I take each classical score (ex. Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’) and enter every single note of the entire score (winds, brass, strings, timpani, band etc.) into my Sibelius Composition and Notation Software.

I practice all guitar and violin parts for months, building speed slowly, until the tempos are faster than the original.

I record with MIDI sequenced instruments the entire score on Pro-Tools recording software, using 100 tracks.

I record parts and overdub with live instruments (Guitars, Violins, Trumpets, Trombones etc) and mix all with the MIDI instruments.

A masterpiece is completed!

Z: Have you noticed an upsurge in media attention since having been named in the top ten shredders list?

TGK: Finally everyone is starting to realise that The Great Kat is the new Beethoven of the 21st century!

Z: Despite being named in that list did you notice the rather inconspicuous comment ‘not that she really doesn’t belong here, but we were scared to leave her off’. Wouldn’t this suggest they pay more attention to the image than your musical skill?

TGK: They always have to make a remark to clean their butts!

Z: I gave the CD to several people to listen to, one of whom described it as ‘wretched’. would you agree that people not normally exposed to extreme forms of metal would assume this?

TGK: Don’t waste my time with slow, uneducated, uncultured morons! These are the same morons who do not deserve to be on the internet and be able to access billions of bits of information within a second and be able to move around the net at high speeds and listen to geniuses like Mozart and Beethoven!

Z: In a Spin article you said regarding your Juilliard education, ‘I realised the whole thing was fucking dumb’. had you listened to metal before that? were there any thrashers you took notes from or was it just natural playing so fast?

TGK: After graduating from the Juilliard school and realising that classical music was dead, I searched all forms of popular music and came across speed metal! The power and energy and virtuosity of speed metal is the only form of music that actually fits with the complexity and virtuosity of classical music!!

Z: Any plans to hit the road anytime soon?

TGK: The Great Kat’s massive stage show and orchestration requires large venues, so stay tuned to the Kat website for tour news!

Z: Regarding future music, are you going to remain steadfast in your devotion to classical-thrash integration or perhaps attempt a cover album of classic metal standards? If so, I wouldn’t mind hearing your version of Phil Lynott’s ‘Nineteen’

TGK: The Great Kat only cyberspeeds the masters!

Z: A stale notion is that Jimi Hendrix is still the greatest guitar player of all time, when you are for all purposes a superior player. Why do people’s opinions never change? Surely a better player must have come along in the 33 years he’s been dead.

TGK: People take years to change and wake up their dusty brains! That’s why THE GREAT KAT has to force classical shred down people’s throats – because they are too slow to accept it on their own!

Z: What would you do if a major label offered you a $10 million contract, only you had to do things their way? After all as metal’s most talented female musician it seems there is nothing you cannot do.

TGK: The Great Kat will only do things my way! There is no negotiation!

Z: Your music is short enough that it doesn’t cause the listener’s attention to drift. Is this the whole point?

TGK: There is no time to drift and be slow and lethargic any more! The Internet is here! Wake up! Shred classical is a jolt of pure energy!

Z: are you happy with the end results of your career thus far in terms of sales, production, your fellow musicians etc? It’s already been 16 years.

TGK: I will be happy when all you lazy bastards get off your lazy asses and wake up and accept the new music of the 21st century: shred classical!

Z: You’ve done something genuinely different in your career. Have you thought about fusing together something else, like rock and roll with thrash? It would be great to hear some saxaphones in the mix.

TGK: The Great Kat is updating and resurrecting brilliant, genius, classical music by blending it with vicious raw, shred metal! That is the only formula that will work!

Z: Will you ever pose in a photo with your mouth closed?

TGK: Die! Bow, peasants!

Z: Any details on what your next project will entail?

TGK: Get ready for the new extreme, insane, shredding virtuoso Kat CD out soon, featuring the first orchestral and band version of ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ [a track that also appeared on Kat’s 1990 ‘Beethoven on Speed’ album] with the great Kat shredding on violin and guitar! Total insanity!

Z: all that’s left is to say thanks for answering these questions and continuing to be the high priestess of metal and keeping it fast and heavy!

TGK: Excellent!