Rocks Off has collected some very, very off-the-wall people over the years in search of musical enjoyment. We thought Cory Sinclair of The Manichean was until we interviewed Tyagaraja and realized he might actually be a Jedi. We always thrilled to hear the psychotic scienctific ravings of Dr. Milo T. Pinkerton III of Consortium of Genius, but he was ultimately topped by the hallucination-inducing rhetoric of Tubby Chubcakes. And now... we come to The Great Kat.
Kat is a Julliard-trained violinist who traded in the sedate world of classical performance to dress like a road warrior and play the guitar just shy of the speed needed to go back in time. She sent along her latest CD, Beethoven Shreds, and being both the resident classical-music expert on staff as well as the only one who has had a restraining order filed against him by Lita Ford - Ed. Note: He wishes - Rocks Off felt that it was well within our capabilities to kill seven minutes and several thousand brain cells by listening to it.
That's a lie; it's not seven minutes long. It's seven minutes and two seconds long, and in that short span of time Kat attacks the main theme from Beethoven's "5th Symphony," one of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos as well as his "Art of the Fugue." Works by Paganini and Rimsky-Korsakov round out the disc.
What you experience when immersed in Kat's world is perception turned up as far as it will go. These are melodies that in some cases have survived centuries and come down to us as the work of masters in their most musical moments. Kat forces these melodies through a black hole and back out again through in a white-hot stream of incredibly fine sound particles that ascend and descend so quickly and accurately that one could debate whether the interpretations are a performance or a weapon.
Tucked into the middle of the CD are two of Kat's originals, "Torture Technique" and "IslamoFascists." In addition to her guitar work the spices feature Kat's cookie-monster vocals in a combined two minute hate. The songs seem strangely at home among the pillars of composition through the purity of her approach. Somewhere we doubt if they'll be handed down like Paganini's "Caprice #24" has been, but for those who have thus far enjoyed the carnival ride of Beethoven Shreds should have no problem putting Kat's statue alongside the greats.
Kat sat down with us for a nice quiet chat about the CD. Just kidding, it was an orgy of shouting and metal. We learned lots, though not why she speaks in the third person. You'll just have to guess.
Rocks Off: I work in a sheet-music store, and we hear a lot of classical music. Most of it is much more sedate than your interpretations. Why speed it up and shred it apart?
The Great Kat: It must be fast and shredded to get the Internet-driven, fast-moving global society to understand the genius of classical music.
RO: What dictates the choice of classical music you cover?
TGK: The choice of classical music that The Great Kat shreds must be exciting, virtuoso, powerful and recognizable to the world, like Beethoven's 5th Symphony.
RO: Have you ever played your interpretations in classical-music settings?
TGK: Not yet. The Great Kat has performed this blistering virtuosity for metal audiences! The repressed classical audiences need a bit more time.
RO: Have you considered shredding classical vocal pieces as well like Mozart's "Requiem" or DuBois's "Seven Last Words of Christ?" If you ever do, would you sing like you do on your originals of would you prefer to let your guitar do the talking?
TGK: The Great Kat used a real opera singer on Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" on the Wagner's War CD, along with The Great Kat's blistering guitar and violin shredding. The Great Kat stays true to the original scores by keeping the composer's original orchestrations and vocals the same, but editing and arranging the piece to include guitar and band and of course making it much faster.
The Great Kat, Guitar Goddess, will be shredding Mozart's Requiem and Handel's Messiah on future Great Kat masterpiece CDs, using opera singers and choruses.
RO: Why aren't there more Beethoven pieces on your CD? Bach Shreds would've been more accurate.
TGK: Wake up! Just one Beethoven masterpiece is enough to send you soaring into the universe with virtuosic, brilliant, powerful complexity. Bach is brilliant, but Beethoven rules.
RO: How closely related are the worlds of metal and classical?
TGK: Very close. After graduating from The Juilliard School as a violin virtuoso, The Great Kat realized that classical music was dead and desperately needed to be updated for the masses.
After listening to popular music forms and seeing a metal music video, The Great Kat discovered speed metal and quickly picked up the electric guitar. The Great Kat simply took Paganini-style violin technique and transposed it to the guitar.
RO: Do you feel your originals match up to the works of the great composers?
TGK: The Great Kat, High Priestess of Guitar Shreds original music, is specifically designed to be fast, short, to-the-point and energizing to match this global, 24-hours-a-day, fast-thinking, Internet-driven world. The Great Kat's original shred/classical music will get more complex, with contrapuntal insanity and, of course, more shredding virtuosity, as the masses wake up and advance.
Beethoven Shreds is available now.
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