In a biweekly series of features, we’re inviting Minnesota artists to introduce — or re-introduce — themselves to our audience. Today: Minneapolis rockers Kiss the Tiger. Singer Meghan Kreidler and engineer Jason Orris told Sylvia Jennings about the making of Kiss the Tiger’s new album Vicious Kid, which will be released on June 3 with an Icehouse residency kickoff show.
Meghan Kreidler: My name is Meghan Kreidler, and I’m the lead singer of the rock and roll band Kiss the Tiger. We’ve been a band now for five years, which is kind of crazy. We’ve pretty much been the same group of players, for the most part. We’ve had some rotating cast of characters, but four of us out of the five have been doing it the whole time. This is going to be our third full-length album, and this album was recorded at the Terrarium.
Jason Orris: I’m Jason Orris: owner, operator, engineer, producer here at the Terrarium. I got to working with Kiss the Tiger…I think I mixed the first album. I was a fan of the band from those early recordings, and so when I got the opportunity to work with them [again], I seized the opportunity.
Meghan Kreidler: As far as the timeline of when songs were written, a lot of the songs were partially written over the past couple of years. When we decided to go into the studio, we were like, “Okay, let’s finish the songs that we’ve started.” We didn’t really have the full structure of the song. We decided to go into the studio…it was September 2019. That’s when we recorded the majority of this album, which is quite a long time ago. We were planning on releasing it a year ago, but we didn’t want to do it if we weren’t going to be able to play to support it. We kind of reexamined what was on there and decided to re-record one of the songs and then record two other songs and take two songs off. That was sometime in the middle of last year. We went in with Jason and did that, and that that kind of kept us afloat a little bit, musically and creatively, since we weren’t hardly playing at all last year. I think it helped us make the record even better than it would have been if we had released it a year ago.
Jason Orris: Some of my favorite songs are those last couple of songs that we did. “I’ve Got Love,” that’s one of my favorite songs ever. I don’t think that song was even born yet, when we started. I think it was a totally wise move to delay the release of the record, because the live performance is such a powerful part of what Kiss the Tiger does, that to release it and not have that energy behind it didn’t make sense. It’s funny how things work out, but this feels like it’s worked out really well.
Meghan Kreidler: The two songs we took off, we felt were good, but they were just kind of like filler, nothing special about them. They’re fun to play live and we still will, but I think the ones that we added, especially “I’ve Got Love,” and then rerecording “Grown Ass Woman”…those are two really strong songs, and they have a lot to them. I think that they are a little bit more effective from a listener standpoint. I feel like the record is pretty epic, and we just wanted to make the recording even better than what it was before. “I’ve Got Love” fits in more with the magnitude of the other songs. The other one we recorded was “Dinosaur Song,” and that’s a song that we never thought we would record. We just always play it live, and we kind of just go freeform. It’s one of those really rockin’, jam out type of songs, but we’ve had a lot of people who come see us a lot that are like, “When are you going to record that song?” I know Jason had a lot of fun with that one too, because we did some psychedelic, trippy things with the sound engineering of that. That one is the last one on the record, and I feel like it gives it like a nice little punch and a send-off for the listener.
I was asked recently about how I feel we’ve evolved, and I feel like we’ve just gotten better at doing the thing that we’ve always been trying to do, which is just to write really great rock songs and pop songs that people want to sing along to, [that have] great songwriting at the core and energy as a priority, and, I guess, for people to be able to experience that in the recording. More than anything, I just feel like we’ve continued to hone the craft and to become better musicians in the studio. It was great to record at the Terrarium again, because it’s a space that we’ve been in before and we felt really comfortable in. I really do feel that having Jason there as the missing element is the thing that really helped us elevate our game, because Jason is so freakin’ good at what he does. He’s super meticulous and really hyper focused and puts in ten-hour days sitting at the computer and listening and doing all this engineering stuff that I don’t know anything about, but then also is so high energy every single day and greets us with so much enthusiasm. It just was really motivating.
Jason Orris: I think that every album a band makes should be a little bit better and a little bit different than their previous efforts. Meghan said something that’s so important. Any great band is all about great songs. This record, and this collection of songs is clearly the best songwriting you guys have ever done. This record, to me, feels stacked. Most records have one or two really good songs, and then you have all of the other songs with it, but this one, dare I say, over half of the songs on the album [could be] singles. I’m really excited about seeing this record come to light, because it’s a combination of everybody’s effort involved with it, and it’s, I think, our best work that we’ve done so far.
Meghan Kreidler: There are a lot of themes of seeking connection, or sort of that point where you’re missing connection with somebody. I think that happens thematically in a lot of great songs, because that kind of conflict is really interesting to write about. That’s a theme in a lot of songs. Some of the songs are about navigating family dysfunction. Some of them are about struggling with anxiety. Some of them are just like straight rockin’, good time songs. “Grown Ass Woman” is an anthem for powerful women and a tribute to the resilience of women. It’s a little all over the place, but I think that they’re really big feeling songs. I think a lot of the songs come from a place of what happens when we expose our hearts a little bit. With rock and roll, it’s great because sometimes those songs sound a little softer and a little bit more vulnerable, but with a lot of them, that expression comes out in a louder, expressive, joyful, and sometimes gritty way.
I know that we are planning, throughout our month-long residency at Icehouse, to have some of the guest artists who played on the album come and play with us live, which we’ve done in the past. I think so much of the sound landscape of this album has instruments that we don’t normally have in just our five piece setup. We have Mark Moehlenbrock and Victor Zupanc, who both do piano and organ, and I think both of them are going to come at different times to sit in with us. We had a lot of background vocalists who guest appeared on the album, and we’re probably going to have them come throughout the month. The setup will be a little bit different every single time. We don’t have one setlist that we’re going to play for the whole month. I would encourage people to come multiple times if they want to because it’ll be different every single time. I can guarantee you that.