Interview with The Great Kat
This interview took place about a month ago as I was doing my research for the History of Roadrunner Records. Frankly, in doing my homework I found Kat so compelling that I did a mini-documentary on her.
The below is my pursuit to understand Kat's relationship with the label - but my timing was pretty impeccable, as she's been on a recording run to celebrate Beethoven's 250th Birthday! Check it out on her Spotify and YouTube channel - more links below
I understand it was Steev Ricardo that signed you to Roadrunner. Can you tell the story of how he approached you, and what the general gist of the record deal was (standard Roadrunner contract of the time appears to be; 6-7 records, all IP/publishing held by Roadrunner, about $5k advance for debut album)?
First of all, The Great Kat Guitar/Violin Goddess (http://www.greatkat.com) IS: -METAL LEGEND & ICON
-JUILLIARD GRAD Violin Virtuoso
-Carnegie Recital Hall Violin Soloist
-“TOP 10 FASTEST SHREDDERS OF ALL TIME”
-The Reincarnation of BEETHOVEN
-The Only GUITAR/VIOLIN DOUBLE VIRTUOSO since PAGANINI
As the NEW YORK TIMES’ FAMOUS ARTICLE on THE GREAT KAT & “BEETHOVEN ON SPEED” states:
“The wave of the future might well be heavy-metal Beethoven by way of Juilliard. Ms. Kat's ‘Beethoven on Speed’ album elevates furiousness to a would-be world view. It is built on speed-rock electric guitar solos (fast, virtuosic, nearly everything articulated with frenzied right-hand strumming and manic left-hand skittering up and down the fret board, the general esthetic being more-notes-per-second equals better). To which she adds hoarse imprecations for her ‘slaves’ to grovel before her and her overpowering genius.” - John Rockwell, The New York Times
After graduating with honors from the most prestigious music school in the world, The Juilliard School, as a violinist I began searching for popular music that would fit with my Classical training. I collaborated with my friend, Timothy Leary-famous counter-culture guru- on electric violin on the rock song “Right-Brain Lover” (see "Timothy Leary Papers" at The New York Public Library Archives & Manuscripts Features Timothy Leary & Kat Thomas' (The Great Kat) "RIGHT BRAIN LOVER" Song at http://archives.nypl.org/mss/18400#c759755.). I then found metal and began transcribing my violin solos on electric guitar. THE GREAT KAT was born!
The Great Kat made a 3 song thrash-speed metal demo with the songs “Satan Says’, “Metal Massacre” and “We Will Arise” and sent out this groundbreaking tape to various unsuspecting record labels. Steev Riccardo, famous A&R exec at Enigma Records, wrote back to THE GREAT KAT saying how much he liked my music and to keep him posted on further material. I went to Los Angeles to record the vinyl record for “SATAN SAYS” at Amigo Studios in North Hollywood. ("SATAN SAYS" VINYL RECORD - COLLECTOR'S ITEM! PERSONALIZED AUTOGRAPHED (Signed to Customer's Name) 3-SONG EP 12" on the KAT STORE at http://store10552072.ecwid.com/products/76385135) After recording this GENIUS thrash record, The Great Kat stopped by Enigma’s office in California to meet Steev and give him a tape of the new recording and take him to lunch to expand on the BRILLIANCE of THE GREAT KAT!
Listen to Steev’s Podcast “Blowing Smoke with Twisted Rico” Podcast entitled "Yes he really signed The Great Kat!" https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-3-of-blowing-smoke-with-twisted-rico/id1448387957?i=1000427892047&mt=2 (Start at 30:10)
Steev says: “I signed to Roadrunner The Great Kat, which was probably even more controversial [than the band ‘Poison’]. While at Enigma, I heard The Great Kat’s 3 song tape. It was this blistering thrash metal with violin solos from a Juilliard graduate. I sent a postcard and said ‘It sounds great!’ One day, The Great Kat showed up in California at the office, without any warning, and she was just a trip! When I went to Roadrunner, I spoke to Cees Wessels about The Great Kat and he agreed we should sign her, which we did. She may have alienated many people along the way, but I have no regrets whatsoever about signing The Great Kat and I am proud to have worked with,” -Steev Riccardo
HISTORY WAS MADE and THE FUTURE of BOTH METAL AND CLASSICAL was forever CHANGED! Steev was the visionary GENIUS was discovered and signed The Great Kat!
After being signed to Roadrunner with their standard contract, I took my GENIUS Thrash-Classical songs to the recording studio at Kajem Studios in Philadelphia and began recording and producing the masterpiece “WORSHIP ME OR DIE!”. This legendary album features The Great Kat’s thrash masterpiece songs “METAL MESSIAH”, “SATAN GOES TO CHURCH”, “SPEED DEATH”, “ASHES TO DUST”, and much more! The GREATEST Thrash album in history was BORN!
How did Monte Conner end up getting co-producer credit on Beethoven on Speed?
For my second masterpiece “BEETHOVEN ON SPEED”, The Great Kat decided the masses were intelligent enough to FINALLY start understanding BEETHOVEN and the CLASSICAL MUSIC genius of THE GREAT KAT. I took my Classical scores of Beethoven’s “5th Symphony” (“Beethoven On Speed”), Paganini’s “24th Caprice” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight Of The Bumble-Bee” – the real violin orchestral scores I actually played on violin and began composing guitar arrangements, with tons of contrapuntal guitar shredding on the AUTHENTIC scores. The Great Kat SHREDS NOT just the themes from Classical, but the ACTUAL NOTE-FOR-NOTE SCORES!. Monte Conner was the new A&R at Roadrunner and suggested that The Great Kat compose a HEAVY METAL version of “BEETHOVEN’S “5th SYMPHONY” for the METALHEADS and “BEETHOVEN MOSH” was born – chunky, heavy, slow moshing rhythms and guitar playing. I also composed the famous Chopin’s “FUNERAL MARCH”, “BACH to the FUTURE: for GENIUSES Only”, “GUITAR CONCERTO in BLOOD MINOR” and “SEX & VIOLINS” to add more ShredClassical Insanity to the album. The Great Kat and Monte Conner went to the House Of Music Recording Studio in West Orange, NJ and began recording this NEW MASTERPIECE. Monte was at the recording the entire time adding speed metal suggestions and dealing with the engineers that would inevitably collapse under the stress of working with the GENIUS of THE GREAT KAT HIGH PRIESTESS of GUITAR SHRED. The Great Kat ended up once again producing and dominating the entire productions, with Monte and Jon Mathias as co-producers. WHO ELSE but THE GREAT KAT would be CAPABLE of producing CLASSICAL GENIUS MUSIC????????
Cees Wessels is an avid opera and classical fan. Did you have a working relationship with him? I would have assumed your music would have been a gateway drug to metal, for him.
I only talked to him to complain about Roadrunner’s NY office. THAT’S why The Great Kat started dealing with all the PRESS and RADIO STATIONS MYSELF!!! NO ONE ELSE WORKS AS FAST AS THE GREAT KAT!!!!!! When The Great Kat went on a press tour in England, Germany and The Netherlands to promote “BEETHOVEN ON SPEED” album, I was given a variety of Roadrunner employees to work with in those countries to “Promote” The Great Kat, but NO ONE COULD HANDLE my GENIUS and SPEED. AS USUAL, THE GREAT KAT TOOK OVER and STORMED EUROPE with a barrage of Great Kat UNREPRESSED & OUTRAGEOUS TV, Radio, Magazine and Newspaper interviews LIKE THEY HAVE NEVER SEEN before OR WILL EVER WITNESS!!!!! ON YOUR KNEES!!!!!!!!
Why are those two LPs absent from Spotify?
THE Great Kat’s LPs ARE available on SPOTIFY! WARNER MUSIC is NOW DISTRIBUTING The Great Kat’s GENIUS “WORSHIP ME OR DIE!” and “BEETHOVEN ON SPEED” on Spotify, iTunes and more at:
“BEETHOVEN ON SPEED” on
“WORSHIP ME OR DIE!” on
THE GREAT KAT IS GOD!!!!! ARE YOU BOWING YET, JIM????????????????
How did your relationship with Roadrunner end?
After they did nothing to further the genius of THE GREAT KAT, I decided to get off the contract and take MATTERS INTO MY OWN HANDS. I started my own record label-TPR Music- and QUICKLY began releasing masterpiece albums on my own TPR Music label: “GUITAR GODDESS” CD, “BLOODY VIVALDI” CD, “WAGNER’S WAR” CD, “BEETHOVEN SHREDS” and much more. LISTEN to these masterpieces NOW on SPOTIFY at https://open.spotify.com/artist/4YDaaWoQRwk2CPzsX8pXzt and iTUNES at http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-great-kat/id368743108 and watch free on The Great Kat’s OFFICIAL VEVO Channel on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAyo9Gye85QtTHnITLbngZw !
NOW START CELEBRATING BEETHOVEN’S 250th BIRTHDAY (Dec 16, 2020)!
The Great Kat shreds BEETHOVEN in NEW RECORDINGS and MUSIC VIDEOS for Beethoven’s 250th Birthday celebration year!
The Great Kat's Beethoven's 250th Birthday Singles Collection –available on DIGITAL, CD & DVD on the
The Great Kat's Beethoven's 250th Birthday Singles Collection –available on DIGITAL, CD & DVD:
-Beethoven’s “Triple Guitar Concerto in Shred Major” COMING in NOVEMBER!
-Beethoven’s “Pastoral Symphony for Guitar And Symphony Orchestra” https://music.apple.com/us/album/beethovens-pastoral-symphony-for-guitar-symphony-orchestra/1536300735
-"Maestro Great Kat Shreds Beethoven's 5th - Guitar Tab" https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08MSV1RNS
-Beethoven's "Egmont Overture for Guitar, Actor and Symphony Orchestra" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bj4Vp5J_VeI & https://music.apple.com/us/album/beethovens-pastoral-symphony-for-guitar-symphony-orchestra/1536300735
-“Beethoven's "Moonlight Mosh" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Wb0YR5_1fE & https://music.apple.com/us/album/beethovens-moonlight-mosh-single/1518964998
-Beethoven's "Eroica Symphony for Guitar and Symphony Orchestra" https://music.apple.com/us/album/beethovens-eroica-symphony-for-guitar-symphony-orchestra/1514272335 & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQzf4DDpSC8
-Beethoven’s "Für Elise for Guitar, Violin and Piano" https://music.apple.com/us/album/beethovens-f%C3%BCr-elise-for-guitar-violin-and-piano-single/1516933834
-Beethoven's "Turkish March for Guitar and Symphony Orchestra" https://music.apple.com/us/album/beethovens-turkish-march-for-guitar-symphony-orchestra/1512357377
-Beethoven's "Razumovsky String Quartet for Guitar and String Quartet” https://music.apple.com/us/album/beethovens-razumovsky-string-quartet-for-guitar-string/1508990386
-Beethoven's "Minuet in G for Guitar, Violin and Piano" https://music.apple.com/us/album/beethovens-minuet-in-g-for-guitar-violin-and-piano-single/1504141383
-“Chef Great Kat Cooks Beethoven’s Macaroni And Cheese” https://music.apple.com/us/album/chef-great-kat-cooks-beethovens-macaroni-and-cheese-single/1487265618 & https://music.apple.com/us/music-video/chef-great-kat-cooks-beethovens-macaroni-and-cheese/1481349599
The Great Kat IS "TOP 10 FASTEST SHREDDERS OF ALL TIME"! (Guitar One Magazine)/JUILLIARD GRAD VIOLIN VIRTUOSO!
Web Site at http://www.greatkat.com
Kat Rules! SHRED ON!
Official Great Kat Pages
Web Site: http://www.greatkat.com