Kool Stuff Katie “It’s All Your Fault”
Brash, immediate, and undeniable infectious, on It’s Fine Portland, OR garage-pop duo Kool Stuff Katie delivers a visceral dose of distortion-fueled jams that are just plain impossible to resist. Built on a foundations of subtly clever song structure and melodic interplay, the chromed-out surface sonics blast the aural cobwebs out of listeners’ ears like an avalanche.
Yet, as you start to parse out the deeper layers of the record it becomes clear that there’s more here than just sunshine and power chords. “We didn’t set out to write this record with a lyrical or musical theme as such, but as it turned out, a lot of the songs center around the feeling of frustration: personally, romantically, socially” explains drummer / vocalist Saren Oliver. “We find it funny because upon first listen most of the songs are super upbeat and fun – we unintentionally made an album full of anguish in disguise.”
Really, though, the pair’s stripped-down approach is a perfect vehicle for from-the-heart admissions. It’s Fine is a natural evolution and progression from an act that’s been simplifying and honing since the beginning. Guitarist / vocalist Shane Blem first met now-drummer Oliver when he took out a Craigslist ad ? for a keyboard player. Originally conceived as a synth-heavy New Wave inspired project, it soon became clear to all involved that being a slave to an electronic beat was not going to work ? between Blem and Oliver there’s a shared love of interacting with each other and being able to push and pull as they feel necessary. Their drummer left to pursue other dreams, they wrote all new songs and Oliver started learning drums. Kool Stuff Katie’s self-titled 2014 debut is a broad slice across genres.
Since that time through incessant touring and songwriting trial and error it came clear that Blem and Oliver are masters of the upbeat and brief, largely in the two-piece formula. Producer Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Posies) was in full agreement with their refined direction, and it is from that perspective that the band approached writing It’s Fine.
Written in Portland and Hood River, OR and recorded with Fisk at Seattle’s Soundhouse Studios and Fisk’s home studio, It’s Fine fits perfectly in the proud canon of Northwest music that shouts down frustration and depression with a 4/4 beat and an overdriven amp. “When people listen to the record, we want them to enjoy themselves” says Oliver. “The songs are written from a place of frustration, but are tailored – both lyrically and melody-wise – to be very accessible. In that regard there is a lot left up to the interpretation of the listener. Essentially, we tried to write a record that everyone could identify with and lose themselves in, and that maybe you’d feel a bit better about everything when it’s through.”