Faster, Pussy Kat, Kill! Kill!

WRITTEN BY
SPIN Staff

By: Caryn GanzMeet the speediest, scariest female shredder of all time

Each year, New York's famed Juilliard School churns out dozens of concert violinists. Some of these hardworking musicians go on to play in orchestras. Others become music teachers. But only one grad has mutated into the Great Kat: a camouflage-bikini-wearing, slave-commanding, blood-spitting dominatrix whom Guitar One magazine has named one of the ten fastest guitar shredders of all time--an honor she shares with speed demons such as Buckethead and Yngwie Malmsteen. "I'm No. 10, but I'm faster than those shitheads!" Kat loudly proclaims. "That's why I'm God!"

For more than ten years, the Great Kat has been promoting shred/classical--a genre of her own invention--via a blitzkrieg of mostly self-released records that update classical music for a generation accustomed to high-speed-Internet velocity. She believes the masses are now poised to recognize "the Great Kat's godliness," and she is on the prowl for even more devoted fans, or "Kat slaves."

Because she has deemed me worthy ("I checked up on you," she says ominously), I am perched on a stained couch in the Great Kat's Manhattan apartment. She's decked out in a skimpy camouflage bikini top, matching pants, and black combat boots. Bloody-dagger earrings dangle from her lobes, and American flag bandannas hang from her wrists. Though her nearly bare one-bedroom is something of a Kat shrine (T-shirts, photos, and a gas mask adorn the walls), one framed memento of a shorter-haired, fully clothed, Juilliard-era girl remains. She refuses to reveal how old she is but appears to be in her 30s. "My age is irrelevant, because I am eternal," she says. "How old is Beethoven? 250? Go ask Da Vinci how old he is."

Wagner's War, her sixth album, is a seven-song, 11-minute response to September 11--an overpowering whirlwind of speed guitar, complex orchestration, and lyrics such as "MURDER THE MUTHERS!... KILL!? KILL!? KILL!? KILL!" The Great Kat lunges forward and eyes me warily, her face streaked with green and brown combat makeup. "Did you hear the CD? Did it get you mad? Did it make you want to get out there and kill?" When I admit that I didn't feel all that homicidal after giving it a spin, the Great Kat is not pleased. "We're not off to a good start!" she says, glaring.

Like all of Great Kat's albums, Wagner's War contains two types of songs: well-known classical compositions rearranged and shredded on electric guitar and original tracks that tend toward the under-two-minute scream-y variety. Past records include Bloody Vivaldi (featuring "Torture Chamber" alongside "The Four Seasons") and Rossini's Rape (where "Sodomize" follows the William Tell Overture). "I'm taking classical music and making it acceptable for the morons!" she roars. "People don't want to listen to classical music--classical music is dead!"

Before she became a half-naked megalomaniac, the Great Kat was Katherine Thomas, a Long Island, New York-bred concert violinist who had taken up the instrument at age nine. Shortly after graduating from Juilliard, Thomas had an epiphany: "I realized the whole thing is fucking dumb." Drawn to shred metal's virtuosity, she picked up an electric guitar and decided she'd be "the new Beethoven."

After dashing from room to room and lashing out at me, Juilliard, terrorists, and "assholes" for a very long time, the Great Kat is running out of steam (earlier in the afternoon, she accused me of being "high" and played her violent "War" video to, as she put it, "wake you up a little"). She manages a final burst of energy to plug her website, (greatkat.com) and, naturally, her own greatness.

"The Great Kat Rules! America Rules! That's it. We're done."

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