Sure, they’ve signed to a cool New York label, toured with a legendary band, earned a write-up from Entertainment Weekly and produced a noisy new record that sounds like a million bucks. Amid all this recent success, though, Kitten Forever’s members haven’t ditched their staunch principles.
They still insist on bass and drums being their only musical instruments, for instance. Don’t even mention a guitar.
“We joked about having one shredding guitar solo on one song and that’d be it, but decided against even that,” said Corrie Harrigan, who — like all three members of the coyly diplomatic Minneapolis punk trio — alternates between those musical duties, changing instruments from song to song. That’s another thing that hasn’t changed.
The band members also remain steadfast about challenging sexism, bigotry, body image and other social issues in their music. To that end, they signed with Atlas Chair, a record company run by renowned, gender-bending punk feminist JD Samson of the bands Le Tigre and MEN.
“We intentionally seek out bands and people to work with who are women or are queer,” said Laura Larson, another of Kitten Forever’s bassists/drummers/vocalists. “We keep our money where our mouths are as much as we can.”
As much as they mean business, though, the one definitive concept Kitten Forever has stuck to since 2006 — when the trio was formed with the sole intention of playing parties in the Uptown house its members all shared — is that they also need to have some serious fun together.
“We told ourselves when we first started this band that we just wouldn’t do it anymore if we weren’t having a good time,” Harrigan said. “That’s the most important thing we come back around to if things get kind of crazy. We still always come back to having fun.”
Even though it’s one of the loudest-roaring, hardest-pummeling records of the year so far, Kitten Forever’s third LP, “7 Hearts,” is mighty entertaining, too — a blast in both senses of the word.
Fifteen riotous, raucous songs roar by in just under 30 minutes. No power ballads or pretentiously overblown epics here, just two-minute whammers and bammers that are all rhythmically ballistic and lyrically provocative.
There are lots of lines about biting and shaking. Many songs reference bodies, too. One compares the singer’s body to a tsunami, another to a souvenir, or a battlefield, or a “wind-up heart attack.” Several tunes are filled with less-than-cheery cheerleader-style chants, too, such as, “Trust no one / Eat your tears / Swallow your pride / Kill your fear” (in the extra-fiery “Temple”).
Gearing up for their “7 Hearts” release party at the Triple Rock on Saturday, Kitten Forever’s friendly founders talked proudly about working with some women punk-rockers they consider heroes over the past year. But they credited the most powerful woman in the modern music industry for having the biggest influence on their new record: Beyoncé.
Just a few months before making the album last spring, the band was tasked with playing an all-Bey covers set for the second Girl Germs tribute show at the Turf Club. It was so unlike them, and yet so perfect.
“You think you know those songs, but it’s totally different when you get up there and have to do the whole ‘Drunk in Love’ rap,” Harrigan laughingly recalled.
“Learning how to play those songs the way we play music really expanded how we look at our own songs,” Larson added. “This album has a lot more pop sensibility to it probably because of that, not only with the production but in the cadence of the songs and how we wrote them.”
Although it made covering “Crazy in Love” more difficult, the band’s decidedly limited, lo-fi, two-instrument approach has somehow stayed fresh after three albums. The members — all around 30 years old — think their role-changing approach is one reason why.
“For us, anyway, changing instruments keeps it from ever feeling stale and keeps things exciting on our end,” said Liz Elton, the third doppelgänger member.
The right call
Elton is also the one behind the vintage phone receivers that the band members use as microphones on stage, which lend a distorted, frayed quality to the vocals. “I buy them on eBay,” she said. “I buy them in threes, because they’re kind of fragile.”
The trio’s incomparable live show — where “phoning it in” is ironically a positive term — won over some of their biggest crowds yet last year. First, they were invited to open cult-loved all-woman goth-punk quartet Jack Off Jill’s only reunion show in North Carolina last summer. Then they spent a month on the road opening for hometown heroes Babes in Toyland last fall.
“They seemed like a perfect choice for us for obvious reasons,” Babes drummer Lori Barbero said, “but then they are so obviously doing their own unique thing. The crowds were pretty blown away by them in the end.”
Working with Babes, Jack Off Jill and their label head Samson has given the members extra confidence as they work toward raising their national profile this year.
“These are not bands like, ‘Oh yeah, they’re good,’ ” Larson said, “these are bands that we care so deeply about.”
Those experiences also underlined the debt they feel toward the generation of underground rock acts that came before them.
“To a certain extent, the whole riot-grrrl movement had to be, ‘I’m singing about feminism! I’m singing about women’s experiences!’ ” Harrigan said. “Because that generation did that, we don’t have to be so overt about what we do. And we don’t have to all be lumped in together in one category.”
In other words, Kitten Forever can continue to do things its own unusual way. And have fun.
With: Bruise Violet, Cherry Cola, Royal Brat.
When: 9 p.m. Sat.
Where: Triple Rock, Mpls.
Tickets: $7, TicketFly.com.