Arguably the best American band who never made it when alternative music suddenly became a huge proposition in the early '90s, the Chainsaw Kittens predated and outlasted that time with its own marvelous, energetic blend of glam-damaged energy, theatrical extremity, and punk rock basics.
Fronted by Tyson Meade, former lead singer of Defenestration, the Oklahoma-based group came together in early 1989, shortly thereafter signing to the Mammoth label. Initially partnering on guitar with Mark Metzger but working thereafter with band stalwart Trent Bell, Meade and company released a debut, Violent Religion, to relatively little attention. However, the band built up a steady reputation through touring and appearing with a variety of up-and-coming bands, most notably the Smashing Pumpkins. The Kittens' sophomore release, 1992's Butch Vig-produced Flipped Out in Singapore, helped to heighten the group's profile and fan base further, while a follow-up EP in 1993, Angel on the Range, introduced what would finally be a stable rhythm section for the band, bassist Matt Johnson and drummer Eric Harmon. Mammoth's tie-up with Atlantic gave a boost to what should have been the band's breakthrough, 1994's Pop Heiress. The hoped-for smash didn't materialize, but the group kept on, issuing a self-titled album (also known as Oklahoma Speedway) in 1996 on Scratchie. The Kittens then took an extensive break while its members pursued other musical and personal work before returning in 2000 on 4 Alarm with The All-American. ~ Ned Raggett, Rovi