Kat Bjelland

"These are the good years," begins the fake "Ketchup Advisory Board" commercial on A Prairie Home Companion, in which an empty-nesting dad touts ketchup's "natural mellowing agents" as a panacea for his wife's boomer angst and restless sexual urges. It's a good joke, but some people over age 30 really haven't been getting enough ketchup. Take Kat Bjelland, the Björk of grunge and godmother of riot grrrl, who has entered the good years by having a son, yet seems to have learned from the experience only how to scream even louder, with joy rather than rage. "I'm not as angry, I guess," she admits in the liner notes of the new Natural Babe Killers (Snapper Music), an essential two-disc compendium of live and unreleased songs by her seminal punk band, Babes in Toyland. But Bjelland still scares us, her distorted cat hiss perpetually giving way to a poltergeist howl that remains one of the truly daunting sounds in rock. During the past few years she has composed and produced a DreamWorks soundtrack: the punk-techno rock opera Songs of the Witchblade for the well-known Image comic-book series. She has joined Babes in Toyland drummer Lori Barbero for a reunion tour of Europe. She has mustered a mean set of hooks and torrents of fuzz with her new band, Katastrophy Wife, and cut some of the fiercest noise in recent memory (most of it yet to be released). And all the while, she has stayed close to home, making the tiniest Nordeast watering holes shiver. Good thing Mayslack's has plenty of ketchup.


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