The country rock band Feed the Kitty has spent more than a decade paying their dues as they've performed dozens of gigs every year at South Bay spots such as Bottle Inn, H.T. Grill, Bouzy Gastropub, Dia de Campo and Baleen.

Those venues are often testing grounds for new material, including songs featured on their latest album, “Ain't Dead Yet.”

The band hosts a South Bay CD release party Saturday, Jan. 11 at the Bull Pen in Redondo Beach as well as a Los Angeles party at the Viper Room in West Hollywood on Wednesday, Jan. 15.

The South Bay audiences are “guinea pigs” said Jack Maher (vocals and guitar).

“The act of playing every night just inspires new parts and new ideas," Maher said. "Then after a few months it seems like the song has settled in and we're ready to go blow a bunch of money in the recording studio."

Jed Mottley (bass) founded Feed the Kitty in 1999 and moved the band in 2000 to Los Angeles.

Mottley said writing the songs with Maher was therapeutic as “Ain't Dead Yet,” the band's fourth studio album, deals with his addictions to alcohol, drugs and women.

“'Home' I wrote when I was messed up, that was in the middle of the night,” Mottley recalled. “That was the last song I wrote when I was messed up at the beginning of 2015. 'Sad Country Songs' was the first song I wrote when I sobered up. 'My Hotel,' I went home that night and I really wanted to have a drink, but instead I wrote 'My Hotel.'”

In recent years, Mottley said he has lost friends to alcohol and drugs.

“As we get older our bodies can't take it as much and some of my friends have died,” Mottley said. “I couldn't go to one of my buddy's funeral and I wrote 'Learned to Fly.' I wrote about my mom in a couple; I lost her a few years ago.”

Maher said “girls and booze compete mightily on this album.”

“It screams of middle age crises, getting older, dealing with sobriety, addiction,” Maher said. “Jed's been sober for almost five years now. It has inspired him to write these very introspective, personal type songs where he's struggling, coping with living.”

“Ain't Dead Yet” was recorded at Dave Grohl's Studio 606 in Los Angeles with producer John Lousteau (Foo Fighters, John Fogerty, Rush).

The band enlisted the help of musician and songwriter Duane Betts, son of Dickey Betts of Allman Brothers fame, Grammy-nominated producer Cisco Adler and Rami Jaffee from the Foo Fighters and Wallflowers.

Maher's wife Victoria Vox also co-wrote songs on the album. 

While most of the dozen tracks on “Ain't Dead Yet” are Feed the Kitty originals, the first single off the album, “Thank You,” was written by Betts when he was in the band Whitestarr.

“The vibe of the song is great, the recording is outstanding,” said Maher of “Thank You.” “We're not trying to glom on to the Betts name, okay so we are. It's one of these songs that people come up to us after we play it and they go, 'Who wrote that?' We go, 'We didn't, but our friend did.'”

Band's start

Feed the Kitty got its start over 20 years ago when Mottley and Jon Shumway, the band's drummer, met at the University of Arizona.

They decided to move to Southern California to give fame a shot, but they lost two of the original members, one to marriage and the other to Texas. Then in late 2003, they met Maher.

Feed the Kitty cultivated a strong fan base in the South Bay as they performed everything from live karaoke to weddings. The band turned down few opportunities to perform, often playing six or seven nights a week.

The trials and tribulations of the band, from recording their first album to performing more than 300 shows a year, were documented in the film “Feed the Kitty: The Movie,” which was released in 2014.

Along the way they released three other albums, including their self-titled debut in 2008, “Goin' Country” in 2015 and “Westbound & Down” in 2017.

Feed the Kitty's music has been played on several local radio stations and has been featured in films such as “Lars and the Real Girl,” starring Ryan Gosling.

Future

Mottley said Feed the Kitty has upwards of 30 more songs ready to record.

Maher added, “We kind of have such a good feel for how we work together. These things just happen organically and they happen rapidly and we have a good thing going now.”

Aside from the record release parties in Redondo Beach and West Hollywood, the band will host other parties in Tucson and Scottsdale in April. Mottley said he is working on going to Nashville as well.

Feed the Kitty performs locally at the Bottle Inn in Redondo Beach every other Tuesday and Thursday; the H.T. Grill the first and third Saturday every month in Redondo Beach; Bouzy Gastropub at Chez Melange in Redondo Beach the second Wednesday of every month; Baleen Lounge in Redondo Beach the fourth Saturday and the second Sunday of every month; and Hermosa Beach's Dia de Campo the fourth Sunday of the month.

For more information,visit feedthekitty.com.

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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