Pussy riot: Photographer Alexandra Crockett's book Metal Cats celebrates the metalheads who have a soft spot for their moggies

On stage, they are the lords of darkness; back at home, they can’t wait to cuddle up to their kitties

'I think it was best said by my friends in Skeletonwitch," Alexandra Crockett tells me (Skeletonwitch being a blackened-thrash metal band, for those not in the know). "'Cats don't play by any rules, just like Metallica.' They also mentioned that any animal that shits in a box and leaves it for somebody else to take care of is pretty metal. I'd have to agree."

Crockett got into heavy metal at the age of 14. "I lived on an island in the Pacific Northwest [in the US], where lots of musicians have come from, and we'd have punk and metal shows and forest parties constantly. It was around then, I noticed, that it seemed as though all my friends who were mainly into punk had dogs, and all my friends into metal had cats."

Crockett started taking photographs of those involved in the metal scene and their feline friends in November 2010. Her first shoot was with her partner at the time, Jean-Paul Garnier, and his cat, Bowie, and the work continued for two years, resulting in a portfolio of hundreds of portraits; she drove to each appointment, all the way along the West Coast, from San Diego to LA, Oakland to San Francisco, Portland to Seattle.

Given her human subjects play in bands with names such as Napalm Death, Splatterhouse and Cattle Decapitation, one can only imagine the monikers they lavish on their kitties…

"My favourites would have to be Ham, Fruitbat, Gravy, Mini Chicken, Big Chicken, Sofa, Squirrel, Fat Neck, Prickly Pear and Velcro Kitty." Oh. No Beelzebubs, then? Or Deathflame? Not even a Dragon Malice? Somehow, it feels disappointing to learn that Evil Slime's main man is accompanied by a delicate flower called Abigail. Although Dino Sommese – of Ghoul, Dystopia, Carcinogen, Splatterthrash, Insidious and Noothgrush fame – did call his Short Bus, which is at the very least intriguing.

 

Crockett's first 30 subjects were people she knew from the scene. "The rest came through going to two to three metal shows a week for months on end, meeting new people."

And were there any "incidents", I ask knowingly, having just been slashed by my own cat for the temerity of feeding him medicine: "One of the dudes was attacked by his cat nearly the entire shoot… I used the single photo out of hundreds where he wasn't being actively bitten."

Perhaps the final words should go to Nate Garnette of Skeletonwitch, whose summary of the metal-cat combination so neatly encapsulated Crockett's feelings. His cat Tilly, he once said, "is extremely sweet, but will also just rear up and bite you, then lick you after. She's metal because she's angry.

"Cats are so independent," he added. "You can go on tour for months at a time, come back… dogs act all hurt, but cats don't give a shit that you've been gone."

'Metal Cats', by Alexandra Crockett, is published by PowerHouse Books, priced £9.99

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