Pets & Animals

Roaring guitars, purring pets: Who knew metalheads were so mushy about cats?

"Metal Cats" / Today
This image of Black Metal Comedian is from the photography book "Metal Cats" by Alexandra Crockett, published by powerHouse Books.

No matter how dark or intimidating someone may seem, he’s bound to have a soft side. Like, a really soft side — one that meows, purrs and takes naps in the sun.

“Metal Cats,” a new photography book by Alexandra Crockett, definitively shows that heavy-metal musicians across the land are crazy about their cats. When they aren’t unleashing sonic mayhem in bands with names like Cattle Decapitation, Wizards of Wor and The Cauterized, many metalheads are snuggling felines with names like Nico, Princess and Mr. Whiskers.

“I knew a lot of my guy friends in metal bands had cats, but I didn’t realize they were more ‘crazy cat ladies’ than I am myself,” Crockett, 30, said of “Metal Cats,” which is already gaining a cult following ahead of its May 6 release date.

“For this project, they didn’t care so much about publicity for their bands. They were way more excited for people to see their cats. It’s super cute!”

Crockett, a musician and a staunch metalhead herself since age 14, has her theories about why thrashers and tabbies tend to be so tight.

“Some reasons are related to the demographic itself, and some are related to being human,” she told TODAY.com. “Part of it is that a lot of musicians are on tour a lot, and cats are more independent...Then there’s the attitude of cats — you know, of really not giving a s---. That tends to just match with metalheads.”

From “Metal Cats” by Alexandra Crockett / Today
Dav Tafoya of Countdown to Armageddon, Strap Straps and Crown Black Car hangs out with Ghidora the cat.

A longtime photographer, jewelry maker and couture tailor in Seattle, Crockett is now pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology with an emphasis on social justice in California’s Bay Area. She plans to donate a portion of her “Metal Cats” book sales to no-kill animal shelters.

“I’m drawn to marginalized populations,” she explained. “I really like to be able to help people and animals that don’t have that voice themselves.”

Today
"Metal Cats" author Alexandra Crockett gets a lift during a trip to Australia to visit her friends in Impetuous Ritual, Portal and Grave Upheaval.

In that sense, she has a lot in common with a number of high-profile heavy-metal musicians who routinely rouse their fan bases to help — you guessed it — cats. It turns out that in addition to being cat cuddlers, some rockers are also hard-core animal activists:

  • Greg Ginn of Black Flag has run an in-home cat rescue;
  • Donald Tardy of the band Obituary helps hundreds of feral cats in Florida through an effort known as “Metal Meowlisha”;
  • The Canadian metal band 3 Inches of Blood recorded a jingle for the pet store Long Live Cats and Dogs;
  • Metal bands Evoken and Wilt have put on cat-benefit concerts;
  • The nonprofit Neüterhead: Ace of Spays uses metal music to raise money for pet-rescue groups' spaying and neutering costs.
From “Metal Cats” by Alexandra Crockett / Today
Brett Hanson of the band Evil Slime is pictured with his cat, Abigail.

So what gives? Are metalheads’ brutal, bleak demeanors just a big act? Crockett said it’s more nuanced than that.

Today
Author Alexandra Crockett is pictured with her former cat Suknukoon, who sadly may have been eaten by a coyote in the Pacific Northwest.

“I don’t think all the perceptions about the metal scene are completely wrong,” she said. “But when it comes down to it, people in the metal community are just more willing and more able to show their dark sides. We all have that... everybody has dichotomy. They just show it more.

“So of course there’s also this softer side — this more adjusted-within-society side — with family you care about and friends you care about and pets you care about and love. I don’t think people think about that very much, but it’s there.”

Need a Coffey break? Connect with TODAY.com writer Laura T. Coffey on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and Google+ or read more of her stories at LauraTCoffey.com.

  • Slideshow Photos

    From “Metal Cats” by Alexandra Crockett

    Their guitars roar, but their pets purr: Metal musicians and their cats

    Make no mistake: Metalheads love cats. As evidence, check out these images from “Metal Cats,” a new photography book by Alexandra Crockett that showcases the love heavy-metal musicians have for their furry feline friends.

  • Their guitars roar, but their pets purr: Metal musicians and their cats

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    Cats are totally metal -

    By Laura T. Coffey, TODAY

    Make no mistake: Metalheads love cats. As evidence, check out these images from “Metal Cats,” a new photography book by Alexandra Crockett that showcases the love heavy-metal musicians have for their furry feline friends.

    Jason Roberts of Night Nurse, Burning Leather, Splatterhouse and Fall of the Bastards is pictured on the “Metal Cats” book cover with his cat, Oliver.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
  • Their guitars roar, but their pets purr: Metal musicians and their cats

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    'Funny and weird' -

    Alexandra Crockett, 30, of Oakland, Calif., got the idea for the “Metal Cats” book back in 2010. “I had a bunch of photos of my guy friends in metal bands with their cats,” Crockett told TODAY.com. “My roommate at the time said, ‘You should make a book of these because they’re really funny and weird.’ I asked my metal friends what they thought, and they all said, ‘Yes, definitely!’”

    Aub Driver of Jahai and Darkhorse Comics holds Freya the cat.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
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    So many photos -

    Crockett, a longtime photographer, initially thought she would take about 50 photos for a fun “Metal Cats” project and share them in a low-key way. But when she created a Facebook page about the project, photo submissions began pouring in. The “Metal Cats” book wound up including 112 of Crockett’s photographs and about 70 of the 700 or so photos submitted from all over North America.

    Biker Brandon Fosse of Night Shark spends some time with his cat.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
  • Their guitars roar, but their pets purr: Metal musicians and their cats

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    'Humanity within heavy metal' -

    “The individuals in these photographs, all men, are part of a movement that is as compassionate as it is gender neutral,” the introduction to “Metal Cats” reads. “One of the ambitions of this book is to shed light on the humanity within heavy metal and to dispel the negative stereotypes associated with its participants.”

    Chris Beug of Megaton Leviathan and Cascadian Winter gets some fresh air with a snuggly gray cat.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
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    Darkness and light -

    The “Metal Cats” book, due out on May 6, 2014, is being published by powerHouse Books in Brooklyn, N.Y. In this image from the book, Black Metal Comedian is pictured with a sweet, snuggly kitty named Alair.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
  • Their guitars roar, but their pets purr: Metal musicians and their cats

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    Snuggle time with Abigail -

    Brett Hanson of the band Evil Slime is pictured with his cat, Abigail.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
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    'Just want to love' -

    “We love cats because they do everything society tells us we can’t,” the introduction to “Metal Cats” reads. “We also know that deep down, just like us, cats just want to love and be loved, even if they aren’t that good at showing it.”

    Tony Stark is pictured here with a kitty on his head.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
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    Fun with Fred -

    DJ Brooks Blackhawk of Atriarch is pictured with Fred the cat.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
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    A quiet moment -

    Alexis Benitez of LxDxT enjoys some cuddle time with his cat.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
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    Happy times -

    Eddie Pederson of the band Thou Shall Kill is pictured with Squirrel the cat.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
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    Furry family member -

    Pete Jay of BlackQueen cuddles a cute orange kitty.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
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    Meat is murder -

    Many metal musicians are such serious animal advocates that they spearhead relief work, fundraising and awareness-building about the importance of spaying and neutering.

    Travis Ryan of the metal bands Cattle Decapitation and Murder Construct is pictured with his cat, Nico “The Neeks.” (Cattle Decapitation is a vegetarian band.)

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
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    Purr-purr -

    Kyle Hegg may look menacing, but his heart is full of love for his cat.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
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    A lap full of love -

    Andrew Beattie of No Comment, Man is the Bastard, Low Threat Profile and Dead Language hangs out with Dakini the cat.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
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    Kitty break -

    Adam Vick of Occult SS enjoys some quality time with Rubella the cat.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
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    Smile for the camera -

    David DiSanto of Vektor is clearly enjoying his kitty time.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books
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    Countdown to snuggle time -

    Dav Tafoya of Countdown to Armageddon, Strap Straps and Crown Black Car hangs out with Ghidora the cat.

    To see more amazing images from “Metal Cats,” visit the “MetalDudesCats” page on Facebook and check out this related "Roaring guitars, purring pets" story.

    Published by powerHouse Books / Published by powerHouse Books


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