Salome is one of the most exciting bands in underground metal. We’re talking top 5. I booked the Virginia trio twice in a four month span for my old Show No Mercy series because they’re so compelling live — they could be counted on to blow away just about any audience with their cathartic, smart, atmospherically rich doom. The group’s fronted by Kat Katz, who also lends her vocal chords to Pig Destroyer Scott Hull’s Agoraphobic Nosebleed. She’s an amazing singer, one who doesn’t need a bank of effects pedals to hit a low scowl or high-pitched shriek that you can feel coursing through your bowels and piercing your eardrums simultaneously. As she conjures these sounds, you can see her push herself physically, like she’s an extreme metal athlete. When not doing the aforementioned, she’s soothing folks’ aches and pains as a professional massage therapist and yoga instructor. I spoke with her about it. (She told me her knowledge of pressure points and the body doesn’t help with her singing, but I feel like it must, even if subconsciously.) After you read her thoughts on that 9-5, take a listen to “With Hell For A Moth” from the split 12″ her band did with Baton Rouge sludge crew Thou. And for those in need of new sounds, Salome’s finally following up their 2008 EP with a debut full-length on Profound lore later this year.
STEREOGUM: How long have you worked as a masseuse? Is that the proper term,”masseuse”? Or is it massage therapist?
KAT: I’ve been practicing massage therapy for a little over a year. I prefer massage therapist to masseuse. I think it sounds more professional.
STEREOGUM: What’s your background? Did you have to go to school to learn the techniques?
KAT: I went to Northern Virginia School of Therapeutic Massage, which was a really great experience. I had an amazing teacher, Yvonne Lovejoy, who by the end of the training was more like a second mother to me, than just a teacher. I was fortunate to be in a small class, so it was as close to private instruction as one could get. I loved it.
STEREOGUM: Do you subscribe to a specific school of thinking? A specific approach or philosophy?
KAT: When I give a massage, my intention is to help heal on every level. I not only use the skills I’ve acquired from my education, but I also use my intuition to determine what the client’s needs are in that moment physically, as well as energetically, and try to provide the appropriate touch/presence.
STEREOGUM: Are there any superstar massage therapists? Like folks people want to study with and learn from?
KAT: Yes, there are some massage therapists who are famous for their techniques/approach to massage. Howard Rontal, who teaches courses on myofascial release, is very popular. I’ve taken one of his programs, and plan on taking more in the future. Another famous teacher is Val Guin, who developed a massage style called Forearm Dance. She created it after getting into an accident that prevented her from using her hands. She was a full time massage therapist with a child to support, and had to figure out a way to continue working. She came up with amazing techniques just using her forearms and is very successful now. She has an instructional DVD out that I’ve probably watched more than a dozen times.
STEREOGUM: How many patients do you deal with in any given week?
KAT: I work on 15-20 clients a week. I don’t do any more then four massages a day because it requires a great deal of energy. You have to have a lot of stamina physically, but also working so closely with someone can be quite draining, especially if the client is very needy, particular, or difficult. I think that can be more exhausting than the actual massage.
STEREOGUM: What’s the most satisfying thing about your job? The most frustrating?
KAT: Being able to help people. When someone comes in with some sort of pain and I’m able to help relieve it, and in general, make him or her feel better by giving them comfort and shifting their energy, it makes me feel very appreciative to be able to practice massage for a living. I’d say the most frustrating thing about my job is when someone walks in the door with a bad attitude and treats you with disrespect. I try to keep in mind that their attitude has nothing to do with me, and practice compassion for whatever suffering they’re going through in their lives that’s contributing to their poor behavior.
STEREOGUM: What are the most common problems people come to you with? I imagine a lot of repetitive stress issues from computers, etc.
KAT: I commonly see neck, shoulder, and lower back pain which can be the result of many factors, including: stress, physical/sports activities, inactivity (such as sitting at a computer all day), poor posture, and just general lack of body awareness when moving/sitting, etc. All of these things can cause persistent problems if not addressed.
STEREOGUM: In order for massage therapy to work, what does the patient need to do when they’re not in your office? I mean, how does diet and lifestyle help? Yoga?
KAT: The client needs to figure out what they’re doing in their lives that’s causing the tension pattern/pain. Massage can help to relieve the pain, but it will come right back if they continue doing whatever is causing it. I also teach Yoga, so I strongly believe that Yoga is an effective therapy for stress reduction, keeping muscles open and strong, as well as achieving greater range of motion. There is no doubt that diet contributes largely to how you feel. I think most people underestimate how much of an impact it really has. Being mindful of what you eat and how much you eat will help you maintain a healthy weight which puts less stress on the body and gives you more energy to do what our bodies are designed to do, move.
STEREOGUM: What are some common misconceptions about massage?
KAT: People sometimes lump massage in with other luxuries, so it’s not considered a necessity, but I think more and more it’s becoming recognized as a credible therapy. Many of my clients have told me that massage is one of the only therapies that has made a big difference in reducing pain that they experience from previous injuries, surgeries (such as hip replacements), etc.
STEREOGUM: Do you know of any other musicians involved in massage therapy?
KAT: Yes, I know a few who are. I have a close friend in California who practices massage to support his music projects. I think the possible flexibility of being a massage therapist is appealing to someone who wants to tour often. That’s one of the reasons I chose this career. I specifically told my work during the interview that I was in a band, wanted to tour often, and in order to work there, would need to be able to take weeks off at a time. Fortunately, they were fine with it. But, obviously not every place is that relaxed. Spas especially can be much more strict about how much time you take off.
See them live. Really.
03/11 – New York, NY @ NYU #
03/17 – Austin, TX @ SXSW (Brooklyn Vegan Day Party)
03/19 – Austin, TX @ SXSW (Profound Lore/20 Buck Spin Showcase)
# w/ Shrinebuilder, Wolves In The Throne Room
And, now that you’re better acquainted, check out the band’s Top 10 of 2009.