Blog Archives

Bassist of the Month: Jo Bench

Jo Bench is one of the few and the proud, a woman who has been playing death metal since the genre’s inception. A member of classic band Bolt Thrower since 1987, Bench provides a good portion of the dark, heavy tones that lend the band its brutality.

Says Jo Bench about her work in Bolt Thrower, “My main purpose since day one was not to draw attention to the fact I’m a woman, and that has helped me massively. I feel like just another musician in the band, and have been treated as such, and I think that has gained me more respect in the long run. I’m very grateful for that.” This approach certainly worked. I’ve seen Bolt Thrower fans on metal forums who had no idea that the band’s bassist was a woman. Her determination to avoid attention based on gender has led fans to focus on something more important: her music. And what awesome music it is, too.

Here are some great Bolt Thrower songs:

Bassist of the Month: Kim Gordon

Is there a single Sonic Youth fan who dislikes Kim Gordon? Finding one who does is certainly a challenge. Gordon, whether it be because of her bass-playing, singing, songwriting, or sex appeal, seems to be universally beloved.

Where would the riot grrl movement be without Kim Gordon? Not much of anywhere, according to those who call her the “Godmother of Riot Grrl.” While she denied ties with the movement because Sonic Youth sounded dissimilar to groups like Bikini Kill, many young girls still saw her as a role model; indeed, girls would go up to her after concerts and ask, “Will you be our mother?” (Gaar 370).

What exactly did Gordon do that was so important? She played bass well while embracing her femininity, wearing dresses as she rocked out onstage. Any guy who thinks girly girls can’t rock will shut up after seeing Kim Gordon play. She wrote songs about women’s issues years before the riot grrl movement surfaced, covering sexual harassment in “Swimsuit Issue,” manipulation by the media in “Kissability,” and notions of female helplessness in “Protect Me You.” She adopted a calm, detached stage persona in a society where women are expected to wear their hearts on their sleeves. Perhaps most importantly, she helped to form one of the most influential alternative rock bands of all time, inspiring guys and girls alike and changing alternative music for good.

Thank you, Kim Gordon.

“Hey, Kool Thing, come here, sit down beside me.
There’s something I gotta ask you.
I just wanna know, what are you gonna do for me?
I mean, are you gonna liberate us girls
From male white corporate oppression?”

Pretty cool bass.

Sources used for this article:

Gaar, Gillian. She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll 2nd ed. New York: Seal Press, 2002. Print.

Bassist of the Month: Robin Moulder

I like bassists. Really, I do, but that doesn’t change the fact that I usually notice a guitarist before I notice a bassist, and I usually like guitarists better than bassists. Even though Flea does excellent work in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I still like him and John Frusciante about the same, and we’re talking about a phenomenal bassist here.

I like Robin “Agent” Moulder, bassist of Jack Off Jill, better than any of the band’s guitarists, though. Granted, the band had five different guitarists over its eight-year run, while Moulder stuck it out for the whole ride. (Five different drummers served in the lineup as well; Moulder and Jessicka, the vocalist, were the only constants in the band.) That doesn’t change the fact that when I listened to their album Sexless Demons and Scars for the first time, the opening track “American Made” made me think, “Wow, this is cool bass. I like it better than the guitar, actually.” Jack Off Jill is also one of the few bands where I can usually hear the bass well, even on my crappy computer speakers. (I love Mindless Self Indulgence, but I can almost never hear the bass in their songs. That’s probably less of LynZ’s fault and more of the mixer’s, though.) But just being able to hear the bass isn’t a compliment. Agent Moulder is the kind of bassist I’d like to emulate if I played the instrument myself. Her confident playing drives the band’s sound forward.

Unfortunately, Jack Off Jill broke up after releasing only two albums filled with their weird goth/alt rock sound, and they remain fairly obscure and underground. They deserve more popularity. However, their former bassist still works as a musician, having created somewhat similar music with TCR. A band Moulder founded with vocalist TC Smith, TCR’s album The Chrome Recordings received rave reviews. TC’s dark, deep vocals and Moulder’s booming bass combined with screaming guitar and electronic beats programmed by Moulder creates wonderful gothic rock. (The entire album has been posted on YouTube; the track listing is listed here. The album can also be purchased from that link.) TCR’s Myspace describes the band’s music as, “A fusion of metal, industrial, rock, and goth, with a dose of punk aggression.” Information about Moulder’s current activities doesn’t seem to be readily available; hopefully we’ll hear about any new projects soon. As a bassist, keyboardist, and programmer, she certainly has a lot of talent to work with.

The song “Priscilla” by TCR.

Albums to listen to: Jack Off Jill’s Sexless Demons and Scars and Clear Hearts, Grey Flowers, and TCR’s The Chrome Recordings.