Hearts Under Fire is an up-and-coming band that just released a new EP, “We’ve Come Too Far To Live In The Past.” With Mary O’Regan on bass and lead vocals, Nicky Day and Kat Upton on guitar, and Lexi Clark on drums, the UK-based group plays a great mix of pop-punk and punk rock. Hearts Under Fire took some time to tell me about how they started their band, the other instruments they play, and weird reactions from audiences at their gigs.
Tessa: Why did you all start playing or singing?
Hearts Under Fire: We all started playing music when we were young (around 13), some of us in bands, some of us just at home for fun. It’s just been something we’ve always wanted to do and always had a passion for.
Tessa: What bands and artists inspire you?
HUF: We’re all influenced by such a huge range of artists, everyone from Underoath to Bruce Springsteen to Alkaline Trio to Prince. We listen to such a wide variety of music.
Tessa: How often do you all practice on your own and as a band?
HUF: I’d say on our own we practice all the time. When it’s something you love doing, it doesn’t feel like practice. It’s just doing what you enjoy. As a band we will generally get together once a week, but it varies depending on how many shows we have.
Tessa: How did you start a band together?
HUF: Lexi’s been in the band since it first started, and Mary joined not long after. Nicky joined about 3 years ago when there was space for a new guitarist, and Kat joined just over a year ago when Steph [our former guitarist] left.
Tessa: Where was your first gig? What was playing that gig like?
HUF: All our first gigs were different. Lexi, Mary & Kat played in a few bands before HUF so they started young. Nicky’s first ever gig was with Hearts Under Fire in Guildford…nerve wracking to say the least!
Tessa: Do any of you play an instrument besides the one you use in this band?
HUF: Kat plays bass, Mary plays guitar, Nicky & Lexi play the tambourine…
Tessa: It looks like all of your members do backup vocals. Did all of you have experience singing before this band, or is this somebody’s first foray into singing?
HUF: Kat used to front a band called Black Nazarene, so she is a pro singer already. Lexi and Mary both sang backing in previous bands, and for Nicky it’s a first!
Tessa: I asked The Madeline Rust a similar question: why have you chosen not to label yourselves as an “all-female” band?
HUF: We don’t label ourselves “all-female,” as it’s not really important to us. We’re just four people who have come together to write music we love and put it out there, and we just happen to be all girls! We don’t think it’s really an issue to try and sell ourselves as that.
Tessa: Have you ever gotten weird reactions at your gigs as an “all-female” band?
HUF: Definitely. We’ve had people shouting all sorts at us (mainly ‘get your boobs out’), but a lot of people will pre-judge us before even listening to us. It’s always nice to get people come up to us after and say how much they enjoyed it when they didn’t think they would. Ultimately, the people in the crowds giving us abuse for no reason other than the fact we’re girls are the ones sitting at home doing nothing do whilst we’re out there trying to live our dream, so we don’t let it bother us.
Tessa: Okay, this is the last gender-related question, I promise. You’ve already been interviewed by a couple of sites. Do you ever get tired of being asked questions about your “all-female” status? What do you think about people asking questions like these? Do they ever get annoying? (I swear I have an excuse, because this site is centered on female artists. Haha.)
HUF: [We] wouldn’t say it annoys us. Sometimes it may work in our favour being all-female, sometimes it works against us. We just do what we want to do because we love doing it. People can form their own opinions of us, but hopefully our music speaks for itself and people will like what we do!
Tessa: How does the songwriting process work for your group?
HUF: Generally it will start with a guitar riff or some chords or a melody and just grow from there. We are all very much involved in the songwriting process, and any one of us can come up with an initial idea and we just roll with it!
Tessa:What was recording your newest EP like? Any interesting stories?
HUF: Recording the new EP was so much fun. We did it with our good friend Sam Burden at Empire Recording Studios in Guildford and just had the best time. He’s such a great guy to work with and brought so much into our recordings. As for stories, you’ll have to wait and watch the DVD we will be releasing with our EP when it comes out. 😉
What did you think about the interview? Tell us in the comments!
The Babes are a group with four members: Izera as the frontman, Donna D on lead guitar, Danger Dave on bass, and Moni Lashes, a Hit Like a Girl contestant, on drums. Being able to do this interview was really exciting for me because not only is this a great band, but The Babes are based in Australia, while I’m a US resident. Having this international musical exchange happen was very awesome. I sent the band some interview questions and got great responses from all four members. Check them out!
Tessa: Okay, let’s get the obvious question out of the way first. Your drummer and lead guitarist are sisters, if I hear correctly. Bands with siblings, like Heart and AC/DC, really fascinate me because I can’t imagine being in a band with my siblings. What’s it like for Moni and Donna to work together in a band? Do you guys ever have any conflicts?
Moni: For me, being in a band with my sis is the best duo I’ve ever musically been involved in. We grew up on the same old school gutsy rock, and it shows when we jam…you can’t beat that sisterhood of rock ya know…As far as conflicts, haha, it’s just the usual stuff sisters do, like who borrowed whose leather stage pants without the other’s permission, never anything too serious. 😀
Donna: It’s weird because even though we are siblings, we are more like best friends. Sure, we have our moments where we want to strangle each other (haha), but in reality I think being sisters is conducive to a more honest creative process, because as a band we aren’t afraid to experiment, put in our opinions and collaborate. It also helps having two of the most awesome down-to-earth dudes in the band too!
Tessa: Why did each of you start singing or playing your respective instruments?
Izera: I grew up listening to the greats of rock’n’roll back in its hey day. I watched rock’n’roll die as Guns’N’Roses’ “Illusions” faded from the charts. I knew that I wanted to pick up where they left off… to be in the next band to let rock’n’roll off the chain again in all its raw, untamed fury.
Moni: I think I was born to drum…my dad was a rocker drummer, so I grew up listening to the greats. Once I got behind a kit and felt that boom of the kick drum I haven’t been able to shake the drumming habit.
Danger: I’ve always jammed with mates in the garage and we were always without a bassist, so I put my hand up. It fell into place for me to play the bass from there, and it’s grown on me since.
Donna: It all started when I turned 11 and Dad asked which instrument I wanted to play! We grew up listening to rock music, and always said it’d be rad to play in a band together when we were older! I’ve always loved watching guitarists in action – and once I saw Lita Ford, that was it!
Tessa: How long have each of you been playing/singing?
Danger: When I bought my first guitar, I was so keen that it wasn’t til later that I realised I forgot to pay my rent. Oops. I have been playing bass for about 10 years.
Donna: I got my first guitar when I was younger, learning more theory-based classical styles, but began jamming and rocking out with Moni for about a year prior to the start of The Babes.
Moni: I started to play the drums when I was about 16 or so, so about 7 years now.
Izera: Began playing music at age 5.
Tessa: What players and vocalists have influenced your individual styles?
Donna: Band-wise, definitely Vixen and Madam X. I have always loved Slash, Ace Frehley and Lita Ford. There’s something very hypnotic about their style and ownership on stage. I’ve always aspired to have that same quality when playing live.
Izera: So many artists have influenced me. However, for The Babes, its all about the music, so I bring nothing with me. I choose to hang up my influences. leaving me free to get on with what the song wants….not what “I” want.
Moni: Well my drumming gods are Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), Jon Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Roxy Petrucci (Madam X), Ian Paice (Deep Purple), and Eric Singer (Alice Cooper).
Danger: I liked the sound of Nirvana initially, and at first that was the main influence driving me musically. I appreciate all different genres, i.e. Elvis, Motown, KISS, etc.
Tessa: How did you all meet and end up starting a band together?
Izera: The long story short, the band needed a singer and I needed a band. What many would describe as fate.
Danger: I was looking to find a musical outlet and just happened to come across a flyer. I thought it was going to be a band of guys, and to my surprise when I called, a girl answered. Before meeting the girls, I didn’t know what to expect. When I rocked up, I thought, hey…there’s something in this. Then when Izera rocked up for the audition, we kinda all knew we were onto a winner.
Moni: Donna and I had been jamming to Sweet, Skid Row and KISS covers for a while, and decided we needed to shake things up in today’s music environment by auditioning for male only bass players and singers. To our surprise we found the perfect fellow gang members Dave and Izera…It’s been a real natural and awesome experience already. I can’t wait to show the world our gang.
Donna: Well, I had to audition for Moni…just kidding! Moni and I always messed around playing our favourite covers, and we eventually wanted to get out there and get a band together. We put out flyers for band members and to our amazement Dave showed up on our doorstep. We admired Izera from afar because of his amazing skills on the keyboard and were stoked to discover he was keen on fronting a band! And then we had our little gang. 🙂
Tessa: Why did you choose your band name?
Izera: I will leave that one for the Founding Femmes of the band to answer. 😉
Moni: After watching 70’s movies like “The Warriors” and “The Wanderers,” Donna and I decided a gang-like name would be rad for our band. The Babes isn’t necessarily implying that the guy or chick members of our band are babes, but more so, that we are a gang of rockers who love sexy music. The Babes refers to the attractive, gutsy, sexy music we like to make.
Donna: We were tossing up between a few names, but The Babes seemed to fit. We were looking for a name that represented the gang aspect of the band. We have always loved cult-classic movies like “The Warriors” and “The Wanderers” and wanted to emulate that kinda vibe with our name.
Danger: It seemed like a good contrast, because when you think of ‘The Babes,’ you wouldn’t think of a rock band.
Tessa: Where was The Babes’ first gig?
Izera: Our main focus up until this point has been the recording of our CD. Now that the CD has been completed, we are in the process of finalizing details for our debut live set. We aren’t giving away dates just yet, but this will be a must see show. We will keep you posted.
Tessa: Another thing I find interesting about this band is your “sexy” image and how it comes out in your songs. “Wolfman” is like a horror movie version of AC/DC’s “TNT,” at least in that your lead singer is claiming to be dangerous and super-good with women. Yet you guys are different from the typical rock band that talks about women sexually while excluding them as musicians and (serious, non-groupie) fans, because you have two women playing instruments. I think “Harley Girl” is interesting too because it’s about an attractive girl who rides a motorcycle. It’s talking about a woman sexually, but unlike similar songs such as Aerosmith’s “Ragdoll,” there’s more to the subject of the song than her looks, even if it’s only that she owns a motorcycle. This is a really long-winded way for me to ask: do you guys feel like you’re challenging traditional notions of what “sexy” is? Have you had to reconcile talking about women like this while having two women in the band?
Donna: I think everyone interprets ‘sexy’ differently. In our eyes, guys and girls are totally equal, so when we come up with songs we aren’t intentionally thinking about challenging people’s perspectives on what is ‘normal’; we are just ourselves and want people to enjoy The Babes experience!
Moni: I think for me when I write songs I’m writing about how I perceive things in the world. So for me, I love riding motorbikes, which most people wouldn’t expect from a girl, but at the same time I think I’m quite girly. So when I wrote “Harley Girl,” it was written in a way that I wish fellas would see a chick riding a mean lookin’ Harley, as an awesome sight…
Izera: Are we challenging the traditional notions?
Have ever we needed to compromise?
Its all about the music. Period.
Tessa: While I’m at it, why don’t you tell me something about your song “Working Sucker?” Is it based off of a real experience with a terrible job?
Danger: Moni should definitely answer this one! But I think everyone can relate to the ol’ crappy 9 -5er at some stage or another! Haha.
Izera: Yeah, I’ll leave this to Moni.
Moni: I used to be a cop. I was a cop for about 3 years, from when I was 20-23. It had its cool times, but in the end I became everything I hated, I became the man…I couldn’t play drums coz of shift work, I couldn’t play gigs coz of weekend shifts…it killed me…so in the end I wrote “Working Sucker” and a week later left the force to start The Babes, and here we are being interviewed by your awesome magazine.
Tessa: Yes, I’m bringing up the siblings thing again. Has it ever been awkward for Moni and Donna to be in a band with a “sexy” image together?
Donna: Hahah, nahhh, definitely not awkward. I think as a group we don’t necessarily think we are being ‘sexy’ – we are just rocking out and playing the music we love! Moni is my sister and I think she’s a babe whether she’s doing groceries or smashing it out on her kit!
Moni: Nah, not for me at all, I know Donna’s a total babe-a-rella, but she’s a classy rocker chick, so it’s never at the point where I feel awkward or anything…in the end, the sexy image isn’t something we relate to our physical appearance, it’s more about the gutsy ol’fashioned rock’n’roll that makes us feel sexy playing it.
Tessa: Alright, your description on your Facebook page made me want to ask this: What does being a babe mean to each of you?
Izera: I think Moni says it best…. “Rocking out, sexing it up, being tuff, skateboarding, cruising in muscle cars, being Babes.”
Moni: Well the Facebook description is honestly the truth. We rock out, we sex up the music to the max, the boys are tuff, we legitimately skate, and we own old school cruiser American and Australian muscle cars. Being a Babe is just my life, hehe.
Danger: Simply enjoying the music.
Donna: Being a Babe to me means living and breathing what you love, and not caring about any haters along the way – it’s all about letting loose and enjoying the ride.
Welcome to our second interview! This week I interviewed Payton Taylor, who plays drums, bass, piano and keyboard. She even sings! The part that makes her even more impressive is that she’s 10 years old. Payton’s already playing with multiple bands and tackling Led Zeppelin drum solos:
I was fortunate enough to have Payton answer a few questions for me. Check her out!
Tessa: So Payton, you play a lot of instruments. Which one was your first, and when did you start playing it? Why did you start playing it?
Payton: I started playing piano first when I was six years old. I started with classical lessons in my house. I switched to playing Rock music when I was eight years old. It is much more fun!!!
Tessa: Do you have a favorite instrument to play? If so, which one?
Payton: Drums are my favorite but I really like the bass too!!
Tessa: What made you want to start playing music?
Payton: As far back as I can remember, my parents always had Rock music playing in our house and in the car. They took me to see concerts and live bands play. I also had a lot of musical toys when I was very little. And my dad plays guitar. So music has always been a part of my life. I can’t imagine my life without music.
Tessa: What music do you like playing the most?
Payton: I love to play and listen to rock music! But I am starting to explore more types of music like blues, punk and grunge.
Tessa: How often do you practice?
Payton: I practice everyday! We have a music room in our home where I practice piano, bass, singing and drums. But I also practice drums everywhere!! In the car, at restaurants, at school! I bang with pencils, straws or just with my hands!!
Tessa: Are there any musicians that inspire you? If so, what do you like about them?
Payton: There are so many, but if I have to pick one for each of my instruments I would say:
1. John Bonham on drums
2. Flea on bass
3. Paul McCartney singing
4. Freddy Mercury on piano
Tessa: How many bands have you been in so far? Did you like one more or less than the others?
Payton: I have been very lucky to have played with several different bands of kids. I like each one of them for different reasons. Right now I am in a band with some older and very talented kids that inspire me to work hard so I can be a better musician.
Tessa: Do you want to be a musician when you grow up? If not, is there anything you want to be instead?
Payton: Yes – I want to be a Rock Star!!! I love performing and want to start writing my own music.
Tessa: What’s some of your favorite music to listen to?
Payton: My favorite bands are: AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Led Zeppelin, Beatles and Queen.
Tessa: What’s a musical goal or dream that you have?
Payton: I saw a Foo Fighters concert on TV where Dave Grohl got to perform Rock n’ Roll on drums with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones – I want to do that at Madison Square Garden!!!
Photo by Jacob Fishel
Hey there! I’m really excited to welcome you to the first website post Queens of Noise has had in a long time. This also happens to be the first interview we’ve ever had, which is really great. New Myths is a band based in New York City, with Britney Boras playing guitar and singing lead vocals, Marina Ross on bass and background vocals, and Rosie Glassman on drums, percussion, and background vocals. I liked their EP, where they mixed together indie rock and electronic dance elements in their music, and they were kind enough to answer some interview questions I sent them via Facebook. Check them out!
Tessa: Did any musicians in particular inspire you all to play your respective instruments? If not, then what made you start playing?
Britney: Honestly, I got a guitar from my mom one year for Christmas. I started playing [and] just really like[d] it, but I did start off on violin so it was easy to pick up.
Marina: When was 13 I really wanted to play the drums, but when my mom’s boyfriend moved out he left his bass (a Gene Simmons Punisher Bass) and a used bass was cheaper than new drums…. it all ended up working out in the end.
Rosie: I was 7, wanted to marry Zac Hanson, and figured we’d need something to talk about so the drums seemed like a good place to start.
Tessa: Who are some of your musical influences?
New Myths: Radiohead, St. Vincent, Dave Grohl, The Beatles, Yeasayer, Incubus, Bjork, Kate Bush, Metric, Florence + The Machine, Led Zeppelin, The Clifford Brown & Max Roach Quintet, Madonna, Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Tool, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, and Bat For Lashes.
Tessa: Not only are you an all-female group, but all of your backing musicians on your EP are women too. Did you set out to have an all-female band, or did it just come together that way? Are there any advantages of being in a group of women that weren’t present in previous musical experiences you’ve had with guys?
Britney: I was watching Spinal Tap and thought it’d be fun to start an all-female band – It’s always been me and the boys and I wanted to see how the dynamic of an all-female band might be different.
The dynamic in this band is great, but that doesn’t mean it’s based purely on our gender.
Tessa: Where and how did you all learn to program the electronic parts of your music? I think a lot of people, girls especially, don’t know where to start learning how to create or program electronic music. Do you have any tips for people who might want to learn how to do this?
New Myths: Learning and playing with electronic parts is just part of being a musician today. It adds color and texture to the material and makes the sonic possibilities endless. As far as how we learned to use the equipment, we just bought the gear, read the manuals, and spent a lot of time playing with it – it’s just like learning to play any other kind of instrument, you just have to put in the hours.
Tessa: What equipment do you use? What do you like or dislike about it?
Britney: I play a Fender Strat connected to a pedal board with a Boss Digital Delay, an Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail, an Electro-Harmonix Micro Synth, a Boss Fuzz, a Tube Screamer, and a Boss Super Octave pedal. I’m also using a Micro Korg synthesizer and running that through an Electro-Harmonix Cathedral Petal and a Boss Loop Station. For vocals I’m using a couple of Voice Live pedals.
Marina: I’m going between an Eastwood Airline bass and a Gene Simmons Punisher Bass. I’m also using an Electro-Harmonix Enigma pedal.
Rosie: I’m playing a DW custom set with a 22″ bass drum, 12″ mounted tom, an 18″ floor tom, and a 16″ floor tom made by GMS drums. For cymbals, I’m using a pair of Zildjian Quick-Beat hi-hats, an 18″ Paiste Fast Crash, an 18″ Paiste 505 crash, and a 21″ Sabian Fierce Ride. For electronics, I’m using a Roland HPD-15 Handsonic with a Roland KD-7 Kick trigger.
Tessa: I noticed that you met in jazz school. Where did you go? Why did you decide to pursue other kinds of music? Are you still playing jazz?
Rosie: Brit and I went to NYU’s jazz school. We’ve both always loved a lot of other kinds of music, but jazz was the only academic way to go. We still play jazz, but not as much as when we were in school.
Tessa: From what I understand, you’re active in the NYC music scene, and some people advise moving to a big city like New York in order to make a career out of music. What are your perspectives on that advice? Do you have any tips for somebody who might be thinking about entering the NYC music scene?
New Myths: We all grew up in and around NYC and come from families that were involved in the industry, so this is all we’ve known.
Tessa: So, Rosie Glassman is your drummer, and Seth Glassman mixed and helped to produce your EP. Any relation?
Rosie: Seth is my dad. He’s a studio bass player, and has worked on tons of albums including with Hall and Oates and Carol King. We have a full-blown studio in the house and I’ve grown up watching my dad make albums. This project was really the first time that I’ve gotten to take over the studio with him.
Tessa: What made you decide to do “name your price” for your EP? How is that working out so far?
New Myths: It’s a good way to reach a large audience and not exclude anyone. It’s working out really well. A lot of people are downloading for free and many are paying more than we would’ve asked for it – it’s all appreciated if it means that people are listening and enjoying it.
They’ve been described as both a punk and grunge band. However, the only adjective needed to describe this band is awesome. These ladies really deserve some more recognition.
Jumpy, ferocious bass? Fierce, relentless drums? Heavy, stuttering guitar coupled with edgy, screaming vocals? Yes, please. How come when VH1 documentaries discuss alternative rock bands of the 90s, all they talk about is Nirvana this and Smashing Pumpkins that? Babes in Toyland should at least get an honorary mention. After all, their first album Spanking Machine impressed the members of Sonic Youth so much that they were invited to tour with them. (Check out the documentary 1991: The Year Punk Broke to see the results.)
Their names are Kat Bjelland (guitars, vocals), Lori Barbero (drums), and Maureen Herman (bass on albums Fontanelle and Nemesisters; Michelle Leon played bass on Spanking Machine). Check them out; they might impress you just as much as they’ve impressed me.
Meg White may have faced criticism for her minimalist drumming style, but as Jack White, her ex-husband and frontman of The White Stripes, put it in a Rolling Stone interview:
“It’s kind of funny: When people critique hip-hop, they’re scared to open up, for fear of being called racist. But they’re not scared to open up on female musicians, out of pure sexism. Meg is the best part of this band. It never would have worked with anybody else, because it would have been too complicated. When she started to play drums with me, just on a lark, it felt liberating and refreshing. There was something in it that opened me up. It was my doorway to playing the blues.”
With that being said, Meg White plays some of the most understated drum parts I’ve ever heard. They drive high-energy songs like “Fell in Love With a Girl” and “Icky Thump” without distracting from the heartrending emotion in songs like “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself.” Her skills are quite remarkable when one considers that she picked up the drums in her early twenties; her first gig was with Jack White in 1997, two months after she started playing. Learning an instrument is easiest when you’re young, but Meg was brave enough to begin drumming well into adulthood and play in public after only two months of practice. Let’s see her critics do that.
While she’s probably best known for singing the original version of “Hound Dog,” Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton played harmonica and drums and sang in many rhythm and blues bands throughout her career, starting in the 1940s (Gaar 1). She was completely self taught; in her own words, “My singing comes with experience. I never had no one to teach me nothing. I taught myself to sing and to blow the harmonica and even to play drums, by watching other people” (Gaar 2). Her legacy inspired Janis Joplin, who covered Thornton’s song “Ball and Chain.” She must have inspired other legends too; the part at the 4:10 mark of “Ball and Chain” reminds me of Robert Plant’s singing at the 6:10 mark in Led Zeppelin’s “You Shook Me.”
Big Mama Thornton’s version of “Hound Dog” hit number 1 on the 1953 R&B charts, but Elvis Presley’s cover definitely overtook it in popularity. It’s tragic that Thornton never achieved the fame or money she deserved for her hard work; royalties from “Hound Dog” went to songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, not her (O’Neil 1). “Ball and Chain,” which Thornton composed herself, was copyrighted to her record company, so no royalties from that song went to her either (O’Dair 16). She died in 1984 of heart and liver failure, most likely due to extensive alcohol abuse that reduced her from a hefty 350 pounds to a tiny 95 pounds (Gaar 1). For whatever reason, she has yet to be inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, an egregious oversight. The Blues Foundation Hall of Fame recognized her achievements as far back as 1984, though. The Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, based in New York, is named after her.
After listening to Big Mama’s version of this song, Elvis’ doesn’t sound quite as awesome, does it?
There’s some really beautiful guitar in this one.
Watch Big Mama play harmonica.
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.
O’Dair, Barbara, ed. Trouble Girls: The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock. New York: Rolling Stone Press, 1997. Print.
O’Neil, Jim. “Big Mama Thornton.” The Blues Foundation Hall of Fame. Web. 27 September 2011.
^ (Find this source here.)