Zoe Ann, a rock/pop singer-songwriter from Dallas, Texas, has a lot going for her right now. In addition to a quickly developing musical career, she just signed a publishing deal to help get her music out there, got sponsored by Manic Panic NYC, and has been asked to partner with Complete Havoc and Cameron Crown Collection Skateboards. Check her out and see why so many people are investing themselves in her right now.
Tessa: What inspired you to start making music?
Zoe Ann: My parents bought a piano for the family when I was born, hoping I’d grow up to play it. When I was 3, I saw a girl singing on the stage at a festival in TX and told my mom that was exactly what I wanted to do. She found that remarkable since I was so shy! I started learning to play the piano as soon as I was big enough to climb up on the bench and began writing songs when I was seven years old. When I was about 10, I found my dad’s classic rock records from the 70’s and fell in love with The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. I got into musical theatre in second grade, which solved my shyness, and I immediately knew that performing was what I wanted to do. I’ve continued writing and learning both piano and guitar. I released my first album at fourteen years old and have been working on this project for two years. I’ve been working very hard on my second album and I am so excited to release it.
Tessa: Who do you consider your influences?
Zoe Ann: Well the classics of course: Zeppelin, The Beatles, Van Halen, and even Motown. I’m influenced by everything around me, really. Currently I really like Papa Roach, Katy Perry, The Used, Brand New, Flyleaf and Sick Puppies. I always find myself so puzzled when someone asks me this question, because my influences come from so many different things.
Tessa: You describe yourself as a singer-songwriter, but you definitely don’t have that traditional “woman sitting with an acoustic guitar” singer-songwriter image. Was it weird for you to choose that label in spite of that?
Zoe Ann: In truth, I am that behind the scenes. The final product of my songs is very rocked out, and I love that. But it all comes from me sitting in a room, either playing my piano or guitar writing my heart out. It’s all very real, and my songs mean a lot to me. Especially on this upcoming album.
Tessa: What songwriters do you look up to?
Zoe Ann: I absolutely love Adele. She has such heartfelt songs. Her whole album tells a story, and you can tell she works really hard.
Tessa: I’ve been asking a lot of people this lately: how does the songwriting process work for you?
Zoe Ann: My writing process varies, haha. Most of the time I’ll just be walking around and a really cool idea will pop up in my head, so I get out my voice memos from my phone and record it so I can go home and work on it. This year a lot has happened that has really hurt me and I’ve grown a lot from it, so lately I always have something to write about. I just pick up my guitar or sit at the piano and let it go.
Tessa: Can you tell me about what inspired one or more of your songs? Maybe “Lipstick Lies,” “Someday,” or “Girlfriend?”
Zoe Ann: “Lipstick Lies” was inspired by the fact that there are so many girls who only care about themselves and the “boyfriend of the week.” I was actually really bullied when I was in middle school, so I’ve written a lot about mean girls. 😉 Ha. “Someday” was inspired by my life, really. I’m growing up in a small town outside of Dallas and know my goal is a career in music; I’m doing all I can to reach my “Someday!”
Tessa: You play rhythm guitar and keyboard and sing. Would you say you’re more of a guitarist, keyboardist, or singer?
Zoe Ann: Singing is my #1. I love singing so much. I sing all the time. Keyboard [is] second, and guitar third since it’s so new to me, but I get better everyday!
Tessa: Similar question: your solo YouTube videos usually have you singing and playing an instrument, while your videos with your band have you just singing. Do you prefer performing with an instrument or fronting a band?
Zoe Ann: I like both, because I love moving around and interacting with the crowd, but I spend more time when performing with my band not having an instrument. But I can easily front the band with my guitar or on keyboards.
Tessa: Is it weird for you to just sing at shows without an instrument in front of you?
Zoe Ann: Not at all, I have a really high-energy rocked out show, so it’s not like I am just standing at the mic. [Also,] being able to pick up an instrument in a couple songs is a nice break from jumping around, plus [it] shows some versatility.
Tessa: Would you rather play at a small, intimate venue or in front of a large crowd?
Zoe Ann: Large crowd! My dream is to see a ton of people at my show, singing the lyrics, all having a great time. I want to make people smile. I want people to be helped by my music. I can’t wait for that rush of singing in front of a ton of people!
Tessa: Your website describes you as a “teen rocker.” How did you get your career started so early in your life, and so successfully?
Zoe Ann: I just had the desire and [a] family that was willing to support my dream. They eventually allowed me to homeschool [so I would] have enough time to focus on music as my career path.
Tessa: You’re surrounded by guys in your backing band, and I’m guessing in other musical situations you’re surrounded by dudes too. Is it ever weird for you to be the token girl? If so, how do you deal with it?
Zoe Ann: Well, I don’t always have the same guys in my band, but the one or two that stick with me are like my best friends. [We’ve] become so close, it’s like they’re my brothers. But unfortunately in the rock world, you really have to look out for yourself. I’m glad I learned that early on.
Tessa: You’re different from some independent artists because you’re managed by someone else. How does that work?
Zoe Ann: Well, I am independent and although I have management, they are here to support me and help me. I think many independent artists have managers. I generally think of it as not having a label, though I do want a label!
Tessa: Do you prefer this route to managing yourself?
Zoe Ann: My management is very hands off, and and yet if I need them, they are a phone call away. I love the arrangement I have, but not all managers are like this. I got lucky!
Tessa: Where do you want your music to take you eventually?
Zoe Ann: I want my music to take me as far as possible. The sky is the limit, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to get there! This business has the power to be a good or bad influence in someone’s life. I want to help people and I hope one day, I’ll be traveling around the world.
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 Madeline Rust are based in Nottingham, England and play music heavily influenced by the ’90s grunge rock scene. Lucy Morrow plays bass and fronts the band, Aly McNab plays guitar, and Martin Syvret plays the drums. The band took some time to tell me about their day jobs, their decision to not promote the band as “female-fronted,” and Aly’s struggles with arthritis. There’s even a bonus question. Learn about their perspectives on music here!
Tessa: Okay, a standard question that I use: why did you all start playing your instruments, singing, or making music?
Martin: We never had a television when I was growing up, so we always had the radio on. My mum was a teddy girl, and I had a diet of rock’n’roll and a little bit of jazz. I just always seemed to be drawn to the drums. My guilty pleasure as a 10-year-old boy was watching the drummers in the military bands that used to come to Jersey every summer. I used to hang out and try and get a go. I joined the school band at the age of 11 and never looked back.
Lucy: Thanks to my parents, there was always music in the house when I was young. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, The Cars and Kate Bush all remind me of my childhood. When I was 12, my uncle won a crappy acoustic guitar at bingo, and so I decided to try and learn songs that I liked. I’ve never been able to read music but learned to play by ear. Inevitably, when I heard Nirvana for the first time, I wanted an electric guitar, and my parents obliged for my 14th birthday. Aly and I went to school together, and we started a band at about this time. In this band, he drummed and I played guitar and sang – though I only sang by default because nobody else in the band wanted to. And actually, that’s the same reason I play bass in The Madeline Rust!
Aly: My parents are folk musicians who play Scottish and Irish stuff, so I grew up in a house with guitars, fiddles, mandolins and stuff all over the place, and my parents would have parties where people would get up and play or sing, and that was important to me. I never really heard pop music as a child, then started to get into punk as a young teenager (of course), and then I heard Nirvana and my life changed.
Tessa: Another standard question: who are your influences? I definitely hear some Nirvana in your music, and some of Lucy’s screaming reminded me of Joan Jett.
Martin: For me it’s classic rock, [Black] Sabbath, Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and more modern(ish) bands like Clutch and Monster Magnet.
Lucy: This is such a hard question. I enjoy most musical genres to some degree, and I guess I’m influenced by everything I enjoy… I suppose if you listen to The Madeline Rust, the ’90s grunge scene obviously influenced us a lot. Though we have been referred to as “’70s rock,” which may also be a fair reflection of some of our other influences.
Aly: I guess musically relevant influences for me would be Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Tool and ZZ Top. I LOVE ZZ Top.
Tessa: Do you have any musical idols?
Lucy: You mean apart from Lemmy?
Aly: Yep, Lemmy, absolutely. Also Duane Allman and George Harrison.
Martin: Bizarrely for a drummer, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy.
Tessa: How does the songwriting process work for your group? Does someone bring in lyrics so you can all add instrumentation? Do you write riffs, then lyrics?
Aly: Basically, I sit at home a lot and noodle on my guitar.
Lucy: Aly will come up with some rough ideas, and we all build around that. Vocals-wise, I play around with different things until I find a melody that fits right… Since we don’t have backing vocals, I tend to harmonise in some way with what’s going on with Aly’s guitar playing. Lyrics seem to come naturally to fit the pattern of the vocals.
Martin: Aly will bring a rough idea of a riff to a rehearsal, and we’ll knock it about for about an hour and record it live. Aly then sends it to us via email, Lucy will write some lyrics and the following week we have a song all ready to go. I tend to come up with the endings. (Well, Aly and Lucy have to let me do something…)
Tessa: All musicians have to balance the fun aspects of their music, like performing and writing, versus the business aspects of music, like distributing their merch and making sure they get paid. How do you all balance the fun and business aspects of being a band?
Lucy: Martin basically deals with everything “business”-wise… I just enjoy the creative aspect of designing flyers and posters, so I usually do that. My husband designed the album artwork – he took all of the Monument Valley pictures we used for the sleeve. Our friend Rich Solaini recorded our album in nine hours, and then mixed the whole thing in a few days.
Martin: A few band meetings in the pub and talking constantly on Facebook. We play for fun and are taking a very DIY approach to the business side of things. When I have a bit of time on my hands I sit in front of my laptop and email radio stations and magazines trying to get some coverage. I have found that we get a much better reception from The USA than we do here in the UK. We have had radio play on stations across America; they seem to be much more receptive to unsigned bands and are willing to take a chance on adding bands like ours to their playlists.
Aly: I stay away from the business side, as I’m hopeless at it.
Tessa: Do you have day jobs? If so, where?
Lucy: I have a full-time job in the clinical research industry. I manage a big diverse team, and I travel around a lot. Having such a demanding work life and so much responsibility means I need to do as much creative stuff outside of work as I can.
Martin: I am a full time student doing an animal biology degree at Nottingham Trent University.
Aly: I retired due to ill health last year. I’ve had arthritis since I was 3, and it’s getting worse at the moment. I used to be in banking, so I guess it’s partly my fault for the way the world is…sorry!
Tessa: You chose not to describe your band as female-fronted, which I think was a cool and interesting decision. A lot of bands will put the label “female-fronted” or “all-female” in their descriptions of themselves very quickly. Why did you choose not to?
Lucy: The fact that our singer is female is an incidental fact – it doesn’t bear any relevance to our music. Adding “female-fronted” to a description of a band indicates that this is something people look for (or don’t) in a band. It suggests some sort of “specialty music”; that the gender of our singer has some sort of bearing on whether you will enjoy our band or not. Our band is made up of three very different individuals – and the gender of each member is not relevant to the music we play.
Aly: Plus I think you have to be a female human for it to count. Bazinga.
Martin: I don’t think being female-fronted was an issue that we ever thought about. We are a band. Thinking about it, you never have to describe bands like Metallica or Pink Floyd as male-fronted… I have to admit that there are a lot of fanzines, magazines and internet radio stations that are geared towards female-fronted bands, and I’m glad they are there because they have given us some great coverage, but it’s not something we actively seek out. We are just three people making music and if others like what we are about, that’s a bonus.
Tessa: Why is your Bandcamp description written the way it is? (The Western theme is cool, by the way. “Strangers in a desolate ghost town, here to settle an old and bitter feud.”)
Martin: Over to Lucy on this one.
Lucy: Ahem. I am obsessed with becoming the eponymous rider-in-black from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s amazing movie El Topo. I make all my stage outfits, and everything I make is a nod to El Topo’s style in some way. My husband and I travel to the US regularly and have spent a lot of time wandering round ghost towns in Arizona, California and Nevada. I like to imagine our music playing out of a derelict saloon, into the silence of the desert…
Aly: Not even cowboys listen to us? Ouch…
Tessa: What is your goal as a band? Do you want to make it big, pay your rent, or just make a few bucks and have fun?
Lucy: For me, it’s being part of something I can feel proud of, and having fun in the process.
Martin: Just to make music, play it and have fun, and maybe break even, that would be nice…almost impossible, but you can dream. (Haha.)
Aly: You know, I’ve not even thought about a goal. Being in a band with Lucy has always been an important thing to me, as we’ve been in bands together for over half our lifetimes now, so I guess to continue that would be my goal. And millions of dollars and a 1959 Les Paul would also be cool.
Tessa: So Lucy, I think it’s really cool how you can go from singing very prettily to almost screaming. How do you get that raspy quality about your voice without hurting it? Any tips for someone who might want to try singing that way?
Lucy: Shucks, thanks…but who said it didn’t hurt?! …um, I drink Old Grandad and Pepsi. (Pure class.) I always seem to end up singing like this – it just feels right! I like to hear singers who have different or interesting voices: Lemmy, David Bowie, Roger Waters, Jack White, Anna Calvi. I went through a phase when I was a teenager, listening to extreme vocal stuff like Diamanda Galas. It’s cool hearing what the human voice can do.
Tessa: How did you all meet and start a band?
Martin: I met Lucy at a mutual friend’s wedding, we got talking about music and about a year later she introduced me to Aly.
Lucy: Aly and I went to school together and have always been in bands together… I met Martin at a wedding. I believe that’s the tradition, to meet your future drummer at a wedding.
Aly: Yeah, I was playing the drums to “Breed” by Nirvana in the music room at school, and Lucy asked if I wanted to be in a band in the next lesson. And here we still are…
Tessa: So, what does your band name mean?
Aly: So, first you should know that due to my illness I take a LOT of painkillers, okay? Bear that in mind.
So about a decade ago I had a dream about a monster. Nothing unusual there, as I’m a lifelong Stephen King fan and monsters pop up from time to time. This one was a little Victorian girl in a pinafore dress, but her neck was about 12 feet long and bendy like Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four. She was using this to spy on me through a window, and when I confronted her by saying (in shock), “Who ARE you?” she said “I’m Madeline Rust.” And at this point I woke up nearly screaming.
So from that day on, the name has been rattling round my head, and after being stuck for a band name for what seemed like forever, we decided to use it. It confuses people, but that’s okay; we like doing that.
A bonus question
Tessa: After reading the interview, I want to ask another question. Aly, how does your arthritis affect your playing?
Aly: Playing guitar with arthritis is tricky. Apart from the basic fact that I don’t know if I’ll be able to even play a gig until that day, as I can wake up pretty ill quite randomly, when I play I have to wear Tubigrip bandages on my wrists to stop them from swelling, and I tend to play very light guitars onstage to save my shoulders. Even so, after a half hour gig I’m in lots of pain and I tend to get swollen knuckles and a stiff neck the next day.
I’ll never be a jazz guitarist or a shredder, as my fingers don’t stretch very far; some of the joints have fused and don’t straighten. But I guess it’s become part of my style – lots of basic power chords, or open, ringing drone notes and partial open chords too.
My insecurity about this means I’ve always looked for tricks to keep the sound interesting, and that’s where the pedals come in, I guess. I don’t know if you know the scene in “It Might Get Loud” where The Edge from U2 plays a riff with all his FX and it sounds awesome, and then when he plays without it the riff’s like two notes or something, but it’s very funny and that’s basically how I feel most of the time. My gear is all carefully chosen to cover up the fact that I’m not playing guitar “properly,” basically. Not that there is such a thing as playing properly, of course!
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.
December 25th-31st’s Artist of the Week is Halestorm, a hard rock band. Elizabeth “Lzzy” [sic] Hale fronts the group, and she claims such influences as Pat Benatar, Janis Joplin, and Metallica. Her brother Arejay plays drums, and they’ve been writing songs together for a long time. Says Lzzy, “My brother and I were very fortunate to know what we wanted to do at an early age. When I was 13 and he was 10, we got together and wrote five songs. We wanted to be in a band together, we wanted to make music, and that was it. Everything came second to that.” Joe Hottinger plays lead guitar, and Josh Smith plays bass.
All of the band members blog on Halestorm’s website, and Lzzy has some great vocal tips for aspiring singers. The band makes sure to maintain a close relationship with their fans; in a recent fan interview, Lzzy gave advice for young girls who see her as a role model: “I think there’s an unspoken idea, that girls are supposed to lead their life in a certain way. I encourage all of [you] to follow your own path, to make yourself happy…You have to follow your gut. And sometimes it’ll be hard, and life will suck, or people won’t necessarily be supportive or understand you, but that doesn’t mean you should stop, and no matter what, remember you are a powerful woman. Because it takes a real woman to find her own path. It takes patience, strength and confidence. Love all of yourself. The only one you need to answer to is YOU.”
Lzzy and Arejay started Halestorm about 14 years ago, and now the band’s seeing some mainstream success. Here’s hoping they have a long career. Halestorm has a self-titled album out at the moment, and it’s pretty great. They’re working on a new album that’ll be released this year. While we’re waiting, check out a few songs below.
A song about moving on:
This song is a departure from Halestorm’s usual style. An amazing performance:
Everybody rocks pretty hard in this song. Lzzy plays a guitar solo:
December 11th-17th’s Artist of the Week is a punk rock band called the Lunachicks. The band went on hiatus in 2000; no word yet as to whether or not they’ll ever play together again. During their run, they toured with “No Doubt, The Offspring (in Europe and America), Rancid, Marilyn Manson, Luscious Jackson, Rev. Horton Heat, NOFX, The Muffs, [and] The Go-Go’s” and played on Warped Tour twice. Says guitarist Sindi, “The best thing about the Offspring tour…was that two or three times, dads came up to me and said, ‘I brought my daughter here to see you because this is how I want her to see women.'”
Their debut album Babysitters on Acid was recently reissued; yes, the title song is actually about a babysitter on acid. The Lunachicks are really quite a surreal band, including songs about eating disorders (“Binge and Purge“)*, ’70s pop culture icons (“Jan Brady“), a failed romance (“Don’t Want You“), and a transgender woman (“Mr. Lady“) in their repertoire. They may be incredibly unpredictable, but one thing is certain about this group: you’ll never be bored while listening to them.
Here’s a really hyper cover of a classic Blondie song:
An energetic original:
And check out “Don’t Want You”:
*This song might not be appropriate for people under the age of 16.