JUNE 2012 UPDATE — Be Sure to read David Ensminger’s Top Twenty All-Girl Punk Bands list, found in the June 23rd edition of Popmatters.
Readers: Make sure to check out our women in punk blog here: it provides flyers, photographs, record art, and other ephemera and material chronicling the participation of women in punk history.
Also, be sure to read the newly inserted Horropops flashback interview, located at the end of this article!
Wendy Case of The Paybacks!
Margaret Doll Rod from the Demolition Doll Rods!
…on punk posters and the depictions of her.
I love it when there are posters to let people know whose playing and when and where. I used to love making posters and decorating the town with them. Sometimes wonderin’ what people might think most of the time not caring at all. I was having a good time and expressing myself. So, it’s easy for me to understand that if someone else is making a poster for us they just might be doing the same. Having a good time that is. So, when I see a poster no matter who is in the poster or what they are doing, it is an expression of the artist creating the poster. It may have nothing at all to do with what you’re going to see or experience from the artist whose show is being advertised by the poster.
The fun part is that no matter how many things we have in common as beings we are all unique individuals in some way. So for each and everyone of us depending on our own unique way of living will have different feelings, interpretations, and ideas about what we see in a poster. Does it have anything to do with the performance you may or may not attend. If it is a good poster, well, then I hope so, but the beauty is that no matter how great the poster is we all have our own glorious thoughts, ideas, perversions etc. which I believe in all honestly will grow and blossom regardless if there is a hot ass poster to ignite your spirit or blow your mind.
To the artist whose posters have made my mouth water, my palms sweat, my thighs tighten and eye bulbs pop with a warm glow to my soul, to the artists who have inspired my fantasies and dared me to dream, and to the artist who have scrambled my mind into the flabbergastion of which I reply what the fuck? I thank you with all my heart and soul I thank you. To be inspired in any way is such a gift.
Greta from Bang Bang!
…on the initiation into punk culture.
When I was in fifth grade, I mistakenly asked a friend of mine for a Duran Duran album for my birthday instead of Hall and Oates. I had gotten the names mixed up, thank god, and received “Seven and the Ragged Tiger.” All of my music knowledge at that point had come from watching American Bandstand with my mom on Saturday mornings. I remember not having any clue that what I’d gotten was not Hall and Oates until after my party when I ran to my room to play my new record. What came out of the speakers was so foreign to me. I seriously thought I’d gotten some sort of devil’s music. This totally makes me giggle now, but I was raised in a very southern and Christian home so watching AB was even edgy. I don’t think I played the record for like a week because I was so scared that I was going to go to hell if I listened to it. But because I was so freaked out by it, I started playing it little by little until I loved it so much I couldn’t imagine why the hell I ever wanted Hall and Oates. This record opened up a whole new world to my younger self. By 13, I’d discovered The Cure from a friend’s sister or something. I’d bought “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me” and again, thought I’d run into probably the weirdest sounding shit I’ve ever heard. Imagine buying a record where the first song on it starts “kiss me kiss me kiss me, your tongue’s like poison, so swollen it feels up my mouth.” I wanted more. I started to buy everything I could find from The Cure, and they soon became my favorite band. Of course, black became my favorite color to wear and I walked around sullen like someone had kicked my puppy or something. It was music that made me feel relevant.
The summer between 8th and 9th grade I met the Mathis sisters. They were punks who lived down the street from me. I’d heard of punk but didn’t listen to much at the time. One of them made me a mixed tape of JFA, Black Flag, 7Seconds, GBH, The Exploited, The Adolescence, Crass, and The Misfits. My mind was blown. I was addicted to this sound from the second I heard it. Punk became the soundtrack of my high school years. I was going to shows like Jack Acid, MDC, DI, TSOL, Agent Orange. Punk brought me out of my head and into my body. Nothing was emotional anymore: it was physical. The music was rough and immediate. It was raw and ugly. I fell into this scene and soon was chasing boys with Mohawks who smelled like leather and cigarettes. I was making out with them while ditching class and dropping acid in the Mathis’ sisters’ basement. After high school I moved into the “student ghetto” across from UNM with a friend of mine, Jasmine. We’d go to shows just about every night. Scared of Chaka, Dave Hernandez’s band before the Shins, would play often and we’d be there pushing the crowd to fight for a spot up front. The crowd was wild. There were fights breaking out mid song because someone’s beer got spilled. We were not quite 21 but had fake ID’s and would use them religiously. There were some awesome Burque bands at the time. Dave Hernandez, of The Shins, was in Scared of Chaka, as well as The Wads. There was Psycho Drama, which changed into The Eyeliners, an all girl, bubble gum popping trio. There was The Johnny Cats, Silver, Blind Nine, which Chris Bell from The Briefs was in, Fractured, Word Salad. Albuquerque loved their punk. We were starved for music and starved for fun. Everyone supported everyone.
When bands would come through Albuquerque, I remember just completely idolizing them. They seemed so out of reach to me. They were HUGE in my eyes.
Since leaving Albuquerque over 12 years ago, I’ve since been playing in a very active Chicago band called Bang! Bang! We tour across country a few months every year. Now when we play places, there are people looking up at us, as I did other bands and I think that they must think we’re really big and we’re totally not. I know when I used to watch the Red Aunts play, I thought they were so set that they didn’t have to work or anything. Not a lot of bands can stick together for as long as we have. It’s hard keeping momentum going, touring and releasing as much as we have and all keep full time jobs.
As a woman in rock…hmm…I get a lot of dudes assuming I can’t play my instrument until after our shows when they then come up to me saying things like “You play your bass HARD like a guy!” NO dumbass, I play my bass hard because that’s how I play! Another fun thing I had someone say was when I was at guitar center before our last tour when I asked for my strings and the salesman pointed to the strings I was asking for and said, “These? These are bass strings, mam.” No shit? Is that the instrument I play? It’s not hard being a girl in a band but you do have a lot of colorful assumptions made about you, but I get to set them straight.
I think that punk attracts the misfit, the nerd, the minority in whatever circle and speaks More to them at a level that is easily identifiable. It’s lo-fi, urban and tough.
Robin H., longtime fan and participant.
…on initiation to punk culture and beyond : Toledo Punk Rock Girlie
When I started writing this piece, I was thinking what makes me qualified to write about the punk scene in Toledo and Tucson. Shouldn’t it come from the bands themselves, then I realized HELL it’s the kids listening to the bands that make the scene. Otherwise it would just be some wankers on stage playing for themselves. So here it is… a little piece of my story– just a girl from a working class family that was born into the armpit of the world; Toledo, OH. Oh now don’t get pissed off if you are from there, we all know that is what everyone calls it!
It is hard to remember exactly when and where it all began. It is not like one day you wake up and think- I’ve got it! I am going to go buy some combat boots, a DK album and become a punk! That gets into the whole defining thing, is it the music, the clothes, or the attitude that makes you punk? I will let you mull that over. What I’m saying here is that the immersion or submersion into the scene happened slowly over time. Seems like maybe I met a few kids that skated and it looked like a whole hell of a of fun. Then as I learned to skate I was turned on to some really awesome music. The next thing I know I was pilling into a 1970s something VW rabbit with a hole in the floor and venturing out to see some band. It could have been any band but it happened to be the NECROS from Maumee, Ohio. The raw power of the show won me over in about 30 seconds. I just remember standing there, thinking oh my god what the fuck is this and why didn’t I know about it until now. I was probably 15 at the time. If you haven’t heard their rendition of “Walking the Dog” you really should. Go! Find it now!
After seeing the Necros, I was determined to find shows and other kids that loved this music and understood what was happening in the world and in my head. Luckily for me music was amazingly plentiful in good old Toledo. At the time we had the NECROS and The STAIN and other raucous bands whose names sadly I have forgotten. Buying records, reading Flipside and Maximum Rock n Roll, and going to shows became my distraction from inner turmoil and concern for the state of the world. Shows were cheap back then and most in Toledo were all ages, which was great because the majority of us were way underage. Our core group consisted of about 4 girls and sometimes our respective boyfriends and various other people that ebbed and flowed from our circle. Speaking of circle, I had to miss the Circle Jerks when they played in Detroit because it was 18 and over and my “adult” friends promised they would leave me standing in the dark cold streets of Detroit if I couldn’t get in because there was no way they were going to miss the show. The same thing happened with the Cramps and many others.
Those of us under 18 were lucky that some bands decided Toledo was worth the stop. There was a country western bar that we affectionately called the “hole in the wall” that opened up for punk shows on Sunday afternoons. MDC played there. I am pretty sure that was the show where I jammed my thumb and my hand was swollen for like a week. I think I must have eaten gallons of Tofutti after Dave planted the seed on that one.
The “hole in the wall” offered us a place to release our anger and pent up frustration. The music was often politically charged and not only did we come out feeling like we could deal with another week we often ended up learning a thing or two. It was an awesome scene; at least from where I was standing. We thrashed hard and I often came home tattered and bruised, but not as a result of fights just from pure unadulterated moshing. If someone fell in the pit numerous hands were on you to pull you out before you got trampled. Being there gave me a feeling of community. One of the chicks from our group used to say something to the affect that we were individualists looking for someplace to belong. Now that might not seem very punk to some out there but it really is more fun to belong to a group of freaks than to be the only one. Being a girl in the scene was a pretty great place to be during the whole high school thing. We didn’t care about clothes, being popular, or our hair being perfect which seemed to be a past time of other girls in the 1980’s. That left a lot more time to expand our minds.
OK so enough of that side note- let’s get back to the music. Sometimes our search for music took us across the Michigan border. Went up to Detroit to see Black Flag, who played with Painted Willie at the Greystone (if my poor memory serves correctly). I can’t remember how many of us climbed into my boyfriend’s parent’s yellow station wagon to make the journey, but the car was packed! Found out many years later when I was talking about this night in front of my mom, that perhaps we forgot to mention to our parents that the show was not in Toledo (oops). Upon arrival we pushed our way to the front of the stage. The lights dimmed and out roared Henry in his black silky shorts. It was only moments before his hair was wildly flailing about and he was dripping in sweat, which he kindly shared with us in front. Henry rocked back and forth for the entire set. His energy commanded that the crowd participate. We moshed until we were ready to pass out but could not let up since the band never once slowed. The drive home that night was pretty silent as we all tried to recover from being mesmerized for hours.
Ann Arbor MI offered yet another place to get our Midwest music fix. Saw the Laughing Hyenas there at some tucked away venue. Again I remember being blown away. The crowd contained some bewildered college students that were obviously a little nervous by the well dressed punks that came out for the show. Our group was wide eyed and relieved to be out of Toledo for the night.
Overall, I would say the Toledo scene was a pretty peaceful. The only time I remember a huge fight ever breaking out was at my very own graduation party. A group of Jocks showed up bound and determined to hate. They came into the house where the party was happening and started beating on people, calling the guys queers, etc. There were some bottles smashed upon heads, it was pretty crazy. Luckily no one was severely hurt.
So there you have it….I roamed within the Toledo scene from around 1984-1988. We skated a lot, went to a lot shows, and cruised the streets looking for something to do. If it was too damn cold to go out or if there was truly nothing to do—we could always entertain ourselves in my basement watching recorded tapes of “The Young Ones” or the movies “Sid and Nancy”, “Repo Man”, or “Suburbia”. VHS was relatively new so still exciting! I recently found the tapes that lived in my car during that time- a1985 brown Mazda GLC-which the guys used to enjoy skating over since it was nice and round. The soundtrack to these fine years included- The Cramps “Bad Music for Bad People“, Flipside Gasatanka Records “Tape fanzine two”, Rat Music for Rat People, Black Flag “Slip It In”, DK “Bedtime for Democracy” and MDC “Smoke Signals”.
The old GLCs engine seized up on the way back from a trip to Indiana. It was replaced with a 1985 Ford Escort DIESEL (yes, Diesel) wagon, which I loaded up 8 days after my 18th birthday so that I could head for the next adventure in Tucson. Toledo was just too damn cold—environmentally and socially! By the way that car got between 50-60mpg; and they now say the technology isn’t available for better MPGs. What bullshit, but that is for another rant at another time.
Volvos, Insanity, and Crushes: Fabulous Disaster
Originally published in Left of the Dial
Interview by David Ensminger
I read an interview article in Amp magazine in which Mike from Fat Wreck Chords interviewed you and in his intro he said the dyke punk movement of the mid-1990s reminded him of the original wave of punk rock, with its element of danger and subversion, and I know you toured Japan with the Dickies, so do you identify with that aspect of the music more so than relate to other bands on Fat Wreck Chords?
Sally: I think a lot of bands on Fat are influenced by the older stuff too. A lot of people I know.
Lynda: But we definitely stick out more than the others. We don’t sound like a Fat Wreck band. They kind of have their own certain style and sound that I think we’re really different from. The first record was recorded by Brian Green, who does a lot of the Fat Wreck Chords bands, but our new record was produced by Alex Newport, and we wanted to try and get a more different sound. We recorded on two-inch tape analog, and we just wanted a more fatter, live sound.
You’ve mentioned that not only were you pleased with just the sound of the new record, but also the structure of the songs.
What happened during the few years between the releases that led to the progression, just the touring and playing?
Lynda: (laughs) Well, yeah!
Sally: Plus, on Put Out or Get Out, a lot of those songs were on our first record, called Pretty Colors. They were remakes of old, old songs when we first got together.
So it was rehashed material, not a leap forward?
Sally: Yeah. It was stuff that we wrote a long time ago that we just changed, re-produced, or whatever, so with this new record we did a lot more collaborating.
Why did you take a step back and go with the two-inch tape, because the other record had been done mostly on computer. How did you know that was the direction to take to get that fuller sound? It’s a lot harder to work with.
Lynda: Well, yeah it is. It is a piece of work really. You don’t have the luxury of, especially singers, of like singing a line, if you don’t get the right pitch, then they can change it. You had to take a couple takes vocally and musically to get it right, and he would pick the three best takes of what we did and work from that. It was hard work, but we’re really happy with the outcome, and that’s what we wanted to go for, something more thick, more real sounding.
Lynda, you’ve said that “we’ve mostly had to deal with sexist promoters and booking agents and we overcame it by not backing down and by doing what we want basically.” How different has it been for this band compared to your others, say Inside Out?
Lynda: It’s a bit easier with Fabulous Disaster because we’re a little older and we know what we want, you know. When I was a kid with Inside Out, we had no clue. We were totally on our own, no direction, no nothing, and we got screwed over a lot. Um, with this band, we have a great label that is backing us, we’ve worked with really good bookers, and we kind of know more of what to expect and we are more seasoned pros, like touring wise, so that helps. But if you are young and in a new band, it’s really hard, because people do take advantage of you.
Do you agree?
Sally: Yeah, totally. I mean we’ve been through it over it the past couple of years. We have learned so much just by getting screwed over…
But is being screwed over typical of just any band, or does it relate to you being an all girl band?
Sally: But at the same time I know a lot of bands that are guys that get dicked over too, so I think that it’s just different people…
Lynda: Different bookers.
Sally: Some are assholes.
But you have said, “Some days I feel that being all female may keep us fro, becoming what we could be, as big as we could be, because we all know it’s a man’s world.” So is there a glass ceiling in the music world.
Sally: Yeah, totally.
Lynda: I’ve said this before in interviews. People have a misconception about girl bands. The big thing that we get is people coming up and saying, you know I really don’t like female bands, I don’t like girl bands, but after I saw you guys, it changed everything.” I don’t think they see us as a girl band, they see us as rocking out, which is what we do. I think we change a lot of minds when people see us live.
Sally: We have to prove ourselves…
Lynda: Night after night.
Sally: Every single night people come to the show and totally basically walk by our merch and don’t even really look at it and then after we play, they’re like, wow, I can’t believe it. They just come in thinking it’s just another girl band, I don’t care, so we totally have to prove ourselves every night.
Lynda: We do, and that’s fine.
Sally: Which I don’t think guy bands have to do.
But do bands like the Donnas appearing on Saturday Night Live and the Distillers going on tour with No Doubt or Sleater Kinney on tour with Pearl Jam make it easier or makes it harder?
Lynda: Hopefully it will open the doors for more all female bands to get signed and move up one step up. I’ve said this in interviews too, but what is the last time you heard of a girl band that wrote their own music, played their own instruments…
Is that a stab at the Donnas?
Lynda: No! The Go Go’s and they are a big influence on us. I saw that and said, that’s what I want to do, I want to be in a girl band and do that. What do girls, or young people in general, what do they have to look up, Britney Spears and all this other crap. I am very happy for the Donnas.
You have a nephew who liked them and you referred to his favorite band as the Backdoor Boys…
Lynda: Actually it was my niece.
But guys like Jack Grisham from TSOL has a thirteen year-old daughter, so if his kids want to be rebellious would they go to a reformed Adolescents show or a Britney Spear concert?
Sally: I don’t think that buying Britney Spears is being rebelling though, but it’s so commercially acceptable by everyone, so if you are going with something commercially acceptable, you are not being rebellious really. It would probably be more rebellious to be into something like rockabilly or something.
Lynda: You never know my friend’s stepson was raised on punk rock, and he screamed in punk rock bands when he was four and five years old, and now he is out buying rap records, and he is fifteen. So, it depends.
Is that disappointing to you?
Lynda: Well, yeah, and it also shows that he is probably going through a phase. Like my niece. She liked Brittney Spears and all this other stuff. Now she loves Fabulous Disaster, NOFX, and Good Charlotte. She’s into punk rock now, so I am happy.
What about Detroit shaped your upbringing, playing those dark and dreary clubs, as you have described them?
Lynda: Well, I was raised and started going to punk rock shows when I was fourteen or fifteen years old. I met Karen Neal at sixteen, and she changed my life.
Did you see the old hardcore shows at the Freezer?
Lynda: No, not Freezer but the Grey Stone, Paychecks, St. Andrews, a lot of the old, well, St. Andrews is still there, but we were three girls that just got together that wanted to play music that were influenced by all different types of music that didn’t have a clue, and we just went out and…Well, you hear the stuff now and it sounds like we were from outer space, it’s just out there, but it’s good songs, but commercially it would never be acceptable. You can’t really pinpoint what it sounds liker. It just sounds really original.
But Detroit did have great mixed gender bands, like the Laughing Hyenas and the Gories?
Lynda: Yeah, there were tons of girls in the Detroit music scene. Sure. Also, the Vertical Pills, they were an all female band, they were really good, but they were more psychedelic, and they had like Rob Tyner of the MC5 back them and stuff, he’d appear with them. But now, I think the Detroit music scene is doing great. It’s exploding. I left in 1995 to come out to San Francisco, and, of course, I hooked up with my girls, but now Detroit is like totally out of fucking control. A lot of bands I know are getting signed, but they have to be garage bands. Other bands that aren’t garage bands aren’t doing anything. I love bands like the Paybacks and the Gore Gore Girls, who are coming out of Detroit. I think they are awesome. The White Stripes I like too.
You had a project with your husband, which was more rooted in My Bloody Valentine, whereas with this band you drop names like X and the Buzzcocks all the time. But do those sensibilities creep into this band as well?
Lynda: Sure, for sure. Even bands like Wire creeps in, like harmonies or guitar sounds. I am influenced both just by punk rock, but all different types of stuff.
You did have a grass roots label, so why didn’t you DIY it like the Bellrays early stuff and put out your own records instead of getting on Pink and Black?
Lynda: No, there was no distribution. I mean we really could have sunken into obscurity, you know, and I am really thankful that Pink and Black picked us up because it opens the door and pushes it out to a way wider audience and we love to tour and make music.
Sally: We couldn’t have done that.
Lynda: No way. That’s just stuff I put out, that’s fine, I am happy with that. Fabulous Disaster deserves the best.
You get into experimental, improv music sometimes, like free jazz?
Lynda: No, more like electronic stuff. My husband and I do an experimental side project called Emulsion, and it’s all like old keyboards, Poly 6’s, synthesizers, and I have an old 1960’s film projector that I like to sing through, and I love tons of effects. It’s just a way different style. I also became friends with Donald Suzuki recently, and he wanted to play with me March 18th, but we will be on tour. He’s from the band Can, and so my husband is going to play with him instead. He wanted me to play with him in San Francisco, and I was like fuck…
If the band would have been on your label and remained on a smaller level, you could have split yourself more evenly with all your projects, right, but now does Fabulous Disaster absorb a lot of your time?
Lynda: Oh yeah, and it’s fine, because it’s what we want to do. It is my meat and potatoes band that I love very much, and I don’t want to be with anybody else.
Is it true that three members of the band played trumpet?
Sally: Yeah, it’s for real.
Lynda: I played organ.
Sally: I played organ and Laura and Nancy played trumpet or clarinet.
At thirteen or fourteen Lynda, you were trying to find a left-handed teacher for the guitar.
Then you switched over to bass for a little while?
Lynda: I started on bass actually. At thirteen, I picked up the guitar and was very frustrated, tried to play left-handed, threw it against the wall and said fuck it. My god mother who lived next door wanted to teach me all these Jesus songs and I said, no thank you, but I couldn’t find a left-handed guitarist, and I think she was left-handed too, and I had to switch over to right hand, and I was playing bass in little garage bands at fourteen.
Are you ambidextrous then?
Lynda: Yes, I am, and only 10% of the world is ambidextrous. (laughs).
What were your early musical experiences?
Sally: Well, the trumpet thing was just high school band, but I played drums in the band too, but I have played drums since I was six, so I was in punk bands since I was a kid.
You were behind a drum set at age 6?
Sally: I was playing drums like marching drums, yeah.
In elementary school?
Sally: I was learning on my own, because I have an older cousin who had been playing drums in band and I spent a lot time with her, and she started showing me stuff, and I started reading and she was teaching me the music and I started reading music. It just took off, and I started my first band when I was twelve and then I played my first show when I was fifteen, a punk band.
It seems that a person is or simply is not a musician, you play or don’t play, and it’s imprinted at a very early age, and then I found out that people like Greg Gin didn’t start playing until they were older, like 18 or 19…
Lynda: Nancy was a late bloomer too, like 28.
When writing songs, does that create a little divide between those of you who grew up being musical and slightly more technical I suppose and her…
Lynda: She has her own style and she brings her own presence to the band.
But is that what makes the band special, because it’s a balance between…
Lynda: I don’t know, but it would not be the same without the four of us. I think that Sally is by far the best musician in the band. I never practice, I never took lessons, you know, I just practice my own thing. Well, 3 out of 4 of us write songs, and Mr. Nancy doesn’t really write songs but she contributes her parts and everything and we kind of work as a whole that way, while a lot of bands just bring in songs and go, okay, play it like this, it has to be like that, blah blah blah.
Sally: One person brings in a song, and one person may have a suggestion about a change, and it becomes a group effort.
When once asked what you would say to a young women going into music you said, “I pity you.” That doesn’t sound real inspiring.
Lynda: (laughs). That must have been a bad day.
I believe you also said, women musicians are cursed.
Lynda: I want to know what this interview is from. It was probably a bad day, a PMS day. It depends. Some people come into the business and they are blessed. I mean they can get up there and the band makes it in six months, and they are stars overnight, I worked…
But then sometimes forgotten the next day?
Lynda: That’s true. But we haven’t experienced that yet, but I know a lot of musicians that have been struggling for years.
You struggled for eight years in Inside Out?
And it’s been five years with Fabulous Disaster?
Lynda: I have been playing since I was 16 and I am 33 now, so yeah.
But if you stopped today and tomorrow you walked out, would where you are today be a measure of success for you?
Lynda: Yes. If I died tomorrow I’d be the happiest person in the world.
Sally: The greatest thing last night, there was a girl band we played with in San Antonio, these young girls came and said, we started a band because of you, which is kind of like, I started playing because of the Go-Go’s, so it’s cool to give back to that.
Lynda: I can’t see myself doing anything else, and so, I am a lifer, as you would say it. I always threaten to quit, and I am going to retire in three years, but it’s just hard some days. If you have a bad day, of course, you’re going to say, oh, I am going to retire, but I can’t see myself doing anything else, and if I wasn’t doing music, music saved me, I’d probably be dead a long ago, so I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Sally: It is harder for women, it’s definitely harder for women.
How did the Go Go’s become fans of the band anyway?
Lynda: We went to their show in San Francisco and met Gina Shock and the rest of the Go Go’s. Sally had told her, like, oh she is a big fan and she gave her sticks and stuff, and she gave her a tape, so Gina and the rest of the Go-Go’s invited us back to a private party they were having and on the way Gina listened to the tape and said I love you guys I want to produce your next record, so that was 1999 before we met Fat Mike and stuff, and Kathy Valentine had heard it too, and she expressed an interest in producing it, but that never came about.
Any reasons why?
Sally: They were busy. They did the reunion thing and had other projects going on.
Lynda: And I don’t think either girls had done a lot of producing of bands, so it was kind of good that Mike came along and rescued the band.
You toured with the Dickies…
Lynda: My boyfriend Leonard (laughs). I love you Leonard.
You called him a hero.
Lynda: I love him.
Sally: He’s great.
Lynda: Because he is who he is.
Sally: He’s a genius, really.
In what way?
Lynda: He’s very smart, very talented, and he’s very witty. It’s just like he has that certain something that many people don’t have. You can’t buy it, you’re not raised with it, you’re just born with it.
Drums: He just has that spark.
Are the Dickies under-appreciated in America?
Lynda: Yes, of course they are. They are one of the best kept gems ever, you know. They had their time in the late 1970s, especially in England, they had four or five top ten hits. They will admit to drugs and laziness kept them from really kicking ass, so it’s their own fault.
Did you offer any lessons or morality tales for you?
Lynda: He tells people in interviews, just don’t play punk rock (everyone laughs).
Yeah, get the Backstreet Boys, don’t play punk rock.
Have people often misinterpreted the band’s interest in fetish?
Lynda: Especially in America, I was in a band called the Clitty Twist, and we had the record sent out to all the college radio stations and stuff for people to review it, and we got, not really bad reviews, but really like, well, people are afraid of female sexuality, especially Laura. She’s really in your face, like really expressive about her sexuality, and that scares a lot of people.
But that’s so strange considering it’s been 30 years since the modern feminist movement and two decades after performance artists like Karen Finley, so why within punk rock, which is supposed to be progressive, do people end up being really repressed?
Sally: I think it’s a whole generational thing in a lot of ways. It’s like we grew up on punk rock in the 1980s, and everything was more, it was the Reagan years and everybody was really aggro and everything…
Lynda: And now everything is safe.
Sally: You know, back then…
Lynda: Now it’s shopping malls with Hot Topic!
Sally: The kids today, unless they listen to the old punk rock, don’t really know any of that stuff. They don’t know the history of what it was about…
Lynda: Like we played Chain Reaction in San Diego a while ago, and every time we played there we did really good, but this time it was packed with 300 kids, we went on first. We had a mixed reaction. A lot of kids didn’t know what to do. A lot of kids just stood there.
Sally: I think they were scared.
Lynda: I think they were scared, but afterwards a lot of kids came up to us and said, you really kicked ass and we had never seen or heard an all girl band before, like revert back to what they have on TV.
Sally: Our generation kind of takes advantage of the fact that we had all those bands like L7 and the Lunachicks, and these kids that are 13 or 14 now don’t know any of that. They don’t really have any kind of history.
You’ve said that you are not a political band, but that Bush is an asshole, and you do believe he is taking a country in the wrong direction. You actually miss the Clinton era?
Lynda: Everyone had a job, everyone had money, and just because he got a blo-job…Well, at least everyone had a roof over their heads, at least it seemed. Everyone was just real prosperous.
But at the same time it was fertile ground for the riot grrrl movement.
Lynda: Maybe they were mad at Bill (laughs).
You are touring under the threat of war, so do you feel pressure to engage the audience with the issue, some of whom may even get drafted if things don’t go well.
Lynda: Yeah, it’s horrible. It’s a really scare time for everybody I think. We are supposed to go to Europe in May, and I’m sure we will go, but it’s going to be really weird. It’s going to be really scary.
Sally: The anti-American sentiment will grow over there if we go to war, so who knows what will happen if bands start going to Europe.
Lynda: I had a German friend come and visit me awhile ago, and she said, you know, the Germans really hate the Americans, and I said, there are a lot of Americans here that don’t want this either, and she goes, it doesn’t matter. Bush, he’s the guy, he’s the figurehead.
Sally: Just like with Hitler — everybody associated all Germans with Nazis.
In that situation, on stage in Germany, would you feel compelled to speak when otherwise you might not?
Sally: Probably, I hope so.
Lynda: For sure. I had to deal with some stuff like that when I went over with Inside Out in the early 1990s, especially in England. We played a lot of weird squats and out-of-the way places, and a lot of English did not like an American band playing. We had a couple of riots at our shows and a couple of shows cancelled.
During the Gulf War?
Lynda: Right before. When grunge was really big (laughs), and it didn’t help that they were crusty punks.
But obviously you did have an audience there, because you did a Peel Session.
Lynda: We played for six weeks in England alone. I mean we were are tour for three and a half months straight one time, and that pretty much killed the band after that. Well, that and drinking and drugs.
Are people more accepting of lesbians in rock’n’roll than they are of gay men?
Sally: In society, it seems like men and women have a fear of gay men a lot of times, whereas as lesbians…
Lynda: Men like to watch women have sex.
Sally: So, women are more docile, safer, and sexier, whereas men they think of as more hardcore. It scares a lot of people, so I think for a guy band to come out as gay is much more risky.
Lynda: Well, there was Pansy Division.
Who were not the most rockin’ band.
Lynda: But they’re great though.
But what about the 1970s, with Bowie, Queen, and even Judas Priest, led by gay men. Even in the 1980s you had Gary Floyd of the Dicks and Randy Biscuit Turner of the Big Boys, but in the 1990s there was Pansy Division, but that’s it for gay rock America?
Sally: It is weird. I mean I have seen web sites. There are some out there, but yeah, it’s not very in your face.
Lynda: Maybe guys are more scared to come out, I don’t know. I mean when Pansy Division opened for Green Day in front of 12,000 people they got booed horribly and threatened and all that stuff. I don’t know. It could be that too.
Short Cuts with PATRICIA from the Horrorpops: By Balazs Sarkadi, originally printed in Left of the Dial
The HorrorPops started out as a side project, but it developed into a successful band. How can Kim do it together with the Nekromantix, who have also just released an album? Isn’t it hard to choose the priorities now?
The HorrorPops was never a sideproject. We’ve been playing as a band since ’96 with no problems. That HorrorPops has a album out now does not make the difference.We are all very good friends–Nekro and HorrorPops. We’ve been playing, drinking, and even living together through out the last 15 years. If a tour is important for HorrorPops, Nekromantix will give us the time to do it and the other way around.
I’ve read Kim and Patricia recently relocated to L.A. Will the rest of the band also move there? Would it be possible at all, considering you had to cancel a US tour recently for not getting visas?
Yeah, they will move over this summer. The reason why we had to cancel the last tour was that we didn’t get the work visas in time…We have them now.
You have been compared to female singers like Siouxsie Sioux, Gwen Stefani, Brody Dalle, Debbie Harry, and Ronnie Spector. Which of these comparisons does she like and which ones does she dislike?
I really don’t care about being compared to other singers. If I can make half the money Debbie Harry did, I’ll be happy, hahahahaha. The thing about HorrorPops is that we like to mix music of all genres into our band. That’s actually the reason we started as a band.. We were all very tired of all the little freaks in uniforms dictating what subcultural music is all about. So, when people say we sound like this or that band, it’s fine by us. But I think it’s weird that Ialways get compared to female singers. I would like to hear somebody say I sounded like Mick Jagger.
A recent psychobilly feature in Vogue magazine described the HorrorPops as the fashion dictators of the psychobilly scene. How did you feel about this article?
I didn’t read that part! I really don’t care, I just see the humor in it! First of all, we are not a Psycho band and, second, we have all looked like this for the last 10-15 years. We’ve been spat at, beaten up, called lots of things, andnow all of a sudden we are in Vogue as a fashion thing. That’s just funny.
Kim’s original instrument is the double-bass, while Patricia was a guitarist in Peanut Pump Gun. Why did you decide to change instruments? Wasn’t it hard to learn to play your new instruments?
We started the band because we wanted to do something new from what we have done in the other bands we played in. Changing instruments was a easy way to get a new aproach to writing music. I don’t think learning to play the bass was difficult, but learning to carry it around is still a work in process.
The HorrorPops, Nekromantix, and the now defunct Godless Wicked Creeps are all coming from Denmark. Does it mean that you have a strong psychobilly scene over there?
Nekro and Godless are the only two Psycho bands that comes from Denmark and they are actually the only Psychos there are in Denmark. There is no rock’n’rollscene at all in Denmark. We have two clubs to play in all of Denmark. That two good Psycko bands has come out of Denmark is just a freak of nature.
I’ve read that Kim is writing a book called the Psychobilly Bible. What will it be like, and when will it be published?
The Bible will take a very long time to collect, but it’s gonna be good when it’s done.
Whose idea was to include rotten go-go dancers? Isn’t it hard to concentrate on the band while they’re teasing the audience?
We never decided to include “go go” dancers. We are the six people we are in the band, cuz we like hanging out together and besides that I think it’s more difficult concentrating on the band when you look at Nekroman’s butt shaking all over the place than it is disturbing to watch the rotten go go dancers. But, it’s gotta be said that they are not really dancers, for they are a part of the band and are there to keep us from ever taking ourselves too seriously.
How much time do you need to spend on setting your hairdos? Isn’t it too much of a hassle when you’re touring and you’re exhausted enough anyway?
It’s gonna be a hell of a lot easier when we get a sponsorship on hairspray! It’s almost impossible to find good hairspray when you are on the road, but it’s pretty funny to see us go crazy in the local supermarkets, testing what hairsprays will work.