Sunday, January 22, 2012
Leather N' Lace: Women In Rock
While for years rock n' roll was predominately a male genre of music, women have stepped up and made a name for themselves and proved that they can rock just as hard as any man. Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Ann & Nancy Wilson, Pat Benatar, the list goes on and on. I was fortunate enough to talk with four of the women who are now making a name for themselves in the industry: Orianthi, who has not only played guitar for Michael Jackson, but is currently a guitarist for Alice Cooper; Brooklyn Allman, vocalist/keyboardist for Picture Me Broken; Sandra Alva, former Black Veil Brides drummer and current drummer for Modern Day Escape; and Sammi Doll, keyboardist/backup vocalist for My Satellite. I spoke to the girls about what it's like for them being females in rock n' roll and also what advice they have for aspiring female musicians.
Front Paige Metal News: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician?
Sandra: Actually, growing up my family has been very musically talented. I didn't know I could play the drums until I was 11 years old, until I actually sat behind a drum set. My cousins- they play guitar- they're in a band, and they had band practice at their house and honestly, I'd never seen a band perform or anything before then, so I thought it was the coolest thing. What got my attention the most was the drummer because he was just crazy. One day I sat behind the drum set and started doing like simple beats, and it was just a natural talent. Ever since then, I didn't let it go to waste. It's crazy how far I've come with it. It was my dream, and now I get to do it as a living. It's great! So, yeah I started playing when I was 11 years old.
FPMN: What mark do you hope to leave on the music industry?
Orianthi: I really wanna inspire more girls to pick up the guitar. I hope that I can by getting my music out there and them coming to shows. Just to encourage them to keep on going or to inspire more girls to get out there. That would be awesome! I love playing shows and looking out in the audience and seeing everyone having a good time. So, I hope I can help people with my music and inspire.
FPMN: Have you ever had an experience where you or your music has been judged because you're a female? How did you handle that?
Brooklyn: Absolutely! I always say like I'm a woman in a man's job very much. I think a rock band front person is generally supposed to be male. I am to perform and write and be as dynamic as those male performers, but I have no doubt that there are few women who are strong enough to take it on. We are under extra scrutiny, and it's a harsher world. Not only do you deal with being a fish out of water in rock music, but women in pop culture today are under so much pressure visually. Society expects you to look a certain way and be a certain way, and it's definitely contradictory to be not only assuming that role but being in a rock band as well. But I think you can be a really strong influence if you do it well.
Sandra: Actually, ya know, on tour it always happens. They see me set up before the show or something, and they see me sit behind the drums and people that don't know who I am just kinda look at me like "Woah, that's not the drummer. Come on, that little girl?" I'm like 5' 2", maybe even 5' 1"- I'm a small girl. I can feel them judging me. Ya know how when someone's looking at you, you can feel their eyes on you? It's always like that. I don't mind it; I just ignore it, really. The way that I play- I'm like an animal when I'm onstage. I just go crazy. And after, they're like "Oh hey, what's up? Awesome job!" They're trying to kiss my ass. It's like "Woah woah woah...you did not believe in me. But whatever, I'm not an asshole so I'll be nice. I'm just like, I'll say thanks. Sometimes I get judged. Sometimes I don't, but when I do get judged, I kind of like giggle to myself. I'm just like "Yeah, I'm gonna blow them away right now. I'm not even worried". (Laughs) I'm very confident about the way that I play. I'm not cocky, but I just love playing. I love being onstage. I love rocking out, and I love blowing people away because I'm such a small girl. I break sticks onstage and just play my heart out.
Orianthi: Going through school and being a guitar player and being a girl was not easy for me. I got picked on a lot and bullied. I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life when I picked up a guitar. It just got to a point where it was getting in the way of me playing my music and being happy. I got picked on a lot. But I don't think about that. It's something that happens, but I just love playing the guitar.
FPMN: What advice do you have for aspiring female rockers?
Sammi: Don't ever let anybody tell you that you can't do anything. That was the number one advice that was given to me. Everybody that tells you that you can't do something- that just gives you more ammunition to prove them wrong and make them eat their words. It's a matter of just reaching your goals and not giving a crap what anybody else think about you. You're never gonna get anywhere if you play it safe. Get out there and start reaching your goals, and if you feel like you don't have any support, you do. Every single one of us has been in your position before.
FPMN: Finally, what do you have to say to guy rockers?
Brooklyn: Guy rockers? (Laughs) Actually the ones that I've encountered have been very nice and very supportive of me. I've never really felt that I was ever looked upon as a girl in a band. Even other guys in bands- they regard me as a musician as much as them. So, I don't really separate it as frontmen and frontwomen. I think it's all one. I think if you do it well, it doesn't matter what gender you are.
Sammi: What would I have to say about guy rockers? They do exactly the same thing that we do. They just have different parts. (Laughs) Just keep rocking. It's the same advice that I would ever give to a girl in the industry. Don't ever let anybody tell you that you can't do something. Ya know, if you feel you're not good enough, then make yourself better. It's that simple; it really is. All you guy rockers out there- keep fucking rocking, and make sure you leave a little room for us ladies cause we're gonna be right there with you.
The girls' full interviews can be heard on FPMN's official YouTube channel here. Comment, rate, and subscribe! Are you an aspiring musician? How have you been influenced by the girls' music? Comment below! Be sure to follow Front Paige Metal News on Twitter @FrontPaigeMetal and "Like" us on Facebook. You can also now add my personal profile to let me know your thoughts on FPMN!