Interview by Robin Stryker
Die So Fluid is a maverick three-piece band, originally hailing from the UK and made up of Grog Rox (vocals/bass), Drew Richards (guitar) and Al Fletcher (drums/backing vocals). If you follow the alternative music scene, you have undoubtedly seen Grog splashed across the cover of magazines worldwide. Lest you think she is just a pretty face propped behind a microphone, Grog is also a sought-after session musician. Femme Metal caught up with Grog to talk about Die So Fluid’s third full-length album “The World Is Too Big for One Lifetime”, their recent tour, and the surprising bits about moving to a new country.
Welcome to Femme Metal, Grog! How was Die So Fluid’s recent headlining tour in the UK?
For those of our readers who don’t live in the UK, where “The World Is Too Big for One Lifetime” was released in June, when will the new album be available worldwide?
It has just been released (November 5) in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Norway and Sweden, basically the North of Europe and we’re told the rest of Europe around January 15 in 2011. We’re currently negotiating who will act as the best channel for the album in America, there are a couple of exciting prospects for that so we’ll see!
What was the thinking behind staggering the release dates? It’s to give everyone a chance to promote the album properly before we tour in each territory. It can get pretty complicated organising a worldwide release when you’re dealing with different PR companies, agents, promoters, distributers etc., we try to do it in such a way that we can physically go and play everywhere we put it out, at a time that makes sense and is realistic. I now live in America too, so structuring has become even more important. We’re currently doing a lot of press for Germany which involves quite a number of phone requests where the time difference has to be kept in mind. You have described “The World Is Too Big for One Lifetime” as imagining different paths that life could have taken. Can you tell us about a few of the songs that you wrote with that question in mind? Well, obviously the title track deals with that the most subjectively, but “How Vampires Kiss” talks about resisting the control of a vampiric relationship. So I’m saying that sometimes it can take great mental and physical strength to assert yourself, to fight free of an addiction or obsession that is distracting you from your true path. And even to take the tougher path, and resist the lazy one. I wrote “Mercury” with a similar thought in mind — but I was thinking about how you can’t carry guilt with you when you leave something behind. It’s really a song about sincerity. I believe most people enter into situations with good intentions and unions and plans that don’t work out how we expected are still important experiences that you carry for the rest of your life and learn from. I’ve worked for celebrities who’ve got very upset when I moved on, I’ve ended relationships which have drained me because I’m on this mission where everything leads back to Die So Fluid and my role within it. To me, it’s a journey where we throw out all the ‘rules’, we do everything our own way regardless and, not that I’ve ever concerned myself with it as a concept, being a woman fighting to be taken seriously in a male dominated area of music seems to be becoming an increasingly important element of this whole thing. I’m so driven, I want to do something of worth with my time on earth, and because we don’t fit easily and neatly into one particular genre, we are like this band of maverick warriors, champions of the disparate and broad minded alike.
When you reflect on your own life, is there a particular crossroad where you are wildly curious about what would have happened if you had chosen the other path? Sometimes I daydream about what life would be like if I took to the stage singing musicals! That’s because I love singing and performing and have a very strong sense of fantasy, and I’m probably imagining myself as a character from Moulin Rouge or something not very realistic, hehe. Also I wonder where I’d be now if I had’ve done a degree in fashion rather than fine art at Chelsea, which is where I formed my first band. The thing is, I can still do all these things and in a sense I am! I dress up the whole time and bring a kind of theatrical element to DSF, designing and making a lot of what I wear on stage. And in the band, I get to write my own music and express myself 100%, so I’m very lucky.
Speaking of major crossroads, you are both a newlywed and a recent Hollywood transplant. Have being married and moving to a new country brought any interesting surprises? Relocating to a different culture is pretty big upheaval. It’s one thing visiting, and another really living somewhere new. The whole thing has felt very romantic because we wanted to be together and one of us had to make the move. The band are likely to be doing more and more work here in the US, so it made sense for me to be the one to up sticks. I’m an official resident now and I often feel quite surreal. I have two homes now! Things here can make you feel a little clumsy because they do things slightly different. It took me a while to get used to the horrific driving and the weird way you can have green lights for cars and people crossing at the same time. I like the way it gives me different perspectives on life. I thought it might throw up some difficulties with Drew and Al still being in the UK, but so far it’s been ok. Drew and I have been writing material for the next album already by e mailing tracks (we both have recording set ups at home) and it’s been a good excuse for a holiday in the sun for Mr Drew ha ha. What’s really weird is how much more connected you feel with SkyPpe and the internet. Once upon a time, a move like this would seem so extreme, but I probably talk to my family more than I ever would normally since I moved away! We’ve always seen Die So Fluid as being an international band anyway, we’ll play wherever we have an audience.
Getting back to “The World Is Too Big For One Lifetime”, why did Die So Fluid choose “Mercury” as the first single and video? When we listened to everything back, “Mercury” just seemed to jump out as a lead track because it’s so immediate and has such a high level of energy. It’s like a statement of intent, it sounds so determined and pounds away from start to finish.
Would you tell us more about the video? The video is performance based and the director David Kenny used some spectacular lighting effects to convey the excitement you get when you see the band play live. We also accentuated our movements by filming performances sped up and slowed down, which was hilarious to do. I’m wearing one of my signature handmade sparkly catsuits in it too, like a rock superhero. I guess it’s been important to show me playing bass in recent videos to help get across the fact that I’m a musician, not just a pretty face.
Did you get to road-test most of the songs during the tour? Which new track is the most fun to perform live, and which did you get the biggest response from the audience when you played it?
We’ve road tested a few of them but not all cos’ there are so many songs fans demand to hear from “Spawn of Dysfunction” and “Not Everybody Gets a Happy Ending”. Personally, I love playing “Raven” live and I reckon it’s got the best overall reception in the UK and Europe too cos’ we started playing that one fairly early. You’ll get to hear more of the new stuff at the upcoming shows.
Never fear, we are still the DIY gangsters! We still own the copyright to all our material and continue to play totally by our own rules. We just reached a place where we needed help with the logistics of this steadily growing operation. We had different licensing deals in place and had suffered at the hands of a couple of crooks disguised as sincere supporters of our cause, who shall remain nameless…for now, grr… But we did thankfully find ourselves in the hands of a good manager and an independent financial backer. We needed to find a label who could draw the reins together and take control of distribution, so that we could focus on writing and rock n roll. So we are still independent in that we are not financially beholden to Demolition, but we have a dependable conduit to sell our music to the world, and a much stronger support system in place. I think it’s important that everyone involved with Die So Fluid believes deeply in us and is ready to be resourceful and proactive. We know better than to just take our hands off the wheel and leave things to others, we learnt that through experience. I find it hard to trust anyone and probably drive people mad by checking up on things the whole time but it would be worse if I didn’t bother. Die So Fluid has had the same line-up for all 10 years of its existence. What is the glue that holds everyone together during all the ups and downs of being in the music business? Loving what we do. It always has been about making good music and not really giving a fuck about scenes and genres bla bla. When I think about how keen everyone is to stick you in a neatly labelled box, it really starts to depress me. I’ve got two boxes for you — open-minded or narrow-minded. I think we approach our band like an art form and I have never conformed to the ways that the UK mainstream press seem to like their female rockers packaged. To be honest I think I piss them off. I get the impression that if some Svengali or other claimed he had had a hand in ‘discovering… i.e., manufacturing’ DSF, they’d be a lot happier about the whole thing. I don’t have a chip on my shoulder, I like to think that I can be an inspiration by just doing a bloody good job and demonstrating that I won’t be held back.
When it comes to creating and recording an album, where does each person fit in that process? How about when the band is on the road touring? I hope you have someone who is brilliant at improvising repairs and finding food. Mr Drew and I do most of the writing. Drew comes up with a lot of guitar ideas, riffs and passages, sometimes whole verses and choruses and I get inspired by those. I take the ball and run with it. I usually write the vocal melody and nearly all the lyrics. Mr Drew is my sounding board. Occasionally I’ll suddenly write a complete song but most often I keep feeding the storage facility in my brain with lyric ideas inspired by films, stories, dreams, news items, conversations and then something will become really poignant and fit naturally into a musical idea. Al writes his drum parts as it goes along and makes arrangement suggestions. Sometimes we’ll have a battle but it always ends with the best decision being made after a bit of sulking.
With you living in Hollywood, while Drew and Al are still in London, what are the logistics of preparing for tour and working on new songs? We practise on our own a bit and I start to build up my voice to touring strength. We book pre tour rehearsals and I arrive a bit early. I like the way it becomes more focused and organised. Bands can kind of start drifting on and on when they play every week but this way our meetings are exciting and fresh because we’re focusing on the tour and we get to hang out together and have an adventure! As far as writing goes, we’ve been e mailing our ideas back and forth and actually this move forced me into learning how to use my recording studio software properly at long last! It’s opened up a whole new world for me because not only can we get a head start on the next album, I can write my own stuff and have been doing projects with other artists too. One of the random factoids that jumped out at me was the Finnish postal stamp of Die So Fluid. During your 2007 tour in Finland, could you resist sending postcards to everyone you know with that stamp attached? Haha, yeah it was hard to resist! We sent out a whole batch, it was so awesome! We had to headline a Helsinki Halloween festival at the time and I had an infected tooth. I was sitting round writing these crazy postcards in the dressing room with my mouth swelling up and off my tits on painkillers!
What are the band’s plans for the remainder of 2010?
We’re playing Hard Rock Hell in Wales December 3 and playing a handful of select shows around that to blow the cobwebs off! We have a European tour commencing in Finland January 19, 2011 which will be really fun and we’ll be playing another string of UK dates in March, including a London date at Dingwalls. Grog, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Do you have any parting words for your fans at Femme Metal? Shucks it’s a pleasure! Thank you for your continued support and believing in us. You and us against fucking idiocracy-world!
Interview by Robin Stryker
Fifteen hundred years ago, Verona was the stronghold of Theodric the Great and his army of Goths. Today, it is the stronghold of metal quintet, Shining Fear, which is seeking to conquer Italy (and the rest of the world) with its aggressive heavy metal sound. Waving a white flag of truce, Femme Metal sat down with vocalist, Barbara Mischeri, to learn more about Shining Fear’s battle plans.Barbara, welcome to Femme Metal! Would you start off by giving our readers a short history of Shining Fear? Shining Fear was formed in the early February of 2004 by me and Matteo Migliorini (Guitar).
In a second time, we added Pierluigi Lazzarini at the drums, Lorenzo Tomelleri at the keyboards and Jacopo Ravagnani at the bass. We start the project with the idea to form a gothic metal band like Nightwish, in fact in 2005 we recorded the first demo “…Catch the Breathe”.
We have played with important bands of the Italian metal scene like Necrodeath, Stormlord, and Dark Lunacy. In 2008 we recorded the first full-length named “ApocaLife” and in October 2009 we signed with Heart of Steel Records who distributed the album on digital stores all around the world in 2010.
If I’m not mistaken, the line-up has not changed since the band first formed in 2004, despite the relatively long wait between Shining Fear’s demo (“..Catch the Breathe” 2005) and full-length debut (“ApocaLife” 2010). What is the biggest thing that has held the band together all these years? Ahaha… When I told to my companions about this question they laugh and the answer was “Laziness”!! Joking aside, our story it’s a little curious because the band it’s a family — me, Miglio and Pigi are friends 10-12 year-long. Why are we a family?? Now I tell you some gossip news (ah ah!!) Miglio (guitar) is my mom’s partner, yes my mom (mommy metal for the masses!!) and Jack is my partner! But the real answer is that we work well together and we have the same ideas for the future in the composition and because we are really friends!
What do the members of Shining Fear – yourself, Matteo Migliorini (guitars), Pierluigi Lazzarini (drums), Lorenzo Tomelleri (keyboards) and Jacopo Ravagnani (bass) – do in your “normal” lives, when you are not creating and performing music?
I work in a supermarket, Miglio paints ancient style furniture even for the USA, Jack works in the advertising sector, Lorenzo studies Musicology at the University and Pigi works in a factory but I don’t know the sector he works in. In our free time, we do the normal activity just as normal people ‘cause we are normal people!! We go to the live gigs, listen to music, everyday life. The band’s “…Catch the Breathe” demo was recorded in just 16 hours. How was it possible to record an album in such a short time? It is possible! In the past we had a low budget but nevertheless “…Catch the Breathe” plays well! The new album “ApocaLife” is noticeably more raw and aggressive than Shining Fear’s demo. Could you tell us about how the band’s sound evolved between the two albums?
In the last years, many bands with a female vocalist formed and all of these bands seem like the same for the kind of music. We wanted to change our genre to stand out from the masses and return to the origin of heavy metal like Doro Pesch, Judas Priest etc, with modern contamination, Death Metal influence like Arch Enemy style with clean vocals. Which musical genres or bands have had the biggest influence on the band’s current sound? As I already said, our influence is Doro Pesch, Judas Priest and Arch Enemy. I can’t explain the real genre we play because each one of us listens to a different kind of music and there’s many influences in our songs. I listen to, for example, Swedish Death Metal, Thrash Metal (Bay Area) all the 80’s metal music, even Glam but I DON’T LIKE GOTHIC METAL!!!! Ah ah
Because Shining Fear is a female-fronted Italian band, music reviewers cannot resist comparing you to Lacuna Coil and other (mostly symphonic) bands with female vocalists. In your view, how accurate are these comparisons?
Anybody! I’m sorry but I don’t like Lacuna Coil, I don’t feel “inspired” by them, neither by Cristina Scabbia. I think that the reviewers compared me and Shining Fear to Lacuna Coil because I have the same “colors”, Shining Fear, honestly I don’t know! I respect Lacuna Coil for their career, it’s not simple for an Italian band, in a certain sense they are an Italian spokesperson not just for wine, pizza or spaghetti! But not all Italians female fronted band must be compared to them!! Many reviewers forget bands like Sinergy, Zed Yago, the real one Goddess of Metal Doro Pesch and much more from the 80’s.
What was the song-writing process like for “ApocaLife”?“ApocaLife” it’s an instinctive album, some songs were composed after the demo. In fact some songs kept the influence about it like “Two Worlds Collide”, while for “Come from Hell”,“ApocaLife”, “Caresses in Darkness” it was right for the album. “Haunting Damnation”, instead, to go back at the demo and we had already changed the genre evolving to raw and aggressive sound. The one exception is “Caresses in Darkness” that I was wrote for my mom, I never told that to anyone. The lyrics are quite thought-provoking, especially the tracks concerning how disrespectful people sometimes are towards each other and the planet. What runs through your mind when you read the news about oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, melting polar icecaps, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, giant sinkholes, and other disasters around the world? That’s a human default, always. Apparent silently Earth rebels against us for pollution, toxic waste, garbage, cash, raw material, energy abuse. I write many things about the planet. Anyway, I wonder about people’s behavior during the day, I take this experience and I try to analyze it. I work since I was young, I’ve learned many things. Have any of these global events inspired new lyrics? Absolutely pollution, I am careful about the garbage, I try to separate right all the materials and I don’t throw on the ground anything. How the future we leave to the next generations? But I have many minds about the new lyrics but I can’t tell you any preview…hihi..
Please tell us about your favourite live performance and what made it so special for you. We were formed just 6 months, for a lucky opportunity we had played with only 4 songs, with Necrodeath, that night was there 200 persons. A first live performance that it was very exciting! The release party gives more satisfaction, to prove ourselves about the future.
And least but not last, a recently live gigs in another city in center of Italy, where we are unknown for the people but we had fun together!
If you could create the ideal concert for Shining Fear — including choosing the other bands, stage effects and venue — what would that concert be like? I put the horns up and I say Wacken!!! The bands are not important, to play with the important bands of the metal scene it’s enough!!! We are doing need of live effects, not now, because we are not ready for pyrotechnic effects, the people must be focused by the music not for game lights. I’m dreaming on!! Are there any upcoming gigs that you are particularly excited about? Not yet, I’m looking for new live shows in Germany, Finland, Sweden, UK. We have some upcoming shows now, nothing to be very excited, but I’m always happy to head bang my head on stage! Thank you so much, Barbara, for taking the time to speak with us today. Do you have any parting words for your fans at Femme Metal? Don’t be afraid to be yourself and explain your opinion! Have fun, and respect. Horns up!!!
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