Review by Tony Cannella
The thing that I have always loved about Tairrie B.Murphy and her previous bands, whether it is Manhole, Tura Satana or her current outfit My Ruin, is that she sings it like she means it. There is no bullshit poser posturing, this is who she is and the same more than holds true on the latest release from My Ruin called “A Southern Revelation” which will be available on their official site as a free download. You can’t beat that. I have always loved Tairrie B. as a lyricist and on “A Southern Revelation” there is no shortage of subject matter in which to direct her venom, and the thing is, this is a lot of stuff people can relate to. “A Southern Revelation” is in a word relentless; it doesn’t let up for a second and continues to pound at the senses. From the opener of “Tennessee Elegy” into the aptly titled “Highly Explosive”, it is full speed ahead. “Highly Explosive” in particular is my absolute favorite song along with the oh, so subtle “Middle Finger”. The contributions of Mick Murphy are big. His riffs are huge as he goes from Pantera style groove-laden riffs to a more doomy style. Other highlights include: “Walk of Shame”, the intense “Deconsecrated”, “Vultures”, “Seventh Sacrament” and “Soulless Beast”. The album is completed by a blistering cover of the Van Halen classic “Mean Streat” which fits right in with the rest of the intense material within. My Ruin manages to add their own twist to the track, whilst still managing to stay faithful to the original – not an easy thing to do. As great as “Ghost & Good Stories” was, My Ruin has at least equaled – if not surpassed it with “A Southern Reveleation”. “A Southern Revelation” is Tairrie B. at her angriest, confrontational, in your face best. Everything she sings is from the heart and there is absolutely no holding back, she only knows one direction and that is full-speed, straight ahead. That attitude has come to describe My Ruin perfectly, and I hope it continues for a long time to come.
Rating – 95/100
- Tennessee Elegy
- Highly Explosive
- Walk of Shame
- Middle Finger
- Seventh Sacrament
- The Soulless Beast
- Mean Street
- Tairrie B. Murphy – Vocals
- Mick Murphy – Guitar, Bass, Drums
Interview by Si Smith
Do you ever long for the lost days of hair metal, of Motley Crue and Guns’n'Roses? If you do then you could do far worse than checking out the new album from Hollywood Groupies, a rock quartet with a penchant for raunchy tunes like rock used to be, down and dirty. Femme Metal spoke to singer Foxy to dish the dirt on the band…. First thanks for talking to us, and welcome to the Femme Metal Webzine!Hi everybody!!
I must say that it was a breath of fresh air to hear your debut album, it is nice to hear this kind of music being played again loud and proud. So who’s was the idea of forming this band in the first place? Thank you so much!! I can say that the idea came from me and Kelly.. The band now consists of yourself, Kelly, Ace and Condor. Was it easy to come to this line-up or were there different people along the way?
Well it’s been a long trip..but it sure has worth all our efforts..there’s always been me, Kelly and Ace, along with other people who thought to go on their own way..and that ‘s how our paths crossed with Condor..
Your sound seems well-defined and clear to listen to. Who does what in the band when it comes to writing songs like these? Everyone has an important role when it comes to give birth to a song, because we want everyone to feel a song like his own baby, but usually Ace writes the music and I write the lyrics..
As front woman all eyes turn to you when the band plays. What is your vision for the band? I don’t really have a vision or an idea, everything comes from what you feel and what you want to prove to the audience at the moment, anyway most of the people who bought the album and then saw one of our show said we’re a lot better live, and I agree with them, we’re able to express ourself in a better way.. You must all have gone through different life experiences to get to where you are today. What do you feel each member brings to the band? Sure..everyone had different life experiences.. emotionally and working adventures, these experiences make everyone the person that they are today, we formed in 2006 so I can proudly say that each one of us is important for the other ones in the band, that’s what makes us special, to share joy and sorrow with your band mates is one of the best things ever. So I can’t really tell you what each members brings to the band but I can surely tell you everyone brings something important to be a special band.. A demo was released in 2007. What happened to this demo? What do you mean..has it become a gem?! If so I’m gonna sell it on eBay right now! hahah! There were not so many copies, there were just a few songs and just one is still alive and kickin’ in our setlist nowadays which is “Swallow This..” but we we’re thinking about “covering” one of the songs featured in that demo..
It was 2009 before the band began to get noticed in Europe and the USA – what were the stages along this journey for you?
It was a kind of surprise, we were working to get noticed in Italy and suddenly a lot of people from the U.S. and the rest of Europe started to contact us to say that they appreciated our music..
Getting included on “Glamnation Vol 4″ must have been a smart move. How did this deal come along?
“Punched by Millions, Hit by None” is now out and about on the music scene. What does the title of the album refer to? It refers to every enemy that tries to put you down, everyone has at least one, someone who said to you in your life “you’re not gonna make it “, trying to discourage you.. the ones who try to throw a monkey wrench in the works.. hehe.. the title is the clear answer for that, you can hit me but you can’t beat me..
Last year you played the Free Wheels festival in France alongside many established acts. What are your live plans for this year?
That’ s weird to hear about it now, because right now while I’m answering to you, it recurs one year from Free Wheels festival and I feel pretty melancholy since it was one of our best band experiences and one of the best days of my life.. we’re gonna play a few gigs here in Italy and then we’re gonna play in L.A. on the 4th November at the Whisky a Go Go!
Your singing is very striking in its power. How do you train your voice?
I don’t train my voice at all and that’s one of my biggest mistakes but I don’t feel the need of doin’ it, i just drink a couple of drinks before go on stage..Have you any funny stories from your band to share with us? Or does all go smoothly with you all the time…..? It never goes smoothly! hahah!! Most of the times it ends up with me and Condor arguing for something.. I think the funniest stories are from our beginning but I can’t remember one in particular, maybe I was not that sober..hehe..
Finally, do you have any words of wisdom to share with your audience? We are listening….. I’m never the wise one.. the only thing I tell you is always fight for your dreams, if you win you’d be satisfied and if you lose you wouldn’t have any regrets..
Thanks again for the interview, we wish you success in the future.
Thank you so much and thank you for the awesome interview!
Interview by Robin Stryker
I became hopelessly addicted to the American melodic rock band, Hydrovibe, the first time I heard its new full-length debut, “Nothing Left to Lose”. The album has everything I look for in top-notch rock — muscular vocals that are packed with emotion (think Joplin), bristling guitar-driven music, and lyrics that connect with something deep inside. Thank goodness vocalist Heather St. Marie continued singing, despite being told early on that her voice was “just too low” and perhaps she should take up the piano instead. Apparently to hear Hydrovibe is to become hooked, even in the jaded world of Hollywood. The first week after Heather and Mat Dauzat (guitars and vocals) moved to Los Angeles, Sharon and Kelly Osbourne hand-picked Mat to play lead guitar for the world tour of Kelly’s album “Shut Up”. Likewise, actress Shawnee Smith (who plays Amanda Young in the “Saw” movies) fell in love with Hydrovibe and urged the director to check out a live show. Needless to say, he also fell under the band’s spell, and the movie studio invited Hydrovibe to write “Killer Inside” for the “Saw III” soundtrack and to record a music video with Shawnee on guest vocals for the Director’s Cut DVD. Read on to find out what makes this band so irresistible.
Heather and Mat, welcome to Femme Metal! We’re so glad you could talk with us today.
Heather: Thank you very much for this interview and your support.
First things first, please tell us about Hydrovibe’s new album. Why did you choose the title, “Nothing Left to Lose”?
Heather: This album tells the story of sacrificing everything to realize childhood dreams. Our quest to follow this crazy goal of ours has seen its fair share of amazing highs and some very trying lows. It’s amazing how liberating it can be when you literally have nothing left to lose. Your actions and intentions are no longer influenced by the prospect of consequence. It is humanity broken down to its purest and most basic level. In that broken-down state, it becomes apparent what is truly important in life, and one tends to re-prioritize accordingly. It allows for discovery of an inner strength and passion to TRULY LIVE. Not only does “Nothing Left to Lose” sum up and aptly title our first full-length album effort, it is our battle cry in approaching the music business in general. We truly have nothing left to lose, which allows us to leap without looking into this dog-eat-dog music business. We remain fearless and persevere in the music business as the major label giants continue to fall and the economy has taken a turn for the worst — not because we are smarter or better than anyone else, but because our priorities are different. We keep the MUSIC and the PASSION at the forefront as we continue this journey; the business part is…well…JUST BUSINESS!
The album’s songs run the gamut of emotions — love, hate, frustration, hope, rage and grace. To what extent are the songs based on your own experiences?
Heather: TO THE FULLEST EXTENT! All of our songs have very personal and special meaning to me in some way or another. Most of them deal with struggles in our musical quest or some sort of personal past experience. I have also drawn lyrical inspiration from close friends’ experiences as well….I don’t want every one of our songs to sound like a page pulled from Heather’s diary!
What are your musical backgrounds, and have you been involved in any other projects (musical or otherwise)?
Mat: I’ve wanted to be a guitarist for as long as I can remember. I’d sneak into my older brothers’ room when I was just a baby and listen to their albums… imagining what it would be like to play the songs on guitar. At 3 years old, I began teaching myself to play piano. I’ve always had a very good ear and could repeat what I heard, so I began learning whole songs on piano by ear while still in diapers. One day while playing around in our attic, I found an old acoustic guitar and immediately began actually playing those Led Zeppelin songs from my brothers’ albums, which totally freaked my brothers out. From that moment on, I was glued to the guitar. I toyed around with a couple of bands in high school, but nothing really serious. Hydrovibe was really my first band. Since moving to Los Angeles, I have branched out a little — touring the world with Kelly Osbourne for a couple of years and working with actress/singer/songwriter Schuyler Fisk. I work with a few other artists as well but Hydrovibe is and always has been the main focus… and fortunately takes up the majority of my time!
Heather: I grew up in South Louisiana where Classic Rock rules, so it wasn’t until high school that I realized that the music I was hearing on the radio (Rush, Led Zep, Sabbath, Boston, 38 Special, etc) was not current music! I think these bands gave me a solid foundation on song structure, catchy vocal melodies, harmonies, etc that are key elements to Hydrovibe’s writing style. I also played French Horn throughout my schooling, which not only perfected my pitch but opened up the world of classical music. I believe this taught me the importance of layering parts (another crucial element to Hydrovibe songs — both musically and vocally) … when NOT to sing so that the music can breathe … and how to have drama in your music. Drama is epic and passion is key. We like to take the listener with us on an emotional musical journey, in both songwriting and through live performances. Like I mentioned, I did play French Horn for years but Hydrovibe is the only band I’ve ever been in. Until this, I only sang for fun. I have a few creative side projects in the works — both musically and non-musically. I’m an eternal artist at my core, so I created heatherskingdom.com as a catch-all for my random artistic endeavours. Be looking for some very cool new music, art, and clothing randomness coming soon!
You have both been passionate about music since you were barely out of diapers. What is your favourite musical memory from childhood?
Mat: Finding that old acoustic guitar in the attic!
Heather: I can remember singing along to The Beatles records my Mom had in a big trunk; I loved the way the records sounded. I would get so excited when she’d put the needle down… My mom told me that I was only about 2 years old at that point. I started reading at an early age, so when I was in 1st grade I was chosen as a representative for a Literacy Community Service Project. I got to go to the local radio station and read the news on-air. The radio station fascinated me …. being near all that music and such a powerful hub of broadcast was a very cool experience at such a young age. That surely was an important event on my way toward discovering my passion for a career in music.
Hydrovibe just released “Nothing Left to Lose” in Japan. How did that come about, and what has your reception been like?
Mat: We’ve always known that Japan would probably be a very good market for us. When I got word that I was going to Tokyo to do a promo tour with my friend Schuyler Fisk to support her album release in Japan, I immediately began scheduling label meetings for Hydrovibe. Schuyler and I did 8 shows in 3 days, and somehow I was able to schedule meetings with the top 3 record labels over there between shows. Crazy! Even crazier — I was able to score us a deal with our first-choice label as well! The response has been overwhelming! We have big spreads in almost every major music magazine over there, we have end-caps and listening stations in every major music retailer there, and we are actually getting radio play — which is almost impossible for a new non-Japanese band! We are very excited to hear how the sales are going over there!
I’ve always wondered, why do Japanese releases have at least one bonus track that is not on the European and American releases?
Mat: The reason is that in Japan, the CD is still a viable PRODUCT. Here, a band’s CD is almost becoming like a business card… given away for cheap or free in hopes to bolster the band’s popularity and assist in bringing more fans to shows — where the band hopes to make some money on merchandise sales. In Japan, THEY STILL BUY CDs!!! As the mom-and-pop CD shops and the giant retailers such as Virgin and Tower are almost all gone here in the States, the retailers in Japan are all still thriving. You can’t walk two city blocks in Tokyo without seeing some sort of music retailer! Additionally, they sell CDs there for an average price equivalent to $25 USD. Since so much value is placed on the CD as a commercial product, they pay special attention to make sure that there is adequate perceived value. So, they include additional artwork, printed lyric inserts – both in English and Japanese, additional credits and thanks, and some sort of additional content beyond what is on the non-Japanese versions (bonus tracks, music video, etc.). Our Japanese release of “Nothing Left to Lose” has all of the above and includes “Killer Inside” as the bonus track. HMV went a step further to include a free Hydrovibe download card with every album purchase, that allowed them to download the radio mix of our single “Fame” as well as some other content. Diskunion (a big retailer there) went even farther, packaging a free DVD with our music video for “Killer Inside” with each Hydrovibe album purchase. Pretty cool!
Let’s go back in time to 2002 when you both moved from a small town in Louisiana to Los Angeles (equivalent distance-wise to moving from Moscow to London). Why did you relocate the band, and what was the biggest shock once you arrived in Los Angeles?
Heather: Biggest shock? COST OF LIVING! In Louisiana, I was living in a very nice 1,000 square foot [93 square meter] two-bedroom apartment with a huge balcony overlooking nature for $400 per month….my first 600 square foot [56 square meter] one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles cost me $900!!! We knew we had to make a big move to really give our dreams a fighting chance. We were located in a small town in Louisiana, and we were trying to find the right musicians to complete Hydrovibe’s lineup, but were having no luck. We had plenty of interest nationally, but asking people to relocate to our small town was a very hard sell. We knew we needed to move to a more major metropolitan area, so places like Nashville, Dallas, and Austin became attractive possibilities until the band could ultimately make the move out to where the heart of the music industry is located – Los Angeles. When it came time to make a move, however, we said “screw it – if we are going to make a move, LET’S GO ALL THE WAY!!!”. Why make a step toward moving to Los Angeles, when we can just MOVE TO LOS ANGELES! We officially relocated to L.A. at the beginning of September of 2002.
Which Hydrovibe songs best describe where you were in your lives a few years ago, compared to now?
Heather: “Shallow Grave” describes my frustration and desperation to be discovered a few years ago. Funny thing is, we were discovered by a major label and we were introduced to some less-than-savory aspects of the music business that made us rethink everything and follow the independent, grass-roots approach. Now, I’d say that “Liberation” best describes how I’m feeling these days — “through pain we grow!” Our story is nothing special — everyone has to jump through their own set of hoops in life. You just take what you can from the experiences and LIVE! This album sums up a huge chapter in my life, and as I segue into the next chapter, I summed up these experiences (as well as the album “Nothing Left to Lose”) with “Liberation’s” hopeful sentiment “NOW LIFE CAN BEGIN!”. We’ve re-prioritized our lives and are eagerly leaping head-first into this next chapter of Hydrovibe’s story.
If you could give one piece of advice to a fledgling band, what would it be?
Mat: Prepare yourself for the long-haul. Successes are not built overnight. The rare few bands that do blow up quickly, always fizzle just as fast. Statistically speaking, successes are usually seen after a strong 10-year effort. Scary? Only if you are in it for the success and not the pursuit of happiness through the expression of your art!
It seems that one of the biggest challenges when you moved to LA was finding musicians who were the right “fit” for Hydrovibe. What were you looking for, and what made Eliot Lorango (bass) and Philippe Mathys (drums) right for the band?
Mat: Whew…that was A LONG SEARCH!!! When Heather and I agreed that Los Angeles was going to be the place to find the right drummer and bass player to complete Hydrovibe, we had no idea what a tough proposition that was going to be! hahaha In all fairness, though, we had almost-unreasonable standards. Not only did we need two highly-skilled musicians with looks that fit the band’s image; we insisted that we find people with a solid character, and strong moral fiber, and good chemistry all-around. We knew that we were going to basically be living together in a van on tour for quite a long time, so keeping the high standard would eliminate problems down the road. For that reason, it took us the better part of a year and a half to find the right people, but it is by far one of the best business decisions we’ve ever made. Plus, not only were we able to complete our band with the perfect members, we added two dear family members into our personal lives.
The members of Hydrovibe often talk about how supportive and tightly-knit everyone is. What is the secret to keeping friendship alive, when you are literally living on top of each other for months at a time while touring?
Heather: Love and laughter. Even in the low times, we are somehow able to keep each other in good spirits through laughter and genuine support. We are certainly a tight unit and all rally behind one another in times of need … it is really heart-warming to experience, and necessary to keep it together in the sometimes mind-numbing world of tour!
Speaking of touring, I suspect that many people think that being on tour is all about riding from city to city on a luxury bus, giving interviews, and sipping mineral water backstage until you perform. Can you give us an idea of what a typical day on tour is really like?
Heather: You wake up in an unfamiliar hotel room sometime just before noon, pack your stuff, check email, look up the venue’s address for the night to put into the GPS, and run downstairs to check out. The band convenes in the lobby to discuss how far the drive is to the venue, whether or not we are being fed at the venue, or any other pertinent show info, and we jump in the van to begin the trek. While en route, one of us gets online to do all the show promotions — MySpace bulletins, Twitter, Facebook, Hydrovibe.com posts, etc. We then do any radio or local news interviews… or any other press-related promotion our publicist scheduled for us that day. We then take the time to respond to any MySpace or Hydrovibe email questions waiting in our inbox with whatever remaining time we have on the drive. When we get to the venue, the guys begin unloading gear while I set up the merch display. As they are setting up on stage, I’m doing merch inventory and accounting. Then we sound check and break for dinner. While waiting for the show to start, we discuss whether we are staying in town or making a drive that night. One of us then gets online to find a hotel for the night, while we make set lists for the show. Anyone who has been to one of our shows knows that we support every band we play with, so you’ll see Hydrovibe members up front listening to a good portion of each opening bands’ sets. Then comes the show part … we always laugh because we work long hours, but the ACTUAL PERFORMANCE aspect of our day lasts an average of 45 minutes to an hour! After our set is over, I run to the merch booth to meet fans while the guys break down the gear. When the gear is secured, the band all converges at the merch booth to meet fans and sign autographs. When the last fan leaves the building, the guys begin loading the gear out of the venue while I do some quick accounting and pack up the merch. Then we leave the venue to go crash in another unfamiliar hotel room. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Hydrovibe has a devoted fanbase, with people driving hundreds of kilometres to catch a show and getting themselves tattooed with the band’s logo. Why do you think fans feel such a strong connection to Hydrovibe?
Heather: I’ve found that fans gain strong connections to our songs and find personal meanings in the lyrics. We are told often by fans that our songs have moved them to do great things in their lives or that certain songs have helped them through harsh life experiences or that they have linked great events in their lives to one of our songs. I also think that fans feel a strong connection to Hydrovibe because we have made it a point to make strong connections with the fans. We personally answer each and every MySpace message, emails or any correspondence with fans. It takes a long time, but it is important to us to listen to the fans, take inspiration from their stories, and give them a platform for their voices to be heard. As a completely independent band, without fan support, we could not possibly move forward. Our fans are truly near and dear to us and we are excited to bring them along with us on our journey!
What is the most extreme thing a fan has done to show his or her appreciation for your music?
Mat: I’d have to say that the most extreme thing I’ve seen is the Hydrovibe logo tattooed completely across a fan’s forearm! It’s HUGE! And quality work, I might add. There are plenty of other extreme shows of support (including several other cool tattoos), but that’s the most extreme I’ve seen yet.
The band was an early adopter of social media, like MySpace. In what ways (good or bad) has the Internet changed the landscape for musicians?
Mat: As an independent band, we have to keep our band current with any and every social media site that pops up to ensure that every possible outlet to reach fans is being utilized. It can be exhausting at times as you can imagine, but necessary for business. For us independent bands, social media sites have been a blessing … we can make our music available to the larger general public free of charge. For major labels, however, the social media sites were a bit of a nail in their coffin. No longer did they hold all the keys when it came to bands being able to get their music to the general public. With these social media sites, it has become much more of a level playing field. Fans can discover new music 24/7 with the click of a mouse. We no longer need the major label giant dinosaurs to help us reach the public, so now it’s about making good music and touring your ass off to support the music.
Most new bands half-kill themselves chasing the big record labels. Why did Hydrovibe choose to go the indie route, after landing a deal with a major label?
Heather: Our hunt, chase, and capture of the major label was a huge learning experience for us. Through that experience, we learned that our focus was all wrong. We were spending way too much time courting and catering to the music industry instead of focusing on what matters the most …. THE FANS! We decided to shift our attention from the music industry back to the music itself and the fans who so deserve our attention. Once we made that our focus, we began seeing progress in leaps and bounds. Some sort of healthy partnership with a major label in the near future is not out of the question, but we are unwilling to do anything that impedes forward progress or would divert focus from our music and our fans. We are devoted.
Comparing the three tracks that are on both the 2006 “Killer Inside” EP and the new “Nothing Left to Lose” album, the new versions sound fiercer and musically thicker. Are my ears playing tricks on me, or were the songs re-recorded/remixed? If so, why?
Mat: Good ear, Robin! Yes, those songs were completely re-worked and re-recorded. When we recorded the EP, we had only been a band for about 3 months. Once we got Eliot in the band, we went straight into pre-production and hit the studio 3 months later. We actually went into the studio planning to record our album, but during mixing we got word that our song “Killer Inside” was going to be featured in the movie “SAW III” and the “SAW III” Soundtrack in a month’s time, so we packaged the 5 songs we had finished and put out the “Killer Inside” EP to capitalize on the exposure. We then hit the road for almost 2 years in support of the EP, playing all the songs that were to be on our album nightly. Needless to say, the band got much stronger on the road, and our songs took on lives of their own on stage nightly. When we got back to Los Angeles to finish our album, we knew that in fairness to the songs, we must scrap the previous recordings and re-record these stronger and more powerful versions for the album. Sure, it costs us much more time and money, but we are extremely pleased with the result!
What are Hydrovibe’s plans for 2010 and beyond?
Heather: Well, definitely touring here in the U.S. and hopefully some in Japan as well. We have also begun setting our sights on a UK release of “Nothing Left to Lose”. With all the excitement and press associated with the Japanese release, we have seen some interest by labels in the UK, and we have begun discussing details and laying out the strategy. So, if all goes to plan, we’ll be able to release in the UK soon and (fingers crossed) tour there by the end of 2010! After that will be Germany, then Australia, and we’ll continue to lock down territories to release “Nothing Left to Lose” and spread the reach of Hydrovibe!
Thank you very much, Heather and Mat. Do you have any parting words for your fans at Femme Metal?
Heather: Thank you, Robin… and everyone at Femme Metal! We appreciate the exposure and support! To all the fans, please continue to support independent music — buy your favorite indie bands’ CDs or merch … it goes farther toward their success than you’d think. And please continue to support Femme Metal … supporting Femme Metal = supporting independent music. Femme Metal is doing incredible work to assist independent female-fronted bands in getting their music distributed and heard, and using proceeds to support charity! Amazing! Femme Metal, WE SALUTE YOU! Thank you.
Label : Mascot Records/earMusic
Review by Davide Torresan
I confess that I knew nothing of Beth Hart, until yesterday. Bad, very bad. Searching for a bit of information about this singer, with surprise I found a very good voice, and a genre that I never thought that I would have liked. Yes, because Beth‘s songs are truly unique and original. During her musical career she was good enough to surround herself with talented musicians to match her lyrics at times painful, sometimes happy and carefree. They perfectly describe her life, her personal experiences, both positive and negative, suggesting all with influences that range from pop to rock to jazz and blues. Fame and success came thanks to the smash-hit “LA Song (Out of This Town)” which aired during Episode 17 of the 10th and final season of the telefilm Beverly Hills, 90210. In 1999, her career was stopped by drug addiction and an unmedicated bipolar disorder. As a result of this bad period, redemption came, thanks to a new love, and of course her music . A live DVD, some albums, and the collaborations with famous artists such as Slash, in the beautiful “Mother Mary”, and with famous guitarist and rock/blues singer Joe Bonamassa in the album “Don’t Explain” in 2011, have contributed to spread her charismatic voice and her talent as a musician in the whole world. “Bang Bang Boom Boom” is her eighth album and gives us a broad overview of her potential. Piano, guitar and drums accompany her voice, at times soothing, as in the song that gives the title to the album, other stronger, as in “Caught Out in the Rain”, which shows off her versatile voice, a voice very strong and powerful. It’s definitely worth mentioning the work of guitar and Beth’s keyboard that “lull” the listener languidly. The atmosphere is that of a dark, gloomy room, at the bar, with a glass of whiskey in front of us. The melodies of songs like “Better Man” or “Swing My Thing Back Around” with its jazzy rhythm are easy to listen to and addictive. “Spirit of God”, with its easy-going rhythm is definitely the best track of the lot, to which is impossible to stay indifferent. Every time I listen to it, I am not able to stand still on the chair, moving my head to the music. The gospel insert is very nice. But there also some sweet and quiet songs like “Everyday With You” and “There in Your Heart”, in which Beth clearly speaks of love. It’ a new subject for her, as in previous albums she had never written about it. They are hymns to love. I can recomend you to take a look at the video of “Bang Bang Boom Boom” to realize the enormous work behind this album. A work full of shades and colors, sad and lively. Those of the life of Beth Hart.
Rating – 80/100
- Baddest Blues
- Bang Bang Boom Boom
- Better Man
- Caught Out in the Rain
- Swing My Thing Back Around
- With You Everyday
- Thru the Window of My Mind
- Spirit of God
- 9. There in Your Heart
- The Ugliest House On the Block
- Everything Must Change
- Beth Hart – Vocals, background vocals, keys & acoustic guitar
- Jon Nichols – Electric & acoustic guitars & background vocals
- Tom Lily – Electric & acoustic bass guitars & background vocals
- Todd Wolf – Drums & percussion
Interview by Matteo Bussotti
As far as we knew about the release of 69 Chambers‘ 2nd album, “Torque”, we felt we had to talk to Nina about it. Their sound and their history (and Nina‘s one in particular) is so unique that we couldn’t let escape the opportunity to ask her many things about them. “Torque” is a very enjoyable CD and Nina is a person with a really complex, characteristic and interesting background. She moved around the world, especially in L.A. and she reflects her open-minded attitude in her music. She’s also a very skillful musician, singing AND playing bass at the same time in 69 Chambers! So, here’s what she told us about who she is, her past, “Torque”, and also something about her (and 69 Chambers‘) future!
Hi Nina, we’re glad to have you here on Femme Metal! So, how is playing bass AND singing in a Metal band?
It’s great of course! I couldn’t imagine only singing or only playing an instrument in a band, I’ve always felt more comfortable doing both, even though it takes a little more practicing to get it done right. Especially with the new album where there are many rhythmical elements combined with straight-forward singing..
We know 69 Chambers (which you founded) background is full of cultural diversities. During your childhood you’ve been to South Korea and Singapore, you’re Swiss, and your very first album was written while you were in USA, in L.A., after going around in different clubs and open mic nights. So, in what way all this background affected your musical style?
My background has definitely affected on me as a person, so I’m sure it’s found its way into my music as well, if only unconsciously. It made me more open to different styles and less willing to fit into a certain scheme. You can probably hear that in 69 Chambers’ music.
What is the meaning of your name, where do these “69 Chambers” come from?
I’ll have to leave you with a question mark. The band was founded many years ago and was only meant to be a hobby project at first. We never imagined having to answer that question in an interview…
I guess every band has a purpose when it’s formed, which may be delivering a special message to save the entire universe, or simply having fun playing around in various gigs. What was, and what is, the purpose behind 69 Chambers? And if there is, do you think you’ve accomplished it yet?
Do bands really have a purpose when they’re formed other than self-expression? It would be pretty pretentious to claim we’re trying to change things. We just do what we love doing, and we’re hoping that people can relate to the emotion our music evokes. Plus, everyone interprets something different into it, so I think a band’s ‘purpose’ is always rather individual.
What’s been so far the most difficult moment in your band’s history? And the best one?
Keeping a band together is the hardest thing. Ever since I founded 69 Chambers I’ve gone through so many line-up changes. Getting rejected by record companies, promoters or critics is tough, but when you know you can count on your band, it strengthens your will. When you’re a lone fighter though, and I was for many phases, then it takes a lot of guts and endurance to not lose faith. I’m glad that with our current line-up, with Diego Rapacchietti and Tommy Vetterli, we’re a real team. The best moments have always been playing great shows. Not only big festivals like Hellfest or Metal Female Voices, but also at small venues when the atmosphere was just crazy.
What can you tell us about L.A.’s musical scene, and how easy is for someone who really wants to get noticed to play some gigs around, even in clubs? What do you think L.A. has to teach us europeans, what can be imported, and instead what can we teach them?
To be honest, I didn’t go to L.A. to get noticed or follow some dream, I simply wanted to experience something new and different. I was kind of fed-up with the Swiss lifestyle where people have so much to lose they’re not willing to risk anything or just let go for a moment. Lots of young Americans, especially in L.A. have a different attitude to life, they might seem superficial, but they’re also really open, helpful and simply more relaxed. I especially enjoyed those open-mic nights cause there were all sorts of musicians – from really talented ones up to mere beginners, but they were equally respected by both musicians and the crowd. I’m sure being a little more easy-going, daring and less pretentious would to a lot of Europeans well. At the same time I found quite a few Americans being dreamers and unrealistic, and with little sense for what’s going on in the rest of the world…
How was playing at HellFest? How was meeting your fans abroad?
Hellfest was huge for us. Playing on mainstage one as a rather unknown band was a great honor. And even though we didn’t fit into the line-up a hundred percent (we were probably perceived as a “pop band” by many death metal fans) we did gain a lot of new fans in France who’ve been following us on Facebook ever since and expressing their enthusiasm. I sure hope we’ll be up on that stage again next year.
Talking about fans, what’s your relation with them, do you tend to be “expansive” when you meet them, or you tend more to be shy?
We enjoy talking to fans, it’s really interesting to see who the persons are that like our music. And we’re also grateful for their excitement. After all, you’re nothing as a band without your fans!
Some people completely change attitude when they’re on stage: some of them, being very shy, become absolute badasses; other ones, instead, become very frightened and shy while playing. What about you? What’s your attitude on stage? And another very important question: what about stage diving? Have you ever tried it? Do you think you will?
Honestly, you have to be bit of an actor when you’re up on stage, people want to be entertained. But I think you also have to remain credible, I’m sure fans have a good sense for what’s authentic and what’s not. I’m just not the type to go completely crazy on stage, that just wouldn’t be me, so I just try to express my feelings on stage the best I can. As for stagediving, with bass and high-heels I might just end up at the hospital. But who knows, perhaps I’ll try it one day…
Now, let’s talk about the “hot topic”: your latest album, “Torque”. What’s the story behind the album and its name? Are you satisfied with? Is there anything you’d like to change about it?
“Torque” is our second album and the name just felt right. Torque is a rotational force; it’s a measure of the turning force on an object, and for example pretty decisive for the power a car puts down on its wheels. We feel that with the current line-up and the new songs we have enough ‘torque’ to get the band accelerated. In contrast to the first album I practically wrote all by myself, the second album is the result of good teamwork. I still wrote most of the songs on my own, but Tommy and Diego each contributed to get the best out of them. Plus, Tommy did a really great job at recording and producing the new material. I also thing “Torque” makes a point of showing who we really are. Of course we already see what could have been done better – the moment something’s completed you’re already at a different level, but we put so much effort, time and heart blood into this product, I believe we did the best we could and we’re all pretty proud of that.
Is there a song in Torque you feel particularly “yours”, maybe for its meaning or for the story behind it?
All of the songs on the album are “mine”, except perhaps for the song “And Then There Was Silence” where Tommy composed the guitar riffs. Or the cover of Jeff Buckley’s “Grace”. I always put a lot of myself into the music and the lyrics, so there isn’t one particular song I could point out to.
Finally, what direction you think 69 Chambers will take in the future, are you open to experimenting with other genres, or sonorities, perhaps?
It’s perhaps a little early to think of a new direction. “Torque” is out and we first want to promote this album and go on tour with it. I’m sure time will tell, in which ways the band will further evolve. But experimenting with other influences always sounds great. After all, standing still means stepping backwards…
Thank you very much Nina for your time! We hope to see you soon at a concert! Goodbye and good luck for everything!
Thanks to you, Matteo and take care!
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