Interview by Tony Cannella and Miriam C.
From Greece, the band Barb Wire Dolls have been making a huge commotion in the metal and punk scene with their new album ”Desperate”. This is as ferocious a record as you are likely to hear this year. Recently, lead vocalist Isis Queen was kind enough to take a few moments to answer some questions for Femme Metal. Here is what she had to say .
Hi Isis Queen, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. Do you mind filling us in on how Barb Wire Dolls came together?
We started the band in an artist commune in the mountains of Crete, an island in Greece, and I and Pyn Doll started it first together. After I saw the concert movie “The Song Remains The Same” by Led Zeppelin three times in a row, I asked Pyn Doll to start a band with me because I was so inspired now to sing. I later got into the Sex Pistols and then everything changed and the idea of starting a band became reality. We wanted to do something that’s real, honest with a raw response to the status quo. Punk is the voice of an honest expressive human being. It is not an escape, it is an outlet for expression and that is why punk has value and merit even in this day and age when escapism is the biggest seller to the slaves of society.
Barb Wire Dolls music blends the punk attitude with the purest heavy metal energy. If you don’t mind me saying it, that’s quite a bold and courageous musical statement in this precarious times. How did you manage to create this ‘formula’?
It’s much easier to just be yourself and to create something that comes from within then to try and copy or be something that others are doing. We started our band because we were bored and fed-up with the current state of Rock N’Roll. Everything had ether become so safe, or so extreme (that it becomes a gimmick) or so manufactured that there was no realness coming from the new bands. And all the old bands were getting back together just for the money and to re-live their hay-day but bringing nothing new to music. We saw through that and instead of complaining about it we decided to start our own band. Our guidelines to being who we are is that there are no rules, no expectations and no compromising.
You just released your new album, “Desperate”. For those who haven’t heard it, how would you describe it?
We are all desperate for something. Music is the release to the fears and doubts that we have. We find guidance in the lyrics and answers in the beat. “Desperate” was our answer to our frustrations.
Can you take us through the writing and recording process for “Desperate”?
It is not easy being a DIY band. You sleep on floors, go days without showering, eat whatever is available and live like a total nomad with other band mates that you struggle to find harmony with sometimes. We went many years of full underground touring without stopping! We lived out of our van and other people’s houses and floors for over 700 shows. But then music is created and it is all worthwhile.
“Desperate” was recorded at the Sonic Ranch Studios and at the NRG Studios with the Grammy winning producers Jay Baumgardner and Howie Weinberg. How was it working with them?
It has been an never ending odyssey for the band. “Desperate” is produced and mixed by Jay Baumgardner at NRG studios in LA and then sent off to Howie Weinberg for mastering. These are some pretty big dogs in the industry and working with Jay has been very artistically fulfilling. It has been quite a change for us from our last record that was engineered and recorded by underground mastermind Steve Albini in just 2 days. If our debut album “Slit” was our baby that came kicking and screaming into this world, then “Desperate” is the teenager out to find who it truly is.
How has the reaction been from the media and the fans?
The fans are everything! They house us, feed us, and give us the inspiration to keep going. It’s been hard being a DIY band all these years but all these people including these rock icons come out of nowhere and want to contribute to our band. They are the ‘Street Generation’. You can’t have a revolution without and army!
You are signed to Motorhead Music (a division of UDR Music). How did you come to their attention?
We first met Lemmy on the famed Sunset Strip in Los Angeles the first night we were there. We chatted about Greece and our love for the first wave of Punk back in the 70’s. Throughout the years he would get demos from us and eventually he came to our residency shows at the legendary Whisky A Go Go every Monday. Lemmy had started Motörhead Music to put out Motörhead albums but to also continue his legacy with new bands. He asked us to be on his label and to have Barb Wire Dolls be his first new band release. We of course were thrilled! I mean, Motörhead!!! They are everything that we stand for! They don’t follow anyone’s rules about how to be and sound. He believed in our band and our music. That alone was the biggest compliment to keep a band going. His wish was to have Barb Wire Dolls on his label because he understood the importance of the new wave of rock’n’roll that keeps the flame burning. Lemmy was a true innovator. Lemmy is God!
For what I get, “Desperate” is your 3rd album and the first one published on a major scale thanks to a bigger label but if you could draw a parallel between your previous album “Slit” and “Desperate”, how do you think your approach changed since then?
We are constantly changing and evolving. We allow the music to write itself instead of forcing it to be the same as before or to follow certain writing guidelines.
You played at this year’s edition of Wacken Open Air in Germany. What was that experience like?
Amazing! I love festivals and big stages and Wacken is the biggest festival we’ve ever played. One of my favorite shows to dates, for sure. They even filmed the show with different cameras and so now you can watch the full concert online.
What insights you can share about the song “Drown” that you have recently premiered via YouTube? On top of that, who was shooting it, do you have any funny stories to tell us about it?
“Drown” is a rebel song. It’s about being strong with who you are and not drowning in the abyss of society. We are all surfers and skaters so we collected our archives of footage that we had and put together the video. The video was edited by the Ikarus Artist Commune Collective. It may be a DIY approach for our first video but it stands strong and the viewer understands where we come from.
Barb Wire Dolls are quite famous for their provocative shows so, what can fans expect when they come see you live? In addition to this, do you have any touring plans coming up?
Haha! Yes, many times. I’ve ended up in the emergency ward in England from being pulled off stage by crazy fans. I was almost arrested in Texas for “indecent exposure” and “inciting a riot”. So, yes, I guess you could say we put on a provocative show. But every show changes depending on the crowd. We are just exchanging energy with the crowd and feeding off of each other. The big European tour starts at the end of September, so buckle up and come join the ‘Street Generation’!
Thank you for taking the time to talk to Femme Metal. In closing, do you have any final messages for your fans?
Be the light and power you see yourself achieving and go out there and inspire others to do so too! You’ve got the fight burning inside of you. You’ve got the power and that’s the truth. Untie the chains that hold you down and reach out and grasp your deserving crown. Make Riot Not War.
Isis Queen’s photo by Yannis Kelemenis