Fiery punk five-piece from Birmingham
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Can you start by telling me a little bit about how the band got together?
Charly (vocals): Well, Kerosene Queen have seen a few line up changes the past 18 months, although Emma (drums) and myself have always been in the line-up. To begin with we were actually a four piece band but things obviously didn't work out, and when they didn't, I set out to what I have always originally wanted for the band... an all female line-up. It took a good year to find the right people for Kerosene Queen, me and Emma held multiple trials and auditioned both women and men for the band. It was actually when we had almost lost hope to find any female musicians when they actually came along! It happened so quickly I don't think me and Emma believed it at first as we had been struggling for a very long time to find this very line-up!
We met Lexi via a website in search for musicians, and Becky (rhythm guitarist) and Zowie (lead guitarist) both turned up at the last audition we held and both blew me and Emma away! We were obviously looking to complete a four piece line-up, but due to the fact they were both brilliant we decided to expand and have a five piece and a whole new look for the band.
What previous bands had you all been in?
We've all been in bands before so that is of course always a bonus! Me and Emma have formed numerous bands together, the band we were in before were called 'Hushwhore' and before this, I myself as a young teen was in a Derbyshire based band called 'Blow Up Doll,' where Emma had various experiments/projects before she moved to Birmingham.
Lexi used to front a band called 'My Haunting Revenge' before she joined us on bass.
Zowie has played in numerous bands, one called 'Freakshow' for a small period of time, although she is also a very talented pianist and writes her own material.
Becky also played in a band called 'AvengeThis' amongst other smaller projects before she joined Kerosene Queen.
Who are your main influences?
Concerning influences, we've all been muddled in to one big heap of many, many influences! We all have very various music tastes and from the new material we are writing it is beginning to show. There is a mixture of punk, riotgrrrl, 'bubblegum punk', metal, grunge... it is quite a bizarre set we are coming up with but I am really pleased about that! We aren't too fussed about being categorised as long as our input and aura is strong and fiery. With all the songs we do write and are writing at the moment, we aim to put forth the fact that women DO have a place on stage in rock music overall and we CAN make amazing songs regardless of genre.
I see that you're still playing some of the songs from Hushwhore, the first one I listened to was 'Fuck the NME' Can you tell me about how that song came about?
'Fuck the NME' is undoubtedly a bit of an angry song. It is a bit of a stab at the music industry as a whole, but obviously the NME are one of the leading music magazines for 'rock' bands and genres. The NME indeed never feature many female musicians, and I find their whole 'Hottest Women in Rock' one of the most insulting things ever. It is degrading to the talents a woman has, and still keeps that social oppression of women that they have to 'look good' in the eyes of a patriarchal society to be recognised. It disgusts me, so yes, Fuck the NME!
Have you noticed how seldom women appear on the cover of music magazines? Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) was on the cover of NME recently and I was shocked - it doesnt happen often!
It is seldom to find a woman in their front cover, so Karen O is a definite shock, but overall - it hasn't changed my opinion of the magazine. Having one feature or one cover with a female musician does not compensate for their sexism. The magazine overall still needs a huge overhaul.
Can you tell me about any experiences of sexism you've had as female musicians?
Charly: I myself have experience sexism quite moderately. I've overheard, and been told a few times how 'fit' I am and then suddenly I have a predominantly male group in the audience obviously only watching my band because of my sexual attractiveness.
Don't get me wrong, your image comes with the package in a band, that is if you care to have one, and yes I do care, but I don't expect it to be the main reason why people want to see my band, I don't find that as a compliment.
I have also been harassed at gigs, someone once tried to take a photograph of me from up my skirt once whilst I was on stage, that was really invading and I made him delete it afterwards, (which for some reason was quite hard to get him to do...) I've also had a man even state to my boyfriend after we'd performed once, 'Your missus is well fit if I were you I'd be.. *insert really disgusting sexual terms here*'
Sometimes it can feel like you're an object instead of a musician, you always have to hope you don't get an idiot/group of idiots in the crowd to ruin it for you.
Zowie: Once a guy said to me something like 'I saw your video of you shredding and it was sick! When I saw you I thought you were gonna suck'. He thought that was a compliment, but he assumed I was gonna suck cus I'm a girl.. Also when I filled in for a cover band the lead singer called me 'the eye candy' more than once which I found degrading and upsetting.
Becky: One of my exes used to say that women shouldn't be playing rock n roll because it didn't suit them.. I wasn't with him long..
Lexi: In my previous band I was the only woman and when we'd arrive at shows the organisers/promoters would approach the rest of the band to discuss what the plan for the night was, and would walk straight past me until I told them that I was the one they'd been speaking to all alongover facebook to arrange the show, book the band, sort out equipment and even get other bands to fill slots they had for the same night. Ninety per cent of the time people seemed surprised that it was me and not one of they guys that had done all of that and that I was the one who managed the band and did all our promotion etc.
Emma: I'm a female drummer and I have had surprised faces and comments when I state this. There is also the expectation that I will not be as good as a male dummer. Female drummers are in the minority compared to male drummers but this shouldn't affect how people view me talent-wise. Apparently it isn't deemed 'feminine' either, which I think is a load of bollocks.
'Stab Back' live at the Old Bell, Derby
Why do you think so many people react to female musicians in this way?
People and men in general think women in rock will 'suck' because there hasn't been enough emphasis on the fact that women also belong on stage in rock music.
It is that whole ideology that women belong back stage because that is essentially the old rock n' roll lifestyle that has been portrayed to us and it is widespread. Women are shown to be in complete awe of male rock stars and could never amount to the same position as them, so they submit to a male's desire and consequently superordinate themselves in that situation.
I think it is the idea of a woman on stage having the same aura (and essentially more power) similar to a man is the main aspect that people find hard to imagine and accept.
Do you ever get annoyed with being referred to as an 'all female band'? I've notice that bands are never referred to as 'all male'!
Yes I do. I do find it quite marginalising, but as I just said, because it is so hard to accept women as musicians, the idea of women in bands has to be reinforced and it is shown through our choice of language and band description terms!
What do you think would alleviate the problem of sexism in music?
Honestly I could give you loads and loads of ideas I think will help in alleviating sexism in music. If I had to be brutally honest with myself, (and unfortunately accept it too) sexism will (hopefully) begin to disappear over the simple concept of time. Only time will tell. It isn't something that will be eradicated 100% as sexism is embedded in our society and culture, sexism is intentionally or unintentionally adopted, so highlighting it and education of it is possibly the key, although this will most certainly be hard to do with the pressure of the media and the overall music industry as they both generally make money from many forms of sexism. To change the music industry, you need to change the social norms to which it belongs, and the minds of music lovers.
Yet as I said, I think once music lovers are educated about sexism, and realise the inequality and want the change, the media and music industry will have to find other means to 'sell' music.
We just need women to keep going, keep fighting and keep highlighting that we belong on stage and we are up there for our own pleasure, we are not doing it for anyone else's, so this now ancient concept of rock n' roll and women can take a stroll and stay in the past!