THE captivating and eye-catching quartet of Ali, Veronica; Cassie and Millie…
makes up Glam Skanks. They have been described as an all-female band-version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Their album, Glitter City, mixes theatre and spectacle with mixes of older-days Glam-Rock with the sort of mainstream sensibilities that makes them an accessible option. It is their infectiousness and unique personalities that are alluring audiences and marking them out for big things.
I talk to the U.S. band about supporting Adam Ant and lending Alice Cooper their make-up. They talk about enviable Rock and Roll memories and how they hope to redress the gender imbalance in music; their favourite albums and songs and their treasured memories of the road.
Hi, girls. How are you? How have your weeks been?
Glam Skanks: We’re great!
Just got done filming a new music video.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
Yeah. We’ve got Ali on Lead Vocals; V. on Lead Guitar; Millie on Bass and Cassie on Drums.
Can you tell me how Glam Skanks got together? Have you been friends for years now? How did that band name come about?
Glam Skanks started when V. and Ali met on Craigslist...
They had both posted, almost identical ads, looking for female musicians - for a Glam-Rock-inspired band. After a few years of playing with other girls, Millie and Cassie - who had been playing in bands together since their early-teens - joined up.
The band name came when we booked our first gig. We didn't have a name and knew we needed something to start promoting. After a friend joked about making 'lamb shanks' into ‘glam shanks’, the name ‘Glam Skanks’ came up - and we thought it perfectly fit our vibe.
I know you played Camden Rocks. What was that experience like?
It was incredible.
The whole experience of going to England - and playing in another country - was amazing enough and then, to add playing such a well-known festival, was a dream come true.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Cox
Any more dates coming later this year?
We’re working on something...
We have a gig with Adam Ant at The Roundhouse (in London) in December - and were hoping to book a tour around it.
Some have said Glam Skanks are what a Rocky Horror Picture Show house-band would be like. Do you think that is a fair assessment? Is that film/show something you girls are a fan of?
That’s a great description of us...
We’re huge fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We grew up going to midnight showings all dressed up - and always thought we would be a great fit to play before the movie started.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Cox
In addition to opening for Alice Cooper; you supported Adam Ant on his U.K. tour - and you’ll be back to open his show at The Roundhouse in December. What is he like to work with? How did that invite come about?
He’s great to work with: a true showman and an absolute professional.
We share some mutual acquaintances with Adam and, when they had shown him our videos, he liked us enough to ask us to come along and tour with him.
I heard Alice Cooper asked to borrow your make-up. What was your response to that?!
At first, we laughed, because we thought he was joking!
When we found out he was serious, we, obviously let him use whatever he wanted.
In Kevin Smith’s film, Yoga Hosers, you had one of your songs featured. You have hung with Aerosmith’s Joe Perry. How do things like this happen? Is there a standout memory from all these crazy experiences?
We’re lucky that we have some connections that run in the family. V’s dad, Bruce Witkin, is a member of the Hollywood Vampires and has produced and worked with a lot of famous artists.
One standout memory was the night we opened for the Hollywood Vampires. We got to jump onstage with Alice Cooper and sang School’s Out with him and the whole band.
Glitter City is the new album. What can you tell us about the themes and ideas that compelled the record?
There wasn’t really any particular theme or idea: we just wanted to make a record that sounded like the music we love - but with our own twist.
That said, there’s definitely an underlying tone of female empowerment. Even though there are not many songs that are explicitly about that; we went in with the mindset of wanting to inspire other girls and women with our music.
Veronica. You grew up in a unique Hollywood Rock and Roll family. Was it possible to have a ‘normal’ childhood or was it quite strange? What is Hollywood like for a young and ambitious artist?
I don’t know if anyone, technically, has a ‘normal childhood’ - but mine didn't feel that different from anyone else’s.
Hollywood is hard for any young artist but I was at least lucky enough to have a bit of a head-start since I'm from L.A. - and have the advice and help from my dad.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Cox
Millie. You almost didn’t join the band. Why was that and what changed your mind?
I was super-busy with other bands and had just moved to Los Angeles - so, I wasn't sure about joining another group.
The girls won me over with their passion and drive for music and fun personalities - so I gave it a shot.
Listening to you girls play, your music and power can match any male band. Why do you feel there is still gender inequality and sexism in music? Is that something you are keen to tackle?
Unfortunately, there’s still gender inequality and sexism everywhere in our everyday lives - so music isn't going to be any different, especially when Rock ‘n’ Roll is considered a boys-club.
That’s something we hope to change, not just in the music industry, but everywhere - so all girls and women are treated fairly and equally no matter their race, social status or sexuality.
Your brand of music, 'Glitter-Rock', has changed since the early days. What have been the main changes and do you feel more bands should play in the genre?
It’s funny because, to us, Glam and Glitter-Rock aren’t really a sound but more of an attitude and, in that sense, it’s never changed.
It’s about the stage-show and the spectacle - and that is one thing that more bands these days could use.
I can imagine you have your fair share of touring anecdotes! Any particularly vivid or ‘memorable’ ones?!
We had a night in Manchester where we stayed at a sort of tavern and we were immediately thrown off when we walked in - because there were Christmas decorations up in the middle of May. We didn't think too much of it but, later that night, we noticed our door didn't really lock and, when we tried to move our beds together, we found blood splattered on the walls.
We decided to not-so-gracefully sneak out at 4:30 A.M.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Right now, we’re into The Lemon Twigs.
They put out a great record last year.
IN THIS PHOTO: The Lemon Twigs/PHOTO CREDIT: Riku Ikeya
If you each had to select the album that has meant the most to you; which would they be and why?
Veronica: That’s so hard because there’s so many that have had a huge impact on me, but, I guess I’ll have to choose The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie.
Every song on that album is perfect and the concept of youth and alienation still hits home.
Ali: Probably Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
I just feel so happy and inspired when I listen to it. Every song is perfect. I never get sick of listening to it.
Millie: I never have just one album that I fall back on because I'm always changing what go-to album – but, for sure, one of my favorite albums is Panty Raid by Fabulous Disaster: an all-girl Pop-Punk band from San Francisco - where I grew up and saw as a teenager.
They have inspired me to play music and get in an all-girl band. Their songs sing about heartbreak, annoying preps. (and etc) - everything I can relate to!
Cassie: I would say Deloused in the Comatorium by Mars Volta
Just like Millie; it's hard to pinpoint one specific album or artist because I'm influenced by so many different styles of music - but this one is definitely top-five because of the instrumentation. It really influenced me to push my drumming.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
Just go for it!
Don’t be afraid that it might not happen or ‘I might not make it’: you can’t start a revolution if you don't go out and try to make it happen.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Veronica: Anything by David Bowie
Ali: Please play It's Late by Queen - this song is brilliant
Millie: Please play Free Money from Patti Smith
Cassie: Please play Take a Chance on Me by ABBA
That’s our backstage pump-me-up song whenever we're on tour.
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