“We’re definitely not a technical band,” admits Vivian Girls’ lead singer and chief songwriter, Cassie Ramone. “The fact that we’re all female gets a lot of negative attention. People will write about how we look. Or how sexy we are, or conversely how ugly we are and I think that’s really un-constructive no matter which way you look at it. We’re not doing this because of our looks. We’re doing it because we love music.”
From the punk-surf riffs and Ramone’s deadpan, Valley Girl delivery, Vivian Girls are a hipster’s wet dream, and that’s even before they bust out the three part harmonies. Reminiscent of early girl groups, with a special nod (or is that an ironic wink) to the Ronettes, Ramone, Kickball Katy and Ali Koehler are known to step out from behind their instruments, gather around one mic and set the world on fire.
“I think No Doubt had a really good thing going on in the mid-'90s,” Ramone says about her early influences. “Gwen Stefani was very inspirational. She is unlike any other female pop performer. I think it’s because she has punk roots. Any artist with punk roots that makes their way into the mainstream is usually very cool and I think Gwen Stefani is definitely like that.” Ramone also mentions the seminal work of the Portland Riot Grrl groups as an important part of the Vivian Girls sound. “Babes In Toyland was, in my opinion, the best band of that generation of female rock bands. [And] I was really into Sleater-Kinney in high school.”
A little riot grrl edge comes in handy with overzealous fans and stalkers alike. “It was kind of the scariest thing we’ve witnessed as a band,” she admits of an admirer who took his music appreciation a bit too far. “He would send us these schizophrenic emails telling stories about how there was this girl dead in the alleyway who looked like Kickball Katy (drummer). Like really perverse stuff. And then he came to one of our shows and we were all terrified. We got him banned from seeing our shows at the Empty Bottle. I feel like we handled it pretty well.”
In addition to kicking out rowdy and possibly psychotic fans, Vivian Girls expect their audiences to work for their sound. “We only play it if there is a lot of cheering,” she explains of the encore. “If the house music comes on and people are starting to leave, we don’t do the encore. If the house music doesn’t come on and people are still standing right up by the front and cheering then we’ll wait thirty second and go back out.”
Check out the Vivian Girls at viviangirls.net.
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