Hard Rockers in High Heels

By Francis ‘The Grin’ Gray

It is a damn crying shame that my list is so short. Women rockers are a rare breed I have found. Sure we have a few ladies who know how to pull a power chord and sing kumbaya, but I mean the girls who wanted to be just as badass or more so then the guys in either attitude or skill. I wanted to write about this subject because when we think of women rockers, we always start by naming the singers and easily dwindle down to the guitarists, scarcely refer to the bassist and never mention the drummers. Tarja Turunen of Nightwish fame, is probably one of the most excepted singers with her operatic style of vocals. When it comes to the Metal gutturals, we will always say Angela Gossow, but I want to focus on non-singers, or at least those who play instruments well and with the passion to match those with a y chromosome.

1975, The Runaways is where the Chick Rock truly started in my opinion. Joan Jett, Lita Ford Cherie Currie and Sandy West with a few bassists Micki Steele, Peggy Foster, and Jackie Fox had the passion to begin something that would inspire others to fallow suit, including a movie with almost authentic history sadly portrayed by the very stale Kristen Stewart. Three years later was the first formation of Girlschool. Considering that project was created in another continent, so I doubt they were inspired by a few American teenagers, but I could be wrong and honestly I would love to be. They were associated closer to the emerging metal scene but were well known to pair up with Motorhead, who they were denied metal and drifted more towards punk. A couple decades later, and they still can rock out better then many bands today. Next chance you get, head to YouTube and search “Girlschool – BYH 2007 “. In 1985, L7 was formed, and as I listen to them, I can’t help but think of how they are the epitome of grunge. They have that almost metal distortion but some riffs sound weird if not just strait jacket happy. Obviously not high on the musicianship however, they have an energetic stage presence driven by their attitude, which I have always been more drawn to. Donita Sparks had big ovaries that would set a higher bar for both genders, considering guys don’t have tampons to throw out into the audience. 1993, Drain STH from Stockholm Sweden also owned the grunge sound but with a slightly heavy flavor. Soon after that is where I became conscious of how heavy and vehement women can be. Don’t you dare judge me, I was 10 in 1996 when Kittie was formed and I found them with a performance for Brackish on a TV show called Farmclub.Com at the age of 14. These Canadian lovelies helped me open up to heavier music and made me the man I am today. A feat few women can claim. The Iron Maidens is probably my favorite “girl” band and as the name implies, they are indeed an Iron Maiden cover band. There is nothing wrong with this, however, if you are good enough to play Phantom Of The Opera, then you over qualify the ability to create your own music. I would love to ask the girls, why not be original? They are obviously skilled enough, but “To each their own”.

There were many before her, but Nancy Wilson of Heart fame had no attitude but she was very charismatic. She rocked the acoustic guitar, and as we look back we are reminded that we don’t need pickups or distortion to sound awesome. Still touring to this day, she has her own Martin hd-35 signature model guitar. Moving on to Ruyter Suys. What can you say about a woman who plays in a band that is not shy about the brass tacks of sex, drugs and Rock and roll. Nashville Pussy is not a modest name and the grit that follows must be measured up to by each member of the band, and Ruyter seems to have no problem laying down the southern style hard rock. How dose it sound if you never heard it? Think Lynyrd Skynyrd found a Boss Metal Zone with a chain smoking singer. As we crank up the distortion, I feel we have to acknowledge Dusty Exner. What’s that? You never heard of her? That is no surprise. Kill Matilda is a band based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. At first, I liked them. They had a some of the energy I want in my music but what really turned the tap on is the ripping tune “I Want Revenge”. Every time I hear this song, I want to run up to someone and punch them in the face, point and then laugh at the random act. Finally, I have saved the best guitarist for last. Orianthi Panagaris. Do I honestly need to say anything more? If I do, then you have your thumb is far from the pulse of the world. She has praise from the best out there.  She has shared music with Michael Jackson, Alice Cooper, Carrie Underwood, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, David Garret and Carlos Santana. Vocally she is a bit too pop for me, however if I ever met her I promise you that I would feel fully emasculated because she would seriously shred my face off. No joke. She is a way better guitarist then I am.  Maybe she needs a bassist….

Speaking of bassists, let us revisit the band Nashville Pussy. Karen Cuda and Corey Parks. Two femme fatale with the already said “grit” needed to be in such an honest band. Balls out (so to speak) and ovaries the size of novelty fuzzy trucker dice. If you where to ask me, I would say Corey had the better stage presence, but I would also consider this unfair because Karen didn’t have an inferno act. Nadja Peulen replaced Rayna Foss in the band Coal Chamber who I credit with changing my life from the start. Rayna had the presence of a corrupted school girl and played that low end like a dancing voodoo doll. Nadja owned a performance with power. When her hair wasn’t flipping around, casing out embers, she had a vicious stare. If eyes are truly the window into the soul, her spirit would have you by the throat. I always try my best to make the opening band when I attend a show. Doris Yeh from the Taiwanese band Chthonic is every bit as lovely as she is deadly. She graces those five strings with precision while many would fall short of the bands time changes, switch ups and still has enough focus to flip her hair. Calming down from metal to psychobilly, I will admit I am a little bias when it comes to Patricia Day, but I feel that the Horrorpops are not as well known as I would like them to be. She does play a stand up acoustic bass and sings, which is a rarity in it’s self. I feel Paz Lenchantin has a natural ’70s groove to her. This psychedelic attribute travels very well with The Entrance Band and A Perfect Circle. To watch her in an interview, you wouldn’t guess that she has such astral movement on stage. She seems like the shy girl next door but give her a bass and it seems like shes on an acid trip.

In my opening paragraph, I said ” never mention the drummers. To be honest.. I had the hardest time trying to find woman drummers who stood out enough. Sure the first name that would come to our mind is Meg White, but what can she do that would rival a twelve year old girl on YouTube? And it is indeed YouTube that gives me hope for the future of women in rock/metal. Getting back to topic though, Roxy Petrucci is NOT related to John Petrucci according to Wikipedia.  Better known for Madam X and Vixen in the prime of the glam rock days, she has the precision to slap skins with the best of them. Jody Linscott on the other hand, has played with the best. Elton John, The Who, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, David Gilmour, Pete Townshend, Tom Jones, The Clash, Billy Squier, Santana, and Sir Paul McCartney. Need I say more? Good.. It is really hard to tell you about drummers when we all know what makes a good drummer is metronome tight drum beats but of the two I picked should be better known to every girl on YouTube.

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About the Author: Started playing bass at 15. It was Danko Jones who inspired me to play at all, and in a small town I couldn't be picky on what I can get my hands on, so I bought a squire with pride. Obtained a B.C. Rich guitar months later. Moved to the city at 17. At 19 joined my first metal band as a bassist which ended at 20. Joined a bass heavy rock band, which I loved being in whole heartily. I now wait to venture into a new project. For the time being though, I am exploring my abilities as a writer.

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