I don’t know if you knew this, but hair metal is one of my most favorite things. When I found out that Motley Crue had not one, but TWO all girl-covers bands, I sprung into action! Because hey, what’s the use of writing for an art blog if you can’t use it to talk to people who you think are really awesome? Without further ado, an interview with Girls, Girls, Girls!:
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Girls Girls Girls, the world’s first (and best) all-girl tribute band to Motley Crue. Based in New York city, these rockers have taken the world by storm since their first breakout performance at a New Jersey Strip Club in 2007. Since then, the band has played with the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Queensryche, Lynard Skynard, Alaska, collaborated with author Chuck Klosterman on top of an appearance on VH1’s That Metal Show in a segment on tribute bands.
Founded by resident badass and current manager Nikita Seis, the band now consists of front-woman Vixen Neil, guitarist Mercedes Mars, drummer/keyboardist/guitarist Tawny Lee and bassist Lucky Sixx. To the questions!
What and/or who are your musical influences?
Tawny Lee (TL): Motley Crue; every drummer I see live (I learn something from almost every single live show I see)…
Mercedes Mars (MM): Everything one hears is an influence in some way or another. My taste is wide and varied spanning centuries, eras and genres. I’d have to say Keith Richards and Jimi Hendrix stand out as early guitar heros.
Lucky Sixx (LS): I’ve always appreciated really strong songwriting. It’s what pulls me in. If there’s anything I love about Crue, it’s that Nikki Sixx is a killer songwriter. Beyond that I usually connect to the storytelling in songs no matter the genre.
Vixen Neil (VN): I love music. It would be pretty redundant to mention Motley Crue as an inspiration here. I’m mostly drawn to music with heavy beats and bass, music that has space between the notes, a moment that catches my breath and want for more. Country music turns me off because I don’t like hearing people whine. My father is a jazz drummer and I have lots of siblings, so I grew up listening to a wide range of classic rock and punk music. I was even in an original ska band when I lived in Omaha in the late 90’s. And speaking of the 90’s, of course there are bands that I wore out the tape on the cassettes, like Nirvana, Rage, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
How did you initially become interested in music?
MM: Both my parents played instruments: piano and flute. I grew up in an environment where music was always a major part of our lives, especially listening to Classical music.
LS: I grew up playing music. I picked up my first instrument when I was 10 (the flute), my second when I was 16 (drums, ), and bass when I was (25). It’s been a part of my existence.
What drove you to create an all-female cover band of Motely Crue?
Nikita Seis (NS): At the time that I was really into Motley Crue I was young and wasn’t allowed to go to concerts. So my first “real” Crue concert was their reunion tour in 2005 (I did get free tickets in ’94 to see John Corabi-era Crue, which I don’t count.) It was beyond my wildest dreams and made me feel all that preteen excitement again. There was one particular moment where all of Madison Square Garden jumped the gun and started signing the first verse of Home Sweet Home before Vince could, and he just let them. It was one of the greatest rock’n’roll moments of my life. (Someone else posted it – see here). I had at the time learned of the female tribute The Iron Maidens and thought they were brilliant, so I started searching to see if there was an all-female Motley Crue tribute and never found one. So I asked for a bass for my birthday, learned to play it and started my search for other musicians to join me. Within a year we played our first show.
TL: I joined this band bc i was invited by a new friend to be the drummer of a band she wanted to start that didn’t even exist — it was just me and Nikita, beginner drummer and bassist at rock school — and I didn’t actually think it would go anywhere. you know how you and your friends talk abt starting a rock band, you’ll play guitar, I’ll play drums, that person will sing, we’ll be called [____]! — except that no one is actually a musician? that’s what I thought this was. MAYBE we’d find a singer and guitarist, and MAYBE we’d be able to convince a bar to let us play for our friends so we could all have a laugh. but man was I wrong…I didn’t realize at the time how high Nikita was aiming. between her raw ambition and dedication to the cause and the stars aligning, we found the only two ppl around who could possibly do Neil and Mars. and then we were a band. and then we worked our butts off and got good.
How did you come to choose the name ‘Girls Girls Girls’?
NS: Naming a tribute band it has to be immediately recognizable as both Motley Crue and as a female version of it. There is no better example of that than Girls Girls Girls. You tell people the band name, and 9 times out of 10 they sing the chorus back to you. There are a lot of bad band names out there. The ones that go for the really obscure reference are the worst.
What is currently your favorite song (Crue or otherwise)?
VN: It’s hard to pick just one favorite Crue song… I have the most fun singing Primal Scream, Starry Eyes, Red Hot… hmm… this list is going to get long if I continue. In other news, right now, I’m loving Awolnation’s “Sail” and Phantogram’s “When I’m Small”.
TL: picking one favorite Crüe song is like picking one favorite food — it depends. to play on drums: primal scream. to close a show: live wire. to play to a crowd of crazy Crüe fans: home sweet home. favorite song from their first album: public enemy #1. otherwise, I’m currently obsessed with an old salsa song called Ven Devórame Otra Vez because the lyrics are so hilarious. at first it sounds like a nice innocent old-school salsa song, and then you hear the lyrics and it’s an awesome dirty, lusty song. I rediscover it every couple years. the video is awesome too.
MM: Impossible question to answer
LS: Favorite Crue song : Primal Scream. Hey man, “Don’t put that shit on me”. Word.
How long have you known each other and how did you meet?
TL: I’ve known Nikita since we met at rock camp in 2006. as I remember it, girls were sitting around all civilized-like nibbling on brown bag ham sandwiches, and a friend and I went around the room yelling something like, “you call yourselves rockers?! this is rock camp, people! you’re supposed to drink whiskey for lunch! To the bar!” Nikita was one of only like, three people that came to the bar with us. and that’s how we met. hey wait a minute, weren’t Nikki and Tommy the first to start the band (Nikki being the driving force)? and then they found Mick, and then finally Vince?? it is (just reconfirmed), that’s the order in which we formed too! this band is full of weird coincidences like that. it was destined. Vixen and Mercedes I’ve known since they joined the band between 2006 and 2007.
MM: in late 2006 I saw a very intriguing ad with Nikita (founder), Tawny Lee, and another girl all dressed up like Motley Crue that were looking for a guitarist. I thought: these people look like a hell of a lot of fun, and decided to call them to see what was up. I was the only guitarist who answered the ad and it worked out perfectly.
LS: I’m the newest member of the band, so a little over a year. I think I first met Patty at a show she was playing with another band. She asked me to try out for the band, which I did with Vixen Neil and Tawny Lee. Then I met Mercedes Mars at her house for an initial jam session.
VN: I was the last to join the original line up… wow, back in 2007? They found me on myspace and asked me to audition… little did I know how much fun was to ensue and how much havoc we would reek on the world.
I’ve noticed that a lot of the songs, now that they are sung by an all female band, seem to have newly found feminist undertones. Was that intentional or something that happened along the way?
TL: it definitely wasn’t intentional; that’s just a funny thing that happens when women sing Crüe lyrics, considering what they sing about. i guess when girls sing them, the themes go from hedonism to empowerment. or is it still just hedonism? or reverse sexism? whatever, it’s just funny. some of my favorites as Vixen sings them: all of Girls Girls Girls, of course, which is about strip clubs around the world and their girls girls girls, and there’s 10 Seconds to Love: “touch my gun but don’t pull my trigger, let’s make history in the elevator. lock the door shine my pistol some more, here I come just 10 seconds more…” and “reach down low, slide it in real slow…” hahaha.
VN: Motley wore hairspray, make-up, and high heels… it’s probably THE best band for females to pay tribute to. I think they pushed the envelope just to be as shocking as possible… All their songs are about sex, drugs, and kicking ass… (with an occasional dose of love but no heartbreak) As far as the words sounding feminist, sure… because they are songs about sex, drugs and kicking ass. Our fans are equally men and women; men think we’re sexy, and women feel inspired and empowered by seeing us (and some of the women think we’re sexy too)
MM: Don’t know who you are referring to. In the case of our Girls tribute-band to Motley Crue, we stick to the original lyrics and just play this great music with as much fire and heart as we can because that is what our audience wants and expects.
LS: I’m not sure if the other girls were aware of it or trying to make that happen in the first place. However, it’s something I love about they way we do things. Metal is about power, taking power for yourself, especially when you don’t feel powerful or if it makes others uncomfortable. Metal is also for everyone, so yeah why not?
Do you consider yourselves to be feminist? Female role models?
TL: if being a feminist means supporting rights and equality for females, then yes. hmmm, i’ve never thought about this. shirley manson maybe? she’s ridiculously talented, exudes cool without trying, doesn’t sex it up for record sales…she’s just a f*cking hot real rock star in a tight ginger bun and regular clothes. badass.
MM: Absolutely. What woman would not want equal rights, equal pay, equal recognition, and so on? Of late, I’m fascinated by the life of influential Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (b. 1907). She did everything ‘her way’ in a grand and completely original and iconic lifestyle when the word ‘feminist’ did not even exist. Making astounding art, creating her own exotic clothing, and doing everything exactly as she wanted to do it. Kahlo also surrounded herself with many animals (which I do as well), who provided companionship, inspiration, and a calming influence. Pet monkeys, dogs, parrots, parakeets, macaws, chickens, a pet eagle named “Gertrude White Shit” and a tiny fawn were in her household – some of whom accompanied her while she painted her masterpieces.
LS: I consider myself a feminist. I believe in the social, political, and economic equality of men and women of all races. I would view myself as a role model for anyone who just wants to get out there and play. Male or female, I get excited when someone sees us and wants to play. I’m like “Do it!!!!!” Having someone be inspired by you is the biggest compliment ever.
VN: I don’t consider myself a feminist. I still believe in chivalry. And not really a role model either… Playing the role of Vixen Neil is way fun, but a little different than being myself. Vixen is bad. I see myself as more of host of a really great party (for adults).
Have you faced any unique challenges with being an all girl cover band?
NS: One thing I never expected to happen was to be shunned by this sort of feminist organization I was a supporter of (who shall remain nameless because I still support some of their mission) because, by playing Motley Crue songs and dressing sexy, we didn’t really fit in with their preconceived notion of feminism. They fall into that “shaving your legs and wearing bras are oppressive to women” brand, but I still thought they would be supportive of women getting on stage and owning it, choosing to dress how we want to dress and breaking boundaries. Most women who come to our shows are charmed and inspired. It saddened me to learn that someone rallying against holding women back refused to even acknowledge our existence.
TL: not really, aside from maybe having to share one bathroom for getting ready. just kidding. once in awhile (or maybe more than we think) we face skepticism from dudes who think girls can’t play this type of music, but we usually prove them wrong (at least for the ones who tell us so). but that’s probably something that a lot of all-female bands face, tribute or not…I vaguely remember this topic coming up on Bands Reunited: Vixen (awesome episode, ps), something about guys peeking behind the curtain to see if they were really playing. being an all-girl tribute to a man band is mostly all pros: we’re a small, unique community in a big world of tributes, no one feels any pressure to wear wigs, we can all fit comfortably into one van, everyone smells good, we get to wear fun outfits, everyone enjoys sharing a nice bottle of wine….all wins.
VN: Unique challenges of being in an all-girl band… the first thing I think, of course, is having enough mirror space when we are all getting ready together. Getting ready together can also be fun, and probably something I tend to take for granted… it’s a great bonding time before a show. The second most noticeable thing is arriving for soundcheck. There are many times, when dealing with a first-time venue, we are sort of treated like we don’t know what we’re doing. Then we jam a song and the perceptions change a little bit.
MM: Through the early years of my playing experiences, women musicians stuck out like a sore thumb. It has become common today to see gender diversity in bands, inc. all-female outfits as well as individual women members in bands. Yet, it still blows audience members’ minds if one is actually ‘good’ and can play the required music to their satisfaction.
LS: Not typically. People who come to the shows and the crews that we’ve worked with are amazing. Even people who aren’t particularly into rock or even know Motley Crue really enjoy the show. The only haters seem to be the ones who have never seen us perform live. The ones who cowardly assert themselves behind the mask of social media. But still, it’s few and far between.
What advice do you have for fellow musicians out there?
TL: I don’t know that I’m in the position to give any advice to fellow musicians… oh except that without good management with a clear vision, you’ll go nowhere. so find good management. oh and all the stuff that they say is important for marriage — compromise, communication…ah who am I kidding, I don’t know what they say — whatever it is, it all applies to your band. it’s not always easy but always worth it. advice for non-musicians: it’s never too late to start. truly.
VN: I will never know everything. I guess the only advice I could give is to keep your ego in check. Stay real. People feel music in their hearts – it’s so much more believable when someone is genuine, raw and present.
MM: Focus! Stay off social networking as much as you can and work on your practice and learning. Getting to be a good player requires a lot of alone time.
LS: If you haven’t started, just start! If you have no one to play with, find someone! If you haven’t been on stage, get on one! This band started because one woman wanted to step into her idol’s shoes and have fun, and she had never picked up an instrument in her life. Just go for it and keep going!!!
What have been some of the best experiences to come out of being a part of this band?
LS: The fun we have on stage, or behind the scenes. The adventures we have with each other. I could try telling a funny story or two, but Vixen Neil would tell it way better.
VN: Aside from being part of something fun and successful, and apart from being able to travel to new towns and states and venues across America (becoming a connoissoir of cheap motels), I would say my number one favorite thing about being in GGG is being able to create an experience and environment to entertain people. It’s the look on the faces of the people in the crowd that inspires me. It’s the energy in the room, the party!
TL: all the tail I get. just kidding.
MM: The camaraderie of being in a solid working team is foremost. The opportunities Girls have had to travel, meet all kinds of people along the way and to play with so many other bands has made this project incredible to be part of and so much fun. My highlight of 2013 was performing nine sets at Colorado’s biggest outdoor festival “Rock Jam” where we also opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Queensryche and Korn. Nikita & I attended the huge NAMM music convention in LA this January, where a surprising number of the attendees already knew of the Girls band, or wanted to know more about us. I received the endorsement of Hagstrom Guitars (Sweden) there, and part of that honor revolves around being the guitarist in this busy, gigging and well-known tribute band.
What do you like best about playing live?
TL: playing to an excited crowd that knows all the words and is going nuts, which is not uncommon among crue fans, the exchange of energy there is awesome. it’s a testament to the loyalty of crue fans and how much they love crue music.
LS: Being in the moment, connecting with each other, connecting with strangers in the crowd. You dissolve into the energy of the music and the people. It’s like a spiritual experience. It’s the best feeling in the world.
VN: It’s the look on the faces of the people in the crowd that inspires me. It’s the energy in the room, the party! It’s a particular connection with people, both the band and the crowd. It’s supernatural.
MM: The connection a band can make with its audience when everything is working right. Feeling the music loud and flowing throughout your entire body while everyone else there is in sync with that moment too, is a very gratifying experience.
Do you write original material on top of covering Motley Crue songs?
TL: Not me.
VN: Several players in the band have been in other bands, both original and other tributes. We’ve all written original material, just not amongst the members of GGG (yet).
MM: I have one album released with my early NYC punk band, The Stimulators, called “Loud Fast Rules!” on ROIR Records. I have some other recordings of my music that were done in 2005, but not released yet. That session featured LaLa Brooks, the former lead singer of legendary producer Phil Spector’s 60’s girl-group, The Crystals, along with co-writer/bassist and long time music associate/friend Nick Marden. Nick & I are currently working on writing new material to record and hopefully plan to release some of it this year.
LS: Yes, I am currently co-writing with a friend. I really love collaboration. You come up with all this stuff on your own, they have their own ideas, and then you have to share it and let it develop into its own thing.
Have you met Motley Crue? If so, what was that experience like?
TL: I’ve only met Vince; he was very cordial and sweet, and said he’d love to see us play sometime (though i’m not totally sure he understood who we were or what was going on…)
LS: Nope, maybe one day……
VN: The first time I met members of the band was when I was in Omaha. I was working at the front desk of a 5 star hotel at the time. Motley Crue was playing a show in town and staying at our hotel. Tommy Lee showed up at the front desk and gave me a big smile and asked me “why you working here?… you should be a model.” Then he started serrenading me from our grand piano in the lobby. the rest of the band showed up and they left. I was friends with the limo driver, and later he told me that Tommy was talking about me in the limo. He said if he was in town for a couple more days, he might have to “stick her with the crippler”.
Next Tawny Lee, Nikita and I met Vince backstage at one of his shows in Atlantic city. We were invited to join the after party where he was endorsing Tres Rios Tequila. He said he would like to hear us play sometime.
I met Tommy again at a dance club he was DJing at here in NYC. I said Hi, and he licked my face and stuck his hand down my pants. I think he has pretty good taste in women.
Nikita and I met Nikki at his Heroin Diaries book signing in NYC. We waited in line for it, and met him for a few seconds, but it was pretty cool.
Where do you find all of your amazing outfits?
LS: Dressing up is probably one of the hardest parts for me. I’m such a tomboy. Half of my wardrobe is hand me downs or gifts from the Girls, they other half is from Trash and Vaudeville in NYC and various lingerie stores. I’m the worst at dressing up. I can’t perform in heels and the Girls are always telling me I need more bling! Though half of it falls off when I’m head banging anyway.
TL: we find them all separately in different places, but I’ve gotten most of my stuff from trash & vaudeville, nyc and online fetish stores, and from other band members.
MM: Ghetto shopping and sometimes thrift store finds! *Best & least expensive stuff out there. I also re-fabricate bought items and/or create original items to wear on stage. Some of my favorite hand-made accessories utilize found objects to re-use/re-cycle, including many discarded chains from my pet Cockatoo’s toys after he’s done destroying them.
VN: Our stage apparel has definitely morphed in to a particular pocket. It has taken a lot of years to build up our collection and each of our signature looks. Personally, it takes me at least a half an hour just to put the outfit on, not including hair and makeup. We use lots of layers, it adds so much dimension. When we travel and have to check bags they are comically heavy. Tons of spikes, leather and chains. I shop on stripper websites and ebay for costumes. There are several shops in the East Village that are go-to’s as well. And of course, there’s Trash & Vaudville. At this point I almost have as many stage clothes as I do regular clothes… (wait – actually none of my clothes are very regular)
On a scale of 1 to 10, how totally kickass is your band?
MM: We enjoy playing live performances together enormously, but it’s up to the audience to decide that.
TL: that’s for the people to decide. we’re two-devil-horns-kickass, how’s that?
VN: Character: 11
Live fan satisfaction: 11
Be on the lookout for this awesome band, here are some of their tour dates for the next few months: