Interview: The Darling Stilettos
Mon, 08 Jun 2009 15:29:04
"Feel the vibe, man," says legendary drummer Matt Sorum [Velvet Revolver, Guns N' Roses, Camp Freddy].
Sitting between Sorum and The Darling Stilettos in a booth at The Rainbow, there's definitely a vibe, and it's a good one!
That's not just because Ace, Gina, Lindsey and Allie are a scorchin' hot gang of rock n' roll chicks. There's a lot more to the Stilettos than that. In fact, the quartet makes some of the catchiest rock anthems to burst speakers since Joan Jett held the genre by the balls.
Songs like "Devil's Little Rebel," "So Rock N' Roll" and "Rock N' Roll A-Go-Go," bristle with bombast and charisma. Think AC/DC, but with way better choreography. They put the Pussycat Dolls to shame when it comes to dancing too!
Sorum pounds the kit for them, and his percussive prowess takes everything to another level. These four beautiful rock rebels talked to ARTISTdirect.com about their forthcoming album, live show, West Side Story and why rock needs superheroes.
How did everything come together initially?
Lindsey: We were all friends, and Ace had this great vision for a group. She asked us if we'd be down to try it. We started gigging at The Roxy, and that's how it all started.
Ace: We'd been dancing a lot together, and it was primarily a dance-based group. I knew that these girls were singers as well though. That's obviously a really important aspect of The Darling Stilettos. They're all cool chicks too, which is crucial because in a girl group it's hard to get along with everyone sometimes [Laughs].
Each personality comes through on stage but, at the same time, it feels like a unit. Do you feel like you have room to be self-expressive in what the Darling Stilettos is?
Allie: We all have different personalities, and that definitely shows on stage. However, we have a lot in common—such as the love for rock n' roll. It's great because we get to express ourselves individually, yet we're all in unison. I think the audience can see that and relate.
Lindsey: We have a lot of creative freedom, and we've been given a chance to be ourselves in this group. We don't have to be fake or transform into something we're not.
Gina: Most people think a group should be totally uniform and almost militaristic. We are, but we definitely show our individual personalities when we perform through our bodies, facial expressions, singing and everything else.
How would you characterize the Darling Stilettos' aesthetic?
Ace: The overall vision of this group is gang-like. We're a gang of sexy girls that rock out as hard as the guys do. However, it's always still really sexy and powerful. It is a girl power thing, but it's not cheesy. We're not a contrived group. This isn't something that was put together by a record label or anything like that. This is a genuine group of friends that have a common goal. We really want to be the future of rock n' roll. There's a huge space in the genre for what we do. There really hasn't been a sexy rock group in awhile—especially these days.
There's a superhero vibe to what you do. It feels like you're ready for arenas.
Gina: That's where we belong [Laughs]!
Lindsey: That was the original vision. It's something that's really rock but very edgy and futuristic at the same time. Rock got lost a little bit, so now we're trying to bring it back like superheroes. We need a comic book or something [Laughs].
Allie: We could be the superheroes of rock!
Kids don't have anything like that in modern music. Fans could easily have a favorite member of the Darling Stilettos, which is a very classic concept. So many bands have interchangeable members, and it's hard to even care about telling them apart. Everyone in the Stilettos is different. You offer more than the norm.
Gina: Big time! [Laughs]
Ace: The thought behind that superhero idea is that music can really save people. Kids need an outlet and something larger than life to connect to. I totally want that for girls and guys that are into our band.
With the music industry sinking, for all intents and purposes, you've got to come into it with something fresh. How does everything evolve creatively for you?
Ace: It started as an idea—a gang of girls—so our songs are really anthemic. We were coming from that school of big rock anthems. Our track "So Rock N' Roll" is a good example. It goes, "We're all so young, so pretty, so rock n' roll." "Devil's Little Rebel" is a really sexy song. It's an empowerment song. It essentially says we're sexy, we're hot and we're the shit, but really, you guys have to work for us if you want to be with us. We're not going to give it up. We know who we are.
Lindsey: Gina might give it up [Laughs].
Gina: No comment [Laughs].
Ace:Then there's "Rock N' Roll A-Go-Go."
What's your perspective on "Rock N' Roll A-Go-Go?"
Allie: That song is our way to really interact with the crowd and get them going. We open the show with that, and it's a lot of fun.
Ace: It's a nod to the Whisky-A-Go-Go. Bands like The Doors, Guns N' Roses and Joan Jett played that legendary club.
Gina: It's a tribute to rock n' roll because we sing about what it is to be rock, and we throw in the names of our musical inspirations. We give a shout-out to ourselves and we talk about out our attitude and how hardcore we are [Laughs].
Ace: That song paints the picture of what The Darling Stilettos are all about.
Are dancing and singing informed by the same creative spirit? Or are they two separate entities that you bring together?
Gina: We record the music and we find the feeling behind what we're singing. Then, we choreograph the number according to that. The vocals and the music inspire our movement. That's how it all forms. It starts with the music, then the words come in, then the dance, then the performance…
Lindsey: Then the attitude!
Were does the lyrical process come in?
Lindsey: We're writing with Matt a lot. Right now, we're collaborating on more songs, and we're diving into what we want the album to be about.
Is the album going to have one thread straight through?
Ace: Definitely! That thread is girl power in a cool genuine way. We just want to have fun.
Allie: We love men, but we're strong about it.
Lindsey: We still want to make out [Laughs]. We might punch you though.
Gina: Or we might kick you in the face first [Laughs].
Ace: And you'll like it!
How do you choose which songs you're going to cover?
Gina: The rock n' roll cover set is all classic rock songs. It's our take on all of our favorite songs. We have a glam set and we pick our favorites from that era and bang it out. Yeah, that's it really. Does anyone want to elaborate on that? [Laughs]
Lindsey: We'd like to add a punk set eventually.
Ace: We also really want to do an ode to strong powerful women in rock like Joan Jett, Patti Smith, Joan Jett…
Lindsey: All of those bitches. [Laughs]
Is there a cinematic nature to The Darling Stilettos?
Ace: It's such a visual thing. We'd love to do a superhero movie where we save the world with rock n' roll.
Gina: We're building a much bigger show where we'll be adding more sets. The show will probably be about 45 minutes. There are going to be huge visuals on screens behind us. There will be explosions, we'll come in with new outfits and bang it out [Laughs].
Lindsey: Hopefully, we'll get to break stuff! I keep asking Matt, "When do we get to break shit?"
Matt: We're going to give her a chainsaw [Laughs]. We'll fucking blow some shit up. Wendy O. Williams lives through Lindsey!
Lindsey: Let's get some dynamite! [Laughs]
Is there something particularly L.A. about The Darling Stilettos? Could this have been born anywhere else?
Gina: No, we're on the Sunset Strip working with rock stars, that's where they reside! [Laughs]
Ace: The Darling Stilettos was born on the Sunset Strip because we started gigging at the Key Club, Viper Room and then the Roxy.
Lindsey: Coming together in L.A. influenced the group's style and swagger. We probably wouldn't be as in-your-face and confident if we didn't form here. This is one of the toughest places to be, and it's helped us cultivate that attitude.
There's an interesting blend of Sunset Strip grit and cabaret choreography. Were there any musical that you grew up with that are inspirational?
Everyone: West Side Story!
Lindsey: Matt's always says, "Guys, we've got to get rock n' roll meets West Side Story!"
Do you feel like you're doing something for everybody?
Ace: I think that everyone can relate to rock n' roll. It's really the people's music.
Gina: You can punch a bag to it, have sex to it, go jogging to it, dance to it, pound the steering wheel to it and even vacuum [Laughs].
Ace: I think people are over pop. They're tired of glossy, contrived bullshit. They want something real that speaks to them, especially in a time of recession. People need something to rock out to.
Gina: We have a story for every song and it really involves the listeners, taking them on a trip. It's our little fairy tale.
Allie: Our show is not just a show. It's more of an experience. You can tell people about it, but they need to see it. We want audiences to be a part of it. We want the crowd to have as much fun as we're having.