G.L.A.M – An Interview With Glam Skanks
Hollywood California, the state where dreams come true, especially in the movies, and a place Glam Skanks call home. Who I hear you ask? Well this all-girl quartet have just finished supporting Adam Ant on the English leg of his high profile tour of the United Kingdom after a pledge campaign to raise funds to get them over the ocean, and are now doing the honours on the second American leg with “sold-out” signs everywhere.
So how did the girls land the gig? Guitarist, Veronica Volume; “Somebody happened to show him our music videos and he really liked what he saw and heard and thought we’d be a good fit, so we did the first US tour and after that went well, he invited us to come with him to the UK”. So that’s where you saw them, but they didn’t get to this point by luck as Veronica and vocalist Ali Cat confirm, “we started the band a little over four years ago, after placing separate ads online to start an all-girl rock n roll punk band and both mailed each other!”.
They then discovered a mutual liking of all things glam, and so the band learnt their chops initially as a covers band. However, pretty soon the girls with a different rhythm section started writing their own material, seeing the first fruits of their labours with a trio of singles released in 2014 including Rock’n’Roll Skank, Wild Soul/Pretty Boy and Miss Androgynous by which time San Fran girl Millie Chan had joined on bass. Following the single releases, the band were all geared up to release their debut album, but the drummer left and so rather than use their drum tracks, waited until the last piece of the jigsaw was in place. Cassie, who had recently re-located to LA following her friend Millie Chan, with whom she had played previously, joined on skins to form the present line-up.
The next piece of the cherry pie came about when Hollywood producer Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats) aka Silent Bob was recording songs for the soundtrack of his 2016 movie Yoga Hosers with its stars Harley Quinn Smith and Lily Rose Depp at Veronica’s dad’s recording studios, when as Veronica says; “I just went up to him with some of our music and the next day he said that he liked what he heard and asked if we’d like to contribute some songs to the movie”. The end result of that was The Hockey Song, This Dead Man and Miss Androgynous on the soundtrack, and an invite to play at the film’s premiere, which the band duly did.
The band then re-convened in the same studio to put the finishing touches to their debut album Glitter City with Veronica’s dad Bruce Witkin, a member of the Hollywood Vampires, producing alongside Ryan Dorn. The album itself contains 10 tracks of glam punk attitude with titles such as Fuck Off, Bad Bitch, set-opener G.L.A.M, Teenage Drag Queen, Tube Tops and the title track itself which ends the live set. Indeed the only track they don’t do live at the moment is Blow Me! but only because as Veronica points out; “we have a time limit and of all the songs to cut, that just happened to be the one”.
And the live arena is where the girls excel, with Veronica’s guitar work taking the band through all facets of the glam rock spectrum from T-Rex fantasy, through The Runaways glam-teaze to the New York Dolls’ glam-sleaze, with lashings of Ziggy and Mercury thrown in for good measure. Singer Ali Cat is the reborn tiger on vaseline via the LA cheerleading fraternity, and Cassie and Millie Chan are a locked in heavyweight rhythm section. So all the parts are there and the sound, although in parts retro, is brought into the 21st Century with a healthy injection of L7, Bikini Kill and The Distillers’ punk outrage alongside their glittery compatriots. And talking of glitter as Ali Cat says, “when you come to our shows you’ll go home thinking what the fuck just happened, there will be glitter all over you, hey we bleed glitter and you’ll be lucky if you can leave a show without being glittered!”.
The girls have also used their Hollywood locus and contacts to fine effect with a number of high profile supports; as well as Adam Ant and The Skids, the girls supported Alice Cooper as Veronica explains; “it was awesome not only because we got to open for Alice, but he pulled us on stage to do School’s Out with him”. Millie also adds that after their set, “we were in the dressing room and Alice came in and said; “hey girls I hope you don’t mind but I used some of your eyeliner!”, but as the girls start laughing they confirm that “we’re not sure whose eyeliner he used”!
“We had done a show where Cherie Currie (The Runaways) was DJ-ing” Veronica continues; “and we were asked if we could learn Cherry Bomb, as she was going to come up on stage and do that with us, which we did. Then we played a New Year’s party as her backing band, with her and Ali Cat sharing the vocals!” And not forgetting the Aerosmith experience, Veronica again; “I was part of the house band in a bar for the night, it was me, my dad, Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson, and Joe Perry and Steven Tyler walk in and they ask if we want to jam. So we jammed just keeping it light, Beatles songs, and then we do Walk This Way with Joe Perry playing my guitar, that was the best day ever!”
All’s going well for the girls at the moment and their effervescence certainly rubs off on you, and as their stage show confirms, the band just love playing live. California Dreaming? These girls are doing it!
Glam Skanks will be back in the UK in December supporting Adam Ant at London’s Roundhouse. For latest info, see www.glamskanks.com.
Text Donna Devalle-Walker, title image credit Dave Cox.