Interview – GLAM SKANKS
Whether you realize it or not, you need more glam rock in your daily life. That is what I figured out back in February when the Glam Skanks delivered a dose of their glitter stomp on Las Vegas in support of Adam Ant.
Drawing from the same well of influences, Ant and the Glam Skanks were the perfect pairing of a young band and iconic artist. Taking the stage with confidence, the band’s experience was evident and they quickly dismantled any reservations the older crowd had about standing through a support act.
Fast forward seven months and here I am in San Francisco watching the Glam Skanks wrap up their lengthy run with Adam Ant which included a string of nights across the pond in England. Musically tighter and more comfortable on the large stage, the band brings the house down in front of friends, family, and new converts. With a few new songs added into the set, the band’s sound continues to expand on the glam rock template built by The Sweet, David Bowie, and T. Rex long before these four musicians were even born.
In San Francisco, several of Ant’s most diehard fans bluntly ask those of us with cameras in the pit not to block their view because they are here for both Ant AND the Glam Skanks. Having created a following within the Ant fan circle, it is only a matter of time before Glam Skanks start to catch the eyes and ears of more music fans around the world. With plenty of swagger and the hooks to keep you listening, the band appears ready to bring back the fun and style of one of music’s richest eras. RPM caught up with them as the tour came to a close….
Glam rock really hit its stride in the UK with T. Rex, Sweet, Bowie, and so many others. How did the response of the audiences differ from what you’ve seen over here in the States?
GS: In the UK, most of the large venues we played with Adam Ant were theater-style seating. A lot of people didn’t have an interest in the support act and hung out in the lobby drinking and chatting instead. By the end of the tour, more people had heard about us and the rooms began to fill up before we hit the stage. Also, UK fans really care about the music. They sit calm and don’t get all crazy like American audiences (well they do for Adam Ant), but they really care about the music. Our CDs and vinyl were much more popular than our shirts and other merch.
When Adam Ant broke through, punk was giving way to a more colorful era of music that created its own reality despite the many social challenges in England at the time. We seem to find ourselves in a similar place in 2017. As an artist, how do you acknowledge the outside world while maintaining the fun in your music?
GS: When we are on tour we see so many people and places. Our message in “Bad Bitch” is universal and the women at the shows are proud to be bad bitches. We try to keep a balance between our party songs, like a new one we have been playing called “High Wasted”, and the ones that send a message. Seeing how things are going these days, we are starting to write some of our songs with that in mind, getting our opinion out there. People at the shows like what we have to say.
In the 80s, MTV provided the perfect outlet for artists like Adam. For a young band these days, how are you reaching audiences online and what has been the largest challenge?
GS: Everyone is on Facebook and Instagram and although they are great outlets for sharing our songs and stories, it is meeting people in person at our shows that we really love. You have to earn your fans one at a time.
Empowerment is at the heart of many Glam Skanks songs – who are some of the female artists that have most inspired you?
GS: We love Joan Jett, Debbie Harry, The Runaways, Lady GaGa and any girl that loves to rock. A lot of people bring their kids to Adam Ant shows and it is truly awesome! Sometimes it is their first concert. The little girls (and young boys) approach us kinda shy, and we give them buttons and stickers and take photos with them. They get so excited to hang with the band. One of the best things that ever happened was when we got an email from a mom that said she dragged her grumpy twelve-year-old daughter to see Adam Ant, not knowing there was a support act. She said on the way home her daughter decided to start a band, was writing lyrics, and that her new theme song was “Bad Bitch”. The mom said her kid was going nowhere fast, and thanked us for “saving her daughter”. Rock and Roll saves the day and it was great to be on the other side of things.
The Struts and Deap Valley are two contemporary bands that seem to share the same passion for live playing and showmanship as Glam Skanks. Do you feel that popular music has been lacking that in recent years?
GS: Absolutely! So many people now don’t even know what a band is. So much music is just processed cheese that a DJ puts together with electronic toys. We are all about that amazing feeling of power chords, loud drums, bass and guitars blasting out of a suburban garage. Some bands are really cool on stage, making music from hitting little machines, but there is nothing like the rumble of a loud rock band.
How does the songwriting process work as a band?
GS: Sometimes Veronica will have a guitar riff, or Ali will have a lyric. We just kind of let our ideas dance around each other and jam on it. Millie and Cassie bring a different perspective, and it comes together.
When The Black Keys covered The Sweet’s “Gold On the Ceiling” it seemed to sail right over the heads of most listeners. Are there any glam acts from the 70s you think more people should be listening to?
GS: So many glam bands from the 70s were great, but people only know the hits. There are great songs by The Sweet, Mott the Hoople, T. Rex and others that lots of people have never heard. It was a magical time for rock music (and fashion).
You were almost stuck in Florida for the recent hurricane. Have there been any other challenges on the road?
GS: After we evacuated out of Florida because of Hurricane Irma, we were almost stranded in Augusta, GA, due to gas shortages. We have also had blizzards, flooded freeways, painfully hot days, and all kinds of weather. We have also had to leave a couple of motels that were so sketchy, with people grilling outside their rooms, and pit bulls on chains, roaches and wasps in our rooms; obvious hang outs for drug dealers and other creeps. In the UK, we stayed at a hotel that had Christmas decorations up several months after the fact, a bedroom door that wouldn’t lock, blood on the walls and a front-desk clerk that really was wearing plastic gloves.
Veronica, you toured England with Blame Ruby before joining Glam Skanks. How did that experience help you prepare for the recent UK tour?
Veronica: That was a great time. One thing is that we (Blame Ruby) were responsible for setting up and striking, not only our gear, but also the headliner’s (Babybird) gear, so I was ready for the changeover between sets and how they do it in the UK.
What is the most bizarre gig you’ve played so far?
GS: One time we played a laundromat. There was no stage and here we are, all glitter, glam and loud, while people did their washing and folding. Bizarre can also just be some of the surreal theaters we have performed in. Old Hippodromes, and concert halls that were built for the rich and the royalty, like Royal Albert Hall in London, and us Skanks singing out “Fuck Off!” is bizarre. There are also the totally bizarre people that we meet at shows. That’s one of the best parts of this job. We meet all kinds of strange people, as well as so many cool people that sometimes become fans and great friends.