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Glam Skanks bring high energy in your face Glam Rock to Phoenix

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Los Angeles Glam Skanks debut new singer in 2018.

Los Angeles Glam Skanks debut new singer in 2018.

Suzanne Alison

Suzanne Alison

Los Angeles Glam Skanks debut new singer in 2018.

Sharlene Celeskey, Contemporary Culture Editor

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Celebrity Theatre in downtown Phoenix has been a showcase for many legendary bands and memorable shows since they opened in 1964. David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars played their first American tour in 1972 there and debuted a new musical genre, Glam Rock. His energetic concert brought a freshness to the bloated self-indulgent music of the time. Bowie also ushered in a new style as he performed with bright orange hair and glittering costumes as he turned the current musical palette of gray into Technicolor that night. The next couple years Iggy and the Stooges and Mott the Hoople (Bowie produced albums for both bands) continued the Glitter Rock tradition at the same theater.

On Jan. 30, Glam Rock returns to the Celebrity Theatre when Los Angeles band Glam Skanks step onto the stage. The all-girl band, which consists of: Veronica Volume – guitar, Vanessa Von Lust – vocals, Millie Chan – bass, and drummer Cassie Jalilie, was influenced by Bowie and the other similar bands. They are opening for ‘80s legend Adam Ant on his current, “The Singles Tour.” These girls will rock the house and dazzle the crowd with their high intensity music at 8 p.m. Witkin, the founder and guitarist, discusses how ‘70s style music influenced her approach to rock and roll.

What attracted you to glam rock, and how did you discover it?  Coming from a rock and roll family, what kind of musical genres where you exposed to? What was your first concert?

Veronica: I discovered glam rock through my family. My parents (her father is a musician and producer, and her mother is a rock photographer) played it for me. My aunt who lives in New York was obsessed by David Bowie. At one point, she shaved off her eyebrows after he did. I loved T. Rex, Roxy Music, New Dolls, etc. I was interested in all the ‘70s Glam Rock, not to be confused with the ‘80s Sunset Glam Metal. My parents also played the Beatles (which I love), Rolling Stones and other great ‘70s bands like Led Zeppelin. They also were into Funk and Soul. My first concert was Adam Ant, the “Wonderful Tour” (1995). My father, Bruce Witkin, played bass for Adam on that tour (and on the Wonderful album.) I feel I have come full circle, and it has been an awesome experience to open for and play on the same tour as Adam Ant. It is just amazing.

Do find that most of your audience is familiar with Glam Rock?

Veronica: Most of the audience is familiar with it. The people that come to see Adam Ant know the music because it is in his background. Kids that come with parents know about it because the parents played the music for them. It is interesting that even young people coming on their own know Glam Rock.

You said in a previous interview that you found your singer by looking at the ads posted on Craig’s List and found Ali had posted a similar one. I am curious about what the ad said? 

Veronica: It said I was looking for an all-girl band that was interested in Hard Rock and music like Alice Cooper, David Bowie, T Rex, Led Zeppelin and Runaways.

You started out with three girls and a male drummer, but now you are an all-girl band. When you replaced your male drummer Jaxine with Cassie, did the dynamic of the band change?

Veronica: It was different when Jaxine was in the band. Sometimes you get too much estrogen in the room with an all-girl band. But changing clothes in front of each other and finding sleeping accommodations is a whole lot easier. To kick off the New Year we have a new singer, Vanessa Von Lust (who replaced Ali Cat). It was interesting to discover how you need to interview a decent amount of people to find the right lineup.

What is your most memorable gig and why? Who is your favorite musician to play with?

Veronica: The most memorable show was when we played the historical Royal Albert Hall in London on the Adam Ant tour (May 17, 2017). I remember watching the concert video of Led Zeppelin playing there. It was such a beautiful and historical venue with a great sound system. I really like working with my dad. He knows how to make a song sound great and has a musical ear. I was performing with my dad at a private party as the house band. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry walked in, and Tyler joked about coming on stage. Then Perry and he hopped up on stage and start playing with us.

Tell me about a gig you wish you could forget?

Veronica: There were several, but our first show in San Francisco was the worst. When we showed up at the venue, we discovered it was a coffee shop café in a laundromat. We were just too loud and powerful for the place. It was not a good fit. 

I read you had some pretty interesting experiences while on tour in England? What was the weirdest or most interesting?

Veronica: We have a lot of ghost experiences in places we played. The weirdest experience was in The Bristol Hippodrome (May 14, 2017). It is an old venue, and the light fell off the wall in the dressing room. Then we heard someone doing vocal warmups in the bathroom, but there was no one there. We found out that four others had similar ghost experiences at that theater.

You have a very catchy name? How did you come up with it? Did you ever get unfavorable comments regarding your name?

Veronica: No one in the band thought it up. Carlos, a friend, was making lamb shanks and kept coming up with words that rhymed with lamb shanks. When he hit upon Glam Skanks, we liked it and decided to use it. Younger people really like it, but older audience members either  like it or don’t mind it.

“Glitter City,” is a high energy in your face hard rocking album. What inspired the album’s name?  What do you hope your listeners take away from the music?

Veronica: First, the song was about Vegas, lights, sparkling, shiny glitter. Then it became about our shows. We bring the audience to glitter city during every show. We want all listeners to hear good fun rock and roll and have a great time. We want to show that we are just as good as male musicians and maybe better, show other girls that they can go do this too.

Do you feel that rock and roll is losing popularity in the music world?

Veronica: Rock and roll is not the same today. The public is not buying the records, but we still see great young rock bands. Kids are still out there keeping rock alive, even though it may not be mainstream. Rock and punk were made to be underground and to appeal to a more selective audience. I was given the Sex Pistols CD when I was 12 years old, and I loved it. I also listened to other Punk Rock like the Ramones, the Clash, Dead Boys and California’s Dead Kennedys and X.

What advice, encouragement would you give to girls and women that want to play rock and roll in a male dominated field? Have you felt like you were not taken seriously because of your sex?    

Veronica: It is not only the music genre that is male dominated. Currently, we are seeing a shift in the film industry as more women gain power.  Of course, there still is the male dominated Cock Rock attitude. At first, the sound guys roll their eyes and look at us like we are just another girl band. They do not have high expectations of us. Then we play our first song; they start taking us seriously. Women can shake up and change the music industry, girls are gravitating to female bands as they have more to listen to. There are more all women bands or female fronted bands coming out of LA, now. The rock world is becoming more accepting of them. All girl bands generally do not last a long time, like the Runaways. They were teenagers and were taken advantage of by their controlling manager, Kim Fowley. We have had weird male managers that try to approach us, or they will say we only want to sign your singer and guitarist but not the entire band.

You will be returning to the Phoenix area on Feb. 9 at the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe. For those coming out for the show, what should they expect?

Veronica: Definitely expect an in your face high energy show. We will be playing with two girl bands: Go Betty Go and Bad Cop/Bad Cop and have played with Bad Cop/Bad Cop in the past. We also will be performing with both bands the next night at the Green Room in Flagstaff and at the Viper Room in Hollywood.

What are your goals this year for the band?

Veronica: Get into the studio this spring to record a new album for a summer release, plan a tour of Europe and the U.K. The audiences in Europe tend to be rowdier. We played at the Molotov in Marseille at the Wild Pussy Collective show (Dec. 16, 2017). There was sea full of girls in the audience trying to crowd surf and jump on stage. It was such an insane show that I was happy we were on the stage.

Anything you want to add about your band, gigs, and album?  

Veronica: I am super excited to play at the Viper Room in Hollywood on Feb. 11.  We are all over social media: Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.  You can also listen to us on: Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, Google Play and Amazon

 

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