They gig regularly, they self-released their first album, and they gush like schoolgirls when rattling off the national acts they've shared stage with-the Vines, the Gossip and the Muffs among them. Basically, local lo-fi, all-girl trio The Glossines have assiduously pursued the normal avenues for a small band working from the bottom up.
The efforts have paid off. Their fanbase is healthy and growing with steroidal pace. But last month something beyond their control and far from home provided the biggest spur. It was the hand of deific disc jockey John Peel, of the BBC's Radio One, reaching down from rock Olympus and cueing the band's song “Cornbread.”
It was no fluke, either, as Peel (arguably the most influential radio personality on the planet-ever hear of the “insert-hip-band-name-here” Peel Sessions?) has since spin multiple tracks from the album.
“We just mailed him a CD, and the next thing we know we're getting all these e-mails from England, people saying they love the music and want to buy the CD,” explains drummer Kristin Warnken. “We had no idea we'd get any response, that he'd actually play it.”
“It makes me wonder how everyone found out,” says bassist Amber Everson. “People don't know about the shows we're playing here in town, but they somehow know we're on the radio in England.”
The Glossines formed roughly a year-and-a-half ago when guitarist Nina Reynolds and Everson (who was, at the time, a Go Go dancer at local goth/industrial get-down, Sabbat) met through a mutual friend. The two started jamming, and Everson enlisted neighbor and walking partner Warnken, an axe-slinger by trade who decided to pick up drumming.
“It's hard to find a drummer at all, let alone a girl drummer,” Everson says. “We [also] wanted to avoid all the bullshit that goes along with just finding a random drummer, like they say they want to ‘move in a different musical direction,' or they're playing in four or five other bands.”
Warnken proved to have an amazing aptitude. “I've got this thing with picking up instruments-it's the one thing I'm good at,” she jokes. By last February the band was ready to play live. And play and play and play-they've averaged three shows a month since the middle of last year, hitting most local venues and playing a few out-of-town dates.
While the band admits their all-girl lineup may draw people to their shows, they downplay the novelty.
“We always get questions like, ‘What's it like being a girl band?'” Warnken says. “But how can we compare it to anything?”
“We've never been an all-boy band,” jokes Everson, who also rejects the girls-plus-guitars-equals-sexy axiom. “I think watching Slash play guitar is just as sexy as watching Nina.”
Some more cynical local music types disagree, claiming the band's music-straightforward and technically uncomplicated garage cuts-is less powerful than their gimmick. Twenty years earlier, an all-boy band called the Ramones laughed off similar criticism. And like the Ramones, even critics can't deny that the Glossines' songs are catchy, rife with deadly hooks.
“Most of the time it's me, uh, having problems,” Reynolds jokes about the band's distinctive, somewhat buried and bassy style. “But then again, it's intentional. I listen to a lot of really cheap garage music and love that sound.”
Any doubts about the girls' songwriting talent are allayed with a few spins of their self-titled album, 11 bitchin' straight-from-the-garage cuts. All three Glossines share songwriting duties, and the results are witty, well crafted and quite bookish (they wax about “Trostkyites” in tight jeans on “Rock 'n' Roll Social Agenda.”)
One of the best songs is the Reynolds-composed “Underage,” about lusting after a 17-year-old boy. It's a pop gem (certainly the poppiest on the album) that's at once a tongue-in-cheek feminist appropriation of the male (and rock 'n' roll) obsession with young girls. It's also, the women explain, a totally true story.
“They're pretty much all true stories,” says Everson.
The girls seem unaffected by the buzz surrounding the band. They have no immediate plans to tour and are not shopping their record to labels, though one can easily imagine them killing rock stars or dwelling at 5 Rue Christine.
“We haven't even really thought about any of that yet,” Everson says.
“We're just very much in the D.I.Y. phase right now,” Warnken adds. “People have expressed interest in taking us on tour with them, but we're not quite ready for that.”
If things continue as they have, it's possible The Glossines will need to get ready sooner than later