Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Civet? Civette? Playing Possum?

Hey Guys! I am posting this here just to let everyone know I am BLOGGING again- but over at a wordpress site! www.vivabandita.wordpress.com
OR YOU can just go to my Clothing Store Viva Bandita & find the link to Bloggage there!
Thanks for all the support!


(Me @ Smelvis Records in Wilmington 2002/3)
I get asked a lot where the band name came from...I've said many, many things over the years in various interviews....but really it just came down to me, a dictionary & a long list of possible "BAND" names when I was in 8th grade. It wouldn't be until 10th grade (98') that my name would actually get moving on a band to play with. I can remember sitting in my (moms) living room going over the longest list ever....maybe 20 or 30 possible names....and that one just had a certain "something to it"....I honestly don't remember any of the others on the list aside from (DON'T laugh!) - Playing Possum. Yeah...that's right....can you imagine ....."Playing Possum World Tour"! Yeah, I'm glad in the end I settled on something that I just stumbled across in the dictionary. However in the middle of the EMO years everyone was going through I was sad I didn't have a longer name like "He Who Eats The Civet Wins The Prize" or something like that. Ha ha....And there has ALWAYS been discrepancies on how the hell you pronounce the name? It isn't at all pronounced like the French word it is, instead it is very Americanized. Imagine how a 14 year old would pronounce it and it stuck! 
I didn't have any money when I started the band (duh, 14 here!) so I sent myself a "poor mans copywrite" that I had read about....it is still sealed in it's cute little envelope saying I own the rights to the band name. I later had help from lawyers and actual LEGAL people at the various labels we were on help me get all my ducks in order. Boy was I glad I didn't have to contest the name considering I tattooed it on my back at 18....man would that have been a BIG cover up! I'm kidding! HA HA.
Anyway....I just wanted to SHARE where I really got the name. From the good ol' dictionary.....and like many things in my life, it just found me. That's fate!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back to Black

Just a girl & her Gibson...

I am happy to report we are home & made it through tour! While it was pretty short (about a three week run...it hit the spot!) We had a great time & there's something about playing music that truly feels like nothing else in the world!  This time around things were waaaaaay different in a good way! We left Suz  at home (she was in school at the time) &  even played a new song "Ride". On this run I got to hit the road with my fiance.  I'm very lucky in the fact that I fell in love with my best friend who I make music with anyway! I always had issues in the past of feeling like I was leaving that other person to do what I loved & that was soooo hard on my relationships. I know now that it's NOT really a relationship when you only see someone 5 months out of the year because you both are touring. That's just a hot mess. No one wants to be the one left at home. I also think people are lying to themselves if they don't admit that the temptation on the road and the combination of not being able to connect with your significant other doesn't make eveyone fall. I watched it with my own eyes. I've done it myself.  I've seen good people get lonely and it's just not fair to themselves or the person at home. That said I'm on the road with my person;  knowing what I know now I wouldn't tour solo if I was in a relationship I wanted to keep.

Christian working on some "Blue Steel"

This last year off the road went by fast.  I launched Viva Bandita....I got engaged (yay!)....I lived a little and did some non band traveling...I wasn't broke for once! I don't care what anyone says, without sounding like too much of a pessimist, being in a band is HARD. You make money if you are lucky, but there's not like Lady Gaga money coming in if you know what I mean! A friend and I were talking the other day about how people used to say all the time "oh they sold out" or something to that effect when a band started making money. I really thought that stigma was dead, but the other day I heard a Spinnerette song being used on a Cadillac commercial & I looked it up on google (as with everything) ha ha...anyway someone was like "oh that sucks, such a sellout move...etc." It's stupid....because people who work normal jobs for a living are allowed to make money off WHAT THEY DO, but an artist can't be paid for their work they do or they are selling out?! How is that fair? Now I don't feel like we were ever giving such a big opportuniy that we got labeled as sellouts I really feel for bands that work their whole lives to just make money doing what they love & then be hated by the original pack of diehard true fans that should be sharing in their success!

"Get in the VAN!" While having time off allowed me to renew my love for music, I would be lying if I said I missed being in the van! Am I too old to be in the van? Ha ha kidding! I'm still really young, but I did get to live in a double decker bus last summer & it's hard to pile into the regular ol' van. We pimped the van out put some nice bunks in it....What I really do miss is all the fans and excitement, but we moved so fast for so many years that I never got a chance to focus on myself! I feel I've found a pretty good balance now & I'm even working on some new music stuff....I've been blogging a little on the Viva site & a little bit here...writing feels almost as good as making music does! I'm so optimistic right now it's almost sick ha ha...Glad I have ppl to share it with & an audience that continues to grow with me as I go on 14 years of CIVET! xo

THIS scrzya (crazy) bitch ha ha...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

AP - Sexism in Punk

A small part of this ran in the feature below, but I wanted to share the rest!


-What do you think the incident with Ben Weasel tells us about sexism in both punk rock and music in general?

Unfortunately, I think this shows us that sexism is still alive and well in the world today. It also tells us that the lines between what behavior is appropriate and what is not, have been severely blurred. A few decades ago hitting a woman was so insanely taboo there wouldn't be any discussion about it. The fact that there's even been discussion on boards and social networking sites about that girl "deserving" it because she was in the audience, is insane. I wasn't there to see the incident firsthand, but my experience fronting an all girl band for over 10 years has taught me a lot about sexism in music and the need to respect everyone regardless of what you do for a living! Times have definitely changed, but integrity never goes out of style.

-Is sexism still an issue in the punk scene today and how is it manifesting itself beyond the Ben incident?

I've done a lot of interviews where this question comes up and honestly the amount of sexism I've experienced is pretty rare and far between. There have been a few times where people have spoke down to me or tried to take advantage of me as an artist, but I've always just seen that as an opportunity to right the wrong. Since I fronted all female band for over 10 years I became good at stopping sexism in its tracks and actually helping said person realize why what they were doing wrong. I guess standing up for myself was my own personal way of creating change.

-Is there a difference in the way bands treat their male and female fans? Is this specific to any genre?

There will always be those bands that talk shit and call their fans out, but that is what the fans of certain come to expect. Some fans are actually fans of bands BECAUSE of this particular reason such as Guttermouth (who we have toured with and were totally respectful!)... Or if you want to think back to GG Allen times, that's another example. The difference between this and the Ben incident is that a lot of that "stage" abuse is just for show. It appears that Ben just snapped and forgot he was the singer of a band and a person that has to answer for his actions. At the end of the day it is never acceptable to hit a woman and really it shouldn't be acceptable for anyone to hit anyone. Period.

-Are the doors open for women to both be in punk bands and to work in the music industry outside of bands? Is there any resistance from their male counterparts?

There are more women in punk music today than ever before! Whether it be working in the industry or being in an actual band I believe that these women are gaining respect by doing what they love. There doesn't seem to be very much resistance at all. People will only treat you how you allow them to treat you and I believe that a lot of the women in the industry don't take sexism or bullshit lightly. This in turn sets a great example for women not in bands, etc!

-What does a female musician have to endure in order to survive in the punk scene today? Is there anything positive that comes from it?

Female musicians have to develop a thick skin in order to be in the game to begin with. Punk rock is by nature rough and dangerous and I've found that you really have to back your shit up if you want to play punk rock. Pay your dues, respect all other bands, play well and do what you love...I think any female musicians playing punk rock helps the cause! The more the merrier!

-What should we take away from the incident with Ben and how can we use that to change things for the better?

I really, truly think that at the end of the day this should be an eye opener to people to really just treat each other with respect. Male or female. And musicians shouldn't take advantage of their position or think they can get away with certain behavior because they are who they are. On the opposite side however buying a ticket to a show doesn't warrant verbally abusing the band, it just doesn't give someone the right to assault you. We have made so much progress, let's not set ourselves back or set a bad example by letting this kind of behavior slide!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Feminism is the dirtiest word I know.

There's a time and a place for everything in life. Tonight is the night a show in Poland of all places has forced me to really come clean with myself. I don't really like to touch on feminist stuff because I used to feel that it's a personal issue and I do enough as it is supporting fellow female bands (and fronting my own!). There are such negative things associated with speaking your mind as a woman in rock. God forbid you are volatile like Courtney Love or borderline "too in love with the females" like smarter than most, Kathleen Hanna. That's right, I'm coming out and saying it, that there is an unspoken rule as a girl in music not to take too much of a stand. Uh, on anything. That's why most women in bands say "oh, we don't like to be seen as a girl band" or "gender doesn't matter in music"…That's such bullshit. It's sad because all this is to me is a cop out. You are too scared to be seen for what you are that you downplay it in hopes that it will go away. It's not going away!
Tonight what happened in Poland was destined to happen eventually. There's still a lot of wrong in the world that needs to be righted. I'm telling this story in hopes that the next time you see something wrong, you act on it, like I did, regardless of who you are. Female, male…in a band…working at the burger joint…we are all the same. I generally don't like to call myself a feminist and at the end of the day I love men just as much as the next chick, but things are not equal and I witnessed that at this show. I might be changing my title. Tonight in Poland we played an amazing show with the Adicts. I experienced firsthand the kind of discrimination I've been saying in interviews for years that I didn't really believe existed anymore. We tour, we play with guy bands. We are well respected. We're not hoes. We are positive role models for young women. Nothing we do suggests that we want anything other than your friendship and loyalty as a fan. Tonight we took the stage to a really really great crowd and 2 songs in I got to see that the double standard is alive & well in Poland apparently. There was a guy photog that tried to jump up on stage and actually stick his camera up my skirt. Like I wasn't even a real person or maybe like I was a stripper at a strip club?! Now, I need to note that I'm pretty tough and I brush off things that aren't a big deal, but there was a lot riding on this moment. There were so many little girls in the crowd…..more than I've seen at a show in a while. They were all cute and civetafied. I couldn't possibly stand down something like this. I did the only thing my instincts told me to do…Stand up for myself! I got some help from our road crew to grab him….but he gave some excuse and they let him go. I just wasn't really satisfied with that at all, and at the risk of looking like Courtney Love in the 90's I put my guitar down and let my sister take the next song. I climbed off stage and confronted the cowering bastard who was now in the back of the room….the details from here on out were not very important….I demanded the camera or it to be deleted. All in all it wasn't about the photo at all, cause everyone knows there's pics of me out there where you can see my shorts….yes everyone….I ALWAYS wear boy shorts under my skirt, so even when you think you saw something, it's shorts…congrats. It wasn't about the photo at all. It was about the fact that this person thought it was OK to violate someone's personal space and objectify them like that. What if that had been your mother or your sister onstage, how would you feel? Think about the rage my brother probably felt seeing that? If it was one of your own it would be a whole other story right? The majority of men I come across are pretty enlightened…they encourage their women to really live their lives, and there's a certain amount of respect there. Now I don't know if homeboy does this all the time or whaaatever, but it doesn't happen on my watch. I truly felt that in that moment, that if I didn't stand up for myself in front of all these women AND MEN who have respect for me, all would be lost. Everything I've worked for from day one….stolen, by someone who hadn't been taught how to treat women right. Blows my mind. I found that when I got in the crowd and in this persons face I wasn't "lowering myself" but I was standing up for everyone in that room. I was met by a lot of fans who grabbed him and got in his face as well. That support was resounding. It really struck a cord with me. Security took him outside and at the end of the show a woman came up and gave me a roll of film. That's right…a woman handed me the film.    
I went back onstage and played my little heart out, which is what I do every night. I played for all the little girls in the audience who had to witness that. I played it for the Polish men who were embarrassed that one of their favorite bands would come to their country and be disrespected like that. I played it for my future daughter….and my grandchildren and everyone who knows the truth…that just because we aren't living in the 50's anymore, doesn't mean that housewife mentality is gone. We just don't talk about it even though we should! You can't keep me in the kitchen, and you sure as hell can't keep me off the road.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lost in Translation

Travel Day

“It’s a long, long way from Houston baby” or rather it’s just a long long way from where I was last year…. I’ve got back in the swing of running things with the band (with a little bit of help of course this time around!) We just finished that record & can’t wait to share it in October. Til then I’m excited to be back on the road as we head out to Europe again…I love it over there (Even though I gotta admit, there’s some thing about coming home to Long Beach that is really the best feeling in the world) Hopefully I’ll be able to see more and do more this time around…last time we came over here it was really cold and we were on tour with the street dogs. I’m starting to get used to the different countries…like Germany to me is similar to the us, but a little more hard around the edges…my favorite is Sweden….I wish we were going to Stockholm this time around, but I’ll take Oslo...lots of festivals too. I don’t think I’ve played any fests in Europe yet, so this should be very interesting…totally excited, but a little homesick. This time around we’re bringing out my little brother to tech… should be an experience since I think he’s really used to having lots of things done for him etc….today I was like “you’re hungry? Well go get some food” ha ha….he’s young, but I really think this experience will change him for the better…..maybe he’ll even get the itch like me and Suzi…the one that keeps you wanting to travel and keeps your best feelings when you check into a hotel & check your bags…it’s a different kind of person that thrives on being in a new place everyday….it’s a good way to live….never get boring!

Prague or Praha - Mini Vacation

We hung out in Prague at our drivers house. It was good to be back in a city we were familiar with and it’s always cool to be able to locate the h & m or know how to ride the train….we have knowledge of both of these! We’ve stayed at our driver Mdogs house before….it’s this really cool flat on the 5th floor and his parents are never home! We ate our fav potato pancakes at this little pub. Its always a shock coming back to Europe and remembering that people still smoke indoors….I always feel kinda lucky that no one in my band are smokers….that’s the worst…Jacq and I went with
Mdog to the Mighty Sounds Bar & felt totally local…

The second day in Prague was the best because it straight up felt like summer camp. We went to this lake, which isn’t really a lake, it’s a mined out old rock area that filled up naturally with water….it’s only about a few hundred feet, not very big…but its super murky and goes down so deep no one knows,…there’s fish., And who knows what else….lake monster? We jumped off the cliff into the water. That was one of the most thrilling jumps of all time….once was enough though! Played some vollyball (yes! Vollyball!) and remembered what a competitive jock I am….ha ha…It was here that I experienced the best cider of my life…hands down THE BEST! I am a cider conosuier as people who know me know and it was fucking incredible…and on top of that, the selection was HUGE!!! Enough vacation…lets get some shows going!

Had an AMAZING run at Mighty Sounds...the photos speak for themselves...there's some shows where the vibe is just there...the vibe was TOTALLY there....the response to our new stuff has been amazing...I'm really really happy right now...We got to catch up with our homies in H20, sans a few of the guys for these festivals....it's always nice to see people you've toured with when you are a million miles away from home...ok maybe not a million....but a lot! Same goes with the Serengeti fest....good to catch up with some members of Flogging Molly & hang out with our new drinking buddies Valiant Thor....where's the hard liquor?! Great show sans some technical difficulties...and it's not everyday we get to open for GWAR!!!!


This show was awesome…Sweaty, real….rock n’ roll….the ghost in our room that night was super NOT awesome. The fact that some people knew about it, and didn’t share…super NOT awesome! I would have slept in the van for sure over this…IT was strange because I had this gut feeling not to go up to the club flat. I actually didn’t even make it up there until 40 min after we played. When I realized I was the only one up I got a little creeped out and laid down only to hear door opening and closing & scratching on the wall….horrible stuff….

But the show was good! Ha ha….and Pernod from Big Cheese came out to the show to bring us some magazines…he gave us the cover, which I’m sure will help out the shows….we were totally stoked on the turnout last night…..it’s starting to not even feel like an hour long set at this point….

I need to change my guitar strings when we get to the next venue for sure…..3 shows and one super sweaty one is too much….gotta make sure we don’t have any malfunctions….

Thanks to everyone who came out to Munich….you guys were rad even though we were in a sauna…Sometimes that’s the best though!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Writing & guest starring....

Lisa Johnson & I doing what we do!!!!

We've been home for a while....writing, writing, demoing and now, just now finally everything fell into place. There's something about a record that just can't be forced. I've never felt like a song is something you yourself create. It's like it has a mind of it's own...some are better than others (for the record, everything on out new record IS AWESOME) So the story goes something like this...We did some ghetto recording sesh at AMP in North Hollywood before we left on the Street Dogs tour. It was ok....then we came back and took some time to really live and grow and work on our songwriting...We've heard that from everyone! You think that people in the business push "LIVE SHOWS"...no, you're wrong....truth be told the live show is the fun part, the REALITY is that good songs make your career...slow, fast, dance, doesn't matter as long as it is good. Think about all the bands you've gone to see where you can't wait to hear them play that one hit! Now if, in theory you work really hard to build your fan base and have lots of these jems people can't wait to hear, well that my dear translates into an actual career! You can put out a record every year and people will buy it, but if you hold off and put out some serious quality, it's like currency...like GOLD!!!! So Civet girls spent the holidays doing holiday stuff and NAMM in January....then the light went off...and it went off so fast and so bright I still can't even wrap my head around it. We started writing some of the best stuff that's ever gone through this band. And we wrote together! And shit got crazy....I'm glad it did because all I really wanted to do this time around is write the record I knew that I was capable of writing. Something true and something hard....Not a sellout record. Just pure civet! Suz and I figured out our (Dare I say it?) FORMULA for our perfect songwriting process! This is great because I feel like because we are sisters and have that unique bond we are able to push each other harder than an outside person would be able to do....

We are in the studio as I write (ok....not AS I WRITE, but last week and tomorrow ;) Our official demos turned out so well we decided to just pave our own way, and as reviews of the material started coming in there's no doubt in my mind we made the right decision. Somtimes it's really hard to be strong and stand up and take responsibility for things and be a big girl. I really truly feel like this record is going to make a lot of people really really happy (ourselves included)and it's a lesson to stand up for what you believe in and above all just go with your gut feeling about stuff!!!!! You don't need someone to hold your hand and tell you what to do, you know what to do!

Ok....now that I hope everyone is super excited about the record and I got to get out my 2 cents on it, it comes out October!!!!! Hope you guys continue with your love and support we've come to depend on, ha ha xo

In other REALLY COOL NEWS (!) I did a song on the William Control Record (NOIR)...it's just a chorus thing, but I was excited to have the opportunity to work on something of his since I really respect him as a musician. That record comes out JUNE 8th and the hot and talented Lisa "i won't hang out until suz is 21" Johnson shot all the art for it! Pick it up!!!

I'm gunna go back to blogging a lot more, i feel like now that i'm almost done writing the record I've got a lot to say and no where to channel it! AHHHH! ha ha....don't be scared....it's all good....so does that mean that the record is just the musical expression of the blog? hmmmmm.....food for thought....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The biggest little city in the world!

Ah a weekend of shows in small towns…sometimes these are the most rewarding runs! Playing for the starved masses last weekend was not only totally fun, but it was a much needed rock n’ roll ego stroke for me and the girls. It was a definite TURKEY... which is our code word for three really great shows in a row…hey if it’s good for bowling, it’s good for us!

First up was Stockton, where we played for Middah, who I kept calling Mike….i don’t know why I do this, but once I get things in my head its just really hard to get them out. The worst part is that I know him…I’ve known him for years! He came out to our first ever Stockton show where we played the American Legion Hall with The Generators and the Forgotten. The show was rad, the relationship drama on tour with me at the time SUCKED! There is nothing worse than trying to do a job and having a bf get in your way (let me clarify we are speaking EX) It’s hard to do shows with significant others because everything is magnified by a zillion…. So there we were, back in Stockton….about three hours early. This is the phenomenon in rock n’ roll that we like to refer to as “hurry up and wait”. This happens all the time, it will never change…..so we checked out sketchy Stockton as they checked out us….we went to MOO Burger and Roxie got the “NO MOO” love it! We hung out in the Plea For Peace and it started to rain! EWWW! Rain on tour = not your friend! We played with a whole bunch of cool bands…definitely rockin’ their own vibes….The MexiVandals (not their name, but def the band) opened and it was good….then Asiago (btw my fav bagel at starbees) graced us with some serious pipes and songwriting that we promptly told them they would be stupid not to take it to Tooth and Nail and make some serious x-ian rock cash! The Black Horde played too…..Now we played with them at The Blackwater CafĂ© last time we came through town and I swear they sounded like the BRONX. This time around, not so much….more “metal or die” style….Skateshoes, the singer (whose house Civet has crashed at in the past) was actually wearing a priest suit! We were up! It was an awesome show with a really really great pit as well as some tough as nails little kids and the pretty made up chicks….it’s always funny to me to see how different all our fans are….We played a great show and I almost lost my teeth to the mic…

Round 2 was amazing! We made a not so hot decision that I paid for later to brave the I70 to avoid snow….mmmm, not so much…hit the snow…needed the chains…took me like 4 hours of zombie like driving to make it over the mountain….We almost got stuck in the chain off area when our chains got wrapped around the wheel well…it was like 20 degrees, snowing and all the girls were sleeping…. I didn’t want to wake them up so I got the Fed Ex guy to help me. Had to put my tail between my legs when he said he had offered to help me put them on and I had shot him down! Why does all this stuff happen to me? I’m bound to be put in a situation where I’m humbled if I don’t watch myself. It never fails…It also helps me to be a better person on a daily basis. Note to self – take help when it’s offered the first time!

We rolled into The Nugget and decided to camp out here…this was a great casino with our number one prereq, a starbees! I also got sucked into some serious gambling while there….that never happens to me, but I really felt like this one machine kept paying off (NOT!)! We loaded in to vixens and reunited with our homie Chapin to celebrate his new ownership of vixens! This man is the ultimate enabler….he doesn’t drink, but when he starts handing everyone shots you sure feel like he does!!! We passed on a soundcheck….now this is always a dilemma ….but all of my friends in bands will agree that great soundcheck = shitty show and vice versa….so why even go there? Last nights’ show was on, we know and love vixens sound system and we knew the fans were gunna be there…we went for it!!! No check and off to a great interview with friend and uber fan Chris Payne at KR-something Reno….that was easy….the only thing I ever worry about in group interviews is us sounding kinda snobby or maybe even a little stupid…it’s just that when we are all together shit gets real funny really fast..and after a zillion of these interviews that, let’s face it…all ask the same shit, you kinda sound like a robot occasionally…..So for the record, we’re really smart, and NOT assholes…..just easily amused.
Show was off the hook at Vixens that night and Youth Brigade n’ 7 Seconds, MIsfritz played awesome as well….the pineapple vodka just tasted like just pineapple and definitely snuck up on us!!! I was (kinda) the last man standing as the girls had to rescue mission Rox and left me at the club…..my conversations consisted of this (and this is how you KNOW I was a goner) – medical marijuana curing cancer, the REAL meaning of being a punk rocker, and reintroducing myself to a guy I’ve known for years, just didn’t recognize…..duh! So finally someone came to get me (cause you KNOW civet girls to NOT walk to the hotel alone)… I had a run in with a “poison” apple and missed a few calls from the bf and was smart enough to pass out in the hotel bed on my stomach (JUST IN CASE!), although I was kinda naked at least I was safe about it!
The morning met me with a, yeah… you guessed it, wicked hangover…We hung out with Chapins’ baby and hot wife Jo for a while, then some serious Olive Garden to nurse our hangovers….the big joke at the OG was that everyone in the lobby was “going to dinner” and we were sitting there not talking, just playing on our phones and not speaking a single word to each other…I wanted to stand up and explain to all these fine people that we are on tour and we’re more than ok with silence….and that when you are with someone for days you just coexist….especially in a band setting…ask anyone! Totally not weird fine people of Reno!

Truckee was cute…small….reminded me of one of the tiny venues we played on the Guttermouth Tour in CA a zillion years ago…..lots of super slippery ice and no one to help load….live in a dive show….love it!!! The turnout was great, but the downside was that most people who were at the show the night before were there….how is this bad you ask? Uh, because they already bought the merch! We played with the super rad and stand up hilarious Saddle Tramps…We played pretty much the same set, still slightly under the weather, but it was super fun! I was so in the swing of playing shows that I wanted to keep going!! We left and hauled ass back to LA….3 days was great, but can we do some 3 weekers now?!