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April 28, 1998

BANGS Speak Out

by Dennis Hyland

This girl-powered pit bull of punk known as the Bangs are making their way to the University of South Alabama. The trio from the label Kill Rock Stars in Olympia WA, will shake down the Student Center Ballroom on Friday, May 15 at 8 p.m. Thanks to Jaguar Productions, the Bangs have included Mobile on their U.S. tour in support of their new album, TIGER BEAT on K.R.S. Opening the show will be Jason Traeger, an acoustic/electric solo performer. In this Harbinger exclusive, Maggie Vail (bass, vocals) and Sara Utter (guitar, vocals) answer a few questions about Dixieland, their past, popular music, and touring.

Harbinger: Have you ever been in the Deep South?
Maggie: No, I never have.
Sara: I've driven through it while on tour with another band but my only experience was when we stopped at a truck stop in the middle of the night and I was really frightened by the men at this place. Just...big...burly, I don't want to say hick or Alabama type, but you know what I mean. It was pretty scary.

Harbinger: What are your preconceived notions, or perceptions of Alabama?
Maggie: I'm excited about it. I've never been there and I've never heard of any bands playing Alabama much, or at all. But, I think of it as a completely different country. A small part of me is a little scared but we're up for it.
Sara: I don't know. The truck stop was pretty frightening but I know we won't be in a place like that. I'm sure it is a great place. "Deliverance" (laughs). Actually, I love a southern accent. I really do. I'm not sure why but I always have.

Harbinger: Who were your influences?
Sara: Well, my dad was a jazz drummer and played in a jazz band up until he married my mother and became a social worker -- quite a change of lifestyle. And he was convinced that rock and roll, and popular music was totally evil. So I was never allowed to buy or listen to any rock music or pop music when I was young. The only music in our house was classical, jazz, or oldies. All of which I now stay away from because it was shoved down my throat. But when I got into high school, I found that the music that was popular was really bad, just awful. So I started getting into punk, bands like Bikini Kill in the Olympia scene. And at the same time I was really into rock like Stooges and Cheap Trick and I think a lot of it comes out in my playing.
Maggie: There were so many like the Ramones and the Go-Go's. My dad was a drummer too and the first record my parents bought for me was the Ramones "End of the Century" record. I can remember just starring at it and listening to it over and over. But the first record I bought with my own money was the Madness album with "Our House" on it. I'm also a real big Who fan, always have been. I really like Keith Moon (drummer of the Who). I actually have his solo album. I hunted it down and bought it and it's pretty terrible.

Harbinger: Are there any historical figures, musical or non-musical, that you're fascinated with or keep up with?
Maggie: Hmmm. Back in school I was more fascinated with whales than humans.
Sara: For me it was Poly Styrene. In a time of punk rock glamour with people wearing rubber pants and all that stuff, she went against everything and did her own thing. She was an anti-hero, anti-glamour. And she has an amazing voice.
Maggie: I'd have to say Keith Moon again. I'll always keep up with him. In fact, we share the same birthday, August 24.
Sara: Non-musically I would say Jacques Cousteau because he was amazing. And he never married because he was married to the ocean.

Harbinger: What do you think of popular music in this day?
Maggie: It's in terrible shape in my opinion. There's absolutely nothing exciting or original. Everything is manufactured as part of the MTV and radio scheme. It's all disposable.
Sara: It's just terrible. I'm so sick of everything that's out there especially all this electronic techno crap. A mindless beat that gives me a headache. This whole DJ/techno thing. I'm also really tired of magazines like Rolling Stone showcasing these so-called "women of rock." They're all these folk singers or like Sheryl Crow, Madonna, or girls in their underwear like Fiona Apple. These are not women of rock. There just aren't enough girls that rock out on guitar or drums. Instead the pages are filled with these lilith types.

Harbinger: What do you think of Puff Daddy?
Sara: Don't even ask me about Puff Daddy. No interest at all, just disregard.

Harbinger: How about the Spice Girls?
Sara: I'm actually intrigued with them. I don't know why but I'm intrigued by something so over the top. I actually went to see "Spice World" but it was so boring and so bad. The theater was filled with eight year old girls that sang along with every song. But they're so over the top, so huge, almost like Drew Barrymore. I don't know.
Harbinger: Maggie, can you imagine yourself as the sixth Spice Girl?
Maggie: (laughs) No, I can't I guess I would have to be a Shy Spice or Kill Spice.

Harbinger: What is the pleasure/hell of touring?
Maggie: I'm not sure because I've only toured on the West Coast. This will be my first U.S. tour so I don't know how I'll be after the first couple of weeks.
Sara: The great thing about touring is that you're in a new state and city every night. Before I began playing music I had never been east of Idaho, so I enjoy it. The bad part is when you're in a really nice place and you don't want to leave but you have to the next morning. Another thing is playing really weird shows. The good ones outweigh the weird ones but they still happen from time to time. You know, some kid books you but makes no flyers, or tells no one about it. Once we found ourselves playing the back parking lot of a bagel shop and the only people there were the police telling us to get out of town.

In concluding the interview, Maggie Vail gives a few words to aspiring musicians and fans of Kill Rock Stars.

"Anyone can do it. Don't stop."

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