At 13 years of age, Britt Black along with three other girls founded LiveOnRelease which you'll remember from their hit "I'm Afraid of Britney Spears". That band put out two solid records and toured their brains out. I saw the band on their first tour and was impressed by the fact that they were not a novelty act…these girls could play. In particular Britt stood out. Her guitar sound was and is beefy heavy and she can toss off a solo without breaking a sweat.
Following the breakup of LiveOnRelease, she joined Bif Naked's touring band for awhile and her six-string talents led her across the country blowing away any doubts of her abilities. A few months back she released her debut solo record, a blistering 13-track collection of straight-ahead rock songs that would appeal to any fan of Velvet Revolver or Stone Temple Pilots.
I saw Britt opening for Bif Naked recently at a show in Ottawa and she has assumed the vocalist and front person's role with ease. Her set was full of high-energy, guitar-driven songs that had the entire club responding with enthusiasm. I spoke to the gorgeous guitar-slinger after the show and she agreed to answer some questions by e-mail. With a steady schedule, Britt found a few minutes to get to this at about 2:30 in the morning after a show in Peterborough, Ontario. Here's what she had to say:
antiMusic: How does it feel to be 20 years old, have your own record and be out on tour?
Britt: Feels good! I like touring a lot... so I'm happy to get out whenever we can!
antiMusic: To back up a bit, what happened to LiveOnRelease?
Britt: We broke up. I have no idea what the other girls are doing…probably in school. All I know is that they didn't want to tour anymore... so they up and left.
antiMusic: What is your present relationship with the other members?
antiMusic: Why did you decide to go it alone instead of joining another band?
Britt: I don't want to have to start all over again after members of the band quit. Going solo allows for member changes... if needed.
antiMusic: Were some of these songs intended for LOR?
Britt: Some of the riffs on 'Blackout' were intended for the next LOR album, but I hadn't written the songs yet. "Speed of Light" is my next single and it's about the breakup of LiveOnRelease.
antiMusic: How did you hook up with Todd Kerns?
Britt: I first met Todd when we went on tour with 'Static in Stereo'. And I couldn't think of anyone else I'd rather write with. He writes amazing songs. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
antiMusic: Which songs from the record came out first and how did the record come together?
Britt: I wrote the record in 1 week (because of a Factor deadline). I can't really remember which songs were written first... but I think 'Jet Black Heart' was one of the first we did.
antiMusic: What was it about "Sanctuary" that made you want to cover it?
Britt: I met Ian (from The Cult) when I was on tour with Bif (at 10 yrs old) and he was such a cool guy and I just looked up to him so much... I told him that when I got older I would cover one of his songs... and he said "cover Sanctuary". Plus... it's one of my favourite Cult classics.
antiMusic: How long did the process of assembling the record take?
Britt: 1 week to write it. 1 month to record, so it didn't take long at all... we usually have to wait for all the grown-up's to put the record out... and it usually takes a long time.
antiMusic: What gave you the confidence to step in front of the mike after years of playing guitar?
Britt: The fact that I couldn't go solo unless I did. I always hated singing, but I knew it had to be done in order to achieve my goals. I mean, if you want something done... do it yourself!!
antiMusic: Where and what was your first solo show like?
Britt: As 'Britt Black', it was in Langley B.C. and I didn't promote it much... just family and friends came out. But as LiveOnRelease... it was a high school cafeteria.
antiMusic: Peter Karroll. Who is he to you? Father, brother, uncle? Who is Riley?
Britt: Peter is my father/label owner. Riley is my sister/manager/international label manager
antiMusic: How important have they been in your career?
Britt: They've been very important. If I work really hard for them... then they work really hard for me. They've given me the opportunity to play the music that I do.
antiMusic: What have you learned over the years from your work with (and being around) Bif?
Britt: A lot... the girls got knowledge. She's been on tour for a long time... and she showed me how to tour at a very young age. She's always encouraged me to do what I want.
antiMusic: How long have you been playing guitar and what made you start?
Britt: I've been playing for 10 years. The reason I started playing was cause I could... everyone around me knew how to play... so why not? The reason I started a band was cause my dad had me working the Bif shows selling merch/crew/light tech/etc... and those jobs got old fast. And to see a band member walk on stage and play for 45 minutes... seemed like a way cooler job than selling merch for 8 hours.
antiMusic: You've got such a strong, powerful sound. How do you set up and what do you use?
Britt: I use a Marshall JCM2000 head and cab and I play a Strat. That mix seems pretty heavy to me... I like to keep it simple.
antiMusic: How different is it for you to tour with guys after years of being with LOR and then going out with Bif for a tour? Way easier!!
Britt: Girls are bitchy and annoying. I've only met 2 females that can tour like guys... and that's Bif and her ex-bass player Gail Greenwood (from L7). I'm very lucky to have found the band I have.
antiMusic: I've heard you have a black belt in karate. Do you still keep up with your martial arts?
Britt: Nope. Unless it's wrestling with my band... or bar fights... I don't think that counts.
antiMusic: Have you ever had to use it while "navigating the jungles of the music world"? :)
Britt: Haha... Yeah, some of the smaller towns in Canada are college towns and don't take to kindly to boys wearing makeup. And I'm the mommy of the group so.... uhh.. it's fun to fight once in awhile. No?
antiMusic: What three things do you have to have with you from home, while on tour?
Britt: My guitar. My hair straightener. My Blackberry. Could take or leave everything else
antiMusic: Can you please briefly describe the guys in your band and what they bring to the table?
Britt: Howard Humenick is my bass player... he's crazy. (on and off stage). He's not just a bass player... he's a bassist. David Dandy is my guitar player... he's a great player... he's like a brother to me. He works so hard on everything that has to do with the band. And Daryl Hood is my drummer.... the kid beats his drums like they owe him money... its crazy! I buy him 4 pairs of sticks each show. My band is great and they are very aggressive on stage. Look... now you've got me rambling like a proud mommy!!
antiMusic: What are your plans for the remainder of 2005 and for 2006?
Britt: My U.S and Europe releases will be in the beginning of 2006. I'm really happy that I even get a release at all!! My 10 year plan is to just tour a lot!!
antiMusic and Morley Seaver thank Britt for taking the time to do this interview.