The debut record by NYC's Suffrajett was one of the most overlooked discs from last year. The band surprised a lot of people with its stable of excellent songs, bursting with hooks galore, not to mention a good dose of piss and vinegar. Singer Simi has a voice that is uber sex kitten, swaying between vampish, come hither seduction and tortured vulnerability. Jason Chasko played all the instruments on their debut with the exception of bassist Kevin Roberts' contribution on a song or two. Chasko handles everything with ease, switching from grungy, dirt-ridden guitar to bass, drums and even some piano. Chasko is no stranger to lots of work. Before Suffrajett, he worked with Liz Phair for a couple of years, writing and playing everything in the studio.
I traded e-mails with Suffrajett lately between their steady diet of touring. Here's what all four band members had to say:
antiMusic: What is the latest in the world of Suffrajett? I've heard tell of an E.P. Care to give us some details (song by song maybe?)?
Simi: All I'm going to say is if you listen to it, You may get an idea of what's going on in our world.
antiMusic: Does the direction of the material differ from what we heard on your debut?
antiMusic: Following your show in Washington in August which is the end of this current tour, what's next for the band?
Simi: Licking, Sucking, Drinking and Drugging.
antiMusic: Now that you've lived with your debut for a year, are you still happy with it or have you grown beyond it?
Simi: I'll always love that piece of work, I hope there's progress or what's the point.
antiMusic: What was the experience of recording your first record like? Was this your first time in a studio (OK, studio-like setup)?
Simi: Well you know we did it in a Manhattan mini storage, It felt exactly right, We would also rehearse there it was like our secret little place. I am so fond of that time. Some songs we pretty much wrote on the spot, I'll tell you it was almost easy.
antiMusic: How does the songwriting process work in your band? Does one person come in with music and/or lyrics or is it a mish-mash of ideas?
Simi: I write the songs, or there's a mish-mash like you've said.
antiMusic: Tell us a bit about your musical background prior to Suffrajett.
Simi: I started studying violin at eight, Started writing real songs at nine, Taught myself how to play guitar, and now I'm here still going.
antiMusic: Are you from NYC? What clubs/places did you frequent growing up?
Simi: You know I spent most of my time walking the streets.
antiMusic: Who did you look up to that
made you want to sing/be in a band?
Simi: I have to say I put Michael Jackson up on my wall and I had to take it down cause it scared me.
antiMusic: How did you come to meet and then play with Jason?
Simi: Mutual friend and he thought he would be good for my band. I didn't like him too much but he stuck.
antiMusic: You sound so natural on the bluesy "Sorrow" and the dirty blues of "Gone". Are you a fan of that kind of music also?
Simi: YES very much! That type of music just brings me right in, I wrote "Sorrow" after I've been down in the delta hangin' with all these old time blues guys, it was just so cool.
antiMusic: Can you see Suffrajett as a long-term project or is it destined to burn brightly and flame out quickly?
Simi: Yes I see it lasting.
antiMusic: What three things do you have to have with you from home when you go on tour?
Simi: There's three V's; Violin, Voice and Vitamins.
antiMusic: Briefly describe the other guys in the band.
Simi: Kevin is the douche, Jason
is Dad, and Danny is the glue.
antiMusic: Why was all the material copyright 2002 on your debut but it was only released in 2004?
Jason: I guess that's how it worked out.
antiMusic: You did all the instruments on your debut. What is your background that you are able to play everything?
Jason: I started playing guitar at eight, then I started playing cardboard boxes as a drum set about the same time. I learned how to read music in the fourth grade on trumpet. I pick things up pretty quick.
antiMusic: Was that record really recorded in a mini storage? How did that come to be?
Jason: Yes, we rehearsed in a Manhattan mini storage. So we just brought our recording gear and started cutting the record.
antiMusic: I love every single song on the record. There is a lot of variety, going from the straight-up rawk of "Whatcha Got" to the bluesy stuff like "Gone". How did the record take shape? Which songs came out first and did you go through like a rock period and then a blues period or what?
Jason: Simi and I started writing songs, We didn't think about it.
antiMusic: I like all the different guitar sounds on the record, from the pick scratching on "Love Me More" (that and "Whatcha Got" are the two standouts for me by the way) along with the guitar lines in chorus to the echo-y fuzz of "Sorrow". What's your hardware set up and how much of the sound on this record is effect-driven. Any special tricks you used?
Jason: All the guitars were not affected that much. We used old amplifiers, old tone kings Z Fender, etc... I have effect pedals that I tweak.
antiMusic: Tell us about the new E.P.?
Jason: The new EP kicks ass you tell me.
antiMusic: So what's this kinship with the MC5? How come you guys get along so well?
Jason: Wayne Kramer heard our record and asked us to go on tour, We Love them.
antiMusic: How has Simi evolved as a front person and singer since the band started?
Jason: Simi and the rest of us are evolving everyday. She kicks it out.
antiMusic: I see Cheap Trick listed in the credits. Who's the Rick/Robin/Bun E./Tom fan?
Jason: cHEAP tRICK ASKED US TO PLAY WITH THEM AS WELL!!!
antiMusic: Being a huge KISS fan also, I have to ask about Peter Criss listed in the credits?
Jason: I did a benefit for the world trade center victims families with Peter. We did "Beth" Acoustically, He and I talked a lot and I learned a lot from him, So I felt I should say thanks on the record.
antiMusic: How would you describe your days with Liz Phair?
Jason: The days with her were great for a long time, Then she started to listen to the wrong people and her vision became clouded, So I bailed.
antiMusic: What's been your favourite band-related event thus far?
Jason: Completing our record we just finished.
antiMusic: What's on tap for the band for the rest of the year?
Jason: We are going to tour the
world and elsewhere...
antiMusic: You played bass on a couple of cuts on the debut record (and a great one at that --- I love "Gone", it's one of the best on the record). How does it feel to be a full-fledged member of Suffrajett?
antiMusic: Who were you playing with
prior to joining the band?
Kevin: Everybody in NYC...
antiMusic: What interested you about playing with Simi and Jason?
Kevin: I wanted to be broke, starved, drunk and on the road. Plus she has hot friends.
antiMusic: What's your musical background?
Kevin: Playing in Clubs with my dad.
antiMusic: What's your favourite cut on the new record?
Kevin: So Tired...
antiMusic: What city/country would you most like to have on the tour schedule that you haven't played in yet?
Kevin: Bogota, Columbia
antiMusic: How did you come to join Suffrajett?
antiMusic: What kind of kit do you play on? Anything else you would like to play on (endorsement, cough..cough)?
antiMusic: What's the best thing about having a chick singer?
Danny: No answer
antiMusic: I was going to ask what's the worst thing but that might not be wise. What's your favourite part of the new record?
Danny: All of it. The Drums.
antiMusic: Which drummer inspired you to start playing?
antiMusic: What's the funniest thing that you saw happen on stage this past tour?
Danny: Bass amp not on.
Suffrajett just released a new EP in September.
I love this excellent band (except the inconsiderate slobs played NYC the week before I visited there a few weeks back). Pick up their debut and you will too.
antiMusic thanks Suffrajett for taking the time to answer these questions. We also thank manager Wesley Kidd from Silent Partner Management and Dave "Obie" Obenour of Stunt Company for helping set up this interview.