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
antiMusic: Now that you've lived with
your debut for a year, are you still happy with it or have you grown beyond
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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