Interview conducted with the Glam Scanks in September 207
Interview by Dan Locke
Glitter-rockers Glam Skanks (www.GlamSkanks.com) are an all-female band who, following their North American tour opening for pop icon Adam Ant, are joining him on his UK tour. They’ve also opened for Alice Cooper, accidentally played as Cherie Currie’s (The Runaways) backup band, have a song in Kevin Smith’s “Yoga Hosers” movie, hang out with Johnny Depp and released their new album “Glitter City”.
Veronica Volume – Guitar
Dan Locke for Unrated : Tell me your name and what are each of your music backgrounds?
Veronica Volume: I grew up playing in bands since I was 12 and playing all over Hollywood. My dad, Bruce Witkin, is a producer and I spent a lot of time in his studio learning how to record.
Ali Cat: I grew up in musical theatre and loved pop music. It wasn’t until I became a teenager that I fell in love with rock-n-roll and wanted to be in a band.
Millie: I originally wanted to play guitar in band class when I was 12 years old, but ended up playing the electric bass guitar instead because they didn’t teach guitar in band class, and they were down a trombone player, so that was the compromise. I have been playing bass since then.
Cassie: I’m from the San Francisco area.
How did you meet?
Veronica Volume: Ali and I met on craigslist almost five years ago. We both posted the same ad looking for female musicians who love Zeppelin, T Rex, Bowie and the runaways. So we got together and started Glam Skanks. We had been playing with multiple different bass players that didn’t work out so when we found Millie, it was magic. It was also very difficult for us to find the right female drummer, but ended up snatching Cassie right before our first North American tour with Adam Ant.
Why did you pick your band name? Why did you decide to play the genre or genres you do?
Ali Cat: Our friend G actually came up with the name on accident. He was making lamb shanks one day and Veronica said if you added edible glitter they would be GLAM shanks. Then he was writing a list of possible band names and Glam Skanks was one of them. We thought it fit our look and was a bit controversial. It stuck.
Before you started as a band did you have any personal contacts in the music business?
Ali Cat: Veronica’s dad has been in the business for years and has worked with artists like The Hollywood Vampires and The White Buffalo. Through him we’ve made a lot of contacts.
What type of recording process did you use?
Ali Cat: We recorded at Bruce’s studio in the Los Angeles area. We recorded with Pro Tools, but went in with the mindset that we were working with tape and gave ourselves some limitations as you would have had back in the day.
Do you ever change a song’s lyrics in live sets?
Ali Cat: Hmmmm, I can’t think of any specific lyric but I have definitely changed up some lyrics for fun. Or if I mess up and forget, I’ll just make it up.
How do you describe your music to people?
Veronica Volume: We usually just describe it as rock-n-roll that has been doused in glitter.
What was the best place you played?
Veronica Volume: Royal Albert Hall in London was the most magnificent place we have played. It’s the Carnegie Hall of the UK and Eric Clapton played there three nights later. It’s very historical and we felt like complete rockstars. We are very lucky that we were able to do our thing on the same stage that’s been graced by so many legends.
What was the worst place you played?
Ali Cat: Probably a laundromat in San Francisco. People were literally doing their laundry while we were playing. There was no stage, the lights were on and there were maybe 10 people. We still played the show like there was 1,000 though.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened on tour?
Veronica Volume: We’ve had a few crazy experiences, but the craziest was a night in Manchester, in the UK, where we stayed at a sort of tavern and were immediately thrown off when we walked in because there were Christmas decorations up in the middle of May and a front desk clerk wearing plastic gloves. We didn’t think too much of it, but later that night we noticed our door didn’t lock and when we tried to move our beds together, we found blood splattered on the walls and decided to not-so-gracefully to sneak out at 4:30 am.
How’s the current tour going?
Ali Cat: It’s been amazing, but we got off to a rough start. When we were leaving Los Angeles to start the tour, there was huge wildfire burning out of control. Our second show was in Dallas, just after Hurricane Harvey, and there were gas shortages. Then, we made it to Florida to meet up with Adam Ant to start the tour, but we had to evacuate because of Hurricane Irma. We started driving north toward our next show in NYC and was almost stranded in Augusta, GA, because of gas shortages. But we got out. For most people, this would be a disaster. For us, it’s Tuesday.
Which song or group is your guilty pleasure?
Veronica Volume: The London Boys – “I’m Gonna Give My Heart”
Touring is hard on a band. How do you stay healthy and keep your spirits up?
Ali Cat: We TRY to eat as healthy as we can with the occasional Taco Bell or assortment of Lays potato chips. We drink A LOT of water. On the other tours we haven’t had much time, but this tour we are trying to stay on a little workout routine that we can do in the hotel room or backstage before the shows. We keep our spirits up by listening to music and just goofing around. It’s also very important to be able to have alone and quiet time with yourself. Keeps you sane.
Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration? What is your usual songwriting process?
Ali Cat: Songwriting inspiration can come from anything really. What we are going through in our personal lives, or what’s going on in the world around us, mostly female rights. That was a big inspiration for our song “Bad Bitch”. Our songwriting process isn’t super specific. I will either come in with lyrics and show them to Veronica and she will write guitar parts or she will have a cool riff then I’ll write the lyrics or Millie will have a cool bass line and start the song. It’s been different for each song.
Who are your musical influences?
Ali Cat: Anyone who has made a bold statement in rock n roll. David bowie, Queen, The Runaways, TRex, Led Zeppelin, New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, The Ronettes
What image do you think your music conveys?
Veronica Volume: Our music conveys a feeling of freedom and fun. We really allow our audience to be themselves and leave whatever stress or worry they have at home and to just let loose and be wild and free for an hour. We also convey a sense of female empowerment and attitude that states we can do whatever a man can do, maybe even better.
What do you think about online music sharing? Do you ever give your music away for free? Why?
Veronica Volume: Online music sharing has definitely helped and hurt the way we put music out into the world. On one hand, it’s easier to get your music out to more fans and on the other it doesn’t make the same kind of money that physical album sales once made. That being said if you can get your music out to people and they like it, they will find a way to support you – like when Radiohead released their album with the pay-what-you-want method. Their true fans payed what they thought the album was worth and most fans thought it was worth it.
How did you sell your CD’s/Audio Files? (Consignment? Live sales? iTunes? CD Baby? Amazon.com? Tunecore? Through traditional distributors/stores?)
Ali Cat: We sell our music every way we can. iTunes, Bandcamp, on our website and of course side stage at all our shows. Also it’s available to stream on all the usual sites.
Do you think that online presence is important for fans to find you and critics to find your music to write about?
Ali Cat: Of course! It’s so important to be everywhere online, so people can find as much as they can about you.
Who is your fan/customer?
Veronica Volume: Anyone and everyone.
What gear is your favorite to play with in the studio or on tour?
Ali Cat: We play exclusively through Maxwatt amps. Veronica plays custom-made Baratto Guitars through the Maxwatt Custom 100 and Mille plays Duesenberg basses through a Maxwatt B300 HD.
If you could open for anyone who would it be?
Ali Cat: David Bowie
And, in the same frame of mind, if you were doing a headlining tour who would you like to open up for you?
Veronica Volume: The London Boys
Anything you would like share, from new merch to upcoming shows/tours or songs/albums?
Veronica Volume: We’ve been writing in between tours and hope to have an EP or album out soon.
What’s your favorite ’90s jam?
Veronica Volume: Space Jam
You find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Ali Cat: Travel the world and spread the glitter around. We’d also donate to various music charities and school music programs.
If you were president how would you deal with the country’s problems?
Ali Cat: Change everything Trump has done so far and bring true equality to people.
A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
Ali Cat: “Hello fine ladies care, for free table-side guacamole?”
Since everyone was a startup once, can you give some tips for smaller or local bands looking to get gigs?
Veronica Volume: Go out a lot, see other bands, meet promoters and managers of clubs/bars. Make friends with EVERYONE.
What songs are on your phone right now and what song is the first one you would listen to right now?
Veronica Volume: “Tangled Up In Blue” by Bob Dylan
Thank you for letting me ask you a ton of questions. Will see you soon.