“Take back Vanessa Redgrave
Take back Joe Piscopo
Take back Eddie Murphy
Give ‘em all some place to go”
— Tom Petty, “Jammin’ Me” (1987)
“Fuck Tom Petty!”—Eddie Murphy
Oh, those crazy stars! What will they say next? And will they ever learn? What a tangled web they weave when they start to take pot shots at each other.
Celebrity feuds have existed since before the dawn of the pop charts. Eminem owes much of his early notoriety to cutting down to size the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, ‘N Sync and Moby in videos and on record. Meanwhile, off the record (though always totally for attribution), Katy Perry has never met a fellow chart-topper she wouldn’t slag off.
But lately, stars keep colliding and disturbing the peace in the music galaxy. Liam Gallagher just filed suit against his brother Noel over the latter’s claim that Liam pulled out of a high-profile Oasis gig in 2009 due to a hangover and over comments Noel made blaming Liam for the demise of the band. But then brothers in arms have engaged in verbal—and occasionally, physical— combat since the heyday of the Kinks, which featured the dueling Davies, Ray and Dave. Chris and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes, William and Jim Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Kings of Leon‘s Followill brothers have the battle scars to prove it.
Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Ke$ha and, of course, herself. As Rihanna sees it—or saw it in the September issue of Glamour magazine—they’re the girls who run the world of pop in 2011.
What? No Britney Spears. I’m pretty sure leaving her duet partner on the recent No. 1 remix of “S&M” off the list was an innocent oversight. But what about Christina Aguilera? That omission must have been intentional. (By the way, I’d certainly argue that Pink, who’s between albums and focused on mommyhood at the moment, and Adele, whose 21 album is outselling all of theirs combined, would qualify as much as Ke$ha.)
There was a time at the dawn of the millennium when Aguilera was the pop princess-in-waiting, second only to Britney Spears. But 2010 was truly her annus horribilis. First, there was Bionic, her fourth studio album, which failed to produce a major hit single and didn’t even go gold. Then her summer tour was cancelled. (She blamed scheduling issues, but the forecast no doubt called for limp ticket sales). And by autumn, her tepidly received film debut in Burlesque (a guilty pleasure and future camp classic if ever there was one, but mostly thanks to costar Cher), was doing nothing to restore luster to her falling star.
Her October divorce from Jordan Bratman, the father of her 3-year-old son Max, blemished her personal record, and flubbing the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XLV in February, further tarnished her professional one. By the time she was arrested for public intoxication in West Hollywood on March 1, her career seemed to be flatlining.
I have to say it, I adore Alicia Warrington. She never ceases to amaze me—always cropping up in the most unexpected places. Not only that, she is one of the most kick-ass drummers around.
I first met Alicia back in 2004 when she was drumming for Kelly Osbourne’s band. She had just appeared on the Osbourne’s reality television show. A few years later she popped up with the Canadian all-female band, Lillix. Then I read she was playing drums for Hannah Montana and Selena Gomez.
The next time I saw her, she was on television, sitting in the front row cheering on Kelly Osbourne on Dancing with the Stars.
I have a feeling that I—and you—will be hearing a lot more from this talented lady. Alicia is now half of the duo The All-Girl Boys Choir with Marlene Hammerle of The Gore Gore Girls (another band Alicia drums for). But this time around, Alicia is the front person as well as the bass player, drummer, songwriter and engineer. There’s much more to Alicia, but I’ll let her tell you all that.
CD: You are well known as a go-to drummer for so many artists. What’s it like fronting a duo for you?
AW: I’m definitely still getting used to it. It’s very different from my usual, comfortable, hiding spot behind the drums Now, I have to try to entertain people up front and do most of the talking and singing, which isn’t necessarily my favorite thing.
When we decided that The All-Girl Boys Choir was going to be a duo, Marlene wasn’t sold on being a lead singer, so that left one person—me. It feels a little weird to be running around with a guitar instead of pounding out the beats, but I’ve actually played guitar longer than drums so it’s cool to be able to show people that I’m not “just a drummer.”
CD: How did The All-Girl Boys Choir come to be?
AW: Detroit garage rockers Gore Gore Girls (Bloodshot Records) hired me as a drummer for their 2008, 10-country, European tour. They had this crazy guitar/harmonica slinger named Marlene “The Hammer” Hammerle, who caught my attention right away. She was a maniac on stage yet super quiet and cool off stage.
We clicked and decided to work on a new project together after the Gore tour. Marlene moved from Detroit to join me in Los Angeles and we started writing new tunes within the first week of her being here. It was something fresh and exciting for both of us. We concluded that we just didn’t feel like adding more members, dealing with more personalities, scheduling conflicts and trying to keep another band together. Thus, The All-Girl Boys Choir was born.
We recorded most of 2009 and released our debut EP Walking Miracles in the fall of 2009. We are now touring for that.
CD: You’ve been in quite a few all-female bands. Is that intentional? If so, why?
AW: You know, I laugh at that often when thinking about my resume. It certainly isn’t intentional. I just happen to get most of those calls. I’ve been in bands with boys but the tour bus usually smells better with the girls.
CD: How did you start playing drums at age 11?
AW: My uncle Kevin bought this amazing 1970s, stainless-steel, 16-piece, Ludwig monster of a drum set. I fell in love with it immediately. He built a stage in my grandparents’ basement, installed colored track lights, had a smoke machine and a giant stereo system that he would blast, playing drums along to ’80s hair metal bands.
One day, he threw on a couple of songs by Dokken and Bullet Boys and told me to try and play along. It just came to me naturally. I sat in that basement for hours, teaching myself drums along to cassettes by Queensrÿche, Mötley Crüe, Metallica and Faith No More. I begged and begged my mom to buy me a drum kit and one Christmas, she did.
CD: Your first All-Girl Boys Choir tour date is the Girls Rock Camp in Austin. Any particular reason for that?
AW: Emily Marks, who runs the Austin Girls Rock Camp, wanted us to play last year but we weren’t doing shows at the time. This time, we happen to be rolling through during the week of camp and it’s something that we really wanted to do. I think it’s really important to give young girls more options and to get them involved in music at an early age. Young girls need to see that they can play instruments like drums or guitar and that they have more options than becoming one of these Disney-created popsters. We actually have two shows that first day. Later that evening, we’re playing in Austin with The Bluebonnets, Kathy Valentine’s (The Go-Go’s) new band.
CD: Did you book your own tour?
AW: Yes! Back to basics! This time around, it is a completely independent thing: no record label, no management. It’s self-funded and self-everything, which means it’s a lot of work.
We would like to be working with a booking agent but everyone was treating us like a new band, as if we haven’t toured 20 countries before. Yes, The AGBC is a new project, but it’s kind of a slap in the face after doing so many tours for so many years, to have to continually prove yourself and get “more tours under our belts” with this current band, before getting any help from agents.
Well, that certainly wasn’t going to keep me home! I’ve booked tours before so I just picked up the phone and sent out those e-mails myself. Situations like that don’t discourage me, they simply fuel the fire and make me work harder. Now we will be touring through December!
CD: What is your favorite music to listen to?
AW: I seriously listen to absolutely everything. On any given day you will hear me play something like En Vogue followed by Lamb of God. I am a true metal head to the core, but I’ll rock some Dixie Chicks and Loretta Lynn in the car. This week, I’ve been listening to a lot of Heart, The Bangles and Slipknot.
CD: What is your favorite music to play?
AW: On guitar, my favorite music to play is metal. On drums, I dig pop/rock and hip hop beats.
CD: What were the Selena Gomez and Hannah Montana crowds like?
AW: I only worked on video stuff with Selena—no live audience. Hannah Montana crowds are pure insanity. I remember playing a taping for the TV show with her at the Anaheim Convention Center. I couldn’t even hear the stage monitors because the kids were screaming so loudly. I did the Hannah Montana “Live in London” tour, which was pretty crazy as well. Parents bring their kids from all over the place and camp out at the venues.
CD: Have you ever been the front person for a band before?
AW: I was still in the back of the stage on the drums, but I was the singer in a couple of death metal bands as a teenager.
CD: Ever hear any of those back-handed “good for a girl” compliments?
AW: Oh, it enrages me. Sometimes it’s not so much the “good for a girl” compliments as it is the tone that you detect from people. Marlene and I had to go into a chain music store recently and on the way out, this older guy at the door said, “Did you have fun in there, girls?” Now, I can be a bit quick-tempered, but I’m pretty sure they don’t ask guys if they had fun looking at all those pretty instruments in the store. You know?
Another recent example: I went amp shopping and had a guy friend with me. The workers kept asking him how they could help HIM and if HE wanted to try anything out. I took my money elsewhere. It just shows how incredibly stupid some guys still are about ladies being musicians and about taking them seriously.
CD: Are there more or fewer female drummers now?
AW: I think there are many more female drummers now. I definitely didn’t have too many female drumming influences when I was a young drummer. I listened Debbi Peterson and Roxy Petrucci during that time period. I didn’t really know about Mo Tucker, Gina Shock and the others until a bit later. When I was growing up, ladies weren’t getting the same recognition that the males were. So although there might have been some out there, I didn’t get to see as much of them.
I found Sleater-Kinney when I was around 16 and was completely in love with Janet Weiss’s drumming style. She was really the first lady drummer that I was truly inspired by. Her style was so creative. When I’m listening to Janet’s music, I find myself waiting to see what she’s going to do next or where she is going to take the song. It’s usually to a place I wouldn’t have expected.
Young female drummers today have a lot of ladies to look to for inspiration: Cora Coleman-Dunham, Stefanie Eulinberg, Sam Maloney, Yael, Torry Castellano, Jen Schwartz, Mercedes Lander, Nikki Glaspie, Kim Thompson, Hannah Blilie, Melissa York, Patty Schemel, Kate Schellenbach, on and on.
CD: Is there a goal you haven’t achieved yet?
AW: Oh yeah. God willing, you’ll see me for a while.
The All-Girl Boys Choir Tour Dates:
07/27/10: Girls Rock Camp – Austin, TX
07/28/10: Tulsa, OK
07/29/10: Outland Ballroom – Springfield, MO
07/30/10: White Water Tavern – Little Rock, AR
07/31/10: The Way Out Club – St. Louis, MO
08/01/10: Vaudeville Mews – Des Moines, IA
08/03/10: The Mill – Iowa City, IA
08/04/10: The Revolution – Toledo, OH
08/05/10: Melody Inn – Indianapolis, IN
08/06/10: Mac’s Bar – Lansing, MI
08/07/10: White’s – Saginaw, MI
08/12/10: PJ’s Lager House – Detroit, MI
08/13/10: Buckham Gallery – Flint, MI
08/14/10: The Cave – Chicago, IL
08/17/10: Cosmic Charlie’s – Lexington, KY
08/18/10: The Rutledge – Nashville, TN
08/20/10: The Double Wide – Dallas, TX
08/26/10: Super Happy Fun Land – Houston, TX
08/27/10: Riverside Warehouse – Shreveport, LA
09/02/10: Lenny’s Bar – Atlanta, GA
09/20/10: Trash Bar – Brooklyn, NY
Check out the video for The All-Girl Boys Choir tune “Western Star.”