[In celebration of the 10th issue of She Shreds, we will be posting some of our favorite selections from across our print catalog throughout April. The feature was originally published in the second issue of She Shreds Magazine, October 2012 and has been edited for timely accuracy. Subscribe here and receive your copy of She Shreds’ 10th issue when it is released later this month!]
They started as a one-off tribute to 1960s surf-garage rock group The Trashmen, but Tina “Boom Boom” Lucchesi (drums), Elka “Kitten Kaboodle” Zolot (guitar), and Danielle “Lead Pedal” Pimm (bass) quickly gained a following in the Bay Area garage rock scene.
During their run as a band, The Trashwomen released three 7-inch records, two LPs, and a live album, calling it quits in 1997. Although The Trashwomen never topped the charts, they’ve influenced hundreds of aspiring musicians and future generations with their raw energy, unique style, and raunchy lyrics.
She Shreds: Elka, I read that one of your first lessons on guitar was playing along to your dad’s record, Play Guitar with The Ventures. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
Elka Zolot: Yes, it was an old record he had; it was missing the instruction sheet, so I had to do it all by ear. It’s still how I do everything today, and I think that experience made it possible for me to play anything I hear pretty much as soon as I hear it. I actually play many instruments. I didn’t really choose one over the other, but playing surf guitar is a skill that I have [had] since I was a kid, so naturally I had to use that skill, since it’s not the easiest guitar style to play.
What was the most challenging part of being an all-female band covering an all-male band?
EZ:No challenge at all; the first show was a blast, and the crowd seemed to really like it, even though we pretty much sucked that night.
Tina Lucchesi: Well, being in an all-girl band and playing with dudes, you hear a lot of comments like, “Whoa, pretty good for a girl” or “Ohh, hot girl band” or “They can’t be that good because they’re girls.” You know, not taken seriously. Not like we were serious or anything—we did dress sexy, we were usually drunk and mouthy on stage, but I think we owned it.
After that first show, was it an arbitrary decision to play surf, or was it an intentional style the whole band decided to embark on?
TL: It was intentional!
EZ: I was already playing in a surf/garage/punk band at that time; it was just my preferred music to play. Since I wrote all the original material, I guess I just leaned towards surf/garage with my songwriting. I don’t think we really made a decision; we were just kind of all on the same page.
What are some of your fondest memories from playing in those formative years?
TL: It was like one big family all the time—we played shows with The Mummies, Supercharger, and The Phantom Surfers. All the awesome Japanese bands when they would come to town: Guitar Wolf; The 188.8.131.52’s; Jackie and The Cedrics; Teengenerate; and the list goes on! The ’90s ruled at that time, and it was so fun! It was pre-internet, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blah blah bullshit.
EZ: Playing at iconic clubs and amazing bands were the big high points. Playing at CBGB’s was like a dream come true. The touring, although grueling, was very fun and an honor to do.
What was/is it like to be a woman playing surf?
TL: You know, we definitely did not really fit in with any other girl bands at the time— except maybe the 184.108.40.206’s was close style wise, but still different (they are so great!). I love playing surf music—it’s fun, and it gives me goose bumps! I love Elka’s guitar sound and I love playing with those girls when we do. But it can’t be all the time—we’ll drive each other nutzo!
SS: Favorite female surf bands of the past and present?
TL: Hmm. I think we all love a wide range of music, and we tried to emulate tough female role models like Russ Meyer girls in Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and the go-go bad girls. We love The Cramps, The Trashmen, The Ventures, David Allan and The Arrows, Link Wray—all those Strummin’ Mental and Back From The Grave comps were our bibles! Those girls in the garage comps—[we] were inspired by those: Suzi Quatro when she was in The Pleasure Seekers, The Pandoras in the ‘80s, The Brood—so great!
What do you think makes surf rock so unique?
TL: The sexy, reverb-drenched guitar sound! I love it! It makes you want to shake your ass and dance. It’s summery and it feels good!
EZ: Definitely the guitar sound and the drum beat. It’s almost like playing a classical piece but with a bit more rock and raunch to it.
How has the Bay Area music scene changed in the last 20 years? What has stayed the same?
TL: The music scene in the Bay Area is different; I’m older now, so I’m soooooo jaded, but there are some good young bands. Like I said, [we were] before the internet, and [now] all the modern media shit makes it easy for anybody to learn about being cool on a click of a button! I guess it’s easier to book tours now with the internet. The old days there was the telephone and then eventually faxing, and that was it! You would have to buy fanzines and figure stuff out or get turned onto stuff by your older brother or sister or a friend’s older bro or sis! The best surf/punk/rock ’n’ roll band now is Guantanamo Baywatch, hands down! They kill! There is an all-female band from San Pedro called Bombón who will be touring soon, and they are also great. What has stayed the same? Well, the Bay Area has always had a lot of great talent and music—we are lucky! I take it for granted now because I’m a granny!
EZ: I haven’t hung out in the music scene much since the late ’90s, so I can’t vouch for the scene now. All I can say is I am so grateful I got to be a part of and experience the Bay Area music scene of the late ’80s–’90s. It was an amazing time for S.F. and music. I’m not sure it could ever be emulated or beat.
Are there any thoughts behind recording new material? What are your plans for the future?
TL: Recording new material? I don’t know, maybe! The future? Maybe we will play some more if it is an awesome show! Like with Red Kross again—haha, love you Steve McDonald! The Burger Boogaloo was so fun! Something of that caliber would have to be offered!
EZ: No plans really; we just go with the flow. I personally would love to re-record all the original music with better equipment and production.
Any advice for other raunchy women musicians out there?
TL: Just get out there and do it! Let your freak flag fly! Don’t let anything hold you back; don’t worry if you think you’re shitty! Have attitude, be tough, don’t shave your armpits, drink beer, scream your head off, and don’t take no for an answer!
EZ: Just play what you like, how you like, when you like. Do it for the love of music and nothing else…and happiness will follow.
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