Ever wonder where all the rock bands have gone? The New York Times seems to have found the answer – rock is not dead, it’s ruled by women. As a genre, rock has been thought of, stereotypically, as an all-male genre because it was assumed that women could not shred on a guitar or belt out vocals like a man. The women of rock today are proving that notion wrong. These women are changing the way we look at indie rock as they use their music to convey important messages, and move their audiences.
Bands like Vagabon, Soccer Mommy, Diet Cig, Sad13, Snail Mail, Downtown Boys, Sheer Mag, and War on Women took the time to sit down with The New York Times and answer some questions about their rise to the top of the indie rock world.
When asked why their band is devoid of men, Allison and Katie Crutchfield, twin sisters who formed Ackleys and T.S. Elliot, said, “With the band, it was specifically because of such horrible experiences that I’ve had. When we were younger, there was a kind of thing that men would not get away saying with saying today, like ‘Oh you tour with girls, it’s gonna be drama, it’s gonna be annoying.’ And I feel like in my experience it’s been the exact opposite. No problems. It’s been pure magic. It really has been pretty life-changing. I don’t think I’ll ever go back.”
Sadie Dupuis, from Sad13 and Speedy Ortiz, shared that she was inspired to learn to play guitar after watching the movie Josie and the Pussycats. She said, “Am I the only person who was very inspired by the Josie and the Pussycats movie? It’s sort of telling that the example I use is a fictional band [laughs]. Because I was 13 when that movie came out and I was like, ‘Oh, cool, a band of all women — I can do this, too; I will learn guitar.’ But it wasn’t until I was older that I started thinking about the fact that all the guitar-based music that I was really interested in was primarily made by groups of four white guys.”
It was not an easy journey for any of these women, but they have persisted knowing that their music was important and fresh. When asked about this gender shift rock has undergone, some joked that “teenage boys are outraged” by the change.
Shawna Potter, from War on Women, shared, “I think I really like playing in War on Women, because it’s a heavier band, super overtly feminist. Robert Plant — again — he was sexual, right, but he was a sexual subject, not a sexual object. I feel like I can do that and I can also scream about abortion or rape culture and make men, especially, uncomfortable. Maybe they’re attracted to me, maybe they’re also confused or scared or realizing this music isn’t necessarily for them. If I can make them feel all those things, then I don’t mind if they think I’m hot, because I am a fully formed human being with a range of qualities.”
Dupuis added onto that, saying that she feels like women in rock can change the way we look at things, and even connect with young girls and guys.
She said, “A lot of the music that I grew up on was very heteronormative, confessional stories told from a man’s view. The things that are most exciting for me are introducing narrative elements that like aren’t atypical, but just aren’t part of the canon — things that are normal to my experience as a feminine person. So I’m obviously the most psyched when I meet with a 13-year-old girl who reminds me of myself. But it’s also awesome when I see a 45-year-old guy who probably likes Pavement and Sebadoh and Guided by Voices, but is now connecting to a narrative outside of what was the onslaught in rock for so long.”
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