Interview by Dan Cairns
I dunno how I would cope living on the road. I’m a big poofter that loves his home comforts too much. Yet some LIVE to er… live on the road. The Hairy Bikers. Thelma and Louise. Bonnie and Clyde. Tango and Cash. Alien Vs Predator. Another name you can add to that most prestigious list is Jucifer. The duo (Amber and Ed) have been making a fucking racket for longer than they’d care to remember, all the while roaming the American wasteland in an RV. They’re a bit like Mad Max with a fuzzbox and nice hair. Aaaaand alas! Amber kindly agreed to answer some of my stupid, thought up in two minutes, questions. She waxed lyrical on everything from sexism in rock, Steve Austin’s arsenal, and Freddy getting fingered. Read on fannies.
DP: First things first, cheers for being our first interview! We got loads of offers from shitty British bands, but we wanted someone good, and lo! You answered. How does it feel to be the first band to be featured on our shitty website that will probably only last a few months before we all fall out in a haze of nervous breakdowns?
Jucifer: Cheers back atcha for asking us! It feels warm. A little fizzy! But hopefully every band in great britain doesn’t want to kick our asses now.
DP: How’re things in camp Jucifer? Any mad tour tales to tell?
Jucifer: We’re rolling so things are good. We had a few incidents this month—- shows canceled because of rampaging skinheads, a venue being burgled, and our transmission puking all 16 quarts of fluid into a parking lot. (It’s a sad sight when the band has to be towed away from the venue!) Three cancellations were within the state of Michigan, so we’re taking it as a sign never to let ourselves be booked for more than two shows there. Apparently there’s a limit.
DP: You’re one of the few notable bands to take the plunge and live on the road. Is it liberating, or are there things you miss about having a base of operations?
Jucifer: We’re entering our 10th year of homelessness. It suits us! After the first six months we agreed that we never wanted to have a base again. A decade into it we still feel the same. Some things are harder to deal with this way—- maintenance, paying bills on time, having to use shows to rehearse new material—- but it streamlines our lives. What we did in the 90’s, touring half or more of the year and being home the rest, wasn’t letting us be fully functional in either place. And when “home” we just counted the days between tours. Now we’re always where we feel truly at home: on the road.
DP: You’ve worked with Steve Austin. Is he as terrifying as he appears to be? And did you get a power trip when you played with his guns? (Fnar)
Jucifer: Fnar indeed! Ha ha… Certainly he’s terrifying. But then so are we. The confluence was powerful…like three white rhinos. Not that we’re fat. Not fat rhinos. Just mean ass crazy sharp-tusked ones. Picture three mean ass crazy sharp-tusked white rhinos in a hazy control room swapping stories and cranking up the speakers a little louder with each successive track.
Dude, the guns were incredible! We didn’t get to go shooting because we had only one day in between shows to hang out and sequence the record. But merely holding those things was epic. The guns. The guns.
DP: Liv Kristine from some shitty goth pop band wrote a downright retarded article about women in metal (here it is if you haven’t read it). As a woman, how badly did you want to punch her face in? It pretty much set back the depiction of women in heavy music about 30 years didn’t it?
Jucifer: Why do these fluff articles abound? There are too many mags? They come out with new issues too frequently? Maybe there aren’t enough writers who care to actually write? Or maybe readers just demand these lists so they can post retaliatory lists in the comments… I don’t know. Her list is pretty bad, but I think anyone, male or female, would be hard put to give good reasons why “women in metal rule”. Because it’s an idiotic premise. As a demographic, we don’t rule. We’re emerging as a force, but just barely. Not due to lack of personal power or talent. But due to the status quo—- which, true to form, has remained mostly intact for a very long time. Status quo dictates, in its most basic sense, that men do and women spectate. And men do and spectate women. (snicker) To get pissed at Liv Kristine misses the point. The real problems behind her article are society’s archaic stereotypes for gender roles and the internet slacker media model that condones bloggy lists in large-readership magazines. Oh, and the entrenched marketing-think which tells said mags that placing sexy women’s photos alongside supposedly thoughtful articles about their supposed liberation and power will appease male libido and female ego simultaneously, thus enlarging the magazine’s appeal. Setting back the depiction? I don’t know if it ever moved forward enough to notice. FTW.
DP: Speaking of which, do you get pissed at bands like In This Moment, that are basically earning a career off the back of the fact their singer (who has a face like a moose) seems to permanently have her bazongos hanging out? I know it’s not a new thing in music, but it must be galling when more extreme forms of music fall victim to such cheap titillation.
Jucifer: Women in bands don’t have a choice. Try or not, like it or not, we WILL be perceived as female. We will be marketed as female. We will be liked and disliked, credited and discredited because we are female. If we choose to look stereotypically feminine or sexy, we’re accused of inviting sexist treatment. But that’s not fucking fair, any more than it’s fair to say a girl was raped because of her short skirt. And women who choose to actively downplay their femininity are still shoved into this category of ‘gasp, omg’ women in music (as if the penis was an essential musician’s tool) and are then criticized for not being sexy. It’s a no-win situation.
To make things worse, women are held to a different visual standard than men. Would it be necessary to comment on a man’s moose-face? Not likely. And that’s because men are a majority and the majority of people do not look like models. Granted we see the occasional dig at a man (say, Lemmy) for being ugly, but it comes across as a loving bro jibe. Not an indictment. Not a suggestion that he should get the fuck out. The beauty judgment seems always a preface to describing a female’s role in her band, but worse, seems for too many a perfectly sound reason to elevate or dismiss the woman being judged. Ugly or pretty are equally bad in this game… You’re useless if not jerk-worthy and deemed incompetent if you are.
All that said, I really do despise it when women seem to kowtow to the established BS and embrace being objects. But one has to consider the definition of ‘embrace’ and where to draw that line. You can’t assume someone’s motives are bad when you don’t know them.
I’ve been criticized because I wear short dresses and makeup. So what? Tina Turner was my formative style icon. She visually embodied the archetype of a fully powerful and fully female person. Why the hell would I need to pretend I’m a man? To show equal capability without camouflaging oneself is the only way forward. We need to cast off this old idea that surface traits define a person’s worth.
I think of myself as a peer to my mostly-male counterparts and am always unpleasantly surprised when I come across someone negating me because of the way I look. But it happens. I could choose to wear overalls and shave my head, but the idea that doing so would make me more legitimate is bullshit. So I do what I like with my appearance. And without knowing why another woman does what she does, I can’t judge her. I judge THE CULTURE that rewards bazongas with a better return.
This culture does grant women success based on looks, but it does exactly the same for men. Depending on genre you see males getting by either on cuteness or on the fact they have the right gear, hair, beards, tattoos and band shirts. The culture that elevates bands as part of some gushing trend for a particular amplifier brand or style of dress is just as vapid as the one slobbering over boobies. It’s mindless consumption and it’s fairly repulsive. But as much as one may instinctively react by getting pissed at the inappropriately revered band, the main fault is with the culture that elevates them. And unfortunately, that culture is a body of water in which crap floats.
DP: Also on that note, why is metal such a sausage fest? It’s proper frustrating for an eligible dickhead like me.
Jucifer: Good news for you—-I think it’s changing. 😉 I see a lot of girls in their early 20’s and below getting into metal. They’re in the vanguard of the new social order; kids raised by the first generation to really break with mid-20th-century stereotypes. These girls never learned what they weren’t supposed to like. Their parents bought them drum kits and guitars, and their parents are only 35-45 years old. The age most of the best metal bands are right now.
The problem with metal is that a lot of its sales are still driven by the man crush. It may sound weird, but if you think about it you’ll see it all around you. Dudes looking up to dudes is what metal has always been. Dudes in the pit bleeding on each other in drunken embrace. Dudes staring up at the bulging muscles and crotches of other dudes whilst they shred. Part of this barbaric-brothers-in-arms philosophy is the raping and pillaging fantasy which not only allows, but demands a disrespectful attitude towards women. There are a lot of dudes out there who don’t want a warrior princess. They want disposable receptacle. Their concept of relating to woman was learned from a porn mag and never upgraded. Those are the dudes who try to eliminate us females from their metal world. Or expect us to stay in a go-go cage on the sidelines. They don’t like women. And saddest of all, they don’t even know they’re gay.
DP: You’re working on a new record. What can people expect? I personally would love to see you both go down the autotune, shutter shades route and make some slamming crunk-sludge.
Jucifer: We’re doing the whole record on a Casio keyboard with children’s instruments and… I’m kidding!! It’s another concept piece. A lot of people think ’L’Autrichienne’ was our first, because it was the first in which we spelled it out in the liner notes. But in fact, we’re such nerds that every album and even our EPs are conceptual. I don’t wanna reveal the concept until closer to the release date, but suffice to say it’s an extremely pissed-off record. Pedal to the metal. (gives horns)
DP: We aren’t going to just deal with music on this site. Because we’re a bunch of nerds we’ll be talking about movies, games, books and comics too. Obviously you don’t play games because you’re a girl (joke!), but you seem pretty clued up as far as culture goes (I know this because you like Freddy got Fingered, and all the best people like Freddy got Fingered). Apart from FGF, what movies do you like? Or books? Or comics (if you’re that way inclined)?
Jucifer: Speaking of nerds! Ha ha. Shit, I actually don’t play games. It’s not because I’m a girl though—- I was queen of the class at Space Invaders and Ms. Pacman (way) back in the day. But I can’t seem to sit still for games anymore. Movies… We don’t see them in theaters being on the road all the time. We’re always waiting for the good ones to come out on DVD, then waiting even more for them to go down in price. I cannot WAIT to see ‘Bruno’. In the words of Austin Powers, that sort of thing is my bag! I love all of Sasha Baron Cohen’s stuff. Also enjoy art house shit and high quality blockbusters. ‘The Reflecting Skin’ and ‘Lord Of The Rings’—-aaaah. I generally don’t watch old films unless they’re Fellini or Hitchcock or star Ingrid Bergman. I really do not like the last couple of Star Wars installments (SO disappointing) and judging from the previews, will never ever ever watch Twilight. Wooden acting and pathetic, lazy CGI. I have a great appreciation for the art of physical comedy, from known auteurs like Steve Martin and John Ritter to less-credited ones like Rob Schneider and Sandra Bullock. One of my favorite actresses is Jennifer Coolidge. I love ‘Waiting For Guffman’, ‘Best In Show’ and ‘A Mighty Wind’. And Chris Rock’s standup.
Books are my favorite. Like with movies, my taste runs the gamut from high art to lowbrow “trash”. When I’m exhausted I turn to lightweight stuff. Mysteries and romance. Not bodice rippers. I like chaste little romance novels from the 60’s, because they’re time capsules and travelogues. They’re quaint and soothing, and illustrate how far gender relations have actually advanced in the last half century. LOL
For real reading (when fully awake) I like it dark, historic or best of all, both. Malamud, Hardy, Faulkner, Burroughs, Kafka, Bukowski, Hemingway, Mailer. And history of any time and place is fascinating to me. I hope to live long enough to read it all.
DP: Let’s play word association. Tell me the first thing that comes into your head when you see the following…
Pig Squeal– Pig Destroyer
Shitting dicknipples– Your mom
Liv Kristine– Oh Lord
Internet– Fuck all
2 girls 1 cup– Bra?
Skullet– It’s not a word but an image: the American flag doo-rag worn by a bald biker with a mustache
Matt Pike and shirts– He gave me one of his worn wife-beaters when we were on tour. Are you freakin psychic??!
The triumphant return of Limp Bizkit– Really?
DP: Aaaand finally… If you could blow up any one person on the planet, who would it be?
Jucifer: The next person that compares us to some band that we obviously influenced as if they influenced us!! We’ve been around long enough that this happens more and more… Younger kids know about the younger bands and it’s not like there’s a History of Underground Metal initiation class. So how the fuck would they know where these bands they like got their ideas?
I just wish the bands that have copied us would be more vocal about giving us credit. We’ll never get rich doing this, so credit for inventing some cool shit is the best we can hope for. And if not, there’s always Steve Austin’s arsenal… 😀