Today’s Feature, December 15th-16th: The Vesties

December 16, 2007 at 4:38 pm (Today's Feature)

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There really aren’t enough female bands out there. Hell, we here at PensEyeView feature a new artist once every two days, and I can probably count on one hand the amount of all female groups we’ve had on here. But I’ll be honest – it’s not always easy to find an all female crew on the indy scenes of New York and LA – after all, rock and roll isn’t the most feminine subject.

So when a womanly band steps up, it generally means it’s something impressive, something fresh, something new. And that brings me to our latest feature: The Vesties. Based right out of NYC – Willow, Mary Jane and Julie “fuse eclectic regional influences and an energetic urban edge to form a power trio that is all-girl, with a sound that’s all their own.”

For the past two years, the three have been showcasing just how heavy they can bring it with a “raw mix of rock, pop, metal, and even a tinge of country, reflecting a background as diverse as the city they call their second home.” And it makes sense! Sure, they have the looks that will stick out in your memory like a 50-story view, but they don’t necessarily need them (though I’m glad they’re there). They have the determination to take it as far as they desire. They’ve recently finished recording an 11-song CD that is available now on cdbaby.com. And this is just the beginning – the Vesties have all the ingredients to make it last. So check out one of the many New York clubs that the band is filling night in and night out… See why they have one of the most loyal followings in the big apple. I had a chance to sit down at one of The Vesties’s favorite bars to hear their story. Learn more in their XXQ’s.

XXQs: The Vesties

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did you first form as a band?

Willow (W): Well, Mary Jane (MJ) and I worked at a restaurant and then Julie started there and we just started talking about playing music. Julie wanted to form a band and we decided we needed a drummer, we were just using her iPod. MJ said that she used to play drums in middle school. We tried to convince her forever to join the band. It took her forever…

Mary Jane (MJ): I was in grad school. I’m like, ‘I’m sorry, I’m in grad school. I have a career ahead of me’… but then I wised up (laughs).

Julie (J): I just kept bugging her, ‘Please-please-please-please… Come on, please!’

PEV: What was the first live show like?

All: Horrible!

MJ: Terrifying!

J: I think that was our best flyer though.

W: We had only been playing for like, what, a few weeks?

J: Well, I told Willow, let’s play a show with this iPod and she was really upset with me. And the next show MJ only knew one song… no, three songs.

W: It was awesomely horrible (laughs).

PEV: You know, I usually ask what one word best describes you but if you want I can use ‘awesomely horrible’.

J: Well the first show, yeah!

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music where you listening to?

MJ: I listened to a lot of classic rock, a lot of what my dad listened to. And then Madonna.

J: I listened to a lot of 70’s and 80’s punk, like street-gutter-punk. I then crossed over to rap, I really liked rap. More of the freestyle. I am from Miami, so make of that what you will.

W: I listed to classic rock, my parent’s collection. I was also classically trained as a vocalist so I think that has a lot of inspiration in what we do. A lot of Broadway, a lot of musical stuff.

PEV: What can people expect from your album, self titled, The Vesties?

J: Fun. I would say the Vesties is like getting a big punch of like cake. It’s like a cake getting thrown in your face! (MJ and W laughs). It’s like so feminine but aggressive.

W: I feel like it is like pump you up kind of music. Like getting ready to go out, put on The Vesties and dance around your apartment.

MJ: In your underwear…

PEV: Ok, so dance around in your underwear… just wanted to make sure I got that right.

J: Don’t even wear underwear!

MJ: Yes, dancing naked to The Vesties.

PEV: What was it like when you got together to make the album?

J: First Willow and I started to going over songs that we had already liked and then started writing our own. And then when MJ joined I remember when like Willow would get up MJ and I would just start jamming and getting a groove. It was almost a session of jamming and Willow and I sitting in her tiny apartment and writing the songs.

W: I don’t think we like going to the practice space and saying ‘let’s go write a song’. I mean sometimes it came about with Julie and MJ. But most of the time we’ll all come to each other and be like ‘I like that, I hate that’ and go from there.

PEV: How is this album different than others out today?

J: Well first off… there is a lot of indie rock going on or art rock and I think we are return to the simplicity of the AB/AB. I think people will find the fulfillment in the end of a song with us.

W: They’re to the point. Concise.

J: They are songs that wake you up. Like a little adrenalin for you.

PEV: It’s not often you see a band of just three women. What do you say about the people that may not be used to your style?

W: Oh, that’s the point you know. I mean if one of us left the band we would not replace her with a guy. It’s three women’s minds. Our issues…

J: We listen to music too and this is all a take on what we like. Growing up, we all listened to Madonna. We all agreed on Madonna. It was a feminine f – – k you! We like that but we are all really musicians.

W: I think a lot of that motivation was to start the band. I kept going to shows and saying ‘if I see one more all boy band, I am going to kill myself’.

J: Where are all the girls?

W: It was like one girl. Like the cliche girl bassist.

MJ: I wouldn’t have joined if there was a guy (laughs).

PEV: What is your take on the current New York music scene?

J: First of all Manhattan sucks. Unless they are from somewhere else and then came here but not anyone that forms in Manhattan… I feel like it is no good. It is already done. It’s been done, it’s over. Get over being blazer wearing and moody.

W: Brooklyn is good though.

J: Yeah there is a lot of the afro-fusion thing going on.

MJ: We’ve started to play a lot more shows in Brooklyn now.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Vesties show? J: Surprise. W: Entertainment. I think that if you come to our shows you’d be surprised to find three girls actually playing their music and have songs with depth. Yeah, like we can actually rock! PEV: Do a lot of girls come up to you at the shows?

W: Younger girls.

J: We just played a sweet sixteen for a little Whitford. Brad Whitford from Aerosmith, we played his son’s party and these sixteen-year-old girls were coming up to us. It was great. I mean, I wish I had seen something like this when I was growing up. Women contending with men’s music. At that point, I was like flattered.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band right now that we should all be listening to?

MJ: Little Red Land, out of San Francisco.

J: They’re really good friends of ours. We play with them a lot.

W: We hope to go on tour with them. I think we are really compatible. The two of us can tour and take over the nation! (Laughs)

PEV: Any pre-show rituals?

W: Practice. We always practice before a show.

J: We get ready together. Put on make up. That part is really fun.

W: We pick out outfits, ‘What are you wearing?’

PEV: What is the meaning behind the name the Vesties?

W: When we all worked together we had to wear these awful vests, like old work vests. MJ: And we all just started calling each other ‘vests’.

J: It was like, ‘hey vest!’ Instead of ‘bitch’ it was like ‘you’re a vest!’ (Laughs). ‘Is that a red vest you have there? How festive!’

PEV: You said that Brooklyn has a good scene but what city has the best scene for music?

W: I used to live in Portland, Oregon for five years and we just played through there and it was awesome. Seattle and Portland has a great community. Everyone knows each other; everyone is playing in like four or five bands with each other. You can go to a show to see all three or four bands. You don’t find that here. You go to a show and see an opening act and your just like… I think that has to do with booking here.

J: People don’t know how to book here! They just pull a metal band, a rap group and like us and you just have people that sit there.

MJ: It’s all about money. If you can pull some people in, that’s all they care about.

J: Not really supporting it here in Manhattan.

PEV: When you are not performing, what can we find you doing?

MJ: Working…drinking.

J/W: Yeah, drinking (laughs)!

W: Or working then drinking.

PEV: Ok, so a consensus on drinking and working… What is the best part about traveling around?

J: Hotels.

MJ: Meeting people.

W: Yeah, meeting people and just getting to know more about each other.

J: Yeah, we went to Bop Street Records in Seattle and we just met random people. MJ’s father new someone there.

MJ: Yeah Bop Street Records is a well-known place.

J: It was like a Mecca of a million records.

PEV: What do your friends and family think about your careers?

J: I think our mothers were a little skeptical. They were like what you are going to be like gypsies? At this point they’ve accepted what we are doing. It is more than just playing music it is about doing something in the feminine community and it exists still. There are girl bands out there. It is not just the Supremes.

W: We just want to give The Donnas a run for their money.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprise to hear about the band?

J: I was a sorority girl (laughs).

MJ: Yeah she was a cheerleader and TriDelt.

J: I was not a cheerleader! My sister was. But I was a TriDelt.

PEV: Where?

J: Florida State University.

W: I think you’d be surprised to hear that we all come from good backgrounds. We are all educated. Good morals.

J: Tell them what your profession was (to MJ).

MJ: Yeah, I was in grad school to be a librarian (laughs).

PEV: Nice.

MJ: Yeah… PEV: That was an easy transition. So, what one word best describes The Vesties? I have your answer from before but I figured I would ask again.

W: I think that The Vesties are like YEAH!

All: Yeah!

MJ: Wait, what was the question again (laughs)?

PEV: What one word best describes The Vesties?

J: 1-2-3 Yeah!

All: (laugh).

W: Cake. I think we all embody cake.

MJ: Yeah, cake.

J: Cake.

PEV: So, what is next for The Vesties?

W: Tour. We are going to record more. Do an EP. Send some stuff out.

J: South By Southwest. Haven’t confirmed yet but we’ll see. I don’t need an invite. I’m always party crashing.

PEV: Any last words?

J: Check out our video on our MySpace page and let us know if you want us in your town.

PEV: Alright, well, thanks guys – Oops, I mean girls.

All: (laugh)

For more information on The Vesties, check out www.TheVesties.com

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