Check this song out: Dirt in the Skirt This is the title song off their EP — ‘Dirt In the Skirt’. It ROCKS!
I recently watched a Rock Gods documentary which featured some of the best guitar players in the rock arena. The definition of rock being loose, all of interviews were of men, which, granted do dominate rock, but there are also women that can play a mean guitar, and I happen to know some of them!
I was first introduced to Amber’s incredible sound when her band, BugGirL played at Ladies Rock Camp, and I was floored! Not only did she dominate the Gibson Les Paul that she was playing, but her voice echoed a feminine Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden (yes, THE Bruce Dickinson…I heard he loves cow bell). With the first chords on her axe, the sound pierced through my ears and into my heart—this stuff ROCKS! Think AC/DC + Motorhead + Judas Priest / Janis Joplin = BugGiRL.
BugGirL (consisting of her brother Clinno on drums and one of the most amazing metal bassists I’ve seen, Heather Webb) played a 30 minute set, but I knew it would not be the last I saw of them.
Before BugGiRL headed out for their European tour, I got the chance to catch up with Amber, lead singer and guitarist for BugGirL at their show at Jovita’s in South Austin.
As a little girl in Australia, Amber remembers always running around the house playing air guitar or spinning around in circles to ABBA or Manhattan Transfer. She loved music, but something hit her a little harder when she was 10 and saw an ad for the rock band, Stryper. There wasn’t a big metal scene in Australia in the early 80s, so bands like Stryper seemed like a breath of fresh air, even if they seem a little, uh, well, not hard core now. But hey, at least it was something, and Amber had never seen metal or anything close to it before. And even though it was a little weak, it was still enough metal to infect her with the rock and roll bug. She bought everything Stryper and picked up a guitar.
Amber wanted to be a shredder and set off to teach herself how to play. She had ‘heaps of practice’ until her fingers were cut and bleeding and had to be held together with super glue. But she kept practicing because she loved it.
Her biggest influences are still bands she would love to play with: AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth. You can hear it in the music BugGiRL plays. The music sounds like a cross between AC/DC, Motley Crue and Iron Maiden. It is fast, fuel-pumping cock rock (please excuse the gender term) that definitely gets you going. Her voice is not shrilly and fills the songs perfectly with screams, rock melodies and just rock perfection. It will take you by surprise as how fantastic and amazing it is. Amber does not think she is a shredder, and although she does not shred the guitar as technically as Adrian of Adrian and the Sickness (who will be another interview subject), she plays the guitar with flair, passion and sheer power unlike many guitarists (men or women) can in her genre of rock. She is a force unmatched.
Her influences definitely have something in common, though. All men. And oddly enough, as many young women seem to do in rock, she started off sexist towards other women. “All my mates were dudes who played guitar,” she stated, “And in our town we kind of paid out women musicians, so I joined them. I considered myself as one of the boys. ‘Vixen, you guys suck’, or ‘Joan Jett, you suck!’ I grew up sexist. Now that I’m older I think, Oh my god, hello? Wake up to yourself! They’re your peers now and how would I feel if dudes turned around and said ‘you suck because you’re a woman’?”
Besides being rejected from bands or rock for being a woman who plays hard rock, Amber says it is simply the music industry that lends itself to being so cold and rejecting. “I think there is a lot of rejection that goes on because of gender,” she began, “but there is a lot of rejection in the music industry anyway. It’s a hard business. You just got to be tough. And not feel like a victim, and not think, ‘They’re ostracizing me because I’m a woman’, because they are ostracizing everyone.”
Amber seems pretty satisfied with where she is at in her life and music career. She knows this time in the music industry is pretty unsettled and unknown, and being able to play music and survive is enough for her. “The music industry is tough. Records and CDs don’t sell. People don’t go out or come to shows anymore. For whatever reason. So it’s hard getting people to live shows or buy music, so if those are our only sources of revenue, then it leaves you in a pretty shitty situation. Even large record companies are folding. I’d say I’m pretty satisfied with what I have today, because I have to be because it may not get bigger than this. So you got to be happy with what you have now. Being poor and being happy with what you are doing. If you want to be a musician, you have to be happy being poor,” she laughed.
Currently, BugGiRL is on tour in Europe, which seems to be going well! You can check out their video blog on YouTube (Link) and follow them on Facebook. When she is not playing with BugGirL or awesome metal cover band Cock ‘n Balls (same members of Adrian and the Sickness), Amber is also the lead singer of the all girl AC/DC cover band, Hell’s Belles. Although gigs can be hard to come by in Austin, Amber is just happy to be able to play as often as she does, and be able to live out her passion everyday. Next BugGiRL show, I will let everyone know. An Austin homecoming will be great!