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ROCKBITCH - New release of "Motor Driven Bimbo" by Rockbitch has caused something of a stir. Censored live, cruelly edited by children's TV and simultaneously loved and lothed by many a teenage right hand, Gary Hill gets the dirty on Babe.
20/09/01

BABE - ROCKBITCH

Yes, I know what you're thinking Rockbitch represent anarchy and subversion by any other name. It's not strictly that we're at odds with this band performing sex acts on stage. On the contrary, it's curiously satisfying. It's that their faintly comical, if earnest burlesque show runs uncomfortably against the grain of traditional female oppression debates. Rockbitch themselves might have us believe that in appropriating and subverting the traditional polar icons of woman: the virgin and the whore, they are somehow stealing it away from their male oppressors and heroically reinstating the identity of women everywhere. But the fact that their she-devil pantomime anarchy consolidates these appalling stereotypes, goes largely ignored by Rockbitch. Or so it would seem.

A 'matriarchal communal society that seeks to break the sexual taboos of society, especially as they apply to women'? Rockbitch and the Spice Girls both. With such an inadequate grasp of the political discourse in which these people operate and parade, it's probably safe to say that Rockbitch would be more successful in assuming the mantel of deconstruction, than they would be in actually spelling it. Breaking taboos?. What taboos are those? The taboos of compulsive exhibitionism? Aren't these folks familiar with REALITY TV? There's more than enough evidence here to suggest that Rockbitch belong to another time and era. Ever so slightly anachronistic, these pagan, tantric showgirls might have proved a compelling, transgressive showreel in the 1960s - but as a movement or force today - their methods have somewhat expired. There are simply too few taboos to break.

A good majority of people might have us believe that Rockbitch are a band of substance. That they are a band of true character, true principle. Well in all honesty, I have my doubts. I might be wrong, but I have my doubts. Like I had my doubts when The Spice Girls stood up for 'girl-power' by pressing Geri's boobs into any face that would have them and kitting out Baby Spice in cod-school girl outfits and baby-doll romper suits. Fetishizing femaile sexuality in this way, alway has and always will do little to explore the real depths of she-identities. Cutting the figure of women to the fun template of the male gaze is hardly liberating, now is it? I mean, call us old fashioned, but getting your tits out and saying 'fuck' does not a heroic war cry make. In fact, it smacks of a cynical marketing ploy to take in millions of teenage girls who've never heard of Germaine Greer, or any tangible real-life visionaries like Michel Foucault and Virginia Woolf. But like I say, that's just me.

Crud's Gary Hill, though has a very different slant on the band. Glimpsing something of the truth beneath the veil, the eye beneath the storm, or the pants beneath the trousers, Gary assures us Rockbitch are everything they say they are and more. And he should know. He's actually talked to them. Me? I just cry out from beneath the stone and heckle just low enough for these rockbitches not to hear me. And why not. Men hate all women, don't they? As long as I get to stiff their nylons after the show I don't really care anyway.

Here's what Gary has to say. I think it's only right you hear both sides of the story. Afterall, I'm undecided. And it's your view that counts. Not mine.


The history of RockBitch reads like the history of no other band. The group is actually a subset of a matriarchal communal society. This society is of pagan theology and believes in sex as a form of free expression, and seeks to break the sexual taboos of society, especially as they apply to women.

They really do believe in and practice what they preach. This practice takes the form of the group, now exclusively female, performing sex acts on stage and performing, at least partially, in the nude. They even run a contest called the "Golden Condom Contest". The winner of this contest gets to come out of the audience and go backstage with Lucy The Stage Slut for one song. Needless to say, these factors have caused the group to attract a lot of controversy over time. Frequently, their shows have been greatly restricted by local authorities. On other occasions tours have been completely cancelled due to legal reasons.

They currently have one album out, "Motor Driven Bimbo". At the time of this interview with Babe, they were working on the follow up. It is still unreleased.

Crud:The Beast is no longer a member of the band. What can you tell me about that change?

Babe: Well, you know that the whole band comes from a community? Well, he's not in the band, but he's still in the commune. Basically he felt that as far as his musicianship was concerned that he'd achieved everything that he wanted to - as far as skills, playing in front of a huge audience, having fans screaming his name, and that he was happy - he was fulfilled. That was one side of it, the music side of it. On the other side of it we didn't have we didn't have anyone with pull in the music industry that we could trust to represent us as we would want to be represented. So, we basically came to a decision, as a community, that he would be the manager. So, he's laid down the guitar and he's picked up the briefcase. The problem is that because of our sexual politics we could easily be misrepresented. We need someone who understands. It's why we keep complete executive control of all of our merchandising. We do all the designs. We do all the album covers, the booklets, all the music production - absolutely everything.

CRUD: What can you tell us about the new album?

Babe: Well, it's only our second album ever, if you disinclude the live album or the CDrom we did many years ago. So, the first album was Motor Driven Bimbo. This one is called "Psychic Attack". So, it's the first album which doesn't have The Beast playing on it. It's got me doing all the lead guitars. Luci the Stage Slut has joined in on rhythm guitar. The style of it has moved more in the direction of, shall we say gothic industrial melodic I think you'd call that. So, it's darker, but you can still dance to it if you want, headbang to it, whatever your fancy. We're happier with the style, most definitely. It should be out February or early March, I think. We're about three quarters of the way through.

CRUD: Your community is pagan. Is it a "mainstream" line of paganism or something more eclectic?

Babe: I'd say we're not mainstream, no, because our particular brand of practice is a Western Tantrism. So, anyone who simply pops down to the local library and checks out Hindu Tantric practises, that would be us, but with a Western bend. It is an ancestral tradition. There are three members of the community who have actually had it handed down to them, and it's been extended that way.

CRUD: Do you see paganism growing in the world?

Babe: Hugely, hugely, there is a great surge crossing the planet. Which is a pity because, going by the recent Earth Summit, the planet's going to die before we ever get into power and do anything about it, but at least we'll go out with a bang.

CRUD: A lot of what you are trying to do socially is to change the outlook of people on sexuality. Do you see that you are making progress in that endeavour?

Babe: From the feedback that we get, yes. There's direct feedback and there's indirect feedback. The direct feedback we've got all of our different websites and email. People are always writing and giving their stories of how we changed their life. People come and speak to us directly, and it's really wonderful. Indirectly we've seen a shift within the music industry as a whole because, although we're not huge or well-known entirely in the public eye, pretty much everyone within the music industry knows of us. We've seen the changes in that nudity and sexuality are becoming even more heightened within videos and such. A lot of it you can trace directly back to one of our videos. which has got a lot of ideas that people have nicked, but that doesn't matter. Any effect is a good one if it quantitatively shifts everybody's attitude towards a more sex positive approach, then by our book, that's great.

CRUD: Who would you see as your musical influences, either as a band or personally?

Babe: I have to go through the list of who's actually in the band because the fact that we actually came from a commune instead of deciding that we all like Metallica, let's form a band that sounds like Metallica, which is the usual route of a new band being born. So, the fact that we are so many different people, very eclectic, there are huge taste ranges. So, Julie, who's the lead singer, she very much likes big classic traditional rock like and big vocalists. She likes Janis Joplin. She likes Aerosmith. She likes The Rolling Stones. Amanda - she is very, very jazz orientated, especially the more obscure types, like Weather Report, and James Helborg -- all kinds of strange people that I couldn't even quote you. I don't know who the hell they are. The drummer is very much into techno and dance music -heavy techno, hardcore techno, which I think comes over in her rhythms as well. So, when the bass and drums combine it makes for a very interesting combination. Nikki, the keyboard player likes Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind, the sort of big soundscape music. Who's left? There's me and Luci. Luci is good old fashioned head down rock girl. She's into Motorhead, Alice Cooper, traditional stuff. And me, I'm afraid I'm opera, classical, Kate Bush. We all like classical music hugely, but that's my department there.

CRUD: Any chance of the band ever touring the US?

Babe: Absolutely definitely, I don't have any exact dates, but it's something we're currently looking into. America or Japan will be our next phase.

CRUD: Will you have to do a censored tour?

Babe: Well, you know, we may be censored onstage, but you can't do anything about who we actually are. The point of the things that we've always done onstage is that it's an expression of how we live. So, we may be just standing there playing our instruments onstage, but backstage and in the rest of our lives we'll be continuing to live as we always have done. The golden condom will continue.

CRUD: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Babe: It has to be a gig in the Czech Republic. We did a Czech tour, and it was absolutely fantastic. The audience was superb, very dedicated, staying there when it was raining, whatever. They were great - big audiences, no problem. Except for the one venue where, it was an outdoor festival, and we were in a tour bus. The tour bus couldn't get up the hill that lead to the festival. So, we had to climb out, physically walk up there, drag all the gear up there ourselves because the roadies were late. We were doing all this in high heels and what not. When we actually got down to the other side where the gig was, in front of this beautiful lovely open-air arena with seats and great big stage, a perfect theatre, right dead centre, where the mosh pit would be, was a twenty foot by twenty foot shrubbery. I think that standing on a stage looking at a shrubbery is one of the most classic moments that you can possibly imagine. As luck would have it, we didn't have to complain or fight about it because there was an enormous thunderstorm, and the gig was completely rained out before we even managed a sound check, but I think that was the best Spinal Tap moment.

Interview by Gary Hill for Crud Music Magazine and MusicJournal.com

Salacious misinterpretation of the bands' intent by Alan Sargeant

 
 
 

 

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