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.
'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
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?
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
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
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
Salacious misinterpretation of the bands' intent by