Thursday, September 16, 2010

Las Peligrosas/Speed Queen

So, it was the best of times... it was the worst of times. The heyday of riot girls had ended and emo and math rock indie bands were replacing the grunge and punk forefathers. A few bands seemed to hang on and try to differentiate their styles... but bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, L7, Kreviss, Huggy Bear, Courtney Love, Beat Happening, Red Aunts, and many more were already on the way out. In the midst of the Power 90s, the South Bend scene emerged and it was only natural that girl bands or bands with leading female vocalists would arise - it seemed a critical mass of musical creativity was being reached in the midwest and South Bend was oddly and strategically situated to be a part of it.

Most of my memories are of the early days when the idea first came up to even start a band. I think that Faye had been playing bass for a while, Annie was picking up guitar quickly, and Anne could already play drums. Think it was Faye and Annie's idea to start jamming and writing songs and they invited me to get involved. The only thing I really had to offer was a voice and we were all pretty good singers. Contributing to lyrics sticks in my mind - think we made it a collaborative effort to write "Rev" as the lyrics started out so clever and were projecting that strong, assured female voice that I think Las Peligrosas unintentionally was trying to get across. The Dalloway's concert [ed. performed under the band's original moniker, Speed Queen], the basement show at the Guerra-Concannon compound and the show in Columbia, OH (at a coffee house, I think??) made everything seem so real! I can't remember a thing about the "Rev" recording for some reason... but think I remember it being difficult to get our vocals to sound on key and good, so were were in there for a quite a few hours.

I remember that I was so inspired by Faye's punk rock ethic and bad(ass) attitude, and Annie's absent-minded innocence mixed with confidence! I had so much fun being in the band - it was nice to be a part of it all, dragged kicking and screaming into so much fun... and we were the only serious all-girl band at the time. Seemed so apropos without being predictable.

--Emily Davis

I bought my bass and practice amp with money that I had earned from waiting tables in Arlington, TX. That money was supposed to be used for books and other collegiate endeavors. But I blew it on a bass--that I have to this day. Mostly I was tired of seeing music and wanted to figure out a way to make it... along came the shining Ms. Emily Davis, the creative Annie, and the rhythmic Anne Evans. I can say that when we started this band I had no training, but Emily's vocals and Annie's basic guitar were a saving grace and --hell Anne and I weren't all that terrible holding up the rhythm section for this track, although I have no illusions. I think we had more band names than we did songs.

"Rev," if I recall, was created without lyrics. I remember that we looked through a fashion mag and wove together our lyrics. Interestingly, with as many smart women with a lot to say, we were at a loss for words for lyrics. We played several shows (why didn't anyone tell me that I should not wear ankle socks?) and I remember going to the St. Vincent DePaul and proudly scoring the black and white dresses shown in some of the photos. To be honest, none of our music was particularly good, but it was a good time.

We were originally passed up on the campus CD, sfumato, but were somehow reconsidered? If I recall it was because the CD needed more "diversity," but I also remember that we had a lot of friends encouraging us along the way. It's nice to have a musical memory of this time. It was apparent that when we got into the studio to record for the CD that we had not recorded before. We were able to record this song and now I kinda wish we had more recordings. I hope that "Rev" doesn't cause the listeners to regress into some sort of fetal position or bang your heads against the wall (but maybe that isn't so bad). It was literally a first attempt at music in a band, and one I remember fondly. Thank you Em, Anne, and Annie!


I had the house with drums, and they had the vision. I don’t remember the conversation that began the band, only that I was always up for adventure and trying anything new. I was flattered that these ladies, creative and individualistic each one, invited me to join them on their endeavor to make music.

A few clear memories:
  • In practice Emily said, try this: which was a definite punk rhythm, not rhythm and blues (which was all I knew how to play at the time); I started hammering away and it made me feel free. Thanks, Em!
  • Faye turned around so I could see her and be in rhythm with her bass; Awesome! A connection of creating something immediate. Thanks Faye!
  • Annie: Laughing always, but led us (me, at least) with intuitive, kind, and sparky grace.
  • I was so nervous about the St. Mary’s coffee house show that I dropped my new hot pink drumsticks on the 1-2-3-4- Count, and a few other times. Sorry, ladies! (I think that was our debut)
  • Going to find outfits: loved the black dresses with white collars; wish I still had mine…
  • Struggling over that tricky transition in "Rev" in general and in the studio. Still sounds so awkward to me.
  • Overall, having a blast! So much fun! I loved being part of the group, and entering, even so shallowly (I think we had five total songs) into the larger ND music scene.
I must thank Jim Bukow, whose drums were in the basement of the unfortunately named “Swamp House,” where I lived with housemate Ryan Halford. Both Jim and Ryan played with Sweep The Leg Johnny, who practiced in our basement.

I must also thank Vinny Carrasco, who gave me the gift of hot pink drumsticks (labeled “Hotsticks”) which I still have today... Thank you, Vinny, wherever you are.

Thank you also Steve Sostak, who I believe was integral to getting us on the CD, and for all the folks in bands who encouraged us and friends who supported us.

--Anne Evans



Leslie said...

Those black and white dresses were a total score. I miss the thrifting in the bend - the best thrifting in the world!

James Kennedy said...

I loved Speed Queen / Las Peligrosas! I have two really good pictures of the band I'd like to share -- how can I get them into this post?

And I second Theodore: WHERE IS ANNIE? She and Lael are so frustratingly unreachable. And I loved them both so much.

theodore said...

photos added. thanks, james!

Ted said...

I recall the show at the architecture building that had some professors in attendance. My favorite song was the shambling one about spring fever/break. It sounded like what the All Girl Summer Fun Band would come to do 7 or so years later.

Alisha said...

I have 1 more memory to add- Ted Koterwas was at one of your first shows, and Anne was super nervous to play in front of him. After the show, he came up to Anne and said, "You have interesting patterns." I'm sure it was a compliment.
I also remember having total dress envy at that Dalloway's show and for years afterwards, would look for something similar when thrifting.
I do also recall that recording "Rev" was tough for you guys, but damn! At least you made the album!!!