Interview with Betsy Bitch
Betsy Bitch has been in the music business for some time and she did several releases on Metal Blade back in the 1980's. She is back at it again and I recently got to interview her to learn more.
MM-I know that you have your band going again. Who else is in the current line-up and where did you find them?
BB-My current line up is as follows:
Betsy Bitch (of course)
Robby Settles - drums (original BITCH drummer)
Steve Kara - lead and rhythm guitar
Steve Gaines - bass
Jay Dean - lead and rhythm guitar
Robby, as I said, has been with BITCH since it's formation, Steve Gaines has been a long-time friend and was in Abbatoir back in the day, Jay Dean and I used to go to high school together (!), and Steve Kara is a friend of Jay's and that's how I met him (phenomenal guitar player).
MM-So where have you been playing? What has been the response to you shows so far?
BB-After we played The Bang Your Head Festival in Germany (awesome experience...we played with Dio, Twisted Sister, Dokken, Y&T, Thin Lizzy....the list of legendary bands goes on and on), that's when I put this new line-up together. We played some local shows just to get the feeling of playing live together and the response was quite good. We performed mostly vintage-BITCH material and people were saying they had never heard it sound so good. Since then, we have been focusing on recording our new release and not playing gigs too much.
MM-Have you been writing any new music? If so then how does it compare to your older material?
BB-The new release is all-new killer material. It's still heavy, but the songs are much better and the musicianship is far more superior than in the past.
MM-What were some of the first albums that you really got into?
BB-My favorite albums from way-back-when that inspired me were "Love It To Death"/Alice Cooper...."Cheap Trick"/Cheap Trick (their first release)....."Ziggy Stardust"/David Bowie....."British Steel"/Judas Priest....and pretty much all of the earlier Alice and Cheap Trick releases. That's the "short list"..there are many more.
MM-How old were you when you started singing in bands? Were you in any bands before Bitch?
BB-I was about 19 when I got into my first "garage band" (we didn't even have a name)...then a couple of years after that, I joined a band called "The Boxboys". We started out rock & roll/kinda' new-wave, and then they eventually changed it into a ska band. We had a couple of releases, one of which was on the soundtrack to a movie. In the long run though, ska just wasn't my style of music so I sort of fled that situation.
MM-This is probably the question you have heard all the time, but why did you pick the name Bitch?
BB-My original guitarist, David Carruth, and Robby (my drummer) already had the name picked out before they met me. They originally had it in mind for it to be an all male line-up. But after they met me and I auditioned, we all figured what better name for a band with a female front-person. And I was all for it due the fact that I was inspired by Alice Cooper...I was totally into the concept of not only fronting a band, but playing the role of "Betsy Bitch" as well.
MM-What do you remember about the early days of Bitch? Was it tough to get signed? How did you break through?
BB-The early days of Bitch bring back fond memories...writing our first songs....rehearsing every weekend wherein those rehearsals would sort of turn into a party/showcase kind of thing with friends and family hanging out at the studio watching us play. The metal scene in L.A. was pretty happening back then. We had some awesome gigs...played with Metallica, Slayer, Wasp, Ratt, Great White. It was tons of fun. It wasn't difficult for us to get signed at all. Brian Slagel was a good friend and he was just starting up Metal Blade at that time. He put us on the first several "Metal Massacre" compilation releases, and then we were his first full-band release after that.
MM-What was the LA club scene like in the early-mid 1980’s? Was it insanely competitive? What were you doing that helped get you noticed?
BB-The L.A. club scene at that time was awesome. You could go out and either play a gig, or see a band any night of the week (not just weekends) and the clubs would be packed! Yeh - there were alot of bands, but I wouldn't necessarily call it competitive...we were all kind of enjoying playing with one another. The Sunset Strip was always a party too...bands all up and down The Strip handing out flyers...you didn't even necessarily have to go into a club to have a good time...The Strip was a party in and of itself. I guess what made BITCH stand out and get noticed was that we were the first leather and studs/metal band with a female out front playing a character. We had all our bondage gear on stage...I'd come out with my whip...we even had a gimmick where I would coax my "Slave" out of a box. He'd come out all macho and leathered-out and by the end of the bit I reduced him to a cowering servant hanging onto my leg. We have it on video...Classic!!
MM-On the cover of “Be my slave” you have all of the chains, whips and stuff. Did you use any of those kinds of props live?
BB-Sorry I jumped the gun, but I did answer that in the last question. Yeh - I'm a big fan of using props as a front person. I believe that if you're gonna play live, you gotta give the audience a visual kick in the ass, as well as kicking them in the ass with the music.
MM-Why the name change to Betsy for the 1988 album? Did you consider it a solo album?
BB-The name change was just an experiment to see if not using the band name of BITCH might afford us a little more commercial affordability. Back then, the "B-word" was a little more taboo than it is nowadays, so we thought that might have been impeding our success abit. In the long run, it made no difference, so we went back to the original and better name of BITCH. However, the "Betsy" release is my favorite in terms of material, performance and production.
MM-Your last album was in 1989. Do you get out of music after that or were you still trying to make a go of it into the 1990’s?
BB-None of us ever got out of music. BITCH just kinda' took a bit of a hiatus when the whole grunge thing started to become more prevalent. We will did different things....I re-formed BITCH with temporary members just to play some gigs...I was also in an all-female band for a short time called "Sister Strange". Another thing I did in the interim was help friends' bands out in the studio occasionally, such as my duet with Lizzy Borden on "Don't Touch Me There". Ya know...just kept busy.
MM-Let’s say someone came up to you and had never heard your music, but could only afford one album. Which one would you recommend and why?
BB-Even though releases such as "Be My Slave" are more representative of what BITCH was all about, I always recommend the "Betsy" release because that's the one I feel most confident about. I like pretty much all of the songs on it, my voice is in peak form, and the production is superior.
MM-What do you think about the hard rock/metal scene these days? Is it growing, dying or what?
BB-I like the fact that "everything old is new again". The hard rock metal's back...the hair metal is back...nostalgia is a good thing! When you come right down to it, those types of music never truly went out.
MM-What kind of music are you listening to these days?
BB-I still listen to a lot of the old stuff. Some of the newer bands I recently got into were The Darkness, Oasis, Foo Fighters....but I still love to listen to my old Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick, Whitesnake, Sabbath, Priest, etc.
MM-Pick the band from each of the following pairs that you prefer and tell why you picked that band.
Lizzy Borden or WASP
Wasp had better material.
Motley Crue or Ratt
Motley Crue...more interesting on stage and better overall material.
Aerosmith or Alice Cooper
DUH!!! Alice is my hero (I have a tattoo of him on my left bicep...Me & Alice = together forever!)
Alice Cooper or KISS
Double-DUH!!!! (although I have been to my fair share of KISS concerts and "Kiss Alive" got more than a few hundred spins on my turntable)
MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music?
BB-We have a website in the works, but until then - stay tuned to http://www.myspace.com/bitchmetal for future developments on the upcoming release, and all-things-BITCH. I also wanted to thank everyone for their support and ongoing interest in the band. You haven't heard the last of this Bitch...not by a longshot!