Ginger Coyote Interviews Cecilia Frightwig for Punk Globe Magazine.
Populism features a write up on MEOW Conference and Frightwig:
“And then there was Frightwig. In the 1980s this Bay Area band created a spectacular racket of psychedelic psych-outs and righteous bitching. The Runaways sang about being the Queens of Noise, but Frightwig truly were. Their glorious outrage blew open doors through which the Lunachicks, Babes in Toyland, Hole, L7 and Riot Grrrls came streaming/screaming. Then they disbanded, had kids, and became costume designers and Mudwimin.
And now they’re back. The four women of Frightwig (plus ace keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman, of PJ Harvey and Captain Beefheart fame) are all well into the second acts of their lives, but matronly they are not: Guitarist Mia Levin/d’Bruzzi is the uber-guitar-goddess. Nor has their feminist fire dimmed one iota. Singer Deanna Ashley/Mitchell was the only person I heard all weekend call out Texan assholes Rick Perry and Ted Cruz, and salute local hero Wendy Davis. Cecilia Kuhn pulled her towering physique and gray waterfall mane out from behind the drums to resurrect the wronged-lover plaint “Punk Rock Jail Bait.” She and Rebecca Tucker/Sevrin, clad in a custom black leather bustier and playing a handmade guitar, strode like Amazons on the puny stage. Hell hath no fury … by song’s end Kuhn abandoned vocals for a Tourette’s explosion of sign language, no translation necessary.”
When she formed Frightwig three decades ago, Deanna Mitchell had no idea how crucial her all-girl garage-punk combo would become. But with two great albums —“Cat Farm Faboo” in 1982 and “Faster, Frightwig, Kill! Kill!” in 1983 — the band blazed a trail for female musicians and helped launch the riot grrrl movement. By 1994, after countless lineup changes (including a stint by Paula Frazer, of Tarnation renown), Mitchell and co-founders Mia d’Bruzzi and Cecelia Kuhn were so sick of touring they called it quits. Now Mitchell, who works part time for the San Francisco Department of Elections, feels it’s time for a Frightwig renaissance, which kicks off with a new EP, “Hit Return” (produced by latest member Eric Drew Feldman), and an upcoming album for Southern Records, which already reissued “Cat” and “Faster” as the two-disc “Wild Women Never Die.”
Looking back, can you sense the Frightwig legacy now? Well, we had L7 come to San Francisco for their very first show, to play our second record-release party. So what we did — and I know it now — is, we made it OK for those girls in all those bands. They saw us play and I think they probably felt like, “Wow! It’s OK, we can do this, too!” But it’s been interesting, sitting back and watching the rise of the girls, like Courtney Love. I feel like we set some bricks down in the past, so I’ve enjoyed seeing the women come up in the music business.
What’s your new single, “Crawford,” about? Well, technically, it’s not new. Mia and I wrote that back in ’82. There was this girl back then named Crawford who played in this band G.O.D., Girls On Drugs, and she used to get wasted on alcohol, drugs, whatever — I’m not sure. But she would be passed out at parties. And we were at this party one night, and she was passed out, and nobody really thought anything about it. But she was dead. So Mia and I wrote that song, but it was so depressing we just put it away.
How has the music business changed since you left? Record labels aren’t paying for people to record unless it’s somebody big, and there are a thousand times more bands now. So the only leg we have up is our history. I’ve spent this past year asking questions of people I respect — people in bands, people at labels. And I’m pretty realistic — there’s a set group of people who know of Frightwig, not a large audience. So we need to get our name out there, become more visible, and grow an audience all over again.
Ginger Coyote Interviews Deanna Mitchell for Punk Globe Magazine.
‹ 1 2 3 4