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Barbe-Q-Barbies: Everything is possible in the summer of love
STALKER series „Women In Rock“
STALKER came across this undeniable cool bandnam every now and then, high time to find out who´s behind the "Barbe-Q-Barbies". According to their webpage, it´s "Five Femme Fatales who bring every Ken down to their knees" - and backstage after their gig at the "Kallio kukkii" festival in their hometown Helsinki, they revealed what they experienced with W.A.S.P. frontman Blackie Lawless in the shower rooms, and much more...
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First of all, thank you, girls, for taking some time for this interview. For the beginning, would you like to introduce yourselves?
Kaisa: I`m Kaisa. I play the guitar.
Niina: I`m Niina. I play the drums.
Minttu: I`m Minttu. I play the bass.
Niki: And I`m Niki and I sing.
And one girl is missing...
Niki: Yeah, Ekkis, the other guitarist... She should come...
And, Minttu, you are a brandnew face in the band, aren`t you? I just saw you on stage for the first time. What happened with Katja?
Niki: Nothing bad. We just decided that it wasn`t working well any more. It was no personal thing or anything like this. It was just a decision we made together so there aren`t any hard feelings involved. It was just the better solution. And now we go from here...
When did the change take place?
Niina: About three weeks ago...
Kaisa: So we`ve been really busy to find a new bass player.
And when did you join the band, Minttu?
Minttu: Well, about two weeks ago... [Laughter]
So it was only one week without a bass player...
You have a quite long history as the Barbe-Q-Barbies are existing since nearly ten years, and I stumbled on names like "Terhi", "Maria" and "Katriina"... Can you tell us a little bit more about your biography and the previous line-up changes?
Niina: Well, Terhi was our first singer and after Terhi came Maria and Katriina was our first bass player.
Niki: But Katriina doesn`t do anything with music any more. She decided to quit all the music stuff and she is doing some computer works nowadays.
Niina: And about Terhi, I think this music style was not her music style. She is more into this 50s Rockabilly style. So it was the same solution like now with Katja, like "Ok, it`s not working out any more"...
Kaisa: She has another band now, "Cold Call".
Niina: Yeah, so Terhi is still doing music but then again Maria was like Katriina and decided to leave the music thing behind her. She used to play the guitar in Thee Ultra Bimboos before she joined us but she was very into art things as well, she is a painter, and then she decided that her time for the artist stuff had came. So no big drama in any of those changes. It`s just like that we went to different directions.
So you started with the band in the year of 2002 and for how long stayed Terhi?
Niina: I think Terhi came along just in 2003 because first we didn`t have any singer so I was singing and we released a 7" single in that year. It was called "Rodeo Roll". [Laughter] That was me, Ekkis and our first bass player Katriina so we did those songs as a threesome... And really soon after that, Kaisa came along.
Kaisa: "We did those songs as a threesome"!?! [Laughter] Yeah, I came in 2003... [Laughter] To the band! You little perverts!
Niina: Oh, and we really did this LP! [Laughter] Yeah, but it`s not gonna work if I am the singer so Terhi came and in 2004 or 2005 she left and we got Maria right away, until 2007. And since 2007 we have Niki. Niki had a solo thing going on back then. I saw her playing in "Tavastia" and I was like: "Oh, I like the girl!" [Laughter]
Kaisa: While Maria was still our singer, we had a common gig with Niki`s solo project...
Niina: And when Maria decided to leave the band, I was like: "Ok, let`s call this Niki girl!" I wanted to figure out if she would fit into the band and, indeed, it worked out perfectly, we had fun at the rehearsals - and it`s still the same!
Niki: And now I`m here and we are having a fivesome! [Laughter]
What was the name of your solo project and are you still doing something with that project?
Niki: No, no, no. I`m working on music and I`m writing music and all this stuff but I left the solo project behind me. And it was just called "Niki".
And it`s probably more fun to have other girls around you than being alone on stage...
Niki: Well, I never thought about the difference of being or playing with girls or with guys. I mean, even with my solo project I wasn`t alone on stage. I had a band around me and they were all guys. But it doesn`t matter for me if I am surrounded by girls or by guys as long as they are good players and good persons...
Next to the names of the previous band members, I also stumbled on songs like "Gucci Girl" and "Wasted"...
Barbe-Q-Barbies: [Smiling] Yeah, they are older stuff!
Niki: "Wasted", yeah. We still perform that one sometimes. And we also have it on youtube and it`s been watched pretty often there. "Gucci Girl"... [Laughter] We haven`t played that one since many, many years.
Kaisa: I think we left it behind us, somehow...
Niki: Yeah, we... We do music, you know. And if you do music, you do a lot of music and all the music will end up on albums one day - or not. You have to decide if a song is good enough to make it on an album or not and probably... Well, this particular song... I think it just wasn`t our style any more...
Minttu: I think this song even had a few other names before "Gucci Girl"...?
The other girls: "50s Girl"!
Minttu: I think that was when you had Terhi in the band...
Kaisa: That`s an oldie!
Niina: Oldie Goldie!
Niki: And then I turned it into "Gucci Girl". [Laughter]
Niina: Yeah, and if you are wondered now: Minttu is not like just a random guy we found on the street. [Laughter] We know her for a very long time. We actually play in another band together so that`s the reason why this time we had to face only one week being without a bass player...
Minttu: However, during this interview I`m learning so much as well![Laughter] I started without knowing the band`s history that well...
Personally, I`m a huge fan of The 69 Eyes and many, many fans of The 69 Eyes out there know your name and wear your t-shirts since about five years which is a pretty long time, especially if you don`t have any album released. Were the line-up changes the reason why it took that long time until your debut album "All Over You" finally came out?
Kaisa: Yeah, I think it was a big reason for that. We didn`t had like THE line-up and, of course, it always takes time when you have new people in the band, like rehearse the songs, play gigs, create new music and so on.
Niina: It has been a hard road for us because it was really like "We have a singer, so let`s do the album!", "Oh, we have no singer", "We have a new singer, let`s try the whole thing again", "Oh, again, we have no singer" [Laughter] But now we have a singer! And, of course, it took a few years till we got to the point where we are now... Where we get the whole thing together...
Niki: And, of course, you don`t wanna rush too much because then the result is gonna be bad. So we took it easy, made lots of songs, rehearsed them, played a few gigs... There was one summer where we had lots of gigs although we didn`t had any album released. But now we are ready...
Didn`t you have a record company behind you that put pressure on you?
Niina: No, no. Just after we had recorded the whole album, we tried to look for a record company...
Niki: We went the other way around: We played gigs, we made the album and just then we were searching for a label.
Niina: We really wanted to do the album. For ourselves. We didn`t really care if the record companies would be interested in us or not. We just needed our output, otherwise we would have lost our mind.
Niki: Yeah, but we also made the whole stuff in the way we like it and the way we want to have it and just then we went to the record companies like: "This is us, this is what we sell and if you are interested..." And then everything worked out just perfectly.
That sounds pretty cool and to get back to The 69 Eyes: Their fans know you because Bazie, one of the band`s guitar players, produced some songs of you...
Kaisa: Yeah, he arranged a few of our songs, like "Escort" and "Don`t Look At Me"...
Niina: He helped us with good tips, advices concerning basic structures of the songs and so on...
And how come that you worked with him?
Kaisa: Niina was on a party... [Laughter] And Bazie was there, too.
Niina: Yeah, back then I was giving our demo to everyone - and telling everyone: "I have a band, I have a band!" [Laughter]
Kaisa: Bazie really liked our music so he wanted to do some arrangements for us.
Could you imagine a collaboration with The 69 Eyes or another band, especially from Finland, like doing a song or a tour together?
Niki: Everything is possible! Why not, why not...
Especially for you. Just recently you performed with Santa Cruz who are a very promising newcomer, I think...
Niki: They are really good! Very nice boys. They are supercute and really good players. Yeah, it was fun. They just asked if I would like to perform a few coversongs with them so... Why not? Why the hell not!?! It was fun and I know the guys since a couple of years and we are always open to suggestions and chances and... You never know what`s gonna happen. It doesn`t have to be a band from Finland. It can be also a band from anywhere else. And we already played with other bands like W.A.S.P. and New York Dolls.
You also did some backing vocals for the Sonic Roots, for their debut album "Kill Street Blues" ...
Niki: Yes... You already know everything! [Laughter] I sang on two songs of them, "Junkie Girl" [Laughter] and... I can`t remember the name of the other song...
Niki: I also did some backing vocals for Grease Helmet which is Andy McCoy`s new band and there is also Niclas Etelävuori from Amorphis involved. I`m not sure yet what they will use or not but I did six songs for them so I believe they are gonna use at least some of the material. But, yeah, it`s always fun to do stuff like this as well.
You already mentioned W.A.S.P. and New York Dolls. How come that you opened their shows? Did they ask you? Did you apply?
Niina: Well, the W.A.S.P. thing was a competition. They received about 200 demos from bands who would like to open their show and they themselves choosed their opening act - and they choosed us!
Kaisa: That was a really big compliment for all of us!
Niina: And New York Dolls came via our management "Live Nation", I think. "Live Nation" asked us... Oh, no! We were not in "Live Nation" that time... So how did that come?!? I don`t know... I have no idea!
Are there any funny anecdotes you want to share with us?
Niina: I have a funny anecdote about Blackie Lawless who made us feel a bit like we had a concert with Michael Jackson... With all this towels on his head... Well, I wanted to see these guy but when he walked from the backstage to the bus, he was all covered in towels.
The other girls: Yeah!
Niina: Everybody was covering him. He didn`t show his face at all so it was really like... Well, a bit like Michael Jackson style.
Niki: I think I saw him coming out of the shower, with a turban on his head and a towel around his big belly. I was going to the toilet and suddenly he was standing there, almost naked, and I was like: "Oh, sorry!" And about the New York Dolls: We had a great aftershow party with them! Andy McCoy was there, too, because he knows Sami Yaffa very well...
Kaisa: Yeah, but Andy McCoy was there before the gig. He left before the gig ended because he had to go somewhere else and after the gig, we went to "Bar Loose" with Sami Yaffa and had a few Lonkeros with him over there. [Laughter] That`s basically it. We had a lot of fun there. They are very cool guys. Very nice.
And now you have an own tour going on which has started just now with your gig here at "Kallio kukkii", called "The Summer Of Love"... [Huge laughter]
Niina: Who said that!?! "Summer Of Love"!?!
Kaisa: It was me. I have posted something like this on facebook...
Niki: "The Barbe-Q-Barbies are going on `Summer Of Love` tour". I would prefer something like "The Barbe-Q-Barbies are going on `Heels On Fire` tour"... but ok. We are going on tour... A fivesome... "Summer Of Love"!
The tour will lead you through Finland, Sweden and Spain and in Spain, you will play three shows in its capital Madrid. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Minttu: I know nothing about it! [Laughter]
Niina: I know the guys who asked us to play there. The band is called "Ángeles" and right now they are playing there with Michael Monroe, as their support act. They just asked if we would like to come there. Sure we want but, of course, we had to arrange some things which worked out fine and now we are going to play there three shows with them, one festival on Saturday and club gigs on Friday and Sunday.
Kaisa: Yeah, it`s gonna be fun!
Have you ever been in Spain?
Niki: Not for gigs but I think everyone of us has been there for travelling. Spain is a great place!
How about Germany and Estonia? You mentioned in the past that you want to play there...
Kaisa: Yes, we have played in Estonia but not in Germany so far although we would like to go there.
Niki: Definitely! I think there is a great market for Rock`n`Roll music in Germany so that`s a place we really, really want to go as soon as possible, to tour around there...
Niina: There are already requests from Germany but it takes more time to go abroad than touring in Finland, especially when your music is only sold in Finland...
But it`s not easier to see you here in Helsinki if you are like me a Michael Monroe fan as well, because somehow you always play at the same time, like on 16th October 2010 when you played your record release show at "Bar Bäkkäri" / "Green Room". But you worked a miracle that night, because his evening shows are always completely sold-out, but on that night it wasn`t, because many of his fans came to your gig...
Niki: Haha, Michael! [Laughter]
Kaisa: Oh, yes, "Bar Bäkkäri" was completely packed with people! There were about 800 people...?
Niina: 950! And there have never been that many people before! They didn`t had enough bartenders there and I remember my mum saying: "I couldn`t get a drink in 45 minutes... I have to leave!" [Laughter] It was one of our best shows ever. We were totally excited that so many people came, amongst others all our friends...
Niki: We have to make another album to repeat that! Although: We will have another release party, also in "Green Room", for our new music video "Twisted Little Sister" which will be shown for the first time there. On all that screens in "Bar Bäkkäri" / "Green Room"... We are superexcited about that! Like every night when they play our video "Spell" over there...
Niina: And both videos are kind of nominated for the "Oulu Music Video Festival 2011", by the way...
Minttu: Oh, really? [Laughter]
At the video release party, will you play a gig like you did it at the record release party?
Barbe-Q-Barbies: No, we will just hang around and sipping champagne...
Niki: Yeah, because on the very next morning we will fly to Spain. At 6 o`clock. The video release party is on 2nd June and the gigs are on 3rd, 4th and 5th June.
Niina: We just take it easy and this party is mainly for the people who were somehow involved in that video. We will just watch the video for one hundred times or something like this - and then we will go home.
What is the story of the video? It has been filmed here in Helsinki in a mental institution called "Lapinlahden Sairaala" [in English: "The Lapinlahti Hospital"]...?
Kaisa: Yeah, it`s a very old hospital from eighteen hundred something and a very creepy place. Niki plays a patient who is in this mental hospital and gets injections from the nurse. We are playing patients as well, next to all the people who have participated in the video.
Your first video "Spell" wasn`t shot in Helsinki but in Ylöjärvi, a city near Tampere. Why there?
Niina: "Spell" was made by a media school which is located in Ylöjärvi. They got some financial support to do this music video so, of course, we took the chance and shot the video this way. They were all students, except the teacher who is a professional and has been the director of the video while teaching her students. "Spell" is like an old-school rock video but cool. Basic and simple.
You seem to be quite busy and I heard that you also hit the studio to work on new material...? When can we expect to hear the new stuff?
Minttu: Hopefully soon. We are very superexcited about it. We went to Hämeenlinna for one day and recorded one demo song over there and it sounds supergreat. We have played that new song here today; it`s called "Saturday"...
Yes, and there was also another song you played which was unknown to me...
Kaisa: "Crashing Down", yes! It isn`t on the album...
Niina: Yes, it was actually recorded for the first album but then we decided not to take it...
Kaisa: …because it was too different from the other songs. Maybe we will put it on the next album...
Now that you have a record deal, everything seems to work much faster. "All Over You" was just released in October 2010 and now it`s May 2011 and you already record the first demo songs for the successor...
Kaisa: Yeah, but that`s not because of the record label. That`s because we want to do new stuff and we are excited to do them. We never had any pressure from "Sound Of Finland", our record label. They are really cool people over there so they are ok with the way how we want to do it - and we are looking forward to do the new stuff.
What would you do if you wouldn`t be in Barbe-Q-Barbies? Can you imagine another life away from the Rock`n`Roll business?
Niki: No!!! [Laughter] I don`t know. I think Niina and Minttu would play in their other band and me and Kaisa would stay at home and write on music, writing songs...
Minttu: You can`t really say how it would be. It`s hard to think like this because you can`t imagine being without that...
Niina: I just can`t imagine it because I founded the band and I would feel very weird if I wouldn`t have it...
Minttu: And you will have it somehow like forever [points to Niina`s Barbe-Q-Barbies tattoo on her upper arm] so you can`t leave the band...
When did you get the tattoo?
Niina: In 2007.
What are you doing beside the music? Do you have professions or jobs beside the music?
Kaisa: Yes, sure! We have to get money from somewhere to pay the rent so I work with computer programmes.
Niina: I`m a window dresser in a chain store of "Mango" here in Helsinki.
Minttu: I`m a music culturist. Currently I work for the library of music but I`m doing it only for another week and then I`m done with it and I`m quite happy about it because I try to live from playing - and to live cheap.
Niki: I work in a mastering company called "Chartmakers". It`s the same company where we have mastered our album. I work there as an office manager. I`m taking care of bands, talk to labels, pre-listen to music... So that`s what I do every day: Listening to music...
Does anyone of you have another musical project beside Barbe-Q-Barbies, if there is any time left for it at all?
Minttu: I have five bands! [Laughter]
Niina: I have two other bands beside Barbe-Q-Barbies and one of them is the already mentioned common band with Minttu, called "Liquid Sisters". With them we are working on new material as well. It`s political Punk Rock. You can check it out on www.myspace.com/liquidsistersmusic. And then I have a band where I sing, called "The Genitals", or currently it`s just "The G" because fortunately there is another band in Finland called "The Genitals" so we had to change the name. The name "The Genitals" wasn`t my idea; it came from the guys... There has been also a gig where The Genitals supported the Barbe-Q-Barbies so I was supporting my own band... [Laughter]
The story about your bandname "Barbe-Q-Barbies" is quite well-known already so I think it`s unnecessary to ask you that again. Niina saw the music video for Soundgarden`s "Black Hole Sun" where a little girl barbecues a Barbie doll and that was the birth of your own bandname. But have there been any alternatives for your bandname?
Niina: No, because when we founded the band back then I already had that name in my mind...
Kaisa: And you always wanted to have the word "Barbie" in the band`s name...
Niina: Yes, because I`m a Barbie fan. I really like our bandname!
How about a coverversion of Aqua`s "Barbie Girl", in a rocky version?
Barbe-Q-Barbies: No!!! [Laughter]
Niina: Maybe we can use this song as an intro for our shows...
Kaisa: No, it`s the most annoying song ever!
The question was more a joke. Next to the story of your bandname you are always asked about how does it feel for you as a girl rock band being in a business that is dominated by guys. Don`t worry, I won`t ask you that for the hundredth time but you said you wouldn`t try to sell your music by wearing short skirts and showing your boobs what is quite commendable in my opinion. Is there any female artist you like and who has disappointed you in that way because she started to get attention not only by her music?
Niki: I don`t think I like anyone who is like this way. I look up to singers like Pink but even if she would start to dress up sexy I wouldn`t mind. I don`t really mind how people sell their stuff as long as their music is good. It`s just our decision not to sell our music like this way, or it hasn`t been even a decision. That`s just how we are. We love it to play Rock`n`Roll and we know that we won`t play it better when we are taking our clothes off. At least for me it would be rather the opposite because I would be worried all the time that my boobs could jump out if I would perform in a bikini. But who knows... Maybe one hot summer day I will have to perform in a bikini because it`s so damn hot...
For sure, the guys out there would appreciate it. So do you have any "Famous last words" for the guys and girls out there?
Minttu: "Famous last words" for guys and girls? Well, I`m a single and I take everything! [Laughter] Guys AND girls!
Kaisa: Minttu is our dating expert...
Minttu: Everything goes, everything goes! Always!
Niki: Guys and girls, it`s good to date both of them so we get much more fans. Thanks, Minttu!
Minttu: [starts to look worried] Oh, I will have sooo many love affairs...!
Niki: Well, this is the "Summer Of Love"! [Laughter]
Author: + photos: Stefanie Singh, promo picture by Nauska
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