Gossip is whispered, cigarettes are smoked, arms are crossed and uncrossed, and then the band takes the stage. An anticipation and hush that could only be described as electric takes hold.
A beat begins - minimal, sparse. Single white beams cast shadows against the ceiling and crowd. What could either be hours or minutes later, the kraut-rock intro turns to verse and the crowd begins to sing along: “Sick of trying to find a way inside, sick and tired of all the after.” A shriek-like scream builds from the back of the crowd and moves to the front where a congregation of girls are camped in anticipation. And at just about this time, a peculiar thing starts to happen: everyone starts dancing.
And suddenly we are saved. Saved from the legions of samey-sameson throwback bands, saved from another night of being too hip to dance, and saved from ourselves. She Wants Revenge have come to save us all.
“We just wanted to make a record that would make girls dance or cry.” Justin sips his coffee, sits back in his chair and smiles. Adam 12 chimes in, “Or both…… we’re both fans of music and we made the album we wanted to hear. Everything you get on record and live is very, very honest. And artistic output that is truthful can only elicit truthful responses… people know, the kids know when they’re being lied to, when something feels manufactured as opposed to being made. We are those kids.”
Justin laughs. Then, obviously wound up, jumps in: “There’s plenty of bands operating within a context and genre right now, but if you take away the wardrobe, belts and make-up, what is really being said? If it’s nothing, that’s OK too, some music is just for dancing or wallpaper. But we are trying to speak to people as we were once spoken to, and whether that results in dancing, crying, or people wanting to make love to our music, then so be it. We take this very serious.”
And they are serious. Usually grand pronouncements from new bands are just so much hype coupled with false bravado and the kind of copy that makes for good record sales and “you heard it first” sound bites… but with these two I sense something far more sinister, and it’s statements like these that belie the two’s hip-hop roots. More than the clothes (which are more uniform black, hooded, and vaguely militaristic than b-boy) and more than the beats (which, though they speak of post hip-hop, probably owe more to Manchester than the South Bronx), it’s the attitude that truly reveals the band’s best kept secret and what may very well be their secret weapon: they are two b-boys from the Valley who came together to make hip-hop and somehow ended up making the best 80’s album we’ve never heard before. Instead of making nostalgia rock, these two valley boys have unwittingly crafted a masterpiece of a record that will be looked at for years to come as nothing short of inventive, groundbreaking, pop-perfect dance darkness that will have future generations harkening back to their salad days of clubbing, make-outs, break-ups, and long nights.
Conversation turns to girls, the infamous “crush list” and a host of all things sex, and suddenly, an hour’s gone past. The two stand up, gather their things, politely shake my hand and thank me for my time. They leave with a humble wave, and sitting back down to my tea I think back to something the guys said earlier.
Adam - “Our music is a modern extension of a time in the late 70s and early 80s when music was colliding in ways it never had before. We’re talking about New Order hearing what Arthur Baker and Bambatta were doing in New York and what was going on with Chicago house, then taking that back to the U.K. and incorporating that into their dark northern view of punk rock. Then there’s the birth of early hip-hop in NYC coinciding with the club music coming out of Danceteria, Nels, the Palladium, the Latin Quarter, and the Mudd Club. You had Madonna, Basquiat, Blondie, John Lurie, the New York City Breakers and the Rock Steady Crew… Liquid Liquid, James Black and ESG all in the same time and place - it’s unheralded.”
Justin - “There’s been no other time in the culture of art and music where you could you be dancing to a Nile Rodgers disco classic at Studio 54, then hop in a cab and ten minutes later be watching the Voidoids at Max’s Kansas City with Warhol, Bowie and Schnabel in attendance. This is what we are doing today - only there are no flashing cameras or Legs Mc Neils following us around documenting the stuff we’re doing….”
Not yet maybe, not yet.
Adapted from a March 16 2005 article for Sheffield Rock Times by Johann Wellesley Daughters