Badass Band 37

              I’ve finally got another kickass punk band for you, and this one is extra rad, because they incorporate an instrument not usually found in punk rock, accordion. Do not be fooled by the ‘Cinderella’ in their name, this band is not a Taylor Swift sweet, poppy, simplistic lyrics kind of band. This band puts the BAD in badass. Badass Band 38 is Cinderella Motel.

               Cinderella Motel was a breath of fresh air when their music came to my attention. I was definitely intrigued by the name and the fact that the band has a 2:2 guy/girl ratio, I was wondering who was going to be playing what. So after checking out their Facebook, I went along to Youtube and was blown away by what I saw and heard. Let’s start with what I heard, because truly, that is the most important thing. I watched four or five of CM’s videos, I believe ‘Ride Operator’ was first. I dug on the bass line immediately and then Hawk broke out with her rough, growling, powerful vocals, and by 1:30 in I was pretty well sold. I went on to check out ‘Automatic Pleasure’, ‘Elevator’, and ‘Textual Relationship’. All of these tunes are off of their first full length release titled ‘Automatic Pleasure’.  ‘Textual Relationship’ is where CM officially won me over. The incorporation of the accordion is ridiculously impressive. Hawk plays it expertly and the way it fits into the song with the varied speed guitar riffs and drum rhythms, just blew me away.

               Well, then we come to what I saw in these videos, because I have yet to see CM live. I saw a front woman that puts just about any chick out there playing rock music to shame. The front woman of CM is Tomahawk, aka Hawk, and she is pretty much a modern day Joan Jett. She is beyond what you could ever hope a punk rock front woman could be, loud, engaging, wild, war painted, and all over the place while cranking out raging vocals/accordion/guitar riffs. The other members of the band are Raul Guerrero on drums/vocals, Janice Reid on lead guitar, and Dustin Robles on bass/vocals. The whole band seems to follow Hawk’s lead and basically it’s like watching a punk rock powerhouse blow up the stage with pure intensity. This band whips out  tempo variation so quickly and flawlessly they leave you wanting more. These, combined with killer hooks, booming drum rhythms and metallic guitar riffs makes Cinderella Motel a punk rock bullet train people need to take a ride on.

               The members of Cinderella Motel were kind enough to take some time to talk to BBB and you can read on to find out why the name, who was inspired by ‘Hot for Teacher’, and what advice the ladies have for chicks in rock n roll!

When and why did each of you start playing?

Hawk – I used to sneak out of my room at the age of 5 and creep behind my parents sitting in their recliners watching SOLID GOLD.  I wanted to be one of those dancers..  Then I started loving 80s hair metal bands. I started out in the theater, but I picked up guitar in college b.c I hated depending on other people to play my songs. Chryssie Hynde was an influence then. The accordion came along years later b.c I wanted another instrument to write with.  I grabbed it when it was just collecting dust in my vocal coach’s apartment in SF.

JFR – When I saw Eddie Van Halen playing that solo in the “Hot for Teacher” video—shredding, smiling, and casually walking on the library tables—I knew I wanted to play guitar! I was about 10 years old when I picked up the old acoustic my sister had abandoned for the drums. Since then, I’ve been hooked.

Dustin — I learned air guitar to Kiss’ Destroyer at age 6.

Raul – At about 17 years of age.  The drums are a very primitive form of instrument. The sound itself is very primal.  It’s like eating raw meat and sex at its purest form.

What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How does that differ from what you listen to now? 

Hawk – Then : Heavy metal / hard and classical rock / some pop i.e. Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue, The Cure, Boy George, Prince, Ratt, Black Sabbath, Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin —- Now: more prog rock/ experimental/ noise rock – Blonde Redhead, The Kills, Mars Volta, Peaches, Wild Flag, The Hives

Dustin – Rock, rock and more rock.

Raul – Heavy metal/ hard rock. I still listen to heavy metal but much also many other types– jazz, blues, punk, everything rock n roll. 

Which musicians do you admire? Why?

Hawk – Carrie Brownstein ( killer guitar player / funny / smart biz woman) , Jack White (no matter how much shit people talk about him; you can’t help but want his career —- producer, musician, actor ) , Henry Rollins (stands up for rock, has had and still continues to have an illustrious career) , PJ Harvey (simple yet powerful)

Dustin – Eric Avery…proof of the bass’ underrated importance.

Raul – Bill Ward, Louie Bellson, Mitch Mitchell, Ian Paice, Ginger Baker, PJ Harvey. Why ?Have you seen this people play?! Yikes!!!

Why the name Cinderella Motel?

Raul – Don’t know . Ask Hawk.

Hawk – in SF, I wrote a few rockopera-ish type things. One combined fairy tales and rock n roll. I thought of this name, saved it for the band I was to create in LA and made a myspace for it before the band even existed.

Do you get nervous before a show?

Hawk – Very seldom. If I do, I just take deep breaths.  I try not to talk over bands before playing ; I fuck up my voice this way. 

JFR – I used to get really nervous. I am a pretty shy person and don’t like to be the center of attention. I used to be terrified of getting on a stage…with all those people…looking at me. But, after doing it for a few years, I have gotten over(most) of the nerves. It’s so much fun I kind of forget that I have stage fright.

Dustin – Not anymore.

Raul – only if we haven’t practiced a new song for very long

Any rituals before a show?

Hawk –vocal warm up, throat coat or throat spray, stretches, beer, tequila on the rocks

Dustin – Helen stellar used to smoke weed before every show.

Raul –Nothing strange. Prefer a dark beer or cheap beer (pabst, bud) before show, depending on how much I have.

Describe your show visually &musically for those who have never been.

Hawk – two girls, two guys. I tend to gyrate and freak out at times. And I wear war paint, And have been for years. Its become a bit of trend in different acts – it’s not like I invented something new. BowWowWow and Adam Ant did it. But once trends happen, it usually makes me stop doing something.  So that might not be happening with me much longer. That’s why I grew out my shaved sides (thanks, Girl with a Dragon Tattoo). As far as everyone else, JFR (Janice) is pretty damn stoic but occasionally steps into the crowd to shred. She smiles at me a lot, too. Raul is a rock – never misses a beat and it’s hard to get photos of him b.c he’s stuck in the back.  If there’s stage banter, it exists between Dustin and I. And he’s got some moves .  Musically, it goes as such: If  Iggy, The Kills, and Peaches had a baby backed by the Siouxnation.

Raul – Bombastic, heavy. A bit ‘o sludge thrown in.  Charismatic front person.

How does your creative process typically work? What inspires you?           

Hawk – I am constantly putting ideas, lyrics, concepts, titles in the NOTES and VOICE MEMO of my phone. If someone got my phone, they’d think I was insane. Sometimes songs start with a melody, a riff, lyrics, a title that one of us brings in —-just depends, they’re all different. Life, nature, amazing musicians, art, amazing performers, music documentaries and my dude inspire me.

Raul –Someone brings an idea to rehearsal and everyone contributes.  I get inspired by old footage of be-bop, swing, and classic rock drummers

What do you think you biggest break or greatest opportunity has been in your career so far? 

Hawk – Henry Rollins playing our song ‘Clearance Valentine’ on his 1st broadcast of 2012.  Being a support act for Marnie Stern last year.

Raul – to be able to play with this solid group of talented musicians in this band.

What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?

Hawk – schedules and getting the right people to hear our music. And for awhile, finding the right rig for my accordion.

JFR – Balancing two very different careers.

What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you in the coming year?

Hawk – New songs for the new record.  A video should be out by summer. I also have a female power trio I’m starting and a solo project on the backburner.

JFR – New record. New  video.

Raul – New songs.

Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique? If your band had a slogan, what would it be?

Hawk – People should listen b.c we’re playing garage-punk with an accordion on some songs, cool tempo changes and we love to play live.  Slogan: Love; Have adventures; make music.

If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

Hawk –  Make it easier to make a living making music.

Raul – For bands not to be taken advantage of by bad contracts. Your word, honesty and a handshake would be nice.

Hawk & Janice- You two exude confidence and badassery on stage, what advice do you have for chicks starting out in rock n roll?

JFR – Badassery, huh? Why, thank you. My confidence in my playing came slooowly after years of studying and practicing. Some girls have confidence from the start, which is great as long as they back it up with some talent. Just being the novelty ‘chick in the band’ isn’t going to get you very far. There is always more to learn and more work to do. And never let a guy know more about your guitar than you do. 😉

Hawk – Do your own thing. What people think of you is none of your business. Learn about gear. Write constantly. Music and the stage is a place for you to be anything you want.   Drama belongs onstage; not off.

Random Portion

One song you never get tired of.

Hawk – The Kills: Last Day of Magic //  Stone Roses : I wanna be Adored //Death from Above : Black History Month

Dustin – The second half of free bird.

Raul – Hotel California. No! Sorry, bad joke.  I think it would have to be “Supernaut” by Black Sabbath.

What is the best live show you have ever gone to?

Hawk – there’s been a lot. Most recently, The Hot Snakes at the Troubador.

Dustin – Impossible.

Raul – PJ Harvey at the Palladium. It was just her, a drummer and a bass player. Radiohead opened up for her.

Favorite things to do NOT musically related.

Hawk – travel to strange and exotic places. Walk into saloons in the middle of nowhere. Roller coasters.  Snowboard. Camp.  Go to the desert. Swim in the ocean. Drink tequila .

Dustin – Drink and smoke.

Raul – Involvement with motorcycles, preferably air-cooled bikes —- Harleys, Triumphs, BSA, Old Hondas

If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?           

Hawk – so many questions! Fine, Wonder Woman w/ a dash of Doc from Back to the Future.

Dustin – Superman, duh.

Raul – Master of the Flying Guillotine

Best prank you have ever pulled?

Hawk – Don’t know about ‘best’, but one time, when I worked in a fancy restaurant, I put two aspirin in the potatoes on a dish that was finished yet looked full and brought it back to the chef.  Said ‘Um, the customer found these in their dish. Dude….” He freaked out, then I told him I put them there.  He appreciated me.

Prized Possession?

Hawk – My ’65 Fender Twin that was originally Greg’s from The Knack but my Weltmeister red/gold accordion is right next to that. 

Dustin – An old military pin I scored in Cuba for getting the guy some pizza.

Raul – It’s either my 26” bass drum or my motorcycle

What kind of jobs did you have before you were in the music industry?

Hawk – mostly bartending, cocktailing, waiting tables, production and art department work in photo/film. STILL bartending…..:)

JFR – I haven’t quit my day job just yet. I’m an elementary school teacher (hold the Hot for Teacher jokes, please). Before that I was a bookseller at a Barnes & Noble.

Dustin – Pizza delivery.

Raul – motorcycle tech

If you only had 5 minutes on Earth to play one song that would have an impact on society forever, what would it be?

Hawk – well, of course, Cinderella MOTEL’s “Automatic Pleasure”. Ha  —— Guns n Roses : RocketQueen

Dustin – Slayers ‘Reign in Blood.’

Raul – ‘Hard Rain’ by Bob Dylan


Twitter: @cinderellamotel




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