I was truly amazed after hearing the kickass self-titled debut album by BITCHFIRE. Their grinding old school metal and hardrock songs take you right back to the roaring eighties. And if there’s one thing that I like a lot, then it’s being thrown back to the days, when rock and metal were still united and appreciated by many fans. Especially when it’s done by a great vocalist and frontlady like Sharyn Peach, you can’t go wrong. Another eye-catcher in BITCHFIRE is the blonde rasta man and guitarplayer Donny Sutton-Brown. He has put his reggae roots in the bin and became a metal guitarplayer, who plays very fast and furious. Now these people have something to explain to us. Are they willing to give the good ol’ heavy metal sound back to the kids? Here’s what Sharyn had to tell us....
When did BITCHFIRE get together as a band and how did you actually meet up?
Sharyn: “Actually, it is a great story. You just never know what’s going to happen next in life. I had just broken up with my boyfriend for three years and a few months later my friend talked me into joining an internet dating site. The first guy I met (Bart) took me to see CHEAP TRICK on Halloween (both of us in full eighties rocker costumes – straight black wigs, dog collars, spike wristbands, etc.) on our first date. Our second date was THE CULT and third JIMMY BUFFETT. Obviously, we were both into music. He saw my picture from my eighties band SHE’S SO LOUD and went nuts. I had the big eighties hair and had Dalmatian print spandex on. He still has the photo in his wallet. So I decided I’d show him an old video of myself in my all-female hard rock/metal band out of the eighties era of ‘hair bands’. He loved it and said he had a couple of musician friends, who had a band but said the male vocals sucked. He contacted Eddie D (the drummer), who said they were actually looking for a female singer. He went to meet Eddie and they jumped in his car and put in my old tape (of course SHE’S SO LOUD didn’t have a CD back then). Eddie loved it, passed it to Donny (guitarist), who loved it and I met them in the studio. We wrote five songs in two weeks, including our signature track “BitchFire”. It just clicked. They are all some of my closest friends now. Bart became our manager/promoter and boyfriend and it’s been almost three years now. It’s funny – you just never know.”
Who set out the musical direction of BITCHFIRE?
Sharyn: “Simply put: the eighties did. We are all products of the eighties daze… I think, it works for us and our fans. It’s what we all know and we went with it – music and image wise. The music itself is a collaboration on all of our parts. Donny and I usually start writing the songs at his house and we record them and give them to Eddie and Robbie. They fill in their parts and we meet at practice. From there, we all work together. Bart stays out of the music, but handles the band’s image including photos, clothing, My Space, our official website, gigs and all of the promotions. He is still trying to get me to perm my hair again.”
How would you describe your music yourself?
Sharyn: “I’ve personally labeled it ‘pissed-off angry bitch metal’, but in reality it’s hard hitting, punch you in the gut hard rock/metal. Obviously, it is personal and emotional.”
Who came up with the name BITCHFIRE and why?
Sharyn: “This is actually in the Urban Dictionary: Definition for Bitch-fire = “Any form of anger directed at you after you piss-off a woman. Example: I told her that the pants made her ass look ginormous. It was nothing but Bitch-fire after that”. (I love that!!!), but seriously… the name was made up by Donny’s (our guitarist) brother, before I joined the band. Once I heard the name, it was love at first Bitch! Let’s face it – after hearing the music, could you possibly pick a better name?”
Maybe you can tell us a little about the bands, prior to BITCHFIRE? I guess, that BITCHFIRE isn’t your first band? Did any of you actually record with these ‘earlier’ bands and what kind of music did you play or is this a secret (..we won’t tell..ha!)?
Sharyn: “I have no secrets, I write about them all, ha ha. My first band was in high-school and as I mentioned before, was an all female hard rock/heavy metal band in the late eighties, called SHE’S SO LOUD (which does have some of our music from back then up on the www.myspace.com/shessoloud. A highlighted memory….we opened for Doro Pesch at a club in Boston. We were together for about five years. We recorded an album (actually a demo tape with five songs) in 1991, called “Screaming In The Night” and a video. After we disbanded, in college, I joined a cover band. It was fun and we made some money. I pretty much went into the cover band scene for almost ten years and my last band, before I moved to Florida, THE BRAT PACK, was a retro eighties cover band. That was great fun!! And those guys are still my best friends.”
Who are the main musical influences of BITCHFIRE and maybe you can also point at the influences of each band member individually here, too?
Sharyn: “All of the original eighties hard rock. For myself, of course it would have to be LITA FORD, PAT BENATAR, DORO, HEART, SASS JORDAN, JOAN JETT, Geoff Tate of QUEENSRYCHE. I know Donny got hooked on guitars, when he first heard JUDAS PRIEST. Robbie Plast was influenced by the late great John Entwhistle (THE WHO) and Eddie D’s influences include John Bonham (LED ZEPPELIN) and Carmine Appice (VANILLA FUDGE, KING COBRA, DNA, OZZY OSBOURNE, BLUE MURDER, GUITAR ZEUS, etc.etc.). Truthfully, all of the guys like all of the eighties metal. We even go to shows together. Eddie bought us all tickets for the HEAVEN AND HELL / QUEENSRYCHE / ALICE COOPER show. We went to JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDENtogether as a band as well.”
Who writes the lyrics for BITCHFIRE and what are they about?
Sharyn: “I write the lyrics, and as I said before, I have no secrets….. Every time my boyfriend pisses me off, I write a song about it! It’s great therapy! Of course, he gets to listen to it over and over and over. The fans love it!”
How did the press react on your self-titled debut album so far?
Sharyn: “The response has been overwhelming! The European market has been so positive, as has Japan and Latin America. Not so much in the United States. Music has gotten so commercialized here. It’s crazy and it’s really morphed into the screaming kid ‘cookie monster’ stuff. Whoever screams the loudest and jumps the highest sells the most albums. Actually, we prefer the European, Japanese, Latin American markets, because they still like our style and actually buy the CDs. In the US , it’s just a quick download of one song on iTunes. I remember buying albums and looking at the cover, reading CD inserts and actually appreciating the physical form of the music – collecting and trading. That is gone in the US, but is still strong in other markets. We actually were approached about releasing our CD in vinyl in Germany.”
Did you also receive any negative comments and how do you deal with negative critics in general? Do you like to learn from it or do you rather try to forget about it as quickly as possible?
Sharyn: “Of course we did! One guy just panned us. He said I sucked and my image was bullshit. He said the album cover was retro eighties photoshop (duh) - exactly what we were going for. He gave us a 4 out of 10 – it was brutal. The next day, Melodic Rock gave us a 9.5/10 and we quickly forgot about the negative review. Like anything, you take from it and learn. You call them a few expletives, then you re-group and move on. You can’t take it to heart. Some of the negative ones were rather creative and we are actually listening to the feedback and going to be a little more diverse on our second CD, that will be out this spring.”
Did you play outside the U.S. yet and if yes, where did you play?
Sharyn: “Customs will not allow me to disclose that information at this time. No, actually we have not yet. We are scheduled around the US later this year. We are interested, however, in setting up a European leg or just playing a few festivals. You guys are the best fans and the most supportive.”
What has been your biggest gig so far?
Sharyn: ”LocoFest with MUDVAYNE. But also our CD Release Party in Miami with eighteen other bands and 5000+ people. What a show!”
Do you play any cover songs during your set, or do you stick to your own penned material alone?
Sharyn: “We actually have thrown in a few covers recently. “Iron Man” by BLACK SABBATH, “Ace Of Spades” by MOTORHEAD and “The Trooper” by IRON MAIDEN. I think, it helps the audience connect. Plus a female singing the male leads kinda mixes it up.”
What can people expect, when they come to see a BITCHFIRE live show?
Sharyn: “High energy! I sleep for a week after a show! We do a lot of sexy play on each other and with audience members. Participation is welcomed! Also, we bring our own lighting, fog and lasers, which definitely adds to the experience.”
Do you use any show elements (f.e. pyro technics) during your gigs?
Sharyn: “No pyro technics!!! I actually lost three friends in the tragic GREAT WHITE fire at the Station in Rhode Island in 2003, so I would personally like to steer clear of pyro. But yes, there are some other elements used….. Come to a show and find out!”
With which band(s) would you like to go on tour, if you could pick any band of your choice?
Sharyn: “C’mon, I can’t discriminate!!! We’d go out with everyone, like LITA FORD of course, JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, MOTLEY CRUE, WHITESNAKE (when David Coverdale recovers), QQUEENSRYCHE…. The list is endless, but I think we’d be welcomed by these huge bands from the eighties and their fans.”
What’s the metal scene like in Florida, where you are from? Are there many clubs where you can play live, or what?
Sharyn: “So bad, it is almost depressing. It’s pretty limited a to where original music is performed. There’s tons of bands and not enough venue or clubs. JUDAS PRIEST was here last week and was actually filming their show for their new DVD. In a 20,000 seat arena, it was, maybe, half-full. Pathetic! And it was an awesome show. In the NorthEast, where I grew up, it was all about live music and still is. All of the venues are packed every weekend and bands can expect huge crowds. Not so much in Florida - we have begun limiting our shows and working on the new album anyway.”
Which other well-known bands come from this area?
Sharyn: “NONPOINT is from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as is KINLIN, who is rapidly gaining in popularity. I’m originally from Boston and I can name more bands from there. I partied with rock bands like BOSTON, AEROSMITH, EXTREME, GODSMACK and DROPKICK MURPHY’S back in the day.”
I can imagine, that there have been some funny or hilarious moments, while being on the road or onstage at a gig. Maybe you can share some of these hilarious moments with our readers here?
Sharyn: “I don’t know how funny this is, but Donny, being a left-handed guitarist, always seems to face his guitar neck at me (rather than away – he likes a certain side of the stage). Well, he’s constantly whacking me with his guitar. I’ve had several fat lips and bruises. Other than that, I guess we’re all guilty of having gas on stage, at rehearsal, on the bus, at restaurants - mostly Donny. Of course, there’s the time Robbie tried to introduce us. His voice gets so high, when he tries to talk loud. It was hilarious, like a cartoon character. The audience was cracking up.”
Are there any important gigs on the calendar for BITCHFIRE?
Sharyn: “Every gig is important to us, it means new friends! But I’m personally excited for the third Annual Femme Fest in Miami, Florida. It showcases bands with chicks in them. Whether they sing, play guitar, bass, keys, drums, triangle, whatever. Also, Valkyrie in Minnesota next year is an all-female world-wide metal fest, that we are going to play.”
How did your CD release show go and were there many people, who came out to see you?
Sharyn: “It was amazing! Over 5000 people inside and outside. We had great bands (we picked eighteen out of over fifty, that applied to support us) on three stages and the fans came out in droves. It was the largest draw that venue had seen. We met so many new people.”
Did you do something special for this ocassion?
Sharyn: “Other than wear less clothing, we also gave out free CDs, T-shirts, bumpers stickers and autographed posters! The whole festival atmosphere with eighteen supporting bands was a little different. We turned it into an all-day event and not just a concert. We even had merchandise booths and vendors. The other bands appreciated the support and billing on the show. Everyone felt important and a part of it. We also gave 150% instead of our usual 149%.”
What’s your favorite BITCHFIRE song and why? [My personal faves are “Headlines” and “Toxic Waste”, by the way]
Sharyn: “Personally, my fave is “BitchFire”, because it’s such a female empowering song. We all have so much fun while performing it and I can get away with having a potty mouth in front of my mom. “Found Me Again” is a close second fave, because it is what it says. In one way or another, we all lose our identity or lose sight of our core. Dig deep, you’ll find it! Finally, yeah “Toxic Waste” is always popular. All of the girls stare at their boyfriends during this one. It never gets old.”
And what’s the most difficult song to play, and why?
Sharyn: “I think “Selfish Heart”, because it started out to be a ballad and well, it got away from us. The guys really go off during the instrumental solo, when we play it live, that I literally have to signal them that we have to end it at some point. They would keep on playing, because they get so into it, that they don’t want to stop. And I’ve got some pretty high notes I have to sustain.”
Do you already have ideas for new songs and in which way are they going to be different from the songs on “Bitchfire”?
Sharyn: “They are already in the works, my friend. We’ve written three ‘new’ songs last week. One of them is really dark and heavy - that’s where we’re gravitating to. And we will be adding triggers to the drums for different songs. Finally, the guitar effects will be different – more modern and more heavy with heavier rythms. And maybe even a ballad?!?”
There are so many new releases in heavy metal land every day… What makes BITCHFIRE so outstanding from the rest, that people should buy your album instead of all these others? In other words, what makes BITCHFIRE so special?
Sharyn: “There’s not that many female-fronted bands out there with balls and the band to support that! Also, you can understand the words in the BITCHFIRE CD. Finally, I think we have embraced who we are. Our music is not complicated. It is the basic female-fronted hard rock/metal, that we grew up with.That, in itself, in this heavily produced era, is original. Plus the lyrics are pretty unique as well.”
Where can people buy your album and where can they find you on the internet? Please advertise here for free....
Sahryn: “Go to: http://www.myspace.com/bitchfire or http://www.bitchfire.com and we are for sale through iTunes and http://www.cdinzane.com or at http://www.cdbaby.com or Google BITCHFIRE and you’ll find twenty+ pages on us!!!”
Sharyn, we are an online webzine, dedicated to all female musicians in the hard rock and heavy metal scene. Do you think, that women still need the attention, that we like to give to them or do you feel that women already get the respect, that they earn so much?
Sharyn: “No way! We need more strong women! For years women have been exploited, especially in videos. I want to see a strong sexy woman with half naked men dancing around her and even some of them licking her toes!”
Metal Maidens is based in The Netherlands (Holland). What else do you know about our country, besides the fact that we have colourful tulips and beautiful windmills?
Sharyn: “I had no idea you had windmills. Well, first of all, you rock! My all-time favorite beer is Stella Artois! (Note editor: isn’t this Belgian beer?). Sex and drugs are legal. Seriously, you’re the home of my favorite artist’s museum: van Gogh! Also M.C. Escher. Plus, you are just nice people – the kind that I grew up with.”
The music scene is all about sex, drugs and rock and roll.... We’ve seen and heard the rock and roll side of BITCHFIRE, but what are your thoughts about sex and drugs in the music scene and maybe you could give us some examples, wherever it is applicable?
Sharyn; “Like I’ve said before, I’m a product of the eighties, so let’s just say, I’ve been there, done that… Nowadays, it really should be about the music! Drugs just aren’t cool anymore. We just know how destructive it all is and it has ruined or killed numerous friends of mine and destroyed many bands. As a matter of fact, two of our band mates have been sober for years and one actually runs a very successful network of rehabs. How’s that for an answer? As to my thoughts on sex, have you listened to track 3; “Pleasure is Pain”? Sex is still way cool.”
What are your future plans for BITCHFIRE?
Sharyn: “Working on the new album. It should be out first of 2010 and it will be more diverse. Heavier metal songs, a few ballads, more guitar effects and some guest spots. Also, we are using a different studio and producer.”
Are there any plans to play in Europe too already? [We would LOVE to see you ‘live’ sometime!!!!]
Sharyn: “Not yet, but we would be honored!!! Can we crash at your place?? (Note editor: "No problem, just let us know in advance!")”
Do you have any other hobbies or interests, besides playing music in a heavy metal band? Please tell us about your passion here....
Sharyn: “I’m an enthusiast, I’ve been skydiving, drove three qualifying laps around Talladega (USA largest race track 3.8 miles) at 180 m.p.h. and I’m actually doing scuba diving tomorrow. But my real passion is art. I love to draw. I have a bachelors degree in visual design/fine art. Sadly, I don’t draw as much as I’d like to. Finally, I stay in pretty good shape, take body sculpting classes and spend four days a week in the gym staying fit for these shows.”
Is there anything you’d like to add to this introduction interview of BITCHFIRE? Maybe we forgot to mention something, that is essential for the story of the band so far?
Sharyn: “Check us out on http://www.myspace.com/bitchfire or on http://www.bitchfire.com. Write us a letter…I actually do read all the emails and answer them. I’d like to know what you like about us and what you don’t. Also, if you have any festivals or events and want to see us, please let the promoter know. We really want to perform in Europe. Also, if you have a band coming to the US, let me know and we’ll add you to one of our shows.”
Maybe you can share a final newsflash with us here?
Sharyn: “BITCHFIRE will be putting out an EP of about five new songs very soon - shhhhh!!”
Do you have any personal messages for the readers of Metal Maidens?
Sharyn: “Yeah, my job involves the computer all the time and I need a break. Send me emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org and I promise I’ll answer all of them. Also, send me your pics as attachments and we’ll post ‘em on our myspace under the fans section. If you have an mp3 from your band you want to send, I’d love to listen to it, too. You never know, I may send something back like an mp3 of our new single coming out in a few months.”
The last words of this interview are for Sharyn and BITCHFIRE....
Sharyn: “Stella Artois…..It’s not just for breakfast anymore….. Rock on, bitches!”
Visit their official website at: www.bitchfire.com
or go to their My Space site at: www.myspace.com/bitchfire