MANHOLE: Tairrie B. Tells It All She Will

MANHOLE (from Los Angeles) released their debut CD "All Is Not Well" over a year ago. The band formed around Tairrie B. (formely known as 'the white girl rapper') already gained some reputation with her album "The Power of A Woman", consisting of very powerful West coast gangster rap music. MANHOLE however stands for something completely different: amazingly fast metal hardcore with the raps of Tairrie bringing up subjects like freedom, sexism, racism and rape. After their 'uproaring' European tour with FEAR FACTORY last year, MANHOLE returned on the TYPE O NEGATIVE (+ MOONSPELL) tour in December. MM spoke to frontwoman and singer Tairrie B. before their gig in Amsterdam.

How did you get involved into the music scene in the first place?
TB: "I used to hang out with some guys from the West coastal gangster rap movement in L.A. I got in touch with N.W.A. founder Eazy E. in 1990, who gave me a record deal on his Ruthless/Comptown label. I wrote and co-produced my first album "The Power Of A Woman" in the same year, which was pretty successful."

Her single and controversial video for "Murder She Wrote" earned Tairrie (or her self laid up title of honour: Ruthless Bitch; short for B.I.T.C.H., as Being In Total Control of Herself) a Number One position on the European charts. Why did she decide to take a different and more personal approach to music and leave the rap scene to start MANHOLE?
TB: "I wanted a live band, which my record company didn't really agree upon and what's more important: when I took the final track "Rhyming With The Devil" (a redo of VAN HALEN's "Running With The Devil") for the seond album to Eazy, he hated it! I thought it would be cool! I just wanted out. It was like a Mafia contract: they wouldn't let me move forward and they wouldn't let me out. When I saw BODY COUNT at the Foundations Forum, I knew what to do. I started looking around the L.A. hardcore scene and there were no women putting out this type of energy. Then I met Scott and the band came together. Funny thing is, the guys already knew eachother long be-fore I found them and also had been playing together very often"

Who is playing in MANHOLE exactly? Can you introduce the band to us?
TB: "Well, we have Scott Ueda on guitars, Marcelo Palomino on drums, Tommy Loya on bass (he's temporary replacing Rico Vallasenor on this tour, who has to stand trial after an act of assault and battery with one of the security guards-MM) and then there's myself as the rapper/screamer/voice of the band."

What are your musical influences and/or people you admire?
TB: "Uhh, let's see. I really like NICK CAVE very much and someone like MARILYN MANSON. I'm definitely influenced by people like JOAN JETT and Chrissy Hynde (THE PRETENDERS)."

What's your goal with MANHOLE?
TB: "Survive the toll."

Are you accepted by your male colleagues as being a female musician?
TB: "Being a woman, I went from the black male-dominated world of rap to the white male-dominated world of hardcore. Race is no longer an issue, but there are still obstacles. Most guys are cool with me and they see me as an equal, but I still catch shit."

Do you see yourself as an example to other women?
TB: "I'm a strong woman and I want to show women what they can be and really can achieve in life. But I'm not a feminist and I think the Riot Grrrl movement was a lot of bullshit, because they excluded men. Men can be raped and abused, too. I really hate people like Courtney Love, who only feel sorry for themself and go on stage depressed, f*cked out of their mind, showing their tits and ass."

Do you listen to many female rock singers?
TB: "I like GARBAGE and I'm a great admirer of Shirley Manson."

What's the music scene like in L.A. nowadays?
TB: "We have a large scene of hardcore, punk and alternative bands here."

The lyrics on your debut album are very controversial. Are they meant to shock people and do you write from own experiences?
TB: "Our songs are focussed on the real life, life in the streets of L.A. and life the way I've experienced it. It makes it easier to understand when you talk about something that people know. That some people are afraid to hear about it, I don't give a shit. It's reality and they are hypocrites"

When can we expect your next CD?
TB: "After this short European trip, we'll return to America where we will start working on our second album. On this album we'll probably take a different approach, but I can't tell you much about it just yet. The new album will be released around April/May '97."

Did you already write any new songs for the album?
TB: "Yeah, we have already written a few, while on tour and this time we might even record a cover song, like "Negative Creep" (NIRVANA) or "Precious" (THE PRETENDERS). We already play "Negative Creep" in our shows."

What happened with your plans to release a live CD?
TB: "We weren't completely satisfied with the final results, so Noise (their record company- MM) put off the release to further notice."

You've been touring with the TYPE O NEGATIVE guys these past few months. How did it go so far?
TB: "It's been going really great, although the audience is quite different than the one we had at the FEAR FACTORY dates. The crowd are more into the gothic stuff, but we're getting great response everywhere."

Are the TYPE O guys as bad as they say, they are and do you learn anything good from their experiences?
TB: "We get along really well and I must say I've been learning from every band that we've supported over the last year. Peter Steele is quite OK, when you get to know him better."

What's more important to you: playing 'live' shows or making records?
TB: "Actually they go hand in hand, I'd say."

What are your future plans for MANHOLE?
TB: "Go home and start working on our next CD!"

Thanks very much for this interview, Tairrie and we wish you and the band lots of success with your upcoming new album!! Also a huge thanks to Albert Wienen of Noise/FSA for making this conversation possible.

copyright: METAL MAIDENS
interview by: Rita van Poorten, 1997.

This interview was published in Metal Maidens #7/March 1997.