TWILIGHT ODYSSEY, WOLFEBLITZER, WÜLFGANG, IGNITOR… What do they have in common? Well, all of these bands really blew me away with their great US metal sound. Who said, that heavy metal is dead? SCARLET ANGEL however, beats them all. Three angels - out of four - are female musicians and the band is completed by a male bassplayer. Their thirty minute CD simply contains the very best US metal one has to offer nowdays. Great music with horror lyrics is a short discription of their sound. All the other details, you need to know about this band, you can read in the interview below. Ladies and gents, I ask your special attention for SCARLET ANGEL..a top notch and highly-talented metal band from Baltimore, USA.
When did SCARLET ANGEL get together as a band?
Michelle: “I formed SCARLET ANGEL circa 1984 after being influenced by the metal-craze at the time. I’ve never experienced such feelings of elation, freedom and rebellion as playing metal. It is truly the personification of spirituality, freedom and rebellion. I highly recommend it!”
Who was in this first line up?
Michelle: “Originally, we had five members with two guitar players. Jeanette Fike was on vocals (an awesome vocalist), Willie Blevins on bass, Mindy Cassel on drums, Allison Haslup on rhythm guitar and myself playing lead guitar.”
Maybe you can tell us more about the line-up changes, that took place over the years?
Michelle: “Like any fledgling organization, we experienced changes and growing pains (oww!). We really didn’t necessarily want two guitar players, but Allison was a keyboard player in the previous popular music band, that we played in called ESSENCE - an all-female band. I taught Allison how to play guitar. But she had a bit of a tempestuous disposition. Although we were best friends, one night at practice, she was angry with me and poured a can of beer on my head while I was playing. According to my fellow band mates, this situation could have proved dangerous, as I could have been electrocuted. The remaining members of the band pulled me aside and said either Allison has to go or they were going. I was in a quandary about this as Allison was my friend, but I was also touched that my band mates were concerned about my safety and well-being. So, we became four. Jeanette, unexpectedly, had to leave the band as she married a military man, who was being deployed to Biloxi, Mississippi for basic military training. Jeanette, being the exceptional and excellent friend and band member that she is, found us a replacement vocalist, which was her long time friend, Sue Duncan. Sue was remarkable and stayed with us for a couple of years, but left us due to general differences and it was back to the drawing board. While Sue was singing for us, we had met Kim, as she played in some other local metal bands. Kim befriended our drummer Mindy and started coming to practices. Believe it or not, Kim started playing rhythm guitar with us for a while, as she continued to play drums for other bands. But we really didn’t like having a rhythm guitarist. Then Jackie called me one day out of the blue. At that time, Jackie was a bored and lonely housewife. She was a long-time friend and was also a member of ESSENCE. I told her of my new found love: heavy metal! She came over for an audition and it was a match made in heaven. We had arranged our own show at a local Moose Lodge. The event was a Valentine’s Day Party. We promoted it as the “Scarlet Angel Broken Hearts Valentine’s Party”. It was a very big event with a lot at stake. Two weeks before the show, Mindy fell into a hydraulic lift hole at work and injured her back. We were in a dilemma as many tickets were sold and we spent a lot of money to rent the venue. We called Kim and she learned forty songs in two weeks. She saved the show and SCARLET ANGEL. We loved playing with Kim and wanted to keep her as she is phenomenal. We spoke with Mindy about it (who was also at the show albeit injured) and she also thought Kim was great with us. Mindy gracefully bowed out with no hard feelings. She wanted to take a break from drumming anyhow, so it all worked out. Shortly after that, we replaced Willie on bass with Ronnie Glenn. Ronnie is playing on the title track of the CD. Ronnie played with us a few years and we replaced him with John Mooney, who is awesome. John plays on the remaining tracks of the CD. We all went our separate ways circa 1992 to pursue other interests. We reunited in April of 2004. However, John is not interested in performing gigs. He built a recording studio in his basement and desires to do studio work only. But we keep in touch. Our reunion was delayed until Sept. 2004, when our debut was the opening for UFO. We had Allan Money on bass (helping out) and Buddy Chalk on rhythm guitar. Again, we decided not to keep a rhythm guitarist, as we like the rawness of one guitar. The band sounds too refined with two guitars. Allan was only filling in. Jeff Davis joined the band, but he is also a writer and received a recording contract after our show with KITTIE. Kenny Lee is now playing bass for us. We feel like a black widow spider regarding our bass players!”
How did you actually meet up?
Michelle: “Allison and Jackie and I used to play in the popular music band ESSENCE. Jackie left ESSENCE to get married. As a newly married woman, Jackie’s husband wanted her to give up singing. Jeanette replaced Jackie in ESSENCE and the band dissolved to play wild & crazy metal. Willy was a friend of my boyfriend’s at the time, who happened to play bass. The remaining members were either friends of people that we knew except for John Mooney, who answered an advertisement that we had posted.”
Did you play in other bands before SCARLET ANGEL and can you tell us about it?
Michelle: “Kim has played in probably the most bands. I’ll mention the most note-worthy here. She played with a band called KRYPTIC, who released a cassette tape and a CD. This band was awesome! The CD is available on Kim’s ‘Kims Krypt’ website (www.kimskrypt.com). I highly recommend this CD. She has a few left. She’s also played with TOBIAS HURWITCZ, a guitar virtuoso, who also has a CD out. Kim played on the CD. All of us have been in various local bands.”
Who came up with the band name, and why?
Michelle: “I came up with the name SCARLET ANGEL one night, while the original line up was brainstorming for names. The name represents the eternal struggle of good and evil. It’s also mysterious and prone to fable and our own mythology.”
How would you describe your music?
Jackie & Michelle: “In short, we would describe our music as a big blender, open the lid and add: one-part METALLICA; one-part JUDAS PRIEST; one-part QUEENSRYCHE; one-part HEART; and 96-parts of SCARLET ANGEL “Secret Sauce”. Then select the ‘grind’ setting on your blender. Mix thoroughly and, put a diaper on. Then slake (satisfy) your thirst with this delicious formula. But seriously, our music is a result of the influences of some of the greatest metal bands (our heroes) combined with our own creativity as a unit. Our music is very diverse: it’s heavy (“I Won’t Hurt You” & “Airborne”); it’s passionate and also has a lighter side (“Fear The Night” & intro to “Chains Of Rock”) and a comical side (“Jack-O-Lantern”).”
Who writes the lyrics for SCARLET ANGEL, and what are they about?
Michelle: ”Jackie (lead vocals) writes most of the lyrics. The lyrics are inspired by real-life situations (“Chains Of Rock”; “Fear The Night”; “Airborne”; “I Won’t Hurt You”); and visions of fictitious worlds and characters, that do not exist on our plane of existence, but may and should exist in other worlds (“Scarlet Angel”; “Iron Clad Warriors”; “Jack-O-Lantern”). What is unique though is, that I usually come up with the music having one conception or feeling about the song and then when Jackie adds the lyrics, they represent an entirely new concept or idea. For example, I composed “Iron Clad Warriors” and was inspired by tales of King Arthur after seeing the movie “Excalibur”. When Jackie heard the music, she was inspired by the movie “Terminator” (with Arnold Schwartzenegger) and created a story about the futuristic depiction of mankind. Kim also contributes awesome drum parts and some lyrics as in “Jack-O-Lantern”. Stay tuned for more lyrical and musical compositions by Kim. In addition, our former bass player, John Mooney wrote the music and lyrics for “Angel Of Burning Ice”. John said that he wrote this song for SCARLET ANGEL.”
I was absolutely blown away by the great sound of your debut CD. What’s the response been like of the other press?
Michelle & Jackie: “We have been fortunate in that every review that we have received thus far has been excellent. We are very happy and hope to continue with the positive feedback for our debut, as we continue to find new distribution channels and media sources. Thank you so much for the compliments.”
Which bands have influenced you, and maybe you can also point at some of the influences of each of you individually?
“The band as a whole is greatly influenced by such great artists as JUDAS PRIEST; IRON MAIDEN; METALLICA; QUEENSRYCHE; and HEART. Kim’s influences are KISS; RUSH; TED NUGENT; AEROSMITH; JETHRO TULL; BLACK SABBATH; Will Calhoun of LIVING COLOUR and Chris Squire of YES (great bass players make for better drummers). I am influenced by drummers that play in odd timings. Jackie’s influences are Geoff Tate of QUEENSRYCHE; Rob Halford of JUDAS PRIEST; Ann Wilson of HEART and Stevie Nicks (FLEETWOOD MAC). Michelle has diverse influences. She loves music, but her favorite type of music has always been heavy metal. As a guitar player, her major influences are K.K. Downing and Glen Tipton of JUDAS PRIEST; Lindsay Buckingham of FLEETWOOD MAC; Nancy Wilson of HEART; Tony Iommi of BLACK SABBATH and Kirk Hammet of METALLICA. As a songwriter, Michelle’s influences are Stevie Nicks (FLEETWOOD MAC) and Ann & Nancy Wilson of HEART.”
You come from Baltimore. What’s the metal scene like over there?
Michelle & Jackie: “The metal scene in Baltimore is very tame. However, a large market exists for metal that is virtually untapped. We have been fortunate in that we have been able to tap into this market. Most popular clubs cater to classic rock and some older popular metal. There are also some underground clubs that cater to all-original music. In these clubs, three or four bands play in a night, each doing a 45-minute set.. We play in both the popular clubs and the underground clubs.”
Which other well-known acts are from your area?
Michelle: “WRATHCHILD America; POISON; JOAN JETT; the bass player from KITTIE is from Baltimore. I’m not sure if they are still a band. MADAME X is from New York though.“
Let’s have a closer look at your live shows now. With whom did you share the stage yet?
Michelle & Jackie: “We have shared the stage with international renowned bands such as UFO, KITTIE, OTEP and CRISIS so far. Kim has played with the likes of GEORGE LYNCH, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and Nicko McBrain of IRON MAIDEN.”
Do you also play covers live?
Michelle & Jackie: “In the popular clubs, we play cover songs as we play for approximately four hours. In these clubs, the customers and club owners desire to hear cover songs. However, we also play our music as well. We are very pleased in that our original music is received very well in the clubs.”
Any plans of playing outside the US soon?
Michelle: “We are currently working on arranging a festival tour in Germany. We have established contacts in Germany and are hoping to come to Europe very soon.”
What’s the biggest gig, you’ve done until now?
Michelle: “On 9-22-04 (the night of the autumnal equinox), we opened for UFO at the Thunderdome in Baltimore. Jason Bonham was playing drums and Vinnie Moore was playing guitar for UFO. It was great! We are currently in negotiations to open for possibly MOTLEY CRUE, SKID ROW and OVERKILL in Baltimore at a club, called House of Rock.”
I can imagine, there are some nice stories to tell about ‘life on the road’. Maybe you want to share some of these funny moments with our readers here?
Michelle: ”What’s really funny is, when Jackie, Kim and I do ordinary things. For example, we often dine together at local restaurants. Jackie and Kim are larger than life characters, that unwittingly attract attention no matter where they go. In contrast, I’m quiet, dark and brooding most of the time. We’ll be sitting in a restaurant and those two will break into song (in the middle of the restaurant), the entire restaurant stops everything and is totally enthralled. The waitresses and kitchen staff come over to our table for the show. Of course, Kim is also using her eating utensils as drum sticks and taps out a jaunty beat on the drinking glasses. She’s a wild woman - even the simple act of her ordering her meal is entertainment! She’ll order a vanilla milkshake with two cherries on top and wind up selling a CD to the waitress and the kitchen staff!! Also this past Christmas season, we went to the local shopping mall and bearing a snare drum, acoustic guitar, jingle bells, leather, chains, black Santa hats and several of our favourite minions and performed metal Christmas songs for the holiday shoppers. Santa Claus walked by and said: “Hey that’s against the law!”. I told Santa to blow it out of his merry arse! But, it was all in fun, we actually had permission from the mall management to sing carols. Also, recently Jackie was helping Kenny with his wardrobe. She went out with him and picked out some metal clothes for him. For accessories, she picked out a set of red suspenders. That night, we played a show at an original music club in Baltimore, called Mojo. He looked like an evil Dutch-Amish farmer – a farmer gone bad. Are there such things as heavy metal farmers? If so, what do they harvest?”
Do you use any stage effects?
Michelle: “We use some horror elements in our shows. For example, Kim has a replica of her own severed head (her severed head is actually the fifth member of the band), that she hangs from her drum sent and a rubber hand in a handcuff. We use dramatic smoke and lighting to create a mystic atmosphere. Sometimes we use Halloween props and at other times Jackie wears a cape. We gravitate toward the mysterious elements. Kim has a haunted house, that she puts on during the Halloween season. We take off the month of October to help her with this world renown haunted attraction. Kim and I love horror. Although, she likes gorier stuff than I do. I like European horror movies from the 1960s to 1980s for the mysterious and atmospheric elements.”
Is the fact, that SCARLET ANGEL consists mainly of female musicians an advantage or a disadvantage, or doesn’t it make any difference at all?
Michelle: “I think it’s a little of both actually. It’s an advantage, because although female rockers are more prevalent today, they’re still at a premium. It’s a disadvantage, because metal/music is a male-dominated business and a ‘glass ceiling’ still exists. But we’re gaining ground every second! Soon, we (female metal musicians) will rule the scene!”
What’s your favorite SCARLET ANGEL song and why?
Michelle: “Iron Clad Warriors”: Jackie’s vocals are mind-blowing! Kim’s bass drum drives me nuts on this song! John’s (our former bass player) bass line provides depth and substance. The guitar riffs are mysterious. And all of these elements come together to provide a ‘groovey’ powerhouse, that leaves you wanting more! However, I truly love all of the songs and like different things about each one, as each song is its own entity. For example, I love the song “Scarlet Angel” for its raw energy output and Jackie’s valkyrie-like opera vocals. Every time we play that song, I feel like I just got off of a roller coaster. This song is also our ‘first born’, which is always extra special. I love “I Won’t Hurt You” for its sassiness and crazy guitar parts. I love “Airborne”, because mommy likes to mosh! I love “Chains Of Rock” and “Fear The Night” for their emotion and “Jack-O-Lantern” for its fun and levity and because it’s about my favorite holiday! I like “Angel Of Burning Ice” for is uniqueness.”
Kim: “I can’t pick one favorite song, because I love them all. Picking one favorite would be like picking a favorite child. It just wouldn’t be right!” Jackie: “Definitely “Iron Clad Warriors! The message, the lyrics and the song is very powerful.”
What do you think of the metal scene today?
Michelle: “I love metal, but I prefer the older pure metal (JUDAS PRIEST, QUEENSRYCHE, WARLOCK, IRON MAIDEN, BLACK SABBATH, METAL CHURCH). I do also like the newer metal (KITTIE, CRISIS, GOD-SMACK, DISTURBED, SOULFLY, COAL CHAMBER). I do believe that the older metal is making a come-back.The older metal has more texture, flavour and dynamics. You can appreciate the range of the vocalists and the thoughtful melodic intricacies of the guitar solos. In Baltimore, the metal scene is limited as our radio stations do not even play songs by up and coming metal bands. So most people have to be Indiana Jones and excavate/search for new metal on the internet or in select music stores.”
What’s the goal of SCARLET ANGEL?
Michelle: “SCARLET ANGEL’s goal is to become a global presence in the world of metal by creating innovative and unique musical compositions for our listening audience and supporters. We hope to have a “Scarlet Angel” CD in every household. Please spread the word!”
Jackie: “SCARLET ANGEL’s goal is for there to be a Harley Davidson in every garage; a chicken in every pot and a “Scarlet Angel” CD in every CD collection!”
Michelle: “Our goal also includes doing charitable and positive deeds to reach out to those who need help. We feel that metal is a great launching pad. For example, my mother passed away of breast cancer almost two years ago. We are talking with other local bands and plan on doing a benefit show for breast cancer.”
Are you working on a new album yet, and what can we expect from it?
Michelle: “Yes, we are currently working on our follow up CD. We have been performing our first song off of this forthcoming CD at our live shows. This song is called “Chasing The Wind”. Other songs that we are working on are entitled “Eyes Of Thieves”, “Shut Up You’re Stupid” and “Axed By The Angel”. We’re striving to complete the CD for a 2006 release date. Listeners can expect a diverse package of loud, powerful, energized, and vocally searing metal monstrosity with a little feeling thrown in for good measure.”
Our magazine is completely focussed on the female musicians in the hard rock and heavy metal scene. Do you think that you still need this special attention, or do you feel you already get all the respect and recognition that you earn so much?
Michelle: “Well, yes as I believe that female musicians are of special interest to each other and metal fans as well. Although female musicians are more prevalent now, we are still few compared to our male counterparts. I think that female metal musicians fit into the overall metal market, but they also are a separate market.”
Our magazine is based in The Netherlands, or Holland, if you like. What else do you know about our country, besides that we have beautiful mills and tulips?
Michelle: “The Netherlands is a very beautiful country located in western Europe and borders the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany. The capital is Amsterdam which is a very popular destination for travellers (my nephew, Tony is headed there this summer, before he takes off for college). The economy in the Netherlands is very prosperous and engages in heavy foreign trade. The gross domestic product per capita based on a 2003 estimate is $28,600. Natural resources consist of natural gas, petroleum, peat, limestone, salt, sand and gravel and arable land. The Netherlands produces agricultural and industrial products (Thank heaven for the internet!). The indigenous people of the Netherlands consume and support metal music (especially female metal music) every opportunity that they have. The Dutch are very nice to SCARLET ANGEL. I believe that I read someplace that a Dutchman invented the sport of golf as it was a popular activity a few hundred years ago on ship voyages. I also thought I read some place that the ship building industry was impacted due to a lack of trees in Holland some time ago (is this true?). Of course, I also believe that the painter Johannes Vermeer is Dutch. I like tulips and mills (I feel a new SCARLET ANGEL song coming on). You forgot to mention wooden shoes!”
I thought the intro of “Jack-O-Latern” showed some resemblance to the horror metal classic “Trick Or Treat” of my favorite US Metal band HALLOWEEN (from Detroit, MI). Do you know this song?
Michelle: “I have not previously heard of this group or the song that you mentioned. But I will surely investigate. Thanks for this recommendation. Kim and Jackie also have not heard of this song or the band. We will investigate!”
Must we see SCARLET ANGEL as a ‘white metal’ band, and if yes, how important is religion for the band?
Michelle, Jackie & Kim: “Religion is a man-made label that has a negative connotation. But we are all very spiritual, but of different spiritualities. We each bring something unique to each other and to SCARLET ANGEL as a viable entity.”
Michelle: “My late mother always said: “It’s impolite and problematic to discuss religion and/or politics!”
How important is the Internet for a band like SCARLET ANGEL, and where can we find your website?
Michelle: “The internet is invaluable to us. The internet is mostly responsible for getting our music out of Baltimore. It has given us worldwide exposure, and is presenting unlimited possibilities for us. It’s like magic, it is magic! The internet is especially valuable for bands like ours in that we are self-produced and are seeking out our own independent distribution channels. In a sense we can set our own course upon metal’s seven seas. And most importantly, we don’t have to sacrifice our creativity or dance to anyone else’s tune. The URL for our website is: http://www.scarletangelrocks.com."
You mentioned the band FEAR 44 on your CD. What’s your connection to them, and what kind of music do they band play?
Michelle: “We are very good friends with FEAR 44. The drummer, Angie Cioka, started out as Kim’s drum student, when she was in grade school. The vocalist, Mark Wenger; the guitarist, Rita Weidenger and bassist Chris Amos, have been volunteers at Kim’s Haunted Attraction since they were kids. They all liked music and were exposed to metal in their own lives and at Kim’s Krypt. They eventually formed FEAR 44, which is an all-original band. We have developed a mutually beneficial relationship with them. Mark did the graphic work for the SCARLET ANGEL CD. We invite them to play with us at the local clubs, so that they can get exposure. They also invite us to play at their events. They put on a big show in December called Fear Fest. It was great! We invited them to play the KITTIE, CRISIS and OTEP show, which they did. KITTIE, OTEP and CRISIS adored them and were sporting their T-shirts by the end of the night. They do not like to classify their music. But I would compare them to CRISIS or COAL CHAMBER. They have a CD coming out next month, entitled “Factory Defect”. It’s wonderful, please check it out. In addition, we also have mutually beneficial relationships with a lot of local bands. There are some great local bands. I mention some great local bands as follows: EMPIRE, HALESTORM (Lizzy Hale is awesome on vocals and songwriting!), CRIMSON ORCHID, DRIVESET, ANGEL FALLEN, GOAT BAG, NOT INC. and NEMESIS.”
Do you have any hobbies or special interests, besides playing in a heavy metal band?
Michelle:“Halloween!! I also work for the government as an environmental inspector. I have a passion for the environment. I love to read and write and plan on writing some children’s books, including a children’s book for “Jack-O-Lantern”. I love horror movies, creepy ones especially older European horror movies. I also love photography, comic books, fantasy and the outdoors and pets. I have a black cat named Jinx, but I call her ‘Puss’ for short. I also love going to dinner with friends to discuss various topics. I will be returning to college to complete my Master’s Degree in an Environmental Science.”
Jackie: “My hobbies and interests are riding my Harley Davidson motorcycle and being active in the church.”
Kim: “I have a major hobby, Kim’s Krypt Haunted Attraction, which has been inexistence since 1994. I love horror and decorating for Halloween, ever since I was a wee child. Check out the website http://www.kimskrypt.com. Videos and merchandise are available on the website. I also do hearse rentals via a 1968 black Crown Superior Cadillac. I give and enjoy drum lessons and have students ranging all ages and styles.”
Any interesting gigs on the agenda in the near future?
Michelle: “We may be opening up for MOTLEY CRUE, SKID ROW and/or OVERKILL. We are also working on arranging a vacation tour in Europe. We’re planning to do the breast cancer benefit. We’re even discussing doing a travelling weekend tour with FEAR 44.”
What are the future plans of SCARLET ANGEL?
Michelle: “Short term: continue obtaining world-wide distribution channels for our debut CD, complete follow up CD for 2006 release and arrange an European tour; Long Term: establish global distribution network; continue composing and releasing CDs; tour Europe and head East; go door-to-door and make sure that every world citizen has a SCARLET ANGEL CD in their collection.”
Do you want to add something to this interview?
Michelle: “We recorded our CD at Basement Floor in Baltimore. Mr. Tim Miskimmon of the band EMPIRE engineered and co-produced our CD. We are highly pleased with our CD and whole-heartedly recommend Tim, EMPIRE and Basement Floor. Also, Mr. Rick Harper of the website Sonic Cathedral gave us a marvellous opportunity by offering our CD on his website, which features female fronted metal band CDs. He also gave me the contact information for Metal Maidens and Rita and Toine. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Tim and Rick.”
Is there any good video footage available of the band? We’d love to check you out!!
Michelle: “We’re in the process of gathering and filming live footage, which will plan on adding to a documentary. Also we’ll soon be putting pieces of live streaming video on our website. Please keep checking and leave us a message on our message board.”
Do you have any messages for the readers of Metal Maidens?
“Thank you for taking an interest in SCARLET ANGEL and giving us this outstanding opportunity. Metal Maidens unite and form and support female metal everywhere!! We are of a special and ancient guild that has survived the ages. Please leave us your suggestions and comments. We look forward to meeting you in Europe or if you come to the States, please contact us.”
The last words are for you……
“Once again, a sincere thank you to Rita, Toine and all of the Metal Maiden supporters. We look forward to meeting you all soon. Please drop us a line and let us know you are of the Metal Maiden brethren. We are yours in metal and in friendship. Long live Metal!”
Michelle: “In closing I’d like to add that I lost both of my parents in the last couple of years and I know that they would get the biggest kick out of our CD and the fact that there is interest for our CD in Europe.”
Visit their website at: http://www.scarletangelrocks.com
This interview was published in Metal Maidens #40/Summer 2005.