LOS ANGELES, May 7, 2013 — Stacey Dee is from the San Francisco area and first picked up playing instruments from her father, also a musician. Her various bands span a wide spectrum of music. Stacey Dee took some time to speak with me in a cemetery about the many bands in her life.
THIS IS PART TWO OF A THREE-PART INTERVIEW
KW: Do you sit down to write for one band and end up writing songs for another band?
SD: I just write whatever comes to me because that’s how it works with me. If it comes to me, I have to write it and get it out. Then I’ll send it to whichever band I think it should go best with and hope they are into playing it. Then we work the real song structure out electrically. If no one is into playing the song then I save it for the solo album [laughs]. I still write almost every song I’ve written on that same Sigma Dreadnaught acoustic guitar my Dad taught me how to play E and A on.
KW: How many bands have you been in over the course of your musical life?
SD: First, I started playing solo acoustic by myself in coffee shops, playing with my dad and doing little things like that. Then I began playing in the Angry Amputees with JoAnn Gillespie, John “Dalty” Dalton and Erik Brim. We practiced throughout the night, from 10 pm to 2am almost everyday. We wanted to start playing immediately. It was only a matter of months before we were on the Van’s Warped Tour, playing alongside amazing bands on the come up and a lot of our heroes, or mine anyway. We won a “Bammy” for Best Punk band in San Francisco as well. We were on Dead Teenage Records at the time and did the Tony Hawk’s Underground video game thing too.
The Amputees were the bigger band that toured all the time. There were a few line-up changes. That’s when the Amputees got Eric Gonzales and Jen Kirk-Carlson. And we started touring even more all over the country and parts of Europe. We all lived together in a warehouse in San Francisco’s SOMA district. We built four bedrooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms, and a free standing studio in the middle of the warehouse where we practiced seven nights a week, unless we were on tour or had a show.
Some of the best times of my life were spent in that spot. Bands that came through SF stayed with us and we would play music into the wee hours of the early morning. Eric still has the space. We named it “Camputee.” After we all left, Eric kept it and started his own business called “Camputee Press,” and is killing it as one San Francisco’s finest screen printers. The truth is the Angry Amputees will always be a band. We are all family and if the right show comes along, or if we want to do a reunion, we still play.
When the Amputees started to die down, Jen and I started Compton SF, which became a really fun popular band in San Francisco. It was Me and Jen Kirk-Carlson, Josh Layton and Michelle Schuknecht. We played a lot of shows up and down the coast from Seattle to San Diego. Compton was a f**king killer band. However, during Compton’s reign, I moved to London as I got married and that’s where my husband lived. That is where I started a band called Park Royal. When I moved home, I started Compton back up with Jen and the addition of some other great musicians; Squeaky, Jodi Durst and then Jerry Only.
When Compton began to wind down, Jen and I began paying acoustically as The City. We started opening for all of our friend’s punk bands. We recorded a five song EP, as well, and after a while, we added a keyboard player, Charlene Pack, to the City and the whole dynamic changed. Jen went back to drums, I started playing electric guitar and Char was on the keys. After a few years, we met a kick ass chick named Linh Le that plays bass, and asked her to play with us. She plays upright bass as well as standard bass. With The City, the upright really works as the songs lend themselves to that sound.
I began Knives and Gasoline around that time, as well, with Noel “Deeskee” DeMello. I have known Noel since I was four or five years old. His Grandma babysat me. I looked up to him our whole lives. He would always DJ my parties or put dance mixes together for me [laughs]. At some point in our lives, Noel and I split up for about 10 years. I went the punk route and he became a very well-known hip-hop producer here in LA. The man is a genius! When I moved to LA, I knew he lived here so I called him right away, asked where he lived and 10 minutes later I was at his house.
He put me to work right away, playing and singing on tracks he was working on with other hip hop artists. A lot of people I grew up listening to as well. It was really cool to kind of come back to my roots in hip-hop again with him. As much as I grew up on punk, I grew up on hip-hop just as much and have a true love of it. After writing s**t for other people, he and I decided to make our own record the way we wanted to make it. So we wrote, Love Songs for Crime Scenes together. We played everything ourselves, except cello and bongos. It was an epic experience and a great record. As an artist, I am really proud of what we did.
The record is real, about our true lives. We weren’t trying to sound like anyone else. We just wanted to make something amazing for us. Then it got picked up on Grimm Image records and we started going to work. However, me loving punk rock so much, during the time Knives and Gasoline started, Jen and I began another new punk band called, Bad Cop / Bad Cop. I played guitar and sang, Jen moved from drums to bass and we asked Myra Galarza to play drums. We wanted to do a 3-piece power pop-punk band. I wanted it to be really snotty and write funny songs about puke and poop. But then one day Jen brought Jennie Cotterill to practice and everything changed.
Jennie also writes amazing songs and is a great singer and artist. She jumped right in and started singing harmonies with me and I was hooked. I love writing and singing with Jennie. She brings a whole different feel to the songs I write for Bad Cop and Bad Cop couldn’t be a band without her. Plus her songs are amazing, her art is amazing and she is amazing.
KW: Can you talk about the Returners?
SD: This may sound ridiculous, but I even put out a hip-hop record with my group called The Returners, which was me, 2Mex, Die, and Deeskee. Our record, Make up your Break up, came out as a digital release on Sage Francis’ label, Strange Famous. It was the first time I ever rapped in my life [laughs]. I told Noel, “I wanna try to rap,” because I had been going and writing stuff for other artist’s records and playing on their records and singing their hooks and writing their hooks. I said “F**k it, can I just try to rap? I wanna try.” I grew up listening to it just as much as punk and I wanted to try it. So, I did.
Noel told me on Friday, “I need this back on Monday.” I said, “S**t!” I went home and tried to start rapping. At first, it was awful. It was like Doug E. Fresh meets Nas and it was awful, but sang in a white girl voice [laughs] so bad. And then I just stopped and I listened to it in a different way and brought my own style into it with kind of like a sing-y rap-y kind of style and that really worked. I sing on a lot of underground hip hop artist’s records here in LA. Lots of people that I don’t even remember who they are until someone points out a song or a video. Funny thing about Hip Hop, you can make a record with a whole gang of people but never be in the same room with them. I find it hilarious.
F**k, I forgot I was in a band called Blacktop Idol, as well, with Dale Anderson, Dean Carlson and of course Jen and sometimes Clint Gonzales. That was a really great band too. Gifted musicians, I just sang [laughs]. S**t, I also did a split 10” with one of Blag from the Dwarves’ side projects called Candy Now. It was my first solo release and it came out in Germany and only on vinyl. Blag wrote the songs, he gave them to me to do something with. The songs are so well produced and working with Blag is amazing. He has great ears, is a great songwriter, a great coach and a great friend. He rules. He even has one of my cats from when I moved to London.
I also play solo acoustically. So, f**K, what Is that…10 or more bands I’ve been in? A lot. I can’t say no. I am a lifer.
Knives and Gasoline and Bad Cop / Bad Cop will be playing at Los Globos in Los Angeles on May 17.
THIS IS PART TWO OF A THREE-PART INTERVIEW
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