Photo by Jeanne RiceSkie Bender is the lead singer and bassist for Fountain Valley art-poet rock band the Fireants (though Bender and her husband, guitarist Kevin Jacobs, are sadly relocating this winter to Olympia, Washington. Damn them.
OC Weekly: What's the wildest, most notorious show the Fireants have ever played? Skie Bender: That would have to be almost any night at Al's Bar in Downtown LA, which is unfortunately now closed. Whenever we'd play there, especially if we were on a bill with a band like Betty Blowtorch, it would break out into a display of complete hedonism. People would be taking off their tops and all their clothes and rolling around on the floor. But it always felt really natural like that, like you were with your family in your living room or something. The place you'd like to be during your waking hours. Oh, and one time, a guy who lived in the hotel above ran through the club with a gun, but I don't want to get too into it.
Another time, we played the Gauntlet in Silver Lake. They have a thing called the Freak Show every month—it's like a men's gay S&M leather bar—and the night we played, there was a shoeshine slave, a real heavyset gay man with a leather G-string up his butt shining everyone's shoes. Every porn video you can imagine was playing on the TVs in the corners, and there were cages of people getting whipped, blood being drawn, people getting tattooed, a bubble-wrap boy with a gag in his mouth was walking around, people were in gas masks—complete debauchery, and this was all while we were playing. I think there was also a wet-butt-slappin' contest. It was beautiful.
Your band has also toured just about everywhere. How do non-local people react to the Fireants?
We played this 1,000-capacity bowling alley in Omaha, Nebraska, once. We landed on this bill on the night of a big high school graduation, so there were all these high school bands and us. They kept shooting off firecrackers during our set.
What about Japan? You did a tour there this summer.
Every show was just beautiful. The whole thing was a great adventure. Just in the language barrier alone—the Japanese would be really shy, but then I'd pull some of them up onstage and make this visceral connection, like getting them to play my bass or speaking Japanese to them. The tour was great because we did the entire tour via bullet train—all we had to bring were our guitars, and the clubs supplied the back line.
Why in God's name are you abandoning the vivacious creative paradise that is Fountain Valley?
We're looking for an art/nature balance, and I don't want to live in a big city. And I've also really gotten into hiking.