Natalie Poole and her band Pretty in Stereo have something to prove.
Did you set out to form an all-female band?
Yeah. There seems to be a stereotype out there where people don't take girl bands seriously, or they think girls can't play. I was getting kind of sick of the fact that when I was looking to join bands, because I was a girl, I would get discriminated against. I said, "Screw this. I'm going to get a bunch of girls who know how to play." I know I've got good songwriting capabilities, and I'm going to get us out there and prove people wrong—and have fun while doing it. I wanted to change the way people look at girl bands.
It seems like one of the tougher parts of forming a band is finding a good drummer, whether male or female.
Regardless of being a girl or guy, Jodi [Joy] is one of the most amazing drummers I have ever met, and she gets complimented at every one of our shows. She's bad-ass. She's won Guitar Center drum-off competitions and gotten a lot of awards for her skills. Drummers are the spine to a band. Everything else is the muscles, tissue and skin that goes around that. If you don't have a solid spine, everything else goes to crap.
There are a lot of musicians in Southern California. Did that make it easier to form an all-female band?
It's easier because there are more musicians out here, but there are so many bands, regardless of us being male or female. It's easier because we're closer to the industry, and record labels and management based out of LA can come to our shows. It's bad for a fan base. Everybody's trying to get people to their shows, and there's so much to do.
Do you feel you have to prove yourselves at shows more than the average band?
Definitely. We've been to many shows where, as we're setting up, we've heard people in the audience mumble, "Oh, God, a girl band—they're probably going to suck." Usually after we play, they're the first to say, "Wow, you totally blew us away. We didn't expect that." The expectations always seem to be low.
Do you get more hecklers than the average band?
We haven't had too much of that. We've had the occasional drunken idiot. For the most part, people are more curious and wondering what we're going to do. We definitely earn respect from the crowd. It's cool that they have that feeling, but it's sad at the same time because that stereotype is there, that expectation that we're going to suck because we're girls. All-girl bands aren't expected to have good songs or play well.
Your music is pretty straightforward hard rock and power pop. Does that go over well in this area?
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In Southern California, you've got the hardcore scene, the indie-rock scene, the emo scene, the punk scene—we can play well with any of the bands in those genres, but we're not exclusively in any of those genres. Bands in those genres are open to a fan base a little quicker than we are because they're in that scene, whatever it may be. We go from 8-year-olds to 60-year-olds liking our music. It's harder for us to build a loyal group of people.
Is it harder getting shows without a genre calling card?
No. One thing that does suck—and we've made a resolution not to do anymore—is pay-to-play. At some of the bigger venues in LA, promoters are handling the evening, and you have to guarantee and sell a certain amount of tickets and turn in the money before you play, or else you don't get to. Or your set time is determined by how much you sell. We're sick of that. It's sad that it's come to that. We almost want to start a revolution and tell other bands to stop this pay-to-play thing because all it's doing is making it harder for bands to be taken seriously. There are always going to be bands that are willing to do that because they want to play the Viper Room on a Saturday night. We don't feel like it's fair to our fans to have to bribe them and force them to have to buy tickets to have to see us.
Pretty in Stereo perform with Bad Apple, Apocalipstick, the Go Sheilas and Brainspoon at Surf City Saloon, 18528 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 963-7744. March 1. Call for time and cover. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/prettyinstereo.