Lets face it: being a female musician can be a pretty rough gig at times. Women have difficulty gaining respect from male peers, face challenges being booked on festival bills, deal with unrealistic expectations and double standards, and are often overlooked by mainstream music publications. Add in being a drummer, and your chances of being on the receiving end of sexism, sass, or just straight up ignorance will increase. Drums are often regarded as a man's instrument, but the women who drum all over the world and right here at home aren't letting that or a lack of mainstream representation stop them from doing what they love. Our community is home to a thriving scene full of local female drummers who rule the throne playing all kinds of music. In no particular order- here are 10 shredding female drummers in Orange County and Long Beach!
Maria Morris (bWreck)
Instrumental rock drummer Maria Morris of bWreck started drumming in her 20's and mixes up hard rock with mathy goodness. When she's not playing in her band, she's helping young girls decipher the drum kit at the Rock n Roll Camp for Girls in Orange County.
Viola Smith (Solo, Big Band)
Considered to be one of the first female drummers in the business, 102-year-old drumming legend and Costa Mesa transplant Viola Smith may not be an active drummer, but her legacy is impressive and historically important. She ruled the jazz scene in New York during the 1930's and 1940's, and even penned an article during the depression arguing for big bands to hire female drummers. When she's not being interviewed by music history majors, she's working at a fabric and yarn store in Orange County. True story.
Melissa Koziel (Half Past Two)
What good is a list about Orange County and Long Beach without a 3rd Wave Ska band? Melissa Koziel N Half Past Two hold down the usual skankin' verse and drivey chorus that OC put on the map in the mid nineties, but bring a much needed women's narrative with songs like "Girl in a Band," and "Mastering Karate." Pick it up rudegrrrls!
Lux Drummerette (Nekromantix, Solo)
If you're a drummer or OC punk and don't know who Lux is you may or may not have been living under a rock for the last few years. Most recently, Lux was on the road with Nekromantix, but is known for her precision heavy metal chops via online videos. A woman who is serious about her craft, Lux can and will shred her way out of any metal song while wearing 5 inch heels.
Jannea McClure (Bella Novela)
Long Beach based Bella Novela describe their music as "post-apocalyptic rock opera." Jannea's drumming is rhythmic and musical; somehow she keeps a steady dance groove without ever missing a single hi-hat beat. Be jealous.
Melissa Ayala (Die Grimm Die)
After the break up of old school OC riot grrrl/indie band Slow, Melissa Ayala took a hiatus from drums, but reclaimed her place behind the throne in Santa Ana based project Die Grimm Her style is a solid combo of classic punk with a mix of rock-a-billy and indie.
Ask Alice – Loaded from Rhianne Paz on Vimeo
Laura Jennings (Ask Alice)
Mission Viejo native Laura Jennings brings powerful grunge riffs to LBC as 1/3 of the trio Ask Alice. Commanding and stylish behind the kit, Jennings shares her passion by working with youth at Queer Rock Camp So Cal.
Melissa "Redd" Astran (Bellhaunts)
The Bellhaunts are a self proclaimed sentimental-indie-doom band from Santa Ana, CA who have become a local favorite for their catchy jams and Redd's Krupa-meets-Animal style drumming. Don't let her sweet naturedness and affinity for Sade fool you- Redd is as ferocious as a tiger behind the kit with consistent precision even in the midst of mind melting 32nd note freak-outs.
No side check them out they rock
Posted by Jake Dorame on Sunday, July 26, 2015
Jessica Gonzales (No Side N YAAWN)
A true DIY musician, Santa Ana/Fullerton resident Jessica Gonzales is a self taught drummer and bassist who is currently in the dark indie band No Side and angry weird-core band YAAWN (where she plays bass and sings lead, along with yours truly). Jessica is a creative and expressive drummer, definitely one of my faves in town NOT just because she's my friend, but because she's got a fresh sound and always comes correct with inventive rhythmic phrases.
Myra Gallarza – (Bad Cop Bad Cop)
Y2K era high school punx rejoice: finally a Fat Wreck style pop punk band with songs about more than brews, bros, shit luck, and pools. Bad Cop Bad Cop (https://www.facebook.com/badcopbadcopband?fref=ts) drummer Myra Gallarza kicks some serious ass; from flawless double strokes on a single pedal to dynamic break downs, Gallarza shreds the gnar, and their name aint bad either. Catch them on the road this summer with NOFX.
Did I miss your favorite Orange County or Long Beach based female drummer? Let me know in the comments section. The more the merrier!
*This list was originally published in Tom Tom Magazine