Los Angeles, CA
Usually, after living with the same roommate(s) for an extended period of time, you tend to learn to hate and revile them. At least this has been my experience. Music – or any other solitarily cathartic exercise – such as drinking yourself into a constant vertiginous state of insobriety, is necessary to ease the collective voices of hatred and loathing that their utterly annoying idiosyncrasies can rile up inside you. In the case of Baxter House however, this was all easily avoidable. Why you might ask? Because of the awesome unifying powers of Rock and Roll.
The band hails from Los Angeles and is Rachel on lead vocals, Malik on guitar, and Sky on drums. In Rachel the band boasts an unrepentant lead singer whose vocals exude confidence in equal parts anger and acceptance and whose stage presence is undeniable. Malik’s facile guitar playing evokes a back to the-basics style that refreshes rather than bores while Sky’s controlled yet manic drums round out the solo rhythm section. But why let me tell you everything. Here’s what Rachel had to say:
Zach: How exactly did you guys meet?
Rachel: We actually all met when we randomly lived together in a house on Baxter Street in Echo Park, Los Angeles. You do the math. That house set on fire actually (by no fault of my own).
Zach: When did the three of you realize you needed to start a band together?
Rachel: Malik and I used to jam all the time, and it was pretty great. My old band was very controlling and eventually gave me the boot so I kidnapped Sky from his band and voila, Baxter House was born.
Zach: Who are your biggest influences?
Rachel: I have a hard time with this particular common question, because I honestly pull my influences from any music I hear that I consider good. It doesn’t have to be an artist (or even contain vocals) per say, but rather a specific song by someone I may not even know. So to answer your question, anything from Children’s Choir music to Thrash. Right now I’m a little obsessed w/ The Dresden Dolls, The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower and an old SWV CD I found. Some of Sky’s influences are The Police, Slayer, Buddy Rich and tons of others. Malik – Jimi Hendrix, Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Dr. No (Bad Brains), Buckethead (Praxis), Leo Nocentelli (Meters), Michael Hedges, Greg Ginn (Black Flag).
Zach: Rachel, with the riot – grrrl days seemingly behind us, and a more accepting – almost urgent thirst for eccentric female fronts, as we see with the Dresden Dolls, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Distillers etc…¦ are you still motivated by a sense of sexual un-acceptance, or is that not something that motivates you?
Rachel: I don’t really care what people accept or don’t. I have fun doing what I do, some people hate me, some people love me, others may be indifferent. I am a sexual being, I like being sexual and that manifests itself into our live acts. I don’t think sexuality is unaccepted in our society by any means…doesn’t sex sell? The problem is female “musicians” who aren’t really musicians at all and have nothing else to show other than their sexuality. Then it becomes a problem and makes female musicians look bad. Conversely, you have female musicians on the other end who may snarl at me because they think I’m exploiting our gender by dressing or acting sexy. I’m into the whole package. There are countless legendary male front men who portrayed a very sexual image and were still taken seriously. Why not the gals as well? Music and art in general is about emotion; sex is a very large component of human emotion. While I may blatantly exude more sex appeal then the Dresden Dolls or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I still think those front women are pretty fucking sexy and powerful, don’t you? For anyone who is offended or thinks I’m a slut, well then, they don’t have to look, now do they?
Zach: How does the band approach the songwriting process?
Rachel: I do a lot of the arrangements but sometimes we just puke it out (an entire song) in one go. Those times are the best. Call me a hippie, but I love to jam. Other times Malik and I will write something together and then have Sky join in. There’s total equality with us. Everyone contributes. They are both incredible musicians to work with and are always impressing me with new ideas. If something sucks, none of us are going to let it slide. Plus, since there’s three of us, arguments never last long because someone always gets outvoted.
Zach: Where can people catch your live act?
Rachel: We’re playing all over LA, from the beaches to downtown. Come 2006 we’ll be playing at The Scene, Spaceland, The Echo, The Smell, Dragonfly, etc. We’re also planning a west coast tour so watch out for dates in your town! You can check out our website for future shows at www.baxter-house.com or www.myspace.com/baxterhouse (plugging, plugging 😉
Zach: What are you working on right now?
Rachel: We’re currently writing some great new material and our wonderful manager Stacy is working with us to get a ton of press and reviews going which is exciting. So far the response has been immense!
Zach: What are the band’s long term goals?
Rachel: I think I can speak for the boys by saying nothing would mean more to us than being able to support ourselves completely by making music thus quitting our dull, spirit-killing day jobs! A few indie labels have inquired, however we have much more ‘DIY’ to do until we decide on a label.
Zach: What celebrity deserves to be flogged in the center of Times Square?
Malik: Ann Coulter
Sky: Pat Buchanan, Joseph McCarthy, Dick Cheney,
Rachel: George Bush, his administration and Jessica Simpson…in a ‘hot’ way