The Music Department recently featured 90’s Montreal all-girl punk band Shlonk! on this very blog, unearthing their record Eee-Yow from the vinyl library. After that feature we were contacted by Michelle, the band’s drummer, who was excited to talk to CKUT. I recently interview her alongside Jodi, the bassist (the two of them hadn’t seen each other in 20 years!)
Here are some transcribed highlights of the 30-minute interview. You can look forward to an extended feature on the band on New Shit in the coming weeks.
Stream that sh*t here:
J: we first started out in about 1989, maybe 88, and the first one that we put out was a little cassette actually, “If your sores could sing”, that’s what it’s called. Al, the singer, drew a pimple on somebody’s face and it was singing, it came to fruition, I guess you could say, and then it would be singing. After that, we released Eee-yow, that was our full length LP, and Michelle had played on that.
Michelle, on becoming the drummer and learning the language:
M: [the previous drummer] Kelly had too many bands, so he asked me, he was a good friend of mine, so he said “Michelle, I have too many bands, do you want to play with Shlonk!?, it’s an all-girl band, you’re a girl, it’s perfect.” So I said “oh yeah, good idea”. So I started to play with them, and I was the only French [person] in the band, all the band was English, so it was hard at the beginning, but after that I learned English, so that was good.
I started to play with the band, and we played New York, Toronto, and everybody spoke English, and I didn’t speak English at all, so I [learned] really fast.
J: of course, when we took her to new York she was quite a handful there, and the new Yorkers, they were quite amused by her antics, that’s for sure.
J: we were part of the New York City SCUM rock scene, that included a lot of bands like Hellavator, Die Monster die, Artless, The Willies, Lunachicks, another all girl band called Thrust.
On GG Allin and stage antics:
J: People have actually seen our shows with GG Allin. We brought him to Montreal, he stayed at Angie’s place, the guitarist. He was really polite, he did the dishes, said thank you and please, very very kind, and before he did a show, we were jamming with him, and he probably broke three of my patch cords because he was spinning around all the time. So I said to him “GG, you gotta stop breaking my cords!” and he was like “ok, I’m sorry, I’ll try and watch it”, because he gets really excited when he sings. And, so, when he went out for his show, when we were playing just before, this was, god, what year I don’t know, and the people in the front were actually safe, it was the people in the back who had to be careful, because that’s where he’d throw the shit.
M: I don’t like this kind of art, you know, Al of Shlonk he’d do something funny, but he’s not like GG Allin, he’s really different, but on some songs he’d do something just to make the people laugh. Me, I was not ok with that all the time, sometimes it was funny but sometimes it was going too far, I think.
On forming a scene:
M: The Lunachiks, when we played in new York, they played with us, and they came to Montreal to play with us at Foufounes Electrique, so it was fun, it was like an exchange with Montreal and new York, and it was all girls bands, and it was really nice, it was all girls all night, and in this time in the 1990s there weren’t that many girl musicians!
M: In 1990 it was kind of hard for me, because the guy musicians wouldn’t accept the talent of girl musicians, and I had to show them that I’m the same level musician as them. And I worked hard to have respect, and now all the musicians are really happy for the work I do. And now for the new generation of girl musicians it’s more easy because the guy musicians have more open minds, that music isn’t only for men. I teach music to my niece, and I hope she’s going to be a drummer, but I don’t think so, she wants to be a guitarist and a singer, but it’s ok, I respect that.
On moving with the times:
M: it’s more challenging now, there are more musicians, more talent, there’s more competition too. So we have to be independent a lot, and to do our own thing. Me, I play by passion, you know, I work with children, so that is my work, but music is passion, it’s really passion, so I’m not there for money, I’m there for art. There are lots of girl musicians, more and more, and this is great, I love it!