Introducing Death Valley Girls – California’s doom boogie, dystopian punk band
After releasing their album Darkness Rains last October, Los Angeles’ Death Valley Girls have embarked on a world tour which included numerous stops in the UK. The band have been described as nothing less than a doom boogie, dystopian punk piece. Oh, and occult glam rock. And rock’n’roll.
“Anything else?” you might ask yourselves. Well, yes. We asked the band a few questions and let us tell you they are worth your while if you’re after high-pitched vocals, and swirling, scorching guitar riffs. Far Out readers, meet the Death Valley Girls – who aren’t so deadly, we swear.
First things first, here are four names you should remember and get acquainted with: Bonnie Bloomgarden, Larry Schemel, Alana Amram, Laura Harris. These four people are also known as the Death Valley Girls. Why choose such a fatal-sounding name? Lead-singer Bonnie Bloomgarden has the answer: “Larry came up with it, it’s inspired by the eighties’ California stereotype of Valley Girls but used with Death Valley to conjure the darkness and desolation of the desert, the meeting of darkness and light.” Ah. Now we get it.
When listening to their songs, it’s obvious they have taken a few leaves out of many artist’s books. Iggy Pop, The Cramps, Roky Erickson, Dead Moon, Velvet Underground, Black Sabbath, The B-52 are some of which the band consider as their role models, and there are definitely some early-punk and garage rock melodies in there, mixed with a modern and feminine touch.
Their signature track ‘Disaster (Is What We’re After)’, is one of their musts when it comes to their live performances. “Every night we play it, the response is a lot of dancing and happy faces in the crowd,” and it’s already one of our favourite songs which makes us want to get shit done, get up and have a boogie.
The video clip to accompany their fan favourite track features someone who has been a rather important figure in punk rock: a certain Iggy Pop. Making their own version of Andy Warhol’s iconic ‘Eating a Hamburger’ video, the quartet have told us how it all came about: “Iggy had been playing us on his BBC radio show ‘Iggy Confidential’, which was cool enough for us already but our friend Kansas Bowling who has done videos for us and a filmmaker as well had a crazier idea to have Iggy in our video. She told us she had a dream where she made a video for us with Iggy Pop recreating the Andy Warhol eating a hamburger short film. Next thing we know she reaches out to Iggy, he says yes and we’re on our way to where Iggy lives in Miami to shoot the video! Iggy was the most gracious, coolest guy you could ever meet, it was a dream come true.”
A trailblazing idea which made us wonder if they were more than just a music band. Are the Death Valley Girls more than just a sensational rock band? Have they also got an artistic flare hidden up their sleeves? Well, yeah. When we asked them if Andy Warhol was at the centre of their art inspirations, their answer consisted of a “yes” and a “but”: “He’s [Andy Warhol] definitely one but there are some others we like as well. Artists from parts of the punk era, designers like Linder Sterling, Jamie Reid, Malcom Garrett and Barney Bubbles to the more current folks like Julian House and Oliver Hibert,” they explained with vigour.
It is in that answer that makes it perfectly clear to me that the band are here to create art, not to follow in the footsteps of the past. The band sure know what they are talking about when it comes to art, and that’s part of what makes them interesting.
As our conversation threatened to enter the debate of existential post-war art influencers, we brought the topic back to their latest album, Darkness Rains. Having concocted a set of great rock songs, with a little help from their mates, I wanted to get under the hood of the creative system. Looking back at how it all came together, the band remember how they “recorded it in a few weekends between tours last year and had a lot of friends drop by and help out,” some of whom were “Mark Cisneros from The Make Up, Kid Congo & Des Demonas played the saxophone on some songs plus Sean Solomon from Moaning and lots of back-up singers like Shannon Lay, Alexandra James from Twin Temple and Kristen Leonard from The Shivas.”
It’s clear that while Death Valley Girls are keen to make their voice heard, their also desperate to collaborate. The sharing of an artistic process is what makes them tick. Bouncing ideas of friends who, no matter how big or small their stature in the music industry, is a concept that makes this band flourish.
Death Valley Girls have just finished up a raucous UK tour, bringing together special guests and an incredible performances and are on en route home to continue the process of writing new music, a work ethic that sums up the desire of this relentless band.