Portraits Of Sister Lip:
Phoenix Band Goes Rockstar
All Female Rock Band Sister Lip Took Their First Jaunt Cross Country — Minus Keyboard And Bass — But They Are Back In Phoenix Ready To Attack The Local Scene
By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine
August 31, 2013 — Sister Lip is quickly rising as one of Phoenix’s premier rock bands bringing their unique sounds to the indie scene, the punk scene and everything in between.
This summer drummer Ariel Monet and lead singer/guitarist Cassidy Hilgers hit the road together to rock an acoustic cross country tour leaving bass player Cheri French and pianist Jenny Rebecca back in Phoenix.
After the tour they came and sat down with me to talk about the tour, the future of Sister Lip, and some biscuits and gravy.
Modern Times Magazine: How did just a drummer and lead singer tour?
Cassidy Hilgers: You probably know that we have a keyboardist and a bassist so I play guitar as well. I rewrote the songs on the guitar and combined all the chords together. That was very interesting.
Ariel Monet: And so what I did instead of just playing basic beats is I tried to play the same rhythm of what the bass player normally plays but on like the kahumba and the bongos. So she rewrote the parts and I played the rhythms and my hands hurt a lot because i had to fill in a lot of the space. It was really easy, actually.
CH: I was very nervous about it but Ariel would just tell me to relax and that really helped. But like once we started going and the first show was at the House of Blues and it was kind of like, ‘oh shit here we go.’ It went pretty well but once we started going around and doing every show towards the middle it just got …
AM: ... better and better and better and better and then we even still made changes. But not major changes and it worked better and by the time we got to Canada we were pretty comfortable with what we were doing, I want to go back.
MTM: What places on tour did you find to be the most receptive to your sound?
AM: Seattle was good, New York City was really good they really enjoyed us. Nowhere was like “we hate you guys,” if that makes sense.
CH: This is really weird: We played at the Rock Music Hall, most people know what that is. It was pretty empty, it was three in the afternoon. It was me, Ariel, this bartender, two sound guys and like we thought they hated us. Because nobody was clapping or they just stopped clapping after a while and then it was awkwardly silent. Then afterwards the two guys are like, ‘its the best show ever’ and then they gave 30 bucks and we were like, ‘what the hell where did that come from?’
AM: One guy wanted to buy all the CDs. They didn't even clap. But everywhere else was great. People were really nice. We ran into a lot of good hospitality. People liked to feed us so that was good we got a lot of free coffee and a lot of free alcohol in Canada which was awesome. So yeah it was great.
MTM: How many cities did you actually hit?
AM: Seventeen cities, 21 shows.
MTM: Have either of you ever been on tour before?
No, not really. We have done California and Tucson and some other out of state shows but that was our first tour.
CH: Yeah we have never toured with anyone else or anything.
MTM: So as musicians what do you think you gained from your first tour?
AM: I realized that this is what I want to do forever.
CH: It gave us stuff for the future. Like what to change and what to expect and timing. How to book shows: how far apart and how many days, so we aren’t driving forever. I learned a lot. I feel like next time I will definitely book two shows in each city because people would ask, ‘are you playing anywhere tomorrow night? I want to bring friends.’
AM: But we would have to go off to the next city, we are definitely doing two in each city next time.
CH: A guy from Tennessee wanted to give us some biscuits and some gravy and we couldn't because we had to be in New Orleans the next night.
AM: Yeah biscuits and gravy whatever that means we didn't know what he was going to do with us.
CH: No he was cool.
AM: Yeah I learned a lot and I'm in school for music business too, so next summer when we tour we’ll do even better. I learned that when we go full band I know the stuff for crossing the borders, that sucked. We have experience doing that now.
CH: A lot of connections, booking will be a lot easier next time.
AM: I added all the people from all the venues and all the bands too, and we keep getting good contacts and hopefully we will be bringing a lot of good people into Arizona too when they’re on tour, that would be great.
MTM: So then the next tour is next summer?
AM: Yeah we're going to wait until next summer because our bassist is only 17 right now and we want to go out with the full band. She turns 18 in the beginning of July so that’s when we are going.
MTM: What do you have coming up in Phoenix now that you are back?
AM: We’ve got a lot of shows coming up, we’ve got every Monday at Long Wongs forever, we’ve got Lawn Gnome on first Friday at 6:30 I think, and The Firehouse of Punk Rock on Sept. 14 at The Firehouse Gallery.
MTM: As an all female band do you think you’re facing any challenges that you wouldn’t face otherwise?
AM: Yeah I think so, but I think a lot of times we get disrespect from sound guys and stuff when we are setting up. Then after we play they’ll be nice to us and we’re like ‘what the fuck.’
CH: We just kind of like disregard them.
AM: Yeah I don't really care, I don't really care at all.
CH: Like if anything its good for us you know, like fuck you, we fucking rock and we are all girls and you can suck my balls, bitch. Well something like that.
AM: We just disregard it and work together and we love each other and we are going to be awesome.
MTM: As an all-female band do you take as somewhat of a responsibility to support the female side of the music scene?
AM: I never really think about it that way because I don’t think about gender that often. But I guess other people do. But we definitely support the female side, but i still want to support all good music.
CH: Our band was not formed as a strictly all-girl band, we just kind of all came together not realizing it. There was a boy drummer once — a man drummer — but that didn't really work out so we got Ariel, and Cheri and we used to have a guitarist named jessica but she’s going to school now in Flagstaff. But yeah, we don’t really ever think of ourselves that way. Its not like we don’t like thinking about it. We fucking think its awesome, but we still think if you want to come play sax with us and you’re a man that’s cool. Tonight we have a show at Long Wongs and Cheri is in Mexico so we have PC playing bass for us and he’s a guy.
AM: As long as you can play music we don’t care. We are down to colab too. We found Cheri on accident at an open mic and shes a girl and she’s an awesome bassist and we needed a bassist and I’m sure if we would have found a boy first we would have went with him.
MTM: What did you miss most about the Phoenix music scene while you were away?
AM: The feeling of family. I feel like a lot of bands we play with and a lot of the people that come see us are people we would do anything for. It’s weird to be in a different city and you don't even know where to find a Starbucks, and you’re playing for these people. You don’t know what they're going to think and you don’t have anyone to hang out with afterwards or someone to tell you honestly if it was a good set or not.
MTM: What was the worst shot you took on tour? Any boos?
CH: No not only not any boos, but we never got told on tour that we were bad.
AM: Some people didn’t want to take the demo after the shows, but no boos. We got a lot of Facebook likes we even handed out our CDs in a traffic jam in Oregon and people found us on Facebook from that.
MTM: What venues will you be hitting up again next summer?
AM: The Weigh Station in New York City.
CH: Darrell’s Tavern in Seattle.
AM: That was good. Theres a few other ones, the one we played in Vancouver. The main band canceled off of it and we got a bigger show and I know we would have gotten a bigger turn out if they would have been there. But we are going to hit them up again because they paid us well and everything.
CH: Also the Orange House.
AM: Yeah shout out to the Orange House.
Jeff Moses is the Music/Arts editor at Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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