Atlanta five-piece the Stolen Hearts are a sultry, girly punk-rock band that revels in a damaged, Phil Spector punk vibe, churning out simple, ballad-esque rock and roll songs that hone primitive, melodies, sweet crooning and hooks that are as innocent as they are on fire. For their show tonight (Sat., June 6) at 529 the group is celebrating the release of their debut 7-inch on Douchemaster Records. $5. 9 p.m. Digital Leather opens. 529 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-228-6769.
How did the Stolen Hearts come together.
Rachel Jones: The group first started out with an all girl line-up. There were five girls, me and Michelle and three other girls. Then Ashley Salisbury joined and the other girls were really busy doing other things so it didn't really work out. When they left we took a break and then started back up again later. We needed a guitar player and Adrian Barrera (Barreracudas) was in, which was really cool. If you ask most people if they want to join a new all girl band they laugh at you, but he was totally into trying it out.
Why will they laugh at you?
RJ: Mostly because we've never really been in a band before and don't know what to expect. I would probably have the same reaction, but Adrian was willing to do it. Greg King (Carbonas, GG King) was in too. He's a trooper for sure.
Greg and Adrian are both very competent musicians. What's it like to come into a band with them, having no real musical experience yourselves?
MK: It pushes us to better ourselves as musicians. You can't get better at it unless you're actually playing music with other people. We've learned a lot from them, and I think we've pulled it off pretty well so far.
RJ: Ashley and I have been playing music since we were little kids, but it was your typical piano and whatever. So we have a small understanding of playing music, but it's a totally different scenario to enter into a situation with other musicians and start making music together. Michelle and I had started the Stolen Hearts a long time ago, and practiced together by ourselves but it was terrible.
MK: It was terrible, dude. We had a drum and a bass, and then we tried to get Rachel to play guitar and it was soooo bad...
RJ: We were just trying to learn how to play our instruments back then.
MK: If you're learning to play music, you have to build up a certain stamina in order to play a bunch of songs in a row, which is hard for a beginner. Having Greg and Adrian in the band really kicked our asses into getting songs together and working harder. Adrian is great, you can just hum to him what you want in a song and he'll play it on his guitar perfectly.
When you started the Stolen Hearts were you going for a "girl group" aesthetic?
MK: We wanted to steer away from that, actually. We wanted it to be co-ed, but people still focus on that, but there are also two guys in the band. Sure, having girls in the group gets people to notice you, but it can be very limiting. People immediately judge you a lot more harshly and they're quicker to turn off from what you're doing. People think that girls can't do it.
Are there other bands that inspired you in your approach to the group's dynamic?
RJ: There are different people and bands out there that we all are inspired by. I'm really into the '60s girl groups, the Shangri-Las, the Shirelles and the Ronettes, that sort of thing as far as the song writing goes. Or maybe someone like Joan Jett or Suzy Quatro... The rock and roll girls.
MK: Yeah we like the '60s stuff, but we want to toughen it up, make it more of a rock and roll band. But we're also trying to write songs that are catchy and upbeat and full of good harmonies.
Atlanta is in a unique situation in that it has songwriters like Gentleman Jesse Smith and Greg King who understand the the mechanics of good pop songwriting and apply that punk rock. It obviously affects Stolen Hearts because Greg is in the band, and you [Michelle] have been dating him for some time, and the songs on the 7-inch show the band actively honing melodies and rising above just three crappy chords.
MK: Greg is a total inspiration to me. I love everything that he does and to me having his ideas in the group balanced with everything else create a perfect medium. Really catchy, but not wimpy at all.
Tell me about the 7-inch on Douchemaster.
RK: I had never recorded before, and Michelle hadn't either. I was kind of scared going into it, but it went really quickly. We didn't have to go back and re-record anything. It's a huge accomplishment for me.
MK: Me too. I had never been in a real band, and it's exciting when you find yourself in a situation where you're actually creating music that you like.
Has your songwriting progressed since you recorded the songs on the single?
RJ: Yeah, our new songs are a lot more intricate, and we've been spending a lot more time writing them, but I love the songs on the record and I've found that people tend to react to them the most. I also think they were a really great jump off point for us and I'm not sick of playing them or hearing them yet.
MK: I would listen to at home if I wasn't in the band, and to me that's the best way to step back and put it into perspective.
What kind of feedback are you getting?
MK: Good and bad. People always want to compare it to other girl bands which is pretty lame. To me comparing us to another girl band is like comparing a band like Predator to Customers because they have all boys in them. I know that it's not perceived like that, but that's how it is. But really you it just usually happens on peoples' websites or whatever and you can tell that it's some gross old dude who lives in his mom's basement eating Doritos all day.
RK: When people compare us to other girl bands they aren't comparing the song style, just the fact that there are however many girls in the band. It sucks and it's totally not fair. There are so many girls in the scene who contribute a lot, and it gets really annoying when people starting making those kind of generalizations. Michelle and I do a lot. We book shows we have DJ nights and contribute just as much as any other boys in the scene.
MK: It all comes back to the same thing. Some people are going to be into it and some people are going to come just because they want to stare at your legs.
Yeah, but as women, there's an element of that for you too, when you go see shows and stare at hot dudes playing guitars.
RJ: Yeah girls do the same thing, and it's just part of the package I guess.
MK: In a way I wish we would have started doing this earlier, but I don't know if I could have done this when I was 18 and not gotten all worked up about it when someone said something rude. Now I'm old enough to roll with the punches, take the criticism and know that it doesn't matter if someone doesn't like it.
(Photo courtesy of the Stolen Hearts)
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