INTERVIEW WITH GLAM SKANKS GUITARIST ‘V’ AND SINGER ALI
Date: December 12, 2016
Interviewer: Christopher Carroll
TO BE HONEST, I HADN’T HEARD OF THE GLAM SKANKS WHEN AN INDUSTRY FRIEND SUGGESTED TO ME THAT I SHOULD INTERVIEW THEM. ADMITTEDLY, I THOUGHT THE NAME WAS KIND OF COOL SO I LOOKED THEM UP ON YOUTUBE AND I WAS HOOKED! THESE LADIES PLAY MUSIC WITH A SNARKY ATTITUDE, A GLAM ROCK LOOK AND A ’70s FEEL. I LOVED IT SO I WATCHED MORE! I WENT BACK TO MY FRIEND AND GOT THE STORY. THIS WASN’T SOME NEW BAND THAT WAS LOOKING FOR ITS FIRST CLUB. THE GLAM SKANKS ARE SEASONED PROFESSIONALS WITH COUNTLESS TIES TO ROCK ROYALTY. THEY’VE BEEN CHERIE CURRIE’S (OF THE RUNAWAYS) BAND. THEY’VE ALREADY OPENED FOR ALICE COOPER. THEY HAVE THEIR THING DOWN AND THEY ARE NOW BRINGING IT TO ALL OF US AS THEY WERE TAPPED TO OPEN FOR ADAM ANT ON HIS US TOUR! RECENTLY, GLAM SKANKS GUITARIST ‘V’ AND SINGER ALI TOOK TIME TO ANSWER SOME OF MY QUESTIONS.
Sleaze Roxx: First of all, congratulations on getting the supporting slot for Adam Ant! V, your father [Bruce Wilkin] is a famous producer, engineer and musician. He even sang and played bass on one of my favorite Adam Ant songs, “Wonderful.” That’s a pretty interesting connection! Any stories?
V: I love “Wonderful.” It’s also one my favorites! My dad started to play with Adam a few years before that and my first concert was seeing them play at the Pantages Theatre. I was so young I fell asleep in the front row. My first time up on a stage was also with Adam! He was playing a show at the Greek Theatre with my dad and they needed some kids dressed up as bumble bees so I went up there with some friends and we were dressed like little bumble bees! A few years later is when my dad went to London to record on “Wonderful” and a few months after that, they went on tour. My biggest memory from that tour was when they played on The Tonight Show when Jay Leno was the host. I was about four years old and my dad took me to the set to watch them film and I got to meet Jay!
Sleaze Roxx: Were all of you familiar with Adam before this or did some of you cram and watch all the videos when you found out?
Ali: I was familiar with Adam Ant because my parents are big fans of his. I didn’t know much of his music but I definitely recognized his look. He definitely has his own style and has been consistent with it, which is really cool! But when I heard we were going on tour with him, I did look up documentaries and music videos. I can now say I am for sure a fan!
Sleaze Roxx: The truth is, you aren’t strangers to the big stage. You’ve even played with Alice Cooper! Did you learn anything from Alice?
V: I feel like we’ve probably been learning from Alice since long before we played with him or met him. He’s been such a huge influence on the band for many years. But if we’ve learned anything from watching and working with Alice, it’s how important it is to be professional. He’s one of the hardest working people in this business and he never stops or slows down. Also, we’ve learned a lot about stage presence from watching him. If anyone knows how to command a stage, it’s Alice.
Ali: Alice Cooper has been a big influence on me. I’m very attracted to the “shock factor.” My favorite type of performer is one that keeps me on my toes always wondering what they are gonna do next. I strive to do that to other people. Alice is the king!
Sleaze Roxx: What is your most interesting Alice Cooper story?
V: Our best Alice story as a band would probably be after our set opening for him. We had just walked off stage and went back to the makeup area to clean up our stuff when Alice approaches us asking if it was ok that he borrowed some of our eyeliner and eye shadow. We started to laugh and he said to us “I’m serious. I hope it would be ok if I borrowed some stuff.” Our response was “Of course you can! You’re Alice Cooper!”
Sleaze Roxx: Several of you also played as Cherie Currie’s back-up band. Was that interesting? Any good stories there?
V: Yes, we were her backing band last New Year’s Eve! We had played a show a few months earlier and she had gotten up on stage and played “Cherry Bomb” with us. So when she was looking for a backing band to play with her, our friends at Lethal Amounts who were hosting the New Year’s Eve event had suggested us since she had already played the one song with us before. It was a really interesting night because we never rehearsed with her or really worked out a setlist. She just asked what songs we knew and then asked if we could learn a few.
Sleaze Roxx: The Glam Skanks… What is the story behind that name?
V: It started out as an inside joke with our friend Carlos. We had already booked a gig but didn’t have a band name yet and were scrambling to find something in time. Carlos had mentioned he was making lamb shanks and we joked that if you added some glitter to them, they would be Glam Shanks and from there he started writing out “Lamb Shanks, Glam Skanks, No Thanks” and we all looked at Glam Skanks and thought “Oh, thats funny.” We didn’t think that much of it at first and just thought it was a funny way to describe us but when we played that first show, people loved the name and thought it fit perfectly.
Sleaze Roxx: I understand everyone didn’t just jump into this band… that some were a little reluctant to join. Explain the problem!
Ali: Yes, Millie was reluctant to join the band. She already was in two other bands and didn’t know if she wanted to be a part of our project. She had never seen us live but I’m sure if she had, she would have joined immediately. So we jammed with Millie a few times and she kind of stopped reaching out to us. At this point, V and I were itching to play live and to find the perfect girls for our dream band. So we called up Millie and invited her out for drinks and to ask her to join the band for real. We really connected with her and told her we were serious and what we wanted out of this band and she was game! We ended up staying out all night and going to Cheetahs where they were having a crazy fun LGBT party! And the rest is history!
Sleaze Roxx: “Glitter rock” is an interesting choice of genre. You pull it off like it’s natural. What led you down this path? How did this come about?
V: For me, the glam rock influence came from my aunt. Since I was really young, she would show me bands and artists like Bowie, T. Rex, New York Dolls and Roxy Music. She had grown up being obsessed with all that music and had hung out in the scene with the Dolls when she was living in New York so it all just rubbed off on me. The band went in this direction musically just from Ali and I having a mutual obsession over the music and image of early ’70s English glam. We had both put up craigslist ads with all the same glam influences and both excitedly e-mailed each other over our shared love for glam. When we first met up to jam, we played “Bang A Gong” by T. Rex.
Ali: For me. “glitter rock” is not only about the music but also about attitude and style. It’s super theatrical to me, which I love. The costumes, the props — it’s very showy and fun and allows me to be wildly creative. I first got into this style from listening to and watching Bowie and Freddie Mercury, my two musical idols.
Sleaze Roxx: You have a new song in Kevin Smith’s ‘Yoga Hosers’ movie [now in theatres]. That is pretty impressive! How did that come about?
V: My dad was working with Kevin through Johnny Depp who is a close friend of my dad’s. Johnny was starring in the movie alongside his daughter Lily Rose and Kevin’s daughter Harley Quinn. They needed some recording of the two girls singing for the movie and Johnny had recommended my dad. When Kevin was working with my dad, he had expressed that he needed some covers recorded for the movie and needed a band. When my dad showed him our stuff, he thought we were right for the movie!
Sleaze Roxx: Your songs are fun and have a very sassy feel lyrically. Take me through your writing process.
V: Usually, our songs start with a concept or a line that we think is clever or funny, and Ali will go and write lyrics inspired by that idea and we put the music to it. We also sometimes start with the music and the parts will influence the lyrics. We don’t really have one way that we write. We try to gives ourselves any opportunity to be creative so we don’t limit it to one method of writing.
Sleaze Roxx: V, getting back to your family, in addition to your dad working with everyone from Adam Ant to LA Guns, he is in the Hollywood Vampires! Any interesting experiences there?
V: Yeah, it’s been really amazing that he’s been playing with all these guys that he and I have admired our whole lives. Joe Perry and Alice Cooper are such a huge influence on me as a musician so just getting to watch them work has been an amazing experience. When they were rehearsing for their tour a few months ago, I got to hang out and watch one day and they started playing “Sweet Emotion” and just getting to sit there and watch Joe play all the guitar parts was so cool!
Sleaze Roxx: Your mom [Suzanne Allison Wilkin] is a rock photographer. Did that also give you any access to the music scene?
V: Yeah, for sure. My mom released a photography book called ‘Gimme Shelter’ a few years ago and the concept was celebrities and musicians with their pets and she took me with her on a lot of the shoots.
Sleaze Roxx: Being a rock photographer myself, I can’t help but assume her creative view had to have influenced you somehow, as well. No?
V: Oh yeah, definitely! My mom is a great visual artist and has always had an influence on that side of me. I think all the best rock bands also had a great sense of the visual and growing up with her creativity really helped. She taught me how to make my own clothes and how to design my own artwork so I’ve been able to be very self-sufficient because of that as well.
Sleaze Roxx: In a time like this, when the industry has changed and recordings don’t sell like they used to, what is your approach to success in the music business?
V: I think the one thing that hasn’t changed in the industry and most likely never will is the ‘live’ experience. You can digitize almost anything but you can’t digitize the feeling of getting together with your friends, standing up against a stage and feeling a band right in front of you. Seeing someone you admire in the flesh. For us, the approach is to be the best live band we can be and put on a fun and energetic show that you can’t find anywhere else. After that, you hope that people like what you’re doing enough to want to come up to you after the show and buy your album from you and not stream it, download it or buy it from a third party but actually get it direct from the artist.
Sleaze Roxx: Any future plans? What is next for the Glam Skanks?
V: The plan is to just not stop after this tour. We’re looking into some other tour possibilities so we can go right out again after coming back. Also, we’d like to start working on the next album and get it out in the next year and a half or so.
Sleaze Roxx: You certainly do have an interesting and entertaining combination of look, style and music. The most important thing I noticed is the sincerity. You are convincing. When you play it, I feel it! I really look forward to seeing you live in Washington DC on January 23rd!
Glam Skanks‘ “Rock N’ Roll Skank” video:
All-girl rock band from Hollywood, CA! http://www.facebook.com/glamskanx *NEW* Rock N Roll Skank Single Featuring Roxy Roller Out Now! Directed by: The Enclave Hollywood https://www.facebook.com/theenclavehollywood Music video by Glam Skanks performing Rock N’ Roll Skank.