DEBORAH LEVINE (LADY BEAST) INTERVIEW:
April 27, 2015
There is nothing better than ‘discovering’ a band that you have never heard before and falling in love with their music. The latest group to have achieved this accomplishment in my eyes is the Pittsburgh based metal band Lady beast — who will simply knock your socks off with their brand of old-school NWOBHM music. Accordingly, it was a real pleasure to be able to chat with front-woman Deborah Levine, regarding just about everything related to Lady Beast.
Sleaze Roxx: How was the album release show that Lady Beast performed on March 28th?
Deborah Levine: It was amazing! I probably daydreamed about the show every day and it blew my expectations away. We had probably, I would say, at least 200 people there. Everyone was really just full of energy and excitement. Some people that were there were our friends and family or fans, and some of them were just first time viewers. Yeah, it couldn’t have gone any better. We were so happy and I’m still kind of coming down (laughs)!
Sleaze Roxx: You were kind enough to forward to me the tracks for the new record ‘Lady Beast II’. What I noticed is that the new record seems to have a better flow from one song to the next than the debut — would you agree?
Deborah Levine: Definitely! I think even the songs in general are just a bit more technical and mature in their own way. This record is the first one that all five of the current members were actually all together as a group. The first record was written probably by three or four different guitar players, but due to circumstances there were member changes and members moving in different directions. So, for this record, we worked on it really hard. I think it shows our maturity as musicians, our love for heavy metal and kind of stays true to all sorts of the styles we play.
Sleaze Roxx: What are your favorite tracks on ‘Lady Beast II’?
Deborah Levine: “Heavy Metal Destiny” is one of my favorite songs because it’s just so anthem-atic. I feel like it’s just kind of timeless in its own way. You know, ten years from now, it can still be applied to crazy metal-heads. I also really like “We Are The Witches” because I think it just flows really well. I like the lyrics that I came up for it — it’s really fun to sing. I really love all the songs. There really isn’t one song on the album that when it’s time to practice… I’m like, “Oh man!” It’s so very exciting for me.
Sleaze Roxx: Speaking of lyrics, I understand that you write most, if not all, of the lyrics. Where do you get your inspiration from and what kind of subjects did you tackle on ‘Lady Beast II’?
Deborah Levine: I really enjoy adventure and storytelling and kind of taking the listeners to a different place — kind of like what Dio used to do. You know, you hear a Dio song and you really do want to hear what he’s saying. You kind of get lost in his words and have him take you on this journey. I have a couple of songs like “Forrest Of The Impaled” and “Frost Giants Daughter” that are more of these kind of mythical epics and then I have a couple of songs that talk about ancient Nordic ruins and witchcraft — all in very productive ways. Not in making fun of or making it seem evil, but almost in this way of knowledge and really awesome… you know, don’t stop learning. And then I have one song that kind of works — they always call them my, “Deb is talking to you” type of songs. I really like the audience to know that without them, there’s no me and everyone is so important. No matter what kinds of struggles we’re going through, we can all go through it together because more than likely, we’ve all been in the same spot before. So I kind of use my music and be this positive role model for people — you know, to just help them get though life.
Sleaze Roxx: Lady Beast recently had an interview with a local Pittsburgh paper from what I understand. I was listening to one of the audio clips and you were mentioning that there were a lot of highlights as well as a lot of disappointments that you had encountered so far with Lady Beast. Can you please give me one highlight and one disappointment?
Deborah Levine: I would say… honestly, we got to play a couple of sets last year in Chicago — one was called Alehorn and another was called Ragnarokk. It was the first time that we’ve actually played in front of a couple hundred people. That was a super big highlight for us, just being exclusively at a trade metal set where everyone loves metal and collects vinyl, which is what we majorly deal with. And it was just like the energy and the passion was totally there so that was really awesome!
There haven’t been that many disappointments. I guess disappointments are kind of like, “Oh, you know when people”… I’m trying to think. Our lead guitar player, that was on this record, decided to leave the band a couple months ago so he actually played the release show with us and that was his last show. So, we’ve been training our new guitar player Steven Lauck. He was actually the first original guitar player and he happened to come back — it was perfect timing. But you know, disappointments kind of come with life — you know what I mean? I don’t mean like anything really specific per say, but random things like being broke — you know, because of the band, or just random things like that.
Sleaze Roxx: Now, even though you mentioned that it’s obviously difficult financially, you actually have your own business called Metal Maids which probably gives you a little bit more leeway than some of the other people in bands. Would you agree with that?
Deborah Levine: For sure! I mean, being your own boss is a total luxury that I definitely do not take for granted. But at the same time, it kind of means you have to work extra hard to have that good reputation. I am able to set my own schedule, but at the same time I still work full-time and people depend on me — so when I do have to go on tour, all of my clients are super supportive. But it does kind of suck at the same time because I don’t get any paid days off — there’s no paid vacation when you’re your own boss. With the band you are not bringing in any income, but it doesn’t matter to me. I’m the kind of person that would quit my job if we were offered an awesome show that I couldn’t get off work for. It means that much to me and I know I could do something else. This is my passion, the job is just what allows me to do that.
Sleaze Roxx: For the new record, why did you and the band decide to name the album ‘Lady Beast II’?
Deborah Levine: You know, it wasn’t really anything that thought out but it’s really hard to come up with names… even band names. It’s probably how people feel when they’re trying to name their kids. You want to be creative but you don’t want to use something someone already has. So, we also felt like this was kind of like a rebirth of the first record — just as I’d like Lady Beast as a whole finally writing a record that we all could say ‘this is the best thing that any of us has done up until this moment’. So I think in calling it ‘Lady Beast II’ allowed us to kind of transgress but not separate itself from the first record. Obviously, we’re not going to call the next one ‘Lady Beast III’ but I don’t know… you never know (laughs).
Sleaze Roxx: (Laughs) What were the reasons for guitarist Tommy Kinnett recently leaving the band?
Deborah Levine: A couple of different reasons. Sometimes situations come up where your biological family kind of needs to come before your band family, and it was that kind of situation. I think Tommy always wanted to keep doing new stuff, and seeing as he only had so much time to be able to play music he kind of wanted to try something different by playing a different type of music. It was a really good break-up, it couldn’t have gone better. There was no bad blood. There was no fighting. It was just very mature and he just wanted out to do what was in the best interest for the band.
Sleaze Roxx: How did the band get connected again with Steven Lauck?
Deborah Levine: It was super random — he moved to California right before we ever played our first show at a bar. We had played a couple of house shows and that’s when Tommy stepped in in 2009. Now, fast forward to the end of 2014, early 2015, and Steven was back right when we needed a new guitar player. I always knew that he didn’t want to leave the band. He was back for work and his lovely girlfriend so it made sense at the time but I feel really lucky and kind of like the planets aligned in this really weird way six years later (laughs)?
Sleaze Roxx: Now, speaking of girlfriends… I understand you and drummer Adam Ramage are a couple. How does that impact the dynamics of the band?
Deborah Levine: It’s interesting — it would probably be better to get that perspective from others because I’m probably biased. But me and Adam just had our six year anniversary in February.
Sleaze Roxx: Congratulations!
Deborah Levine: So, yeah, it’s been a long time. I think it works really well because I’m kind of like the mom of the band so I kind of keep everyone in line. The drummer can sometimes be the loudest so it’s good that I’m there because I’m like, “Adam stop playing the song! Listen!” (laughs). But it’s never really weird. I don’t think anything has ever has come up where it’s been an issue. He and I are so similar — we don’t fight, so the band is really like a big group of friends. It’s like we really love hanging out with one another. So yeah, it’s kind of a bonus.
Sleaze Roxx: In terms of upcoming shows, you’re one of the five bands that are going to be playing the M3 Pre Party in Columbia, Maryland on April 30th.
Deborah Levine: Yeah! We’re so excited!
Sleaze Roxx: (Laughs) I am excited to see you guys. How did it feel to be one of the five bands named and what was the process like to apply?
Deborah Levine: Well, our friend Dave Dillman emailed us, whom I believe saw us at the Pittsburgh Doro Pesch show. We opened for Doro last October, which was definitely a highlight. Being in a band, I love that woman! So, he kind of just asked if we would be interested in playing and we totally were so it’s actually going to be our first show with Steve on guitar. So that will be interesting… I’m so excited! We have a lot more energy with him stage wise — lots of guitars in the air and long hair everywhere. So yeah, it should be really good! So that’s kind of how that came about.
Sleaze Roxx: Your band is very big on vinyl and I understand that the bassist has his own record label — Cobra Cabana Records. Why vinyl? I know there is a resurgence in that regard, but at this time CDs and digital are still very big.
Deborah Levine: Definitely! I feel like the number one reason we do that is because vinyl is so tightly associated with old-school metal. Adam and I are huge collectors of vinyl, it’s basically all we listen to when we’re at the house. Every time we go to a show, we always buy the band’s record over the CD. The sound quality is better, the art is bigger, and you can put on the record and just lay on the couch and read all the lyrics and look at all of the stuff. It’s just something you can hold on to and feel like it’s very valuable to your soul (laughs).
We also print out CDs through our French record label, Inferno Records. We’ll have a CD, a digi-pack and a cassette, but we always offer the album for free download on our Bandcamp page at ladybeast.bandcamp.com — we just haven’t put up the new one yet. But we’re still all a little technologically behind. I know that the real collectors and the real appreciators of the music will buy the CD or the record — but I also want to have that available for free download in case you just want to take it and put it in your iPod so you can listen to it at work. Or if you’re not sure you do like us, check out one of our songs — you know, test the waters.
Sleaze Roxx: Aside from the M3 Pre Party, what are Lady Beast’s plans for the rest of the year?
Deborah Levine: Well, we set up a little tour — just for the long weekend around the M3 Pre Party. So we’ll start there on Thursday and on Friday we’re going to be playing in Baltimore at the Side Bar [on May 1st]. Then we’ll be driving to Philly to play at the Empire [on May 2nd] with two of our friends. And then, we’re just going to end back here on Sunday at a local bar [at Gooski’s in Pittsburgh on May 3rd] celebrating a friend’s birthday. It’ll be a nice little four show jaunt. As for the rest of the summer, we’re just trying to plan weekends. Hopefully just promoting and distributing the new album, trying to get some distribution out and trying to set up a European tour for next year. So yeah, just a lot of planning and hopefully a lot of playing.
Sleaze Roxx: Last question. What are your top three all time favorite records and why?
Deborah Levine: Hmmm I am going to say… this is like really hard. I would say ‘Piece Of Mind’ is one of my favorite Iron Maiden records. I don’t really know why but there’s just a lot of their songs that I really like to sing along to. And let’s see what else… it’s really hard. I am going to say I love the record ‘Sacred Heart’ by Dio. “Hungry For Heaven” is one of my favorite songs, when you sing that song it’s like anything is possible — like the world is your oyster. It makes me feel like really positive. And what would the last one be? I am going to say ‘Blackout’ by Scorpions because every song on that record is just really awesome (laughs)!