INTERVIEW WITH LORRAINE LEWIS OF FEMME FATALE (PART 2 OF 2)
Date: April 1, 2016
Photos: Christopher Carroll (photos 1, 5 and 6), Ali Innes (photos 2 and 3)
IN PART 1 OF SLEAZE ROXX’S TWO PART INTERVIEW, FEMME FATALE FRONTWOMAN LORRAINE LEWIS REVEALED AMONGST MANY THINGS THAT THE LONG LOST FEMME FATALE ALBUM ‘LADY IN WAITING’ WILL BE RELEASED UNDER THE NAME ‘ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD’ WITHIN 30 DAYS VIA FNA RECORDS. IN PART 2 OF SLEAZE ROXX’S INTERVIEW, LEWIS TALKS ABOUT TRYING TO RECORD NEW MUSIC WITH THE NEW FEMME FATALE LINE-UP, HER TV SHOW ‘EX WIVES OF ROCK’, HOW SHE GOT THE NEW FEMME FATALE TOGETHER AND MORE!
Sleaze Roxx: …Now had you ever thought of instead of releasing the tracks from 25 years past or just re-recording these tracks with your current band that has actually been playing the songs live?
Lorraine Lewis: Yeah. Actually, I would love to do that. I think, you know, sitting on this music for so long… I think that one thing that is cool about this is that it’s history. It is nostalgia. If you’re a Femme Fatale or give a f*** at all, you’ll really love this. Absolutely! To reincarnate these songs with my current band members would be awesome because they are badasses, they sound amazing. We’ve done ‘Lady In Waiting’, ‘One More For The Road’ and ‘Buried Alive’ live so I would love to do those songs and maybe a couple more. Go in and even write something with these girls would be great. You know, the only complication comes in with me and the new band is that everybody is so tied up with so many projects. And that is one of the things about Los Angeles that has always been true is that everybody is doing more than one thing typically. So I share my guitar players [Courtney Cox and Nikki Stringfield] with The Iron Maidens and Janis [Tanaka], my bass player — she has another band that she’s in. I mean everybody is really busy. Not that they won’t make time for it but finding that couple of days or weeks that everybody would be available to really knock this stuff out, it just hasn’t lined up yet. So you know, I am still waiting for the stars to tell me what to do [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Lorraine Lewis: Yeah! It would be great! There are some videos on YouTube when we did ‘Buried Alive.’ We did that at Farm Rock Atlanta and it really like, “Wow!” It blew my mind. Actually, ‘Buried Alive’ in particular, I have never performed that song live with the original set up. So to do that in front of an audience, the first time we did it was at Farm Rock Atlanta. The first time that we rehearsed it was at the rehearsal room. I was like “Oh my God!” I turned to the girls and I was like, “This sounds fucking awesome!” Like, I had never done this song live except for when we were in the studio, in the rehearsal studio, putting it to tape. Me and the boys never played that live so to have that experience is pretty exciting. We played it at the House Of Blues when we played with Vixen. We did it when we played with Vixen and Lita Ford in Canada last month. Yeah. So those three songs in particular are probably going to be the most favorite. I’ve also got a surprise on here. We recorded “Piece Of My Heart” that Janis Joplin covered…
Sleaze Roxx: Cool!
Lorraine Lewis: Yeah! It’s pretty cool. I think you’ll like it. I like it.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Well, you have to like it! It’s your stuff! I would be disappointed if you didn’t like it.
Lorraine Lewis: Yeah. It feels good. It really does. Like I say, I do have to remind everybody — 25 years ago, raw, rough — you know, it’s not squeaky clean but it’s cool. It’s in my hand and I hope that people get it and like it.
Sleaze Roxx; You had mentioned writing songs with your current band. Have you had the chance to sit down and write any songs?
Lorraine Lewis: We have not had any chances although Courtney [Cox] sends me guitar riffs every once in a while. I’ll say, “Oh. That’s fucking cool! Can’t wait to work and write.” But in the meantime, Athena [Bass] and I actually co-wrote a song with her son Miles [Kottak]. Miles in another badass drummer in the Athena [Tommy Lee’s sister] family. He’s in The Bad Suns. They’re really great. They’re really popular. He had a track for us that he presented to Athena and she brought it to me because we were thinking of writing the theme song for the show ‘Ex Wives Of Rock.’ We basically — Athena and I — love the track and we put melody and lyrics to it. So now, that is available on iTunes called “Ex Wives Rock.” And we just released that like two weeks ago, maybe three, and it’s an anthem cool tune. It rocks! It’s me singing. It’s kind of in your face lyrically. I think that it’s kind of an anthem for ex-wives everywhere but I will say [laughs] that a lot of guys on my Facebook page have said, “This is a fucking great tune!” Guys like it too so it’s not like gender specific. It’s sassy!
Sleaze Roxx: Speaking of ‘Ex-Wives Of Rock’, obviously you have been producing it for a while now but how did you get the idea in the first place?
Lorraine Lewis: Well, I was in a really bad marriage. A lot of people don’t know this but I have been married a few times. During the time of my last marriage, I was in a pretty bad marriage and no children. I felt like a desperate house wife of rock because I was like, “Oh my God! I really need to get back to who I really am and I really want to rock the fuck out!” And I wasn’t able to really do that anymore and so, Roxy Petrucci and I actually got together and that actually was starting to get me back into rock n’ roll. And we had a band together called Rocktopuss and we were trying to get something off the ground. She kind of felt the same way. She is in love with her guy but she was like, “God. I really want to get back to rock n’ rolling.” So we kind of dubbed ourselves the ‘Ex Wives Of Rock.’ I’m sorry — the ‘Desperate Housewives Of Rock.’
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Lorraine Lewis: I tried to secure that name and wasn’t able to. And then, around the same time, a friend of mine — Lisa Brucker — wanted to write my life story which I really did not think was that exciting but she kind of did [laughs]. So, I would go over to her house and we would start to write kind of like a book proposal about my life and coming to the Sunset Strip and making my dreams come true. And then, we both just kind of got the reality show bug and ‘Desperate Wives Of Rock’ turned into ‘Ex Wives Of Rock’. And so we started building the cast from there. And you know, we had nooooo idea what we were doing. I’ve never thought about being in television. And much like when I got my record deal — kind of the same kind thing — I didn’t know how to secure a record deal when I moved to LA so we just did what we knew how to do, which was rock our asses off on stage, contact people and hope that people liked us. It’s kind of the same thing that we did with the show. It’s like we put a band together of sorts. You know, we put a group of girls together. We filmed it and we started knocking on doors and we got it picked up by the Slice Network in Canada. Then it made its way to the Fuse Network in the States and it’s been airing recently on AXS TV, which is a total rock n’ roll network.
I don’t know if you have checked out AXS TV but Nita Strauss who was in the first rendition of the new Femme Fatale for the 2013 Monsters of Rock cruise. I love Nita! She will always be a Femme Fatale guitar player. The door is always open for her whenever she has time. She has gone on to play with Alice Cooper and AXS TV is airing Alice Cooper on tour. Like, it’s amazing! So AXS TV i s a total rock n’ roll station. All of our friends are on there and ‘Ex Wives Of Rock’ has been airing on there. So it’s pretty cool. Wednesday nights at 8:00, 9:00 Central I think. I don’t know what the future holds for the show but in the meantime, I am working in television. I am casting associate, a casting producer at a company called Renegade 83. I just helped cast my second show for them on a major cable network and I love casting! I love television so I am having the time of my life. I love my job [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! That’s awesome! So what do you think that the future holds for ‘Ex Wives Of Rock?’ Obviously, you are still going right now but future wise?
Lorraine Lewis: Still going right now. I would love another season. The girls are f***ing awesome! Their lives are crazy, upside down. They love each other. They hate each other. It’s real life stuff and at the end of the day, they love each other and they support each other. But it’s real life. We didn’t script this stuff. We didn’t tell Athena to go break her shoulder for the show. I mean, this stuff really happened. So it’s pretty amazing how things morphed into this amazing show and I love it! I am hoping that AXS will renew and possibly we can do a season four but in the meantime, Athena and I have some plans. I would actually love to do a scripted show about rock n’ roll. I am hoping that Athena and I can actually work on that because I have got a lot of stories from the Sunset Strip days and she has a lot of stories as well. So I am hoping that we can team up and do a scripted show much like Vinyl that is out right now. Like that but from a girl’s perspective and some of the things that we have gone through as you know, chicks rocking on the Sunset Strip. I am really hoping that that is going to happen in the future. But we’ll see! And I’ve got another show in development with Daryl Silver over at the Idea Factory. A new group of women that are badasses . It’s not about rock n’ roll but stay tuned. It’s a really cool group of women and we’ve got a major cable network interested right now. So things are going good!
Sleaze Roxx: For sure! Sounds like you are very busy. I am just going to backtrack a little bit. Why did you decide to do an all-female band with Femme Fatale because obviously, the original version had just you and a bunch of guys?
Lorraine Lewis: Yeah. There’s a few reasons why I decided to put an all-female Femme Fatale together. Number one, there is no way that we can duplicate what happened in 1988-1989 — with the excitement of moving to Los Angeles and making dreams come true. And here we are 20+ years later. I was contacted by Larry Morand that wanted to book Femme Fatale on the Monsters of Rock Cruise 2013. I was so excited to say yes. I was so excited to be invited to the big boy club, right? I was just so over the moon about it and then I got off the phone and I was like, “Fuck! I don’t even have a band!”
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Lorraine Lewis: You know, it’s like, “What am I thinking?” I thought about having the original members but here’s the thing. Bill D’Angelo, our guitarist, passed away seven years ago. He’s not on the planet anymore. The rest of the guys moved on to other things living not in Los Angeles. I can’t bankroll guys to come to LA to do rehearsals for the Monsters of Rock Cruise. It just didn’t seem like the right thing to do to put out of my own pocket and also for the fact that Billy wasn’t around anymore. It’s like “Uhhh. I got to do something fresh. I got to think of something else.” And I’ve always wanted to be in an all-girl band because I was so impressed with Vixen back in the day and really thought that they were awesome chicks and thought, “How did they do that?” They all get along. They all have a blast. And I have always wanted to do something like that. So it just made sense for me.
It’s like, “Look. Here we are 25 years later. I’m 25 years older. I’m not, you know, 27 years old running around in short shorts but I need to have some flipping badass young hotties with me that know how to fucking kick ass. So I just thought, “I’ve got to do this. I got to do the all-girl thing. They’ve got to be badasses. They can’t just be tarts that can look hot. They’ve got to be able to fucking nail it and bring it.” So I asked around and asked a friend of mine. She worked at the Guitar Center and she works at GIT – a female guitar player. I thought about her as well but I knew that she was too busy to go on the road. And I said, “Hey Angela! Who do you know? Who are the two hottest awesome guitar player badasses that you know in Los Angeles?” She said, “Hands down, Nita Strauss and Courtney Cox.” So I got their phone numbers. I contacted them.
I told this story before but I’ll tell it again. Nita tells it really well. Apparently, the week before I called and left messages for them, they were driving around. I did not know that they lived together. They shared an apartment. Courtney and Nita both shared an apartment and I guess that they were driving around Hollywood and listening to Sirius Satellite Radio and “Waiting For The Big One” came on. And the way that Nita tells the story, she cranks up the radio and is like, “This is the kind of singer that we need! This is the kind of music that we need to be doing! We need to be like this, like this chick!” Something like that. And you know, that was “Waiting For The Big One.” Here we go to a week later. I have their numbers. I call each of them. I left a message saying, “Hey! Lorraine Lewis from Femme Fatale. I would like to talk to you about a show I have coming up next year which you have to totally keep secret about but give me a call.” The way that Nita tells the story is that she said, “She got the message. She comes bouncing into the living room kind of like you know really proud.” Nita does this little bouncy, little dance, that I can see her totally doing it — kind of shaking her little ass in front of Courtney like, “Guess who called me today? Guess who called me today?” And Courtney just looked at her and shot back, “Guess who called me today?”
And basically, I had called both of them the same day wanting to talk to them, wanting both of them to be my guitar players. We met at Starbucks on Ventura Boulevard. I gave them the music. They were totally down, totally excited, and then I had to tell them, “You can’t tell anybody for like a year [laughs] but we’ve got to start rehearsals and start this thing together.” So they were totally down. They learned all the solos to a T and I started putting the band together little by little. I had the hardest time finding a bass player but then luckily ended up with Janis Tanaka who was in L7 and she toured with Pink and she is a complete badass! So icing on the cake when Athena joined and yeah, I am lucky to have these girls. Katt Scarlett on keyboards and it’s a blast! I love these girls!
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! That is awesome! Do you have anything else to add because I actually have to go soon [laughs]?
Lorraine Lewis: Oh I know! I could just talk your ear off! No. I guess that is really it for rock n’ roll! I mean I have my rock n’ roll clothing t-shirt accessory line rockandrollvending.com. People can visit and we donate a portion of the sales to Animal Rescue. And I love rock n’ roll. I love my Femme Fatale fans that follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. God, I just love people for digging what we do! Femme Fatale — long live rock n’ roll!