Q&A: The Angry Abbys

in SF Local Bands by

How did you come up with the name of the band?

Chris: At our first official practice we were still looking for a name and an image for the band. We knew we were going to write topical and political songs (as compared to love or pop songs) so we wanted something along those lines; something to show our support for the American youth (not millennials) who will hopefully be the next voice of America. One of the band members had previously shown us an amusing photo of his niece (Abby) and her “way too adult” scowl; the name and the image came into focus once we put two and two together. Now that image is the cover of our latest EP.

How would you describe your sound?

All: A bit of new wave, a bit of post-punk, and a whole lot of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Very Bay Area.

When did you first become interested in playing music?

Lisa: My Father was a drummer/vocalist when I was growing up. I was raised on music. When I saw the Beatles on television, I knew it was my calling. I got my first record player at age 3, and my sister and I sang an original song to the Principal of our elementary school and got asked to perform it for the students. That was my first real performance at age 7. Once you get a taste of that, there is no turning back.

I had a massive collection of 45 records when I was a kid. I would do odd jobs for my parents and around the neighborhood just to buy records. If I wasn’t terrorizing the neighbors, I was at the record store and music stores. I played trumpet in the school band from grades 6-12. I worked at NASA when I was 16 on their summer program and was a secretarial aid to the astronauts. I got to perform in front of them and it wouldn’t be the first time I was associated with astronauts. (I once played at a party at the house of astronaut Neil Armstrong when I was 19 yrs old.) By the time I got to the 12th grade, I didn’t want to continue playing in the school band and it hurt to be called a band nerd so I slacked off and wouldn’t show up for rehearsals. Instead, I would hang out at this music store in my neighborhood because the owner had a recording studio at that store. He let me record for free.

One day, I got a rude awakening and the old man tried to kiss me. I slapped him silly. I knew then my father was right. Men treated women in the music industry as groupies. I didn’t give up on it though. I continued to showcase my voice every chance I could get and got the attention of a well-known music producer in Houston, Lonewolf Productions/Management Company, who managed some of the top named acts in Texas at that time (ZZ-top and Eric Johnson to name a few). It was an extremely high-pressure time for me and at age 18, I didn’t have anyone to help me understand what I was getting into. I had to hide all this from my father because he despised me playing music. He didn’t want to see anything happen to me. I moved away at age 18 and began my professional career in music. I dropped out of college to devote my time to music. I have tried to quit music and I always come back. I once buried my guitar. It was dead anyway. I dropped it too many times. It was my favorite and my heart was broken that I killed it. It is true, the music never dies. No matter how many guitars you try to bury.

Chris: I started playing music for the first time at the age of 35. I became a drummer when our old drummer quit. I bought a kit and that was that…

What’s the strangest or funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show?

Chris: While playing the SF Dirtbag Challenge, a guy crashed his motorcycle (homemade) into my drum kit – it was awesome!

Lisa: I used to drink a lot at shows and I look back and do not understand how I ever achieved anything by doing that. I can only think that maybe the audience was as drunk as I was. I had long curly Texas hair at the time and I would get my picks lost in my hair. It was a crowd pleaser. That, and tequila.

What are you listening to these days?

Lisa: I love British music. I am so into Johnny Marr these days.

Chris: Coltrane – always.

What are some of your favorite Bay Area music venues?

Chris: I have always been a big fan of the Milk Bar in SF. Good and fair people, the best sound guy in the city and an easy place to throw a show/party.

What are some of your favorites hangs in the Bay Area and why?

Ellen: Morcom Rose Garden, Oakland – Serenity now in the heart of Oakland. A hidden gem! Scarlet City, Emeryville – Best coffee in the Bay Area, woman-owned local business, plus PINBALL PINBALL PINBALL! Free Gold Watch, San Francisco – PINBALL PINBALL PINBALL! Also, fun t-shirts and hoodies!

Lisa: Live music venues, and pinball/arcade. Free Gold Watch. Both Ellen and I are into Pinball. Ellen is former world #1 in Women’s pinball. She got me into it professionally. We are both world-ranked players. But she is much better than I am.

What does music mean to you?

Chris: Music is the space between the human soul and our corporal presence.

Ellen: Everything.

Lisa: Life would be boring if it wasn’t for music. You could be isolated, and as long as there is music, you will be happy.

How’d you guys first get together to play music?

Lisa: Ellen and I became friends at a Cheap Trick show in 2003. We share in the love of that band. We both knew we wanted to do something musically together because we were in bands prior to our meeting. Neither one of us played music in San Francisco. I met Chris in 2012 and we started dating. He played in a local band called Huntinanny. They were the best thing to come out of San Francisco at that time. Chris also played in a band called “Camaro Meadow” with Dan Ryan. We all would go to concerts together because we shared the same musical taste. We love the post-punk music of the 80s, like Depeche Mode, the Cure, Love and Rockets, the cult. So it was after 2016 Christmas that we decided in 2017, we would form a band together. Writing comes easy with these guys. We can come in with an idea and it isn’t long before it is a song.

What inspires you to write?

Ellen: I wake up with bass riffs in my head. Songwriting is a great respite from the pesky bullshit that clutters my brain. Plus, my bandmates are so talented that when they present ideas, I am almost always immediately inspired to contribute.

Lisa: Being around my bandmates inspire me to write. I have a hard time shutting off my brain at times to the point that I cannot sleep. I don’t know how writers ever shut it off. It is difficult to do.

Chris: Even the smallest event (beautiful or vulgar) can inspire me to write a song about it…

What’s your favorite neighborhood in the city and why?

Chris: It would have to be the Mission because. As an artist, you cannot escape it one way or another. You could say the same thing about the TL but I don’t think the TL is anyone’s favorite neighborhood…

Ellen: SF-not so much a neighborhood, but I can’t get enough of The Bay Lights. The bridge at night really lifts my spirits! In Oakland, Grand Lake/Rose Garden districts. So much to enjoy without having a dime in your pocket.

Lisa: Wow that is tough. I would say the Mission and Noe Valley.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?

Ellen: I once closed a half-million-dollar piece of business over a Rolling Rock, screaming over a live punk band at the Double Down in Las Vegas. Also, once upon a time I was Women’s World Champion in pinball.

Lisa: I am no longer an extrovert. That would somehow shock a lot of people.

Chris aspires to be a stand-up Comedian some day.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?

The Angry Abbys just released the first single “Bang !” from the band’s forthcoming EP “From This Day Forward”.

An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

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