MAGGIE VAIL of BANGS & KILL ROCK STARS – Song For Ewe

“SONG FOR EWE”
with MAGGIE VAIL of
BANGS KILL ROCK STARS LABEL

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“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.

Today it’s someone who used to send me some ace records back in the day of the original fanzine, and has kept in touch ever since. She was the voice and public face of the awesome Olympia, Washington punk rock label Kill Rock Stars, working artists such as her sister Tobi’s Bikini Kill plus Sleater-Kinney, The Gossip, Deerhof and The Decemberists over a 17 year association with the label.

She was also a member of late 90s punk group Bangs and has recently helped launch Bikini Kill Records to preside over newly released BK material “Revolution Girl Now” and is also working at the non profit CASH Music label making a WordPress style open source platform for musicians to launch, promote and sell their own music – next level DIY punk. Choosing her “song for ewe” it’s the ever brilliant – she can never fail, it’s Maggie Vail!

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Maggie Vail with Sarah Utter as Bangs

A Huggy Bear 7″ on Wiiija bought at Rough Trade, Covent Garden was one of the reasons I started Velvet Sheep fanzine. I went onto buy their split with Bikini Kill and I was hooked on them and Kill Rock Stars. Getting in touch with Maggie and having a direct source to the epicentre of Olympia punk rock was a visceral thrill, especially getting records like this one below, including locals, like-mindeds and long distance lovers ranging from BK’s own Kathleen Hanna to Frumpies to Team Dresch via Pell Mell and Boredoms.

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As well as banging the drum for some incendiary records, in 1997 Maggie became part of a thumping band called Bangs, learning bass especially (there was no room for her classical cello). Much underrated but never underpowered, Bangs played shows with the afore-mentioned Sleater Kinney as well as other local heroes Unwound as well as other VS favs Karp, Blonde Redhead & Slim Moon’s Witchypoo.

They broke up in 2004 after Sarah Utter moved to LA, but not before recording last EP “Call & Response” with Justin Trosper of Unwound (soon to feature in “song for ewe”) and before trashing instruments obvs.

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Maggie (and Tobi) leaving Kill Rock Stars in 2011 was the equivalent of the ravens leaving the Tower of London. But Bikini Kill Records means their seismic influence is not missed, and I look forward to a resplendent reissue programme. And Maggie’s DIY punk chops have gone truly digital with CASH Music, an online tool meant to both incentivise bands and help them monetize and control their own destiny and legacy – the true 20teen equivalent of fanzines and flexi discs. It’s true that Maggie continues to rock and rule.

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Which is why it was only a matter of time that I’d ask her to choose her “song for ewe” – an obscure song she’s enjoyed lately. Our e-mail interchange was characteristically amusing!

“Is Moonlight Mile by the Stones not obscure enough? If not, let me write about a Comet Gain song. xx”

When I informed her that Bob Bert, a Velvet Sheep pal/former interviewee from Chrome Cranks & Pussy Galore (and SY natch) had already got in there first with Comet Gain (although not published yet soz Bob) it elicited this sharp but affectionate response!

“Of course BOB would. jerk. (I’m gonna hang out with him tomorrow I think so I’ll kick him in the shins for good measure). “

Soz again Bob. Since I published Maggie first I could have let her have Comet Gain in retrospect, and made Bob look like the hip cat copycat. But Maggie’s taste is impeccable so I knew her choice would still be on point, cult Wiiija band or not. So without further ado, it’s…

OVER TO MAGGIE:

“While I was touring a lot in my 20’s I was also battling a bit of an anxiety disorder. Sometimes it was hard for me to calm down after a show and go to sleep. I’d spiral and stay up all night leading to another day of panic and so on. I discovered that listening to “Moonlight Mile” would calm me down. Listening on headphones in the dark I’d feel like I was in the right place, doing the right thing. And I was always one day closer to home with each listen.”

“Side note:  I’ve been known to make fun of songs about being on the road but this one (along with “Can’t Hardly Wait” by The Replacements) somehow capture it perfectly.”

THANKS SO MUCH TO MAGGIE. YOU ROCK & RULE. 

Author: Nick Hutchings

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