The Girl in the Band

Kathy Freeman

as published in AND ALL AROUND WAS DARKNESS (Gregory Bull and Mike Dines – third in the Tales from the Punkside series)

The Accelerators. Kathy Freeman and Martin Yarker

 

Most of my adult life I’ve remained obstinately unaware of the unequal roles of men and women in the music industry and elsewhere. Denial? In hindsight, maybe it’s been a case of “don’t look down.” On a high and dangerous ledge it’s best not to think about the environment but to just get on with the task. Over the years I’ve been obliged to share bills with some wildly incompatible acts as an example of “Strong Women in Music” but never actively sought that role. All I ever wanted to do – and this hasn’t changed – is make music.

In mid-seventies Liverpool, I’d just about heard of the Runaways. The only female musicians I actually knew were the Women’s Lib posse in my neighbourhood, with their limp and tedious 12-bar strums about male chauvinism. It was SO much more fun to hang out with the boys, playing loud, loud, loud and practising aggressive downstrokes till my wrist ached. Which led me to co-found the Accelerators, playing rhythm guitar, as punk rock hit the Northwest.

Maxim's Poster

Women were getting a raw deal in those days, and I was stuck in an abusive relationship with the other guitarist, He’d slapped me across the face after a show for the unpardonable sin of losing his cable when packing up (and by the way, I don’t know to this day why I was responsible for his fucking cable) No friendly caring helplines and forums back then, dear reader. Yet It never even crossed my mind to quit the band. It was heaven, hell and dysfunctional family to me. I put another steel layer round my heart and got on with it.

The rush I got from hitting that stage as a team to play blazing rock n roll – coupled with the adventure of ceaselessly travelling the country in mechanically unsound vans and supporting the likes of XTC and the Buzzcocks – outweighed everything else. Sadly it also blinded me to what was going on in the wider music scene. Procuring and playing gigs was my life mission, and while the likes of the Slits and Siouxsie Sioux were busy rewriting female musical history I was probably shovelling coins into a payphone to talk to some dodgy pub landlord or helping load a PA into a van.

With their dogged policy of taking the opposite standpoint to everyone else whenever humanly possible, the Accelerators were deemed to be far from politically correct. We had a serious run-in with “The Feminists” who even picketed a show we were due to play*

To quote the band Magazine, I was shot by both sides.

*full account in No More Heroes, complete history of UK Punk from 1976 to1980 by Alex Ogg, extract viewable at www.kathy-freeman.de

The Birdhouse

Fast forward to the late eighties – once again I was the only girl in the band. This time it was volume eleven grunge rockers,The Birdhouse. Again my focus was on the playing – I didn’t want to think about sexual politics bla bla bla. But while they were generally respectful to me, the locker room banter of one or two of the band and male crew was anything but respectful to womankind.

Female band followers were generally referred to as “it”, not “she.” There were the crude remarks about the singer’s own unfortunate girlfriend who had “an arse the size of the moon” When, as the band was hanging out in some dingy Midlands aftershow room, the comment…”woah I’d like to give that a pearl necklace”…drifted across the room something snapped. I hurled my handbag at the floor (not the stuff of Amazon legend, but an effective conversation-stopper) and screamed at them to shut the f*** up. Lo and behold, by the next day the worst offenders had come separately to me with shamefaced apologies, each referring to the “alter-ego” mode that comes with being on the road. A kind of Jekyll and Hyde mentality which incidentally also excused them for not showering for five days on the run.

My time in The Birdhouse was up when they decided to become the next Guns and Roses (only to disappear swiftly into pre-internet oblivion) But the experience was duly processed into a song “Here Come the Boys” which I performed in my nineties punk-metal band Joyryde. This time fronted by women. “Strong Women” if you insist.

Joyryde GMB 96

Here Come the Boys

Well look who’s here, who’s just hit town

You better get some action, they won’t be hangin’ round

They’re lookin’ for love, they’re lookin’ mean

They know where they’re going - God knows where they’ve been

Here come the boys

They got social conscience, they really care

They know what’s right and wrong, and how to get their share

When it comes to women, they are the law

They don’t know what a woman wants- they know what she’s for
Here come the boys

He calls his girlfriend up – she’s not at home

Well that’s ok, he’ll never walk alone

Cause life’s for living, not self-control

And if you get diseases - that’s the way it goes

Here come the boys

Audio link: https://kathyfreeman.bandcamp.com/album/joyryde-1991-1998-london-recordings

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Here we Go

Waiting for the Soundcheck,  Cafe Savo, Berlin

Waiting for the Soundcheck, Cafe Savo, Berlin

I’ve been blogging for a while on Tumblr about the songs I write and the life I’ve led…..I’m on a creative journey which may have reached a fork in the road. Thanks to WordPress I can carry on in both directions, and maybe meet new people on the way. Initially I want to see who and what is out there on wordpress….. so feedback is very welcome!

I’ve no idea what the WordPress experience will entail, except for a little smiley saying “no activity yet” ….which is going to change any minute now!

and it just has……time to figure out the options….Ok let’s try fonts. Not much doing there.

Colours…oh…kaaay….

Links! ha, now I can send you off to look at my website, see you later!

Word count 123. Am I talking too much?

Path p. Path p? they didnt have that on tumblr. All in good time.

Image! Quote! Gallery!  I haven’t even had breakfast yet.

Why does it say “The Cat’s Pyjamas” on the preview of this blog?

Publish immediately. I Don’t Think So…..

…………………………………………

 

 

Ok what the hell….

Cheers! More about Jack Daniels…

” I like Jack Daniels and I ride fast cars…”

Fast Cars and Jack Danielsthe story behind the song….

Sounds  clichéd , but  the inspiration really did come to me in a dream.

A girl was playing a video game in a dark sleazy bar. With typical dream logic, the other drinkers were simultaneously the characters in the game.  They were NOT nice people.  She knew she’d lose. She was destined to play victim. The game was pre-programmed. She was mourning her future before she’d even got there.

 “And I  will pay, pay, pay for the punishment that is to come”

Woke up with a feeling of desolation and the song followed within a few days. The dream’s message ? Throughout a one-track pursuit of all things exciting, shiny and dangerous, deep down I knew it would all go pearshaped and that none of the fun came without a price tag…..

 “Don’t know where, and I don’t know when…but I know just how this story’s gonna end….

Fast Cars and Jack Daniels performed by Kathy X at the Schokoladen Berlin

No Scotch, thanks. I’ll have a Jack Daniels

 I was 18 years old, preparing to go to a party. And learning how to cook.  Before leaving, I ate some home-made soup. The main ingredient? Parsnips.  Bad move. From nine till late o’clock I was drinking God knows what. Chased down with a generous measure of Scotch. Not rocket science to figure out what happened to my stomach. Since that night I’ve treated parsnips with caution, and the taste of even the finest, Glenwhatever 12 Year single malt carries a faint warning note. But Jack Daniels was never a problem. For my digestion anyway.

For the last word on spirits raise your glasses to George Thorogood.