In 2007 someone was kind enough to introduce me to the music of a band called Suffrajett, through a copy of their sophomore album Black Glitter. Even though I was mightily impressed with the album and the band itself, once I’d written my review I figured that was that, y’know?
And it would have been if I had not been asked to contribute to the Band of the Week article listing out the best Indie bands of 2007, because I found myself pushing Suffrajett as being a fantastic band that deserved a fairly high spot on the list. It was at this point that I was asked why I hadn’t featured them as a true “Band of the Week” if I thought that much about them.
I had no answer to that other than to dust off my pride and see if I couldn’t get in touch with the guys (and gal) of Suffrajett and rectify the oversight on my part. Within days, Jason Chasko, one fourth of the band (the bit that thrashes out on a guitar) was kind enough to sift through the list of questions that I wanted to ask about the band, and emailed back some answers.
Let’s get to know Suffrajett a bit more then, shall we?
Who are the individual members of Suffrajett and what part of the sound are they responsible for?
Simi (Sernaker) is vocals, violin and songwriting; Jason (Chasko) is guitar and songwriting; Danny (Severson) is drums and rock sensibilities; and Kevin (Roberts) is bass.
How did everyone meet? Did everyone know everyone for a while or was this a wonderful combination of right people at the right place at the right time?
Simi had a band in 2002 when she met Jason (me) through a mutual friend and eventually I ended up joining the band. A little bit later it was agreed to let the other two members go and that we should start writing songs together. The two of us then recorded the first Suffrajett record by ourselves, with me playing all the instruments and Simi singing and playing violin. We then started looking for musicians to become a live band. We auditioned bass players first and found Kevin, and next we looked for a drummer… which took about a year! Eventually, we heard about Danny who was living
In Chicago, so we went to check him out. Eventually, we all moved to Chicago from New York to work him in the mix.
After that, we then started to record the Black Glitter record, which we eventually recorded twice and mixed four times.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the band's name is the relationship between the words "Suffrajett" and "Suffrerage." It makes me very aware that the powerful music I associate with the name is spearheaded by the voice of a woman who could hold her own with many a male lead singer. Am I even close to where the name comes from?
You are right on with the name. I could not have said it better!!! Ultimately, it's about women’s independence and the power of a woman!
I've tried to work and rework this question about 4 times and I think I managed to sound like an idiot in 4 different ways. I was trying to find a way to ask Simi what it's been like to not only be a woman out there fronting a rock band, but to also be a fierce and fiercely talented woman of color out there fronting a rock band?
Simi says there are a few out there that have hang ups with the fact she is a black Jewish girl playing rock in a world where it is mostly white males. Where she comes from, the heart of New York City, there are a lot of black women doing it that just don't get recognized.
Last year you released Black Glitter — what kind of response have you gotten now that people have had a while to get a hold of it and listen?
We get great responses from anyone that has bought Black Glitter. We haven’t had one bad comment!
On a personal level I have to admit that I love the album. While keeping the heart of what I loved about your debut EP, the self-titled Suffrajett, Black Glitter just seems to growl and come out of my stereo with the swagger of a band that is much further along in its career than a sophomore release. Was it time spent on the road that gave your sound that maturity, or was it simply the way that your sound wanted to take you this time around?
I think it was the time spent playing shows, which we didn't really do as much as we would have liked to, because it took so fuggin’ long to find a drummer!!!
"Like You Better," "Shake Your Heart," "Anybody Listening," and "Down and Out" are some of the best songs that I've heard in years. Not only are they amazing in their musicianship but they each ride along the power of some amazing vocals and what seems to be fiercely personal lyrics. Could you write a bit about how they went from scribbled ideas until you were able to sit back and hear the finished track? Did the songs sound the same as it did in your head before it was captured on tape? Did they change substantially?
A lot of the songs on Black Glitter were written like the songs on our first record, which means they were written the same day as we recorded them; some of the others, not so much. The songs you are asking about were written a couple weeks prior to recording. We try not to put too much thought into our process, though, ‘cuz when you think you stink!!
I know that you've done some touring for this record, including a stint where you shared the bill with Juliette and the Licks for a while. What did you walk away from that experience with? Not many crowds would be ready to have even one band fronted by a woman capable of blowing their socks off, much less two – was it as much fun as I imagine it to have been?
The Juliette tour was an amazing experience for all of us! We walked away from that tour with a new family! Simi and Juliette are like peas and carrots. The crowds did go ape-shit having us open and then having Juliette coming out kickin’ much ass, as well!
We actually are going back on the road with them in this summer but we are going to Europe instead of the states.
Of course, as an ending to an interview this probably leaves much to be desired, but I find myself suddenly wanting to check and see how hard it would be to get a passport and get my rotund butt to Europe this summer!
Next up I’ll really dig into their record, Black Glitter, as I think damn near anyone who loves rock music will adore. Until then, go check them out at thier MySpace profile — I love these guys (and gal!) and so should you!