Spain’s Lizzies are like the eight-armed love child of Pat Benatar, Heart, the classic era of WWF wrestling, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and the soundtrack to choreographed chase scenes from ‘80s cop shows. The Madrid-based quartet have been around in one form or another since 2010 and, from the sounds of things, obviously spend the time they’re not mimicking the days when MTV’s programming was actually about videos wistfully eyeballing old copies of Hit Parader, Circus and RIP magazines and reminiscing about the days when environmental catastrophe was equated with the ozone layer above the Sunset Strip being decimated by copious over application of hairspray.
This fall, the band is set to release its latest album of fist-pumping, leather fringe-swaying, future strip club anthems, On Thin Ice, via Sweden’s The Sign Records. It’ll be the Lizzies’ second album following in the footsteps of debut from 2016, Good Luck, which took everyone by surprise - including the band – by not only turning up on Promusicae, the general Spanish music charts, but peaking at #16. Led by vocalist and pro wrestling enthusiast, Elena Zodiac (nee Elena Pérez Martinez), Lizzies’ second album hits hard, infects with impassable melody and delivers a rockin’ good time with a few laughs whether they be deliberate (“Talk Shit and Get Hit” or their dressing up for the recently released “Final Sentence” video) or inadvertent (that goofy looking album cover). We caught up with bassist Motorcycle Marina (nee Marina Di Guida Lozano) for an introduction to her band group and chat about the energy of ‘80s hard rock, emotional open-heart surgery, wrestling as a feminist signpost, and why the The Warriors movie trumps Thin Lizzy.
Can you give a brief history of the band? Marina Lozano: [Guitarist] Patricia [Strutter] and I started the band in 2010 when we were at high school; we were around 16. We had been hanging around together for some years, but as we discovered more bands and were bored after the long schooldays, we thought it could be cool to play some music ourselves. So, we had a guitar and bass on hand and started learning how to play. At some point, we decided wanted to play with more people. In the end, it took us two years to complete the band, but we learnt how to play during that time. Elena joined the band in early 2012: we were totally amazed! We knew she had to be with us as soon as she started singing in the audition!! There have been two drummers in the band before Dani [Vera] finally arrived a little bit more than a year ago.
Check out the band’s new “Final Sentence” video here.
And I’m guessing your band name a tribute to Thin Lizzy... Lozano: The name has absolutely nothing to do with Thin Lizzy (or Lizzy Borden for those who might wonder)! We took the name of one of the street gangs that appear in the film The Warriors. The Lizzies were a bunch of girls who try to shoot the poor Warriors. Their headquarters were amazing: loud music, drinks, knives and guns. We were totally obsessed with the film and it seemed a great idea to us to have a little piece of the film with us. Funny note: Even before having the band we would call ourselves Lizzies!
Obviously, your sound and aesthetic is rooted in ‘80s hard rock, but from the looks of you, it would appear you aren’t old enough to have experienced that decade first-hand. How did you discover ‘80s music and what drove you to play in this style as opposed to other styles of music? Lozano: Some of us started because of some parent or sibling who liked rock/heavy metal, but others discovered this music just by chance. Actually, we had a different musical idea for the band at first. We were totally obsessed with The Doors in like 2008, and the idea of having a psychedelic rock band was in the air. But we did nothing about it and the real jump into playing any instrument came with the power we were getting from all the classic heavy metal we were listening to. Everything about it made us feel powerful and so much energetic! We felt so identified with heavy metal/hard rock and it was a clear decision from 2010 on that we wanted to go that way.
How did you come to the attention of The Sign Records and how is that relationship working out? Lozano: We started looking for a label that would release Good Luck as soon as we were done with recording it. We came across The Sign Records and we quickly liked each other. Their approach to music was very attractive to us and they strongly believed in the album, so we didn’t hesitate. It is working really well as they deeply trust us as a band and don’t force us to do anything we don’t like, which is great considering some stories in the music business. We’re looking forward to the teamwork that On Thin Ice means!
Before Dani joined the band, were you determined to try and find a female drummer in order to keep the band all-ladies? Lozano: The initial idea was to find a female drummer. It was our way to contribute to having more women playing this kind of music, but when Dani started helping us out with some shows, we felt really comfortable and came to the conclusion that we wanted him in the band. We can’t be happier about this decision, because in the end what matters is to be comfortable with your band mates, both on and off stage.
How long did it take to write On Thin Ice and what would you say were the major motivations that spurred you towards writing this new album? Lozano: Writing On Thin Ice has been like an open-heart surgery. It talks about feelings, values and human rights, as well as about our own experiences. It wasn’t planned that the songs were about those topics, they just came out like that, probably also motivated by the society we live in and the daily abuse of power, dehumanisation, and people being treated as objects or the more or less conscious slavery we are subjugated to. About the time it took to write it, it is quite relative as there are days you are able to do it and it flows very well and some other days it seems impossible to write one little bit of a song. In those moments, it is useless to force yourself to write something for hours, as you’re not really going to be satisfied with it. It is better to calm down and try again the day after. We couldn’t really say how long it really too, but we can say it was a stressful race against time.
Was there anything that was done differently in terms of the way the album was written or recorded that what you had done in the past? Lozano: The most significant change about this album is that Elena wrote all the lyrics and vocal lines, which has made the album more personal. It’s been a great step for her and also for the band. We feel like, in general, our music has more “shades” now, so to say. You know, the more people who participate in the writing process, the richer the result will be. We also recorded in our city this time. It allowed us to go back to our homes at the end of the day, which was nice. But, a con about recording in Madrid is that maybe being so near home left us without the focus you can get when you live in the studio during the recordings. Drums and ambient guitars and bass were recorded at the same time, in the same room. We keep on loving that feeling of living tempo instead of cold metronome precision!
This video was certainly worth the “666 Miles” of travelling.
How surprised were you about the popularity of Good Luck and getting into the Spanish charts? Did that create any nervousness or pressure in creating the new album? Lozano: It was really important for us to record that album, and it somehow felt like we were making the most important bet ever. We expected to see a reward to all the hard work behind it, but we didn’t expect getting into the #16 of the general Spanish charts! I remember we woke up and were told we got into the charts, we couldn’t believe! It was an adrenaline shot straight into our veins. It was so special for us, and yeah, like it or not, it kind of sets some pressure on you like “will we be able to get in a better position with the new album?” or “will we even get into the charts this time?” Of course, we want to get a better mark this time, but whatever happens, we know we are satisfied with the album and hope people will enjoy it as much as we do, charts and numbers apart.
What is the significance or story behind the album’s title? Lozano: It metaphorically refers to the choices we are forced to take every day and the consequences they might have or the fact that they are conditioned by the context and circumstances. We’ve all been on tight rope sometime in our lives. You could say it resembles a psychological crisis when you doubt how change and growth will affect oneself in terms of improvement.
Tell us about the album cover and what’s supposed to be happening and why you chose to go with that image? Lozano: Patricia is the artist that did the album cover. For us, these two women fighting represent an example of what we are and the pressure we sometimes feel. We also wanted to give a shout-out to the racialised women’s fight; they have the double stigma of being women and not-white.
Good Luck not digging this album, released April 1, 2016, via The Sign Records.
In looking at the cover and some of Elena’s clothing choices, I’m guessing wrestling is something you’re interested in? In what way and has the “sport” influenced or inspired the band in some way? Lozano: We like wrestling for what it shows: woman’s reaffirmation. We’re strong and powerful and we break those over-stigmatized roles of the feminine being the weaker sex, delicate and shy. It is a picture of the fight for the search of our identity and place, as we’ve always been stereotyped. Now, we walk towards equity between men and women, and we women are demanding our place, a place we’ve always been denied due to patriarchy and social rules that every human has internalized. The clothing choice was because it fit the album cover and it makes it fun and cool!
I noticed you have a large number of videos up online. Is video something you feel is important in going forward and growing your popularity? Lozano: Indeed, we think videos are a good tool to grow and reach more people. Listening to music is very cool, but if you add an image, the fun is double. As fans, we love watching our favorite band’s videos, and as a band, we find it super-fun to record the videos and then see a nice combo of music and image. We have quite exciting ideas for the videos of this album, stay tuned!
Do you have a support plan on the table once the album is out? Will you be doing more touring? Has playing festivals in other countries helped with plans to get to new places in other parts of the world? Lozano: Of course! We’re getting everything ready for the album release and we will definitely tour as soon as the album is out! Obviously playing festivals in different countries help. New people from different countries see and like your show and then spread the word in between friends, which definitely helps with conquering new parts of the world!