Sunday, January 3, 2010

Q&A: Girl Guitarist Avery Allen

I've known Avery since she played soccer. She went from being a great college athlete to being a great rock and roller and guitar nerd like myself. She's a cool gal who plays guitar with the Applicators and resides in the Texas music mecca of Austin. Read on and learn more about this crazy talented rocker girl!

Q: You went from never touring to being in a well known band and opening up for punk rock legends the Circle Jerks. Tell us about this experiance, what it was like, etc.

Avery: It was pretty cool. My second show with the Applicators was opening for the Circle Jerks, and it was a little bit intimidating. During the first show, we started playing, and I looked behind me and Greg Hetson was fiddling around with my amp, and turned me up really loud. I just remember thinking "oh s**t, now everyone's REALLY going to know if I mess up!". Looking back it was pretty cool, but at the time it was pretty nerve-wracking.

Q: you've got quite a guitar collection. What guitars do you have, and are any your favourites and why?

Avery: Well I have several. My main guitar is a Gibson Les Paul classic. It's my favorite because it sounds good no matter what amp you play it through, and it has a 60's neck so it's really slim and easy to play. I have a Gretsch White Falcon for "special occassions." It's sort of a dude magnet. My grandfather bought it for me before he passed away. I also have a white Gibson Firebird. It looks really cool, but I'm currently on the hunt for some hotter pickups for it. I have a '65 Gibson Melody Maker that is super light, sounds AWESOME, and the neck fits my hand perfectly. I would call it my #2 behind the Les Paul, and I also just bought the Joan Jett signature Melody Maker, which is pretty much an exact copy of my '65, but for about half the price, the tone on both Melody Makers is badass.

Q: What sort of amplifier do you use and do you use and effects pedals and why?

Avery: I hate to be trite, but I am definitely a Marshall girl. I play through a JCM 800 50 watt combo, and it doesn't need a whole lot of effect pedals. It's actually louder than Erica's JCM 900 half stack. I like to keep in minimal, so I use a visual sound jekyll and hyde distortion/overdrive pedal. I use it for just a little oomph, but I can get a super metally sound out of it when I need to.

Q: Who are some of your favourite guitarists and why?

Avery: Billy Duffy of the Cult. I like him because he's very versatile. He can switch off between the Cult songs that sound very AC/DC-ish and the earlier ones that sound a little more new wave, I like that he can do more than one thing.

Q: What are you working on now, musically?

Avery: Currently, I'm writing songs with Johnny O from Lower Class Brats. We're making decent progress, and I have a drummer and bass player lined up for when we're ready to start playing, probably by the end of this year.

Q: What are some of your favourite bands and artists?

Avery: It changes weekly, but a few that are always in my playlist are: Judas Priest, The Cult, Guns n Roses, ACDC, Motley Crue, Bowie, and the Runaways

Q: What made you want to become a rock and roller to begin with?

Avery: My dad used to take me to rock shows when I was little because my mom wouldn't go with him. She said he was too embarrassing! He took me to see Aerosmith and Cheap Trick when I was around 12 or 13. On the ride home I asked him to buy me a guitar, and he did. Also, growing up in a small town in Mississippi, I looked at all the people (and that means EVERYONE in town) who were married with kids at 23, and I thought "I never want to be that." And a rock and roller is about the furthest thing from it, so I ran with that.

Q: What was the first record or CD you bought and why?

Avery: I don't remember the first one I actually BOUGHT, but my dad had a pretty decent collection. Most of the time I would steal his David Bowie and Rolling Stones CDs and sneak them to school and hide the headphones under my hair during class. From a young age I always thought that Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and David Bowie were like, the best thing ever. Still do actually.

Q: What do you do besides play rock and roll? Any other interests or passions?

Avery: Well, I graduated from UT in May, and up until then school took up most of my time. Now, I'm taking what one might call a "mental break." I'm looking for some kind of a job that will allow me to tour, so as of right now I am bartending. I also like to run and work out, and I'm going to start running races soon, triathlons and stuff.

Q: Are there any crazy tour stories you can legally share with us, or funny ones?

Avery: Well we havent toured in awhile, and I don't wanna get anyone into trouble, but being in an all girl band means someone always has some kind of drama going on. I can remember some member of the band who shall not be named taking a pregnancy test in the Wal-mart bathroom, it wasn't funny at the time but now is pretty hysterical.

Q: Are you a bag lady? I mean, do you have a handbag collection and if so, do you have any favourites and why?

Avery: I wouldn't call it a "collection" but I have some good ones! I'm really into the fake couture handbags you can get on the street in Europe. I have a few Dolce and Gabbanas, etc. I also have a really cool white leather (fake) alligator skin purse with studs I got for Christmas last year, it's probably my favorite.

Q: Do you have lots of shoes? And when you go on tour, how do you decide which ones to take? What are your favourites and why?

Avery: Tons. It's really a chore to decide which ones to take on trips.. Usually, I bring a pair of motorcycle boots to play in, a pair of comfies to ride in the van, and maybe one pair of heels for if I'm feeling girly. It's tough to make those decisions!

Q: You used to play soccer. What positions did you play, how long did you play, what did you like about it?

Avery: I was a goalkeeper for ten years. That's actually what brought me to Austin, I had a soccer scholarship to UT. I just really loved playing, and it kept me in good shape, but the college athletics scene made me hate it, and unfortunately, I haven't played since.

Q: Does the slogan "keep Austin weird" bug you at all? Is the music scene there really all it's hyped up to be? Why or why not?

Avery: The slogan doesn't bug me, I get what it means. There are tons of really cool locally owned restaurants and shops here that people in Austin don't want to lose to corporate chains. There is a lot of music here, it's definitely an easy place to get a band happening, but with that being said there are a lot of S****Y bands in Austin. A lot.

Q: How does Austin and Mississippi compare to other places you've been to, musically?

Avery: Well one would think that Mississippi as the birthplace of the blues would have a lot of appreciation for music, but you would be mistaken. Mississippi seems to be full of rednecks and frat boys who only appreciate Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews. As far as Austin goes, like I said before there is a lot of music in Austin but you have to do a lot of weeding through to find the good stuff. Compared to other places, I think it's definitely easier to get a gig in Austin than say, LA or somewhere. I guess Austin really does have quite a big music scene, bigger than most places.

Q: What's next in your future plans? Any goals or dreams or producers or musicians you want to work with?

Avery: Anyone and everyone who will put my record out and work with me and help me to become a better musician.

Q: Any advice to up and coming girl guitarists and rockers?

Avery: Attitude is everything.

Find Avery online at: