If you are unfamiliar with The Drendas, this Norfolk based garage band is comprised of guitarist Holly Womack, drummer Collette England, and bassist Denise Lawrence.
I had a chance to catch up with The Drendas last week to chat about the band, music, and “Boy Trouble.”
Beth Austin: Okay, for people not yet familiar with The Drendas, let’s have a little background. How long have you been playing together?
Holly Womack: About a year and a half
Collette England: Year and a half?
Denise Lawrence: Since November of 2012. In our current incarnation as a three piece, less than a year.
Beth: And how did you come up with the band name?
Holly: My brother Greg Womack came up with The Drens, which was a reference to the TV show Happy Days. We added the "das" part to it because it sounded more ladylike. Plus there were already a bunch of lame bands calling themselves The Drens.
Denise: Then we googled it and came across Drenda in the Uban Dictionary, and it just fit! Check it out.
Beth: Okay, hang on (looks at phone). Alright, here we are-
“Beautiful, intelligent, and genuinely witty. Has a sense of humor for every situation, but knows when to be serious. Her love is one of a kind, and is only given to those who truly deserve it. If you have her love, then consider yourself lucky. A real hot mess when angry or provoked, and should not be antagonized. A true fighter and believer and occasionally a dreamer. Don't ever cross a Drenda because she doesn't easily forgive. There should definitely be a Drenda in everybody’s life!”
Well there you have it, straight from the Urban Dictionary! It totally suits you.
Okay, this one is for Holly and Collette. You played together in The Crushes. When that ended, did you just keep playing? How did that evolve into The Drendas?
Holly: I kept in contact with Collette after the other band ended. We both talked and decided to see where the chips would fall. Initially, I wanted it to be me, Coll, and Missy McQuown, just to see what would happen. Missy couldn't do it, so Laura Reyes from Raunchstar came in, and then Denise. We were a four piece until May 2013. Then Laura had to step back to open her business, Bohemian Attic. That’s when I took over singing. I’d always wanted a power trio, so it ended up working out fine.
Collette: Holly and I did keep playing just to keep playing. There were no plans for another band. We just played to keep going. To let things just happen and not force it. We kept playing for a few months and let anyone who was interested trickle in. This is what formed The Drendas.
Beth: Holly, you played bass in The Strap Ons. You then switched to guitar for The Crushes and The Drendas. Why the switch? Was it a challenge, or did you just pick it right up?
Holly: I played on tour with the Strap Ons in the Summer of 2003. At first, I had a hard time picking up guitar so I switched to bass. Then guitar just clicked. I hadn't played anything for a few years when I joined The Crushes, since the ill fated Hussies with Greg Wise and Idle Edsel, so I had to re-learn some stuff.
Beth: Collette, What attracted you to the drums? I couldn't keep a beat with a foot and both arms if I tried. I have mad respect for all musicians, especially drummers.
Collette: I picked the drums for three reasons. None of the other girls wanted to play drums (laughs), not many girls play drums, and I like a challenge.
Beth: So you’re not just a natural at beating on things, it’s been a challenge?
Collette: Yes very, but my brain thinks in numbers and patterns so it works for me. My brain goes eighty miles an hour and the drums are steady, so that’s the most challenging part. I’ve had to teach my brain to slow down and not anticipate.
Beth: Okay, Denise tell me about the bass. Have you played bass in the past, or did you start for The Drendas? This your first band, right? You seem really natural up there.
Denise: It’s my first REAL band. I played over 20 years ago, but nothing ever clicked back then. I thought I was meant to be a fan, so I let it go.
When I went to play with Holly, Collette and Laura it was basically like starting over. Man, I was horrible and I was pretty sure they would never call me back. I went home and worked on my playing for a couple of weeks. Then I called them. The second time was good stuff. Shortly after that, we started getting serious and called ourselves a band. It was organic and felt natural. It's been an awesome experience.
Beth: Tell me about your new EP “Boy Trouble.” Who came up with the name? How was the experience for you?
Holly: I wanted to kinda highlight our early material with this EP. We recorded it at our practice spot with Brian Vance, who was cool. We had about four hours to get it all done. Because of that, I think we captured some urgency and moments that being in a pro studio wouldn't have. It wouldn’t have felt the same. It went a lot quicker than I anticipated, and I didn't hit the real booze until the end when doing vocal over dubs. So I was pretty focused. I knew what I needed to do pretty much after the initial tracks got laid.
Denise: It was a cool experience. Brian was easy to work with. The EP title just makes sense because that’s what all the songs are about! I think Holly's brother threw the idea out when we were designing the cover art with him, and we liked it.
Beth: Who are the primary song writers? Does everyone contribute and what’s the process? What inspires the songs?
Holly: Sometimes I come up with a riff at home and bring it to practice. And I'm always jotting down lyrics in my notebooks, so I find stuff there that fits. Other times, Denise brings in words and I come up with a riff after I ask her how she wants it to sound. We all kinda add our own thing to it.
Collette: The process can change depending on the song. Sometimes we have lyrics, and Holly or Denise will come up with riffs. Then we put it all together and work it out. Inspiration for songs can be attributed to life experiences.
Denise: We’ve all written songs. Some work out better than others. I’ve written most of my songs about people in my life, but the song “Stuck” was written about Holly's song “Bad Boy”. I had it stuck in my head for days, so I wrote a song about it.
Beth: What bands and types of music do you all listen to? Who has influenced you?
Holly: I like all kinds of stuff from rock to pop to blues to glam to disco funk. I'm pretty wide open. I'm mostly influenced by Chuck Berry and very basic rock n roll, like Ritchie Valens. My favorite songs are the three chord rockers like "Louie Louie" or "Hanky Panky". Less is more, and maybe that's why I like to keep it simple and direct in terms of my own songs.
Collette: I like everything. But my preference are oldies, Motown and surf.
Denise: I am seriously all over the place. I love the Stones, Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, The Kinks, Beastie Boys, X, David Bowie, Queens of the Stone Age. My influences are many, garage rock bands, some soul, Motown, some heavier stuff. I won't be pinned down! I just love music.
Beth: So,what was the last thing you listened to? Is there anything you can’t stop listening to?
Holly: I just acquired The Sniffs 45 that's pretty awesome. Jake Starr and the Delicious Fullness 10 inch is also great. For a long time, I only listened to The Larchmont Trash 10 inch. Those guys are killer.
Beth: I’m right there with you on The Sniffs 45, and The Larchmont Trash. And that recent Taphouse show they had with Hot Dolphin was also killer! Collette and Denise, what’ve you been listening to?
Collette: Jackie Wilson was the last CD. I can't stop listening to that.
Denise: We made a Pandora station with bands like The Zombies, ? And The Mysterians, The Animals. Right now, that's a favorite. The last disc I played was The Drendas, and the last vinyl was The Kinks.
Beth: The 80/20 show is coming up quick! Of the spots you’ve played so far, do you have any favorites?
Denise: We love Hershee. Annette was so encouraging when we first started, and it will always be our place. We’ve enjoyed The Taphouse too. This question might be better to ask us in a few months because we have upcoming gigs at several places that we’ve never played. Like Belmont House Of Smoke, Retro Cafe, Colley Cantina, and of course, 80/20 for the EP release party!
Beth: What does the future look like for The Drendas? Have anything to add?
Collette: Writing more music, making more recordings, and booking shows for the summer.
Denise: We have a lot of shows booked, so right now our focus is on playing live. We also want to make a video.
Holly: I answered most of these questions on a cocktail of NyQuil, OJ, and red wine. Getting over a nasty bug that's been going around.
Beth: Way to hang in there with me, Holly. Hope you’re on the mend soon!
Okay, Drendas, it’s “Quick Six” time!
Beth: Holly, Stones or Beatles?
Holly: The Kinks
Beth: Denise, Nirvana or Pearl Jam?
Denise: I guess Nirvana.
Beth: Collette, Ramones or Sex Pistols?
Beth: Holly, Shaken or Stirred?
Beth: Collette, Leather or lace?
Collette: Leather AND lace
Beth: Denise, Crunchy or Smooth?
Denise: Are we talking about gravy?