I dunno, man. Leave it to Rochester to have a girl band with a man in it. But as I've said before, other than the pitch of the voice, you can't hear gender. You can, however hear Fox 45's aggression, attitude, and yes, its balls. Fox 45 is a new band on the scene where the three gals — Pauline Coles (guitar, vocals), Vicky Tee (rhythm guitar), Amanda Rampe (bass, vocals) — outnumber the one swingin' dick in the outfit, drummer Dusty West. West tried to initially put the band together for Eat Here Records without actually joining. But after three strikes with other drummers, it just made sense.
The band started gigging last May and immediately got attention for the depth of influence it drew upon. Folks no doubt expected to hear Bikini Kill and L7 — you know, Riot Grrrl stuff — and they got it. But they also got Mountain, Uriah Heap, The Cramps, and Black Sabbath. The band says it's stoner rock, but honestly that's just the tip. There's a whole lot of rock 'n' roll seeping out of Fox 45.
Fox 45 has one freshly squeezed eponymous EP out now and is playing shows that highlight the band's talent and moxy. Fox 45 isn't a girl band; it's a rock band ... a good rock band. We sat down with the quartet to ask some dumb questions regarding influence, on stage anxiety, and leveling the playing field.
CITY: So whose bright idea was Fox 45?
Amanda Rampe: Dusty came up with the original idea before he was in the band.
Dusty West: I thought Rochester needed an all-girl power band essentially, we didn't have a bonafide, all-girl kick-ass band.
West: Well, there were the Love Tunnels, they were really cool — all girls. They had this underground indie punk sound. But they were a flash, they only lasted for six months. So I started sending out feelers to build this project for the record label. I had no intention of being in it.
Rampe: Dusty introduced me and Vicky and we ended up bringing on Pauline. We went through three different drummers and then having Dusty just made sense.
Did being a girl band essentially make it harder for you?
Rampe: I think we're leveling the playing field a little bit now. Rock 'n' roll is a little less male-dominated than it used to be and I don't think we need to sound like a girl band. At first, I think people expected us to sound like The Donnas.
So you've surpassed being "good for a girl?"
Rampe: We hear that less and less these days. People are starting to know who we are and not question it.
Pauline Coles: It definitely happened in the beginning, though. "Yeah, your drummer's really good... for a girl." But hearing that makes us want to work harder.
West: I get that all the time.
What was the planned sound when Fox 45 started up?
Rampe: I think initially we were going to be a punk band.
At this point you're a lot more than just punk.
West: I think they've got too much musical depth to be boxed into punk anyway.
Rampe: Pauline has written a lot of our heavier songs ... hard rock, almost metal, and we really picked up on that.
Do you avoid being colored by your myriad influences or do you embrace it?
Coles: I feel like everything's already been done. I'm influenced by so much different shit that I unintentionally pull things from the stuff I hear, because I'm always listening to music, all the time.
But sometimes it's on purpose, no? I mean "War Pigs?"
Coles: We were like "Oh, Black Sabbath, cool. Let's just go with it." We're influenced by them, so it's kind of a homage.
Rampe: Let's not even pretend it's not what it is.
How have your shows been?
Coles: I remember our first show, shaking so hard on stage, I couldn't control my guitar. Honestly I didn't enjoy it until the second or third show.
What's something Fox 45 will never do?
Coles: Wear stockings and high heels.
Rampe: We're not on board with that, though it's definitely been suggested by a couple people.
How far are you going to take Fox 45?
Rampe: All the way.
Punk-metal icon Wendy O. Williams will be inducted into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame on Sunday. Plasmatics guitarist Wes Beech and Rod Swenson, the band's creator and Williams' life partner, talk about the legacy of the singer.