Sharp Violet Q&A
After releasing a few singles over the last few years, Lindenhurst, NY riot grrrl band Sharp Violet released their debut EP in November - 'On Scenic Lake Copiague'. Its half a dozen tracks contain a varied selection of alt-rock and pop-punk moves complete with literate lyrics, and continues the band's steady progression from those earlier singles. The band interrupted their Christmas hols (thankyou) to answer a few questions about the new EP, the Long Island music scene and Lake Copiague itself; see below.
Sharp Violet are Liz Schopp (vocals), Jessica Sapphire (lead guitar), Alli Sondergard (rhythm guitar), Marie Tornetto (bass) and C-Roll Diamond (drums)
'On Scenic Lake Copiague' is available on all the major digital sites. Earlier singles 'New York', 'Black Widow', 'These Are The Rules Boys', 'Domino Effect' and 'She's So Strange' are all available from Sharp Violet's Bandcamp page - www.sharpviolet.bandcamp.com
Hi Guys, thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions. First off, for those readers who might not be familiar with Sharp Violet, could you give a short history of the band?
Sharp Violet is a riot grrrl band from Lindenhurst, NY. The band consists of Liz on Vocals, Jessica Sapphire on Lead Guitar, Marie On Bass, Alli on Rhythm Guitar and C-Roll on Drums. Forming in 2016, they quickly made a name for themselves as one of the few all female rock bands in the Long Island music scene. They have played over 50 shows including venues such as Revolution, Amityville Music Hall, Lucky 13, Pianos and Bowery Electric. They’ve also played at Convention Hall and the University of Delaware for the Asbury Park Punk Rock Flea Market. Sharp Violet channels the riot grrrl bands of the 90s by turning up the volume and giving a voice to those too afraid to speak out. In a still sexist society, punk rock feminism is needed now more than ever. And who would you say were the main influences on Sharp Violet?
The main influences for us are Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, No Doubt, Green Day and The Distillers.
You've just released your debut EP - 'On Scenic Lake Copiague' - how was it recording and putting the album together; did COVID intrude at all in getting the album recorded and released?
The recording process was pretty intense but very exciting. Prior to this EP, we had only released singles so the recording process was more spaced out with each member recording their parts on separate days. For the EP, we did each song all in one night over the course of a few months including recording each member's individual part and editing each part. We originally planned to start recording the EP last year but Covid did disrupt the process. For the song 'Boys and Candy', part of that was recorded last year but with lockdowns being implemented we had to pause and finish it this year. And was Lake Copiague where you recorded the EP?
No, we actually recorded the EP at Liz's house in Lindenhurst. This is where we practice and there is a full studio in her basement. The EP was recorded, edited and mixed by Steve from Steve and the Not Steves. The title of the EP comes from a motel nearby Liz's house which has a huge sign that says "South Bay Motel On Scenic Lake Copiague". Driving by the motel almost daily, we always thought that it would make a great album name. By the way, the lake is not very scenic. Were there any songs that didn't make the cut for the EP but that we might get to hear at a later date?
Yes, a song called 'Misery Chick' which we had written a few years back but never put it into our song rotation. We started playing it again recently and although it wasn't ready for the album, we plan on releasing it as our next single. Hopefully we'll be able to put it out in early 2022.
Do you have a favourite track(s) on the EP and if so why? Marie: 'Night Witches' - I love that the lyrics were inspired by fierce WWII rouge women fighter pilots. It’s an empowering story that I’m glad is being recognized and shared. Also, musically I think it’s one of our best. I love the push and pull dynamic of tension and energy. I had so much fun with the bassline. C-Roll: My favorite song is 'Night Witches.' I like the story behind it, being the Russian women soldiers flying the plane, fighting the war effort. I also like how we came up with the different time signatures. The breakdown towards the end - which if you don’t listen to the whole song you will miss - is my personal favorite part when I switch to the toms and the ladies do their thing on guitars and vocals. Alli: It's very hard to pick a favorite, but I think mine might be 'Green-Eyed Monster'. It's a slower song than some of the others on the album but I think that it has an interesting structure and to me the whole song carries a sense of building tension that never quite breaks. I love playing it. Jessica: I think one of my favorite songs off the album is 'Boys and Candy'. I love how the song drives itself forward, and how it is fun to listen to (and to play especially with that epic slow down at the end). I also really liked that we hadn't played the song in a while, in order to play the newer songs and see how everyone would like them. Everyone seemed to really like the new songs, like 'Night Witches' (one of my other favorite songs). But when we put 'Boys and Candy' back in rotation, it was like it didn't miss a beat and brought back what some people were missing in the show. Liz: It's hard to pick just one! I'm really proud of 'Night Witches'. I have a passion for history and when I first read about these women, I immediately felt inspired to write a song about their heroic efforts. Women played an important part during World War II but their contributions and stories are not always taught or recognized. The Night Witches were the most highly decorated unit in the Russian Air Force during the war but weren't even included in the victory day parade in Moscow. It's our most complex song that we have ever written with different time signatures. I love the way Jess's guitar leads on the verses sound like a howl and the drums in the breakdown sound like you're in battle.
What is the writing process within Sharp Violet - does somebody come with an almost finished song that you work on or do the songs come out of a more 'jamming' scenario?
It's a bit of both. Sometimes at practice, we will just be jamming or messing around and something really cool will come out of it and eventually become a song. Other times, someone will come up with an idea at home and then will share it at practice for us to work on and each member write their parts. There's a cover of 'Hanging On The Telephone' on the EP - are Blondie big favourites for you all?
Yes, we love Blondie! This is one of the most fun songs to play live! We always get a good crowd reaction too! What are the highlights for the band so far; any particular gigs or songs you've recorded that particularly stand out?
Some of our favorite shows have been playing Convention Hall in Asbury Park in New Jersey and the University of Delaware through the Asbury Park Punk Flea Market, playing Jason's Woods three years in a row which is 5 haunted houses in the middle of Amish Country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and opening for Murphy's Law on Halloween in New York City. Putting out the EP is also something that we're really proud of, we had been wanting to do this for a while. Another significant moment for the band was when Kathleen Hanna watched our music video for Domino Effect and told us that she loved it! Kathleen is a big inspiration for us and one of the reasons why we started Sharp Violet. How is the local band scene in Long Island; any other bands from the area you'd recommend to readers?
The local music scene is starting to make a comeback after Covid lockdowns. We've played a few shows this year and attendance has been better than pre-Covid times. Hopefully people continue to come out and support local music. We definitely recommend checking out these bands - Steve and the Not Steves, Demonscar and Cherry Pop. We love playing shows with them! And finally what plans for Sharp Violet in 2022?
We're planning on putting out music videos for 'Caffeine' and 'Night Witches' from the EP. We also are looking forward to playing more shows and putting out some new music. Stay tuned!