by Dawn Casey Perreault
Since 2009, The all-female metal quintet Violet Kill has been tearing up local stages around Chicago and the suburbs. The band is comprised of vocalist Drea Alexander, Sharon Kus and Carrie Mores on guitars, bassist Susy Hammerand, and drummer Kait Stone.
How did Violet Kill come together?
The band started to come together in 2007 when Sharon told a friend she wanted to start an all female metal band. This friend just happened to know Kait, who was going to college in Chicago at the time, and had been a metal drummer for several years. Sharon decided to contact Kait through their friend, and they started playing together and writing the first Violet Kill songs. Shortly after, Drea joined the mix when another mutual friend contacted her about doing vocals. She came to a practice, and the three hit it off. Finding another guitarist and bassist proved to be a little more difficult however. After almost a year of searching, Sharon met Carrie while attending NIU and she joined Violet Kill as a second guitar player in 2009. The lineup was almost eomplete when Kait had to leave the band to attend grad school in Georgia. After various lineup changes during that time, Drea, Sharon, Carrie and Kait were reunited in 2011, and Susy joined the group in 2012 after meeting Sharon and Carrie at NIU. The rest is history!
The name is pretty cool, any special significance behind it?
We really wanted to pay homage to the fact that we were all women with our name, but struggled with finding a name that displayed our strength as well. After many discussions, we finally decided on Violet Kill because it had both the feminine aspect we were looking for with the reference to flowers, and the powerful heavy aspect we wanted with the kill. We wanted people to know that we might be women, but we can still shred your face off.
Do you face any particular challenges being an all-female metal band?
There are definitely some challenges to being an all female band in this genre, but overall, we have to say our experience in the Chicago scene has been very positive. There have definitely been instances where people don’t believe we are in the band because we are women, which sucks, and has led to a few heated exchanges with door guys. We also find that people have a difficult time talking us seriously unless they have heard us or seen us perform in the past. There are several of our supporters who tell us stories of the things people in the crowd say before we go on. There is a lot of “oh man, I gotta see this” and “are they actually any good?” as well as some “They are probably just a bunch of hot girls who have money, got bored and decided to start a band.” (Yes, that last one was actually said out loud to one of our friends) Luckily, we have found that once people see us or hear us, they are pleasantly surprised, and we usually blow them away with how heavy we can be and with the fact that we can actually play our instruments. One of the other challenges we have found is that everyone seems to think they can give us uninvited tips, tricks, comments, suggestions, etc. We understand that most people have good intentions with this, but it can come off as extremely insulting. Some people assume that because we are women, we don’t know as much about gear, technique, or business, which isn’t the case. We are more than willing to ask for help if we need it and are open to constructive criticism, but there have been many occasions where people we have JUST met and never talked to before came up to us and started trying to give us lessons on our “image” or playing techniques. We are well aware that you would never walk up to a random band full of dudes and start giving them an earful, so don’t do it to us because we are women. But, like we said, our experience in the Chicago scene has been very positive and people have been extremely supportive. The bands we have played with have been fantastic, and we cant thank anyone who has helped us enough!
Tell us about some of the bands that inspire you.
Carrie: Pink Floyd, As I Lay Dying, It Dies Today, The Distillers, Jack off Jill, Alkaline Trio and Light this City. I was inspired to play metal because of Sharon Kus and Javi Barrera!
Susy: My influences include Rancid, Catch 22, Gogol Bordello, The Clash, Cloud Cult and the Cure. I enjoy the fast beat and heavy bass found in all of these musicians and some metal.
Drea: Buried Alive, Billy Joel, All Out War, SSD. I like metal that’s fast, aggressive and in your face.
Kait: Shadows fall, Lamb of God, Unearth, Killswitch Engage, and many many more. I got into playing metal because of the awesome harmonies that are created with two guitars and was amazed by the talent needed to play it well. I saw it as a challenge to learn how to play. Plus, its fun!
Sharon: After the Burial, Killswitch Engage, Tenacious D, Lamb of God, August burns Red, the sound cool whip makes when it comes out of the canister. I started playing metal because I liked the challenge.
If you could open for any band, who would it be?
If we ever played with any of the greats like Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, etc, it would be a dream come true! Who wouldn’t want the chance to play with the greats? We would also love to open for some of our influences, like Killswitch Engage, since we gain so much inspiration from their music.
Check Out Violet Kill at the Queens of Metal showcase at Bada Brew June 1st