Interview by Francijn Suermondt (Rabbit Attack PR)
Photo Credits: Jarmo Hanninen and Sing Lo
Originating out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene in 1978 and frequently associated with contemporaries Motörhead, Girlschool are the longest running all-female rock band, still active after more than 35 years.
Formed from a school band called Painted Lady, Girlschool enjoyed strong media exposure and commercial success in the UK in the early 1980s with three albums of ‘punk-tinged metal’. They’ve maintained a worldwide cult following and are considered an inspiration for many succeeding female rock musicians. Francijn Suermondt found time to chat to guitarist Jackie Chambers and find out what’s going on with the ‘Girls’.
Thank you Jackie for agreeing to talk to us today! Girlschool have been a band that many a rock chick have looked up to since their beginnings in 1975 …. I believe you joined the band in 1999. Can you tell us how you recruitment came about and your music history before this?
You’re very welcome!
Before Girlschool I played in various bands, mostly punk bands in Leeds, a couple of signed bands but none that really did that much. In 1995 whilst living in London I was looking for a new band so put an advert in the Melody Maker, a music paper here, Kim answered it as she was looking to do a side project as well as Girlschool. We met up for a drink that night, got on really well and started to write together in my little home studio. Kelly was in the band then but wanted to do something different and asked me if I would join the band. At that time I’d never played a lead guitar solo in my life so just laughed it off, but she kept asking and then in 1999 I said OK you teach me the songs and we’ll take it from there until my fingers bleed and the rest is history.
As a female in the rock world, would you say it has been harder to make your mark in the music industry or is that really just a fallacy these days? And is there a difference between USA and UK reactions to women in rock?
I do think it is harder yes, but Girlschool seemed to be around at a good time and being spotted by Lemmy brought them to the public’s notice. Right time and place is always a factor for bands and it worked in Girlschool’s favour back then. The fact that we are women shouldn’t make any difference at all but it does seem harder for female bands to break through.
I don’t think there is a difference no! Real rock fans just want to hear the music they’re not thrown by gender. We’ve just come back from a north American tour and it went really well in the main. Girlschool had a gold album in Canada so we had a great reaction there.
Can you tell us the make of guitar you favour?
The one I use the most is my Chandler which is a custom made one for me, so it’s all set up how I want it, good weight, good feel, all very important!
I hear you have just been doing shows in the Nordics can you tell us more about these?
We just did the Metal Festival in Denmark which is relatively new festival and that was great fun, well organised, great crowd as always and the rain stopped after a song or two so no hair went curly during the show…lol We played a couple of shows in Finland last yr too as well as a festival so hopefully we’ll get to come back again to maybe Swedenrock, which is one of my personal favourite festivals. I know we are playing Norway,Sweden and Finland on the Motorhead/Saxon/Girlschool tour later this year.
And you will be touring again with your buddies Motorhead in November, you guys have such a history together … how did that all begin?
Yes a big history there. the girls recorded ‘take it all away’ as their first single, Lemmy heard it, liked it, came along to see them at a rehearsal and then took them on tour with them. Since then we’ve done a couple more tours with them whilst I’ve been in the band and like you say we are about to go out again for their 40th anniversary shows this yr. Besides that there have been a few recorded songs together too, ‘Please Don’t Touch’ being the most well known on the ST Valentines Day Massacre EP. Since then Lemmy has added, vocals, bass and triangle to ‘Don’t Talk To Me’ on our Legacy LP, as well as Phil Campbell playing on several tracks on the same album and Eddie Clark playing 1 of the solo’s on our version of Metropolis, sure there are others too that I forget right now…
What hobbies do you have outside of music I hear you are big martial arts fan! I trained at Vos kickboxing gym a couple of times whilst living in Amsterdam .. it almost killed me !!
Yes I love Martial Arts, don’t do it so much now but have Boxed, Kick boxed, done Karate and taught self defence in my time. Nowadays I’m far more laid back, I meditate as much as possible and I still do some sports, I play badminton every Thursday when I’m home.
I think Randy Rhoads was the most amazing guitar player and never tire of listening to him play. Who would you say was your biggest influence?
I love guitar players like Brian May, Billy Duffy and Steve Stevens, mainly because I love a good melodic guitar part, yes those guys and girls who play 100mph are amazing but I love a song and like the guitar to add to the song melodically and I think the 3 mentioned do.
Do you have any Girlschool news you would like to give us?
We have a new album coming out this yr in time for the Motorhead tour which is called ‘GUILTY AS SIN‘ .It was produced by Chris Tsangarides so a whole new sound for us, like nicely raw and back to basic rock n roll again, Love it!
And finally, and one of my favourite questions I give people is, if you were having a dinner party and could invite 5 people dead or alive, who would they be and why ?
Very good question. I would invite
- I would like to invite Kelly Johnson, as I would love to catch up on all the Girlschool stuff with her since she passed, see how she likes it.
- Alice Cooper, because he’s had such an influence on me throughout my life, Love his music.
- David Bowie as he seems like a really interesting person
- Jack Black as he’d be funny and would keep thee dinner party lively…lol and
- Lemmy as he’d drink all the JD and that would stop me drinking it all.
THANKS FOR YOUR TIME TODAY