By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
Anyone pooh-poohing the idea of an all-girl AC/DC tribute band is neglecting one very important factor: the schoolgirl outfit. Strewn across the three corners of the country -- Denver, Seattle and Austin -- Hell's Belles cross gender and state barriers in the name of girl power. We got to speak to two grrrls at once, bassist Mandy Reed and Denver's Jamie Nova -- the Brian Johnson to Om Johari's (the act's original vocalist) Bon Scott.
Westword: How does that work, being in different parts of the country?Are you mailing it in?
Mandy Reed: It makes it difficult to rehearse. To keep our chops up, we have to play along with the records at home. We get on a plane and meet wherever we're playing.
So that makes for expensive long-distance bills.
MR: It can get expensive, and we're racking up our frequent-flyer miles.
Rehearsing with the record explains why it sounds so accurate. I thought you took the vocal track off and recorded Ann Wilson over the top. And I challenge you to prove me wrong.
MR: That's quite a compliment to Jamie.
Jamie Nova: Wow, it is. I don't know whether or not I can accept that. Thank you. Mandy schooled me good. I had a lot of encouragement. That's me and my soul poured out on the record. Blood, swear and tears.
Has AC/DC heard you?
Is your drummer, Melodie Zapata, any relation to Mia?
MR: No, she gets that all the time. One time our old singer accidentally introduced her as Mia Zapata.
JN: She's like "No, no, I'm still living!"
Why AC/DC and not, say, Iron Maiden?
MR: The founding members of this band are no longer with us, but it was the idea of our original "Angus," Amy Stozenbach. AC/DC is obviously something that we've all grown up with. All the high school parties -- there was something wrong if you walked in and there wasn't AC/DC playing. It just hit our roots.
So the founding members moved on . . . Does Hell's Belles have an age limit, like Menudo?
MR: No, it was a personal choice. Amy wanted to pursue her solo stuff, and Om decided to get married and move to Germany. We did fly her back and forth for a little while, and we would have continued, but she just wanted to move on. She handed the torch to me, and I kept it going. And we found Jamie.
Which AC/DC singer do you prefer?
JN: Bon Scott was a very sly, snake-like character with great lyrics. He was very clever. But Brian came in balls-out. He kind of got lucky that he got to ride on Bon's shirttails, but he proved himself. He's total balls-to-the-wall, in-your-face sweat and rock and roll. He's a bastard to sing. He makes me clench my ass and pop a vein in my forehead, for sure.