Acting on impulse is a great way to succeed. Shira is an answers-first-figure-out-the-questions-later type of lady who know this all too well. Some years ago, she and her band decided they wanted to play The Warped Tour. Rather than sitting around waiting for an acceptance letter, ShiraGirl brazenly parked their signature pink RV in the venue and began to play on their own.
With their handmade, girls only stage and energetic fervor, the group made rock history and caught the eye (rather than the disdain) of Warped Tour honcho, Kevin Lyman. This stunt landed them not only an invite to the rest of the tour, but notoriety amongst fans and the respect of some of the biggest names in music.
Fast-forward a few years, and ShiraGirl, an all woman punk-based outfit from Brooklyn, New York, has been able to work with Joan Jett, Tim Armstrong and more recently Swizz Beats. One of the band's singles, "Stomp It Out," was re-released just days ago touting a "featuring Little Wayne" appellation.
In advance of her band's appearance at this weekend's Vans Warped Tour, we caught Shira and spoke with her about working with big name musicians, how it feels to be placed into a role-model position and what happened to her June release date on her new album.
Westword (Brian Frederick): You've been able to work with some of the biggest names in music history. How does that feel?
Shira: It's amazing. Tim Armstrong is the coolest guy I know. He's so down to earth. He's an artistic genius, and he's brilliant. In his presence, you feel honored, but at the same time, he's just so cool. It's hard to explain. You don't feel intimidated because he makes it cool. I met him on the Warped Tour; he came up to me and [said,] "I really like you, I like your spirit. We should work together." And I was, of course, like, "Hell yeah!"
So I went out there and recorded one of my first songs "Go Go Go." With him, I feel like I've grown so much as a songwriter and a vocalist. We've worked on a couple more tracks since then. We worked on a track called "Tantrum" and a song called "Battles."
As far as working with Joan Jett, I mean she's a legend! As a baby band, you meet these bigger bands that take you under their wing and take care of you -- it's vital to your survival and success. Her crew would watch after us. We hung out and partied with them.
I had some girls on my crew bail on me. I was bummed because I was running the stage, booking the bands and my drummer left. I was just like, you know, this sucks. How am I going to put this whole thing together when I can't even play half a show?
Luckily I had friends that flew out and saved me. Joan heard it through the grapevine. She sat next to me and told me, "You are doing an amazing thing and you need to keep going. Girls like that make girls like us look bad. Keep doing what you're doing."
After that, I was like, "Wow! I better keep doing what I'm doing because Joan Jett told me to!" She ended up making a guest appearance on stage on the last leg of the tour. We played "Bad Reputation," and I actually sang, and she played guitar and sang backup. It was incredible! She's such a cool chick, and I really respect her.
Also, working with Swizz, for us, is pretty amazing, because we're crossing over into a whole new world. In the Warped Tour world, we're just another band, but when you go into a hip-hop [scene] as some rocker chicks, it's just a whole other world!
We felt real good working with Swizz and his team. We felt really respected. It just clicked. We feel like we're moving on to our new phase in our artistic world. We're moving with the times. We've always got that punk rock spirit, but at the same time we've seen a lot of success with the song we did with Swizz Beats.
Ww: You're in an industry that doesn't see a whole lot bands with an all woman lineup. Are there times you find that hard?
S: It's fun. People always have low expectations of the band, and when we play, we blow them away. My band is incredible; they're so talented, extremely skilled as musicians. Even if they weren't girls, they'd be impressive. We're on top of our shit because we know we're there representing for women.
It's a cool thing to be able to blow people out of the water with those lowered expectations. Of course we hear it all the time. We hear the comments and the double standards. It's something I've always had to deal with. It's not only in music but in rock you deal with it a lot.
Ww: How do you like being a role model to the younger girls that listen to your band's music?
S: Nobody's perfect, but I love to be able to give these girls an idea of what maybe they haven't had before. You can do this, too. You can be in a band. You don't have to always be the girlfriend to the boyfriend that's in the band, you know?
We get it all the time at shows backstage and people will say, "Girls, it's just the band back here." We have to tell them that: "We are the band, asshole!"
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That was a really important thing for me when girls would come up and say, "Thanks so much for doing this. I never realized I could do this, too." It sounds cliché, but it is what it is. This never crossed their minds. When you look out to the warped tour crowd it's mostly female. The majority is female. It's been doing this more and more as the years go on.
They love it because they have these crushes on the boys in the bands or whatever, but sometimes it doesn't occur to them that they can do it, too. That's great we're there to raise that awareness and inspire. To be able to have that opportunity is just a really great thing.
Ww: Your album, Scream! Spit! Sing!, had a June release date, and has now been pushed a little back to August. What's the story behind that?
S: It did get pushed back to August. Basically we added three new songs. Most of the record was recorded in the past two years. As an artist you grow. We felt these songs deserved a proper release, but at the same time, we had new stuff we were writing. So what we did was go back in the studio and record three new tracks. You'll see it at the show!