Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Naming themselves after an MC5 song was no simple posturing: Sister Anne are “soul-punk” fire-spitters, and pretty much Brooklyn’s best approximation of Detroit. On the handful of songs the band has released so far, all those crusty Stooges riffs are effortlessly teamed with the soaring vocals and inescapable grooves of post-Motown vinyl. Sister Anne’s somewhat unique take on garage might be the sum of the band’s parts: bassist Leon Chase is a garage geek and soul record nerd from the Motor City, guitarist Michelle Primeaux-Lazarus is a classic shredder, and drummer Jeph Duarte is a feisty groove-punk. But it’s vocalist Kitana, a.k.a. Pink Chocolate, who takes center stage — raised on gospel lick, embodying garage gnarl, and showcasing the best parts of her band’s roughest edges. “Another Kiss Goodnight” is a two-minute, 40-second bruiser that sounds like Be Your Own Pet, lost on their way to Muscle Shoals.
What is “Another Kiss Goodnight” about?
Leon Chase, bass: It’s about feeling like everything in your life is falling apart.
Kitana, vocals: My interpretation is that “Another Kiss Goodnight” is about falling and then trying to find your way back up. It’s about how karma can be a bitch, and how in the end, forgiving those who done you wrong is what you have to do — because those who did you wrong screw themselves and get what they deserve.
How did you get hooked up to open for mighty Detroit proto-punks Death this Friday?
Kitana: Our booker, Robert Johnson of Scenic Propaganda is putting on the show and we asked him to put us on. His response was, “I was waiting for you to ask!” We are so freakin’ psyched! Leon told us about them a few months ago, and he played us the CD. We were saying, “Wouldn’t it be so great if they started playing again and we could open for them?” No lie!
What does the word “soul-punk” mean to you?
Chase: It means my two favorite genres of music, together at last. I specifically started this band because I’ve always wanted to hear the tempo and fuzz and aggression of early punk rock paired up with the rhythm sections and killer vocals of classic soul music. If you trace the history of rock music, it all comes back to very white boys in very white places trying to sound like black American singers — and putting their own weird, heavy twist on it in the process. All we’re doing it bringing that story full circle.
Kitana: Soul-punk is what you get when you strip rock down to its bareness. To its soul, its core feeling. Rock is an evolution of blues and a lil’ gospel, and we just take it back there. Some of our sound is a lil’ punky, but the soul is always there in my voice. I grew up singing in church. That sound will never leave!
Tell me about your earliest and most formative experiences with garage rock.
Chase: When I was about five years old my mom gave me her old stack of 45s. There was a lot of standard popular ’60s stuff, but also all these odd, scrappy-sounding singles from bands like the Fireballs or the Del-Vetts or Mitch Ryder, which, even though they were trying to be mainstream pop hits, just had this great, gritty edge to them. I remember listening to “Bottle of Wine” by the Fireballs over and over as a kid, and just loving it. I didn’t have any concept of a band going into a studio and making a record. I really believed that somebody just showed up with a microphone and recorded somebody’s party, because that’s exactly how all those old records sounded to me.
Kitana: I honestly didn’t know much about garage until I joined Sister Anne. Leon, Jeph, and Michelle have been giving me reading materials, mix CDs, DVDs, a kickass musical education, so I can know whose shoulders we’re standing on. I love it!
What about soul?
Kitana: That’s what I grew up with! Soul to me is what you’re born with. It’s not a sound. You could be a hardcore or death metal person and still have soul. It’s about how the music manifests itself within you. My girl is Betty Davis! I love her! If I were back in the ’70s, I would so be a part of her crew!
Chase: I don’t think you could grow up around Detroit in the ’70s and ’80s without hearing about Motown, this amazing, mythical dinosaur that you just missed. But I really got my education from Detroit garage sales. I remember being 18 and broke, and I would just drive around Detroit hitting up yard sales and record shops. We’re talking years before the Internet, back when you had to go find your music. And at the time, people couldn’t get rid of their vinyl fast enough, so I was going around scooping up 30 years of music history for five bucks every weekend.
What’s the biggest misconception about your band?
Chase: Probably that Kitana’s name is “Sister Anne”.
Kitana: In my experience, the biggest misconception about Sister Anne is that since I’m the singer and Michelle is the guitarist, we’ll probably be your run of the mill girls-in-the-front kind of band. Its funny, people will automatically think its Leon on the guitar — they still don’t expect a girl to shred the way she does. Its weird. But then, I guess people that haven’t seen us don’t expect us to sound the way we do. I guess they still aren’t used to black girls being able to rock out. Which is also hilarious, because a lot of people don’t know rock is black music.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
Chase: El Rincon Familiar. Or the grilled cheese at South.
Kitana: Bonnie’s Grill in Park Slope. Those burgers are freakin’ deliciously crusted with spices and grilled. And the pulled pork sandwich… Good Lord! And the wings! And the fries! Oh, googly! I love it! If I had that kind of money and metabolism, I’d eat there everyday!
Sister Anne play at Europa on Friday with Death and Rough Francis. Early show, don’t sleep!