Thursday, August 13, 2009

Girls just want to have fun - and rock out!

By Meredith Deliso

If you’re looking for young rockers, look no further than Brooklyn, a bona fide breeding ground for cool kids with musical aspirations, from the all-female Care Bears on Fire to the brother-sister duo Tiny Masters of Today.

For those looking to do the same, enter “The Girls’ Guide to Rocking” (Workman), a how-to book for young ladies on everything from starting a band to remaining friends while in said band to what equipment to bring on tour.

“This is the book that I always wanted to write, in part because it was the book I needed when I was 16,” says the Chicago-based author Jessica Hopper, who, in addition to touring as a bassist, has worked in the music industry as a tour manager, band publicist, DJ, Girls Rock Camp booster, fanzine publisher, and, for the past five years, freelance writer and music and culture critic (read one of her more popular essays, "Emo: Where the Girls Aren't," here). “I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how to get a show, write a song, find a bandmate. I’ve now spent 10 years working in the music industry. I’ve always felt like I was carrying around all this information I’m never going to do anything with.”

Budding rockers take note: on August 22, the author stops in Brooklyn on a national tour in support of the book with a book party/summer music blowout at Littlefield in Gowanus, where you can pick her brain a bit and hear sets from some of the most exciting acts in the borough’s music scene today.

“I wanted something that isn’t a book tour, I wanted something cool,” says Hopper, who will also be joined by the Brooklyn band These Are Powers, Katie Stelmanis, The Ghost Bees, and MNDR. “It was basically like, every single women we know, let’s get her cool thing here.”

Hopper had similar help on the book, as she reached out to friends in the music industry for advice on the nitty-gritty of rock and roll.

“I’m really lucky that I got to pass on the wisdom of members of Tortoise or Annie Clark from St. Vincent,” says Hopper. “It really felt like, there are the secrets, this is all the really important stuff that you don’t get until you’re at totally professional level, that’s really useful whether you’re playing a gymnasium or Lollapalooza.”

Among the feedback so far, Hopper has delighted in the fact that readers who are no longer “girls” have found the guidebook helpful.

“People who are my age in bands and women who I look at them and think they’ve go it all figured out, were like, ‘Your book was so useful. I learned so much,’” says Hopper, 32. “That was my goal.”

And while boys can equally learn how to rock through the book, the ultimate audience is for girls who, like Hopper growing up in Minneapolis, want to be on the stage.

“Boys don’t look for permission to be in a band. Women sometimes are still at a point where we need to see ourselves up on stage before we know it’s possible,” says Hopper. “Thank goodness there are so many good examples of that, including Hayley Williams from Paramour or Taylor Swift on the more pop end of things, who are writing songs that reflect their own realities. I think that’s so cool for girls now growing up that they have all these different types of role models. They can look and go, that can be me.”

And in Brooklyn, they don’t have to look very far.

“The Girls’ Guide to Rocking” book event is August 22 at Littlefield (622 Degraw St.) at 6 p.m. Tickets are $8. 16+. With These Are Powers, Katie Stelmanis, The Ghost Bees, and MNDR, and with DJ sets by MNDR and Strength In Numbers. For more information, call 718-855-3388.


Anonymous,  August 24, 2009 at 10:46 PM  
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