Lady Beast – Vicious SincerityTuesday, 16th January 2018
Dead Rhetoric: What does heavy metal mean to you personally? Can you think of a specific time in your life where the power of the music carried you through a rough or challenging situation?
Levine: Oh my god, still to this day! I am so moved emotionally by heavy metal. The songs, the way the music sounds, the lyrics – it’s normally always just so intense. Sometimes the songs (are) about failure and not seeing the way, not finding your path- and other songs are so triumphant and hope driven. That no matter if you are at your lowest, or your loneliest (point), you can always listen to your friends. In Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, who are constantly telling you to not give up hope. I feel like some songs that aren’t meant to be inspirational… like I listen to “Wasted Years”, I’ve heard that songs a million times and it brings me to tears every time. You are thinking like ‘yes, these are the golden years’… I should be thankful for every day. Or even when I listen to “The Wicker Man”, he says ‘your time will come’, I’ll start crying. I am not a baby, you could punch me in the face and I won’t shed a tear- but for some reason when I hear certain songs, even though it’s been a million times, I will still get that well of water in my eye, and I will scream, ‘yes, my time will come!’.
That’s the same intensity and the same feeling that I want people to have when they listen to my songs. I don’t use swear words, the most negative songs I will write are my politically driven songs. If you are going to push me to the point of saying enough is enough, then I have got to tell you how I am feeling about it. “Not This Time” is one of them… the new song “Get Out”, I feel like that was one of my first songs where I talked about if you aren’t with me, you are against me, and I am done with this. I’ve been in this band for ten years, if you aren’t trying to help me, it’s been nice knowing you, but no offense, get out of my way. I have no more time to waste.
Dead Rhetoric: I think that’s one of the things that we do think about as we get older, not wasting time on people who give off that negative energy- go with the people who are supportive of what you are doing…
Levine: For sure! Life is too short, and no offense to them but maybe they need to figure out a couple of things about themselves, and then they can turn into that positive person too.
Dead Rhetoric: Being a collector of vinyl, what are some of your most prized possessions – or essential albums that fuel that fire when you need that pick me up?
Levine: I have all of the original pressings of Iron Maiden. I was lucky to have a cousin, who was super into heavy metal, and right after I started Lady Beast he took me into his garage and he gave me all of his metal vinyl records. Original pressings! I have almost every single original pressing of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest on vinyl and cassette. A couple of records I like to put on… I am into some newer stuff right now. It seems crazy, because I used to always listen to older music but since getting an iPhone and Pandora, a lot of new stuff comes up when you are listening to your older, favorite bands. It’s so cool. One of my newer favorite bands is Hammerfall- I love them! I feel like so many of their songs are super positive, they make you feel so good. I’ve been listening to a lot of Falconer, I just love the way (Mathias Blad) sings. Although I can sing higher, my natural range is much lower, it’s so nice to hear that. I listen to a lot of Dream Evil when I’m feeling down, they can always pump me up too. Countless albums and bands – people that are into music are so lucky to have that passion. Just something you can turn to that if you want to feel sad, you can feel sad- and get it out. If you need a pick me up, you can put on that one album and totally change your life and mood in that one moment.
Dead Rhetoric: How has running your own house cleaning business helped in terms of keeping Lady Beast on track within the music business?
Levine: I’m actually cleaning houses right this second! (laughs). I’m making beds right now. To be honest, I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to work for myself. Not only does that give me flexibility with scheduling, like going out of town with the band- it allows me to do all the stuff I need to do. Before work I can wrap up a bunch of vinyl and hit the post office- or I can go by the practice spot and make sure that everything is ready for practice. I’ve been cleaning houses for almost 13 years now, so I’ve worked very hard to be able to get to where I am, and be self-sustainable. It’s also really hard – I’ve never had a paid day off. When we do go on tour, I don’t have any money when I get back. Generally, I have to work my ass off before we leave, or the night before a show, just so I am able to pay my bills. It is one of the small downsides of it- I feel really lucky though, my clients are awesome and really support my band. Sometimes they come and see us, sometimes they buy shirts for their kids, and I know if I ever need anything, they tell me ‘go do it!’
Dead Rhetoric: How is it with the other guys when it comes to juggling jobs and time off for tours?
Levine: It’s always hard, but we make it happen. People in bands just aren’t rich- so obviously everyone is out there making sacrifices. We might come home totally broke after a tour- but it’s worth it because we are finally able for that week to do what we love to.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you view the metal scene today? What area(s), if any, do you think the fans and musicians need to spend more time and attention on to keep things thriving over the next few years?
Levine: It’s really hard to say. Sometimes I feel like I’m a little grumpy when I talk about this, but I feel like the internet has equally ruined music and made it awesome at the same time. What I mean by that is when you are in a band in 2017, you are required to have a social media presence. I don’t like feeling forced to do anything. I don’t like feeling that if I don’t want to constantly post pictures of our band online, you suffer repercussions of that which are you are out of sight, which means you are out of mind. That’s the whole thing about the internet right now. You always seem to need to be selling yourself and I just think that is really lame. I would rather be writing songs, or doing artwork, in other ways to make the band great- but then where is the promotion. How are you reaching out to people in the meantime when you are not out on tour? I get it, but it’s just a little weird to me when I need to make a post about Metal Mondays or Crazy Tuesdays? I like doing it, but I don’t like to feel as if I’m forced to do it.
Dead Rhetoric: You are striving for authenticity, you want things to come naturally…
Levine: Exactly! I am all about sincerity and honesty. You are not going to look at us and be like ‘what a bunch of fakers!’. If anything, you are going to look at us and think that we don’t look super crazy. Once we play, we win you over through our awesome songs and happy, very real personalities. It works out great- I feel like sometimes since I’m not a crazy looking female with studs everywhere and my boobs out – which I think is totally cool – but since I’m not like that, I feel that when someone looks at a picture of us and another band- we might not get picked because of the way we look. I feel that once you see us perform, we would get picked anytime. The sincerity is in our performance, and you can tell we are having fun.
Dead Rhetoric: You also appeared on an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown recently regarding Pittsburgh. How did this come about – and do you believe these opportunities open up horizons beyond the normal promotion for a metal act like yourselves?
Levine: I feel like if they would have announced the name of the band on the show, we could have possibly had a couple more people be into us. They didn’t really introduce the band, so I saw a lot of people posting ‘wow- who is that really cool band?’. On the show you had to wait until afterwards to see the clip of the band with our name. I don’t mind- I was stoked to be a part of it and be on the show. It meant a lot to us, it was really cool to tell my parents about it. My parents were at the filming, in those ways it was a very big accomplishment. It was a new experience, and any kind of new experience where you have been doing something for almost ten years, is just amazing.
A friend of ours who is one of the main mixologists in Pittsburgh was contacted to be on the show. She loves our band and she told them about us- if they needed live entertainment, there is this awesome local band. And when the producer checked us out, he said he needed us on the show. It was great, the month before our record release, a lot of stuff happened all at the perfect time. Everything couldn’t have worked out better.
Dead Rhetoric: Even with a positive outlook and spirit, have you had any favorite failure that has taken place either personally or with the band that later set you up for a future success?
Levine: I wouldn’t say it’s failure, but sometimes I’d like to think how things would have been different if we (didn’t go) such a DIY path. A lot of us come from punk backgrounds, where if you want to make a record, you generally do it yourself. Sometimes I wonder if we would have said yes to certain people at the beginning, how things could have been different for us today. But it’s not worth… I am a very realistic person in the sense that I don’t waste time on the past, or being bummed out about stuff. I rarely if ever have those thoughts in general. I feel like we had to do this to have the things work out for us now. I never wanted to be in a band that went to the top right away. The journey is part of the story- and if the journey is easy, the story is short. I don’t want to have a short story- I want to leave a legacy. I’m happy the way things have gone so far.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the horizon for Lady Beast for 2018?
Levine: I feel like we could have played overseas by now- but I’m going to wait for the right opportunity and feel completely confident that we can put on our best shows when we do get over there. As it stands right now, we are going to go on small tour in April to make our way out to a festival in Milwaukee, the Spring Bash – it’s a heavy metal festival with Helstar, Nasty Savage and a bunch of other awesome bands. Hopefully we will be going to record a super, secret, fun short project with some friends of ours. I’m hoping that goes down- and Lady Beast will be going to the West Coast for the first time in the fall of 2018.
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