Lo-Ball
by Dave Schwartz
Photos by Keith Durflinger

Lo-Ball is a band that teases sexuality but doesn't want to be labeled by it. In arranging the interview, the band graciously announced that there would be no restrictions, all questions were open-- an early Christmas gift for me, but then what do you ask five women that run around a stage and fall down a lot? These ladies bash out four-chord screamers with all the enthusiasm of  schoolgirls and want you to know that they are not just a "look." This isn't marketing or some 40-year-old's wet dream, this is rock and roll. Over the course of the hour, questions ranged from the esoteric to the obnoxious; political to pubescent, but then it's not like I would ask a lady about her knickers would I? Read on my friend.

Lo-Ball is:

Pauley P. - lead vocals      J.C. - rhythm guitar/ background vocals
Lissa - lead guitar     Katie - bass, background vocals      Claudia - drums

Web site: www.LoBallRocks.com

We prefaced this interview with an e-mail questionnaire. It's always important to get a feel for all the members of the band. Today I'm with Pauley and she aptly opens the interview by commenting, "This is really strange. I mean, doing an interview without the rest of the band. You put five of us into a room and then you're in for some fun."

I wish that we could've interviewed the entire band, but it was just out of the realm of possibility. Let's start this off easy, how long have you been together? How did the band form?

"The band concept was started by J.C. and Claudia a couple of years ago," Pauley begins. "They wanted to build an outstanding all female rock and roll band to prove that girls rock just as hard as boys. Lissa came next, then Katie and me."

With the addition of Pauley on vocals, the Lo-Ball line-up was completed in April 2000. It wasn't long after that the band was back out on the road and turning some heads, but as Pauley explains, Lo-Ball had a history before she came along.

"Katie the bass player used to sing vocals. She is a one-woman rock and rolls show on bass and they wanted Katie to do her thing so they decided to add a vocalist. They were a four-piece band; we are now a five-piece," she says.

I spent a bunch of years working in bands and I know first hand that it's always difficult to add a new member to a pre-existing group because you have established that vibe, after all, a band is all about the vibe. Did the dynamics of the band change much after you joined?

loball6edit.jpg (31259 bytes)"It was, dare I say, magical that we all came together because the personalities all fit together so well," Pauley laughs. "The rest of the band are just incredible musicians and are totally into their own thing. Katie is a great singer and she still sings back up, as does J.C., the rhythm guitar player."

In my e-mail I asked the band if their music is all about the product or is there still room for self-indulgence? The bands reply was somewhat evasive when they commented, "Don't know, we just play what we love, the way we love it." I asked this in the sense that there are bands out there that just write whatever comes to their heads, it's almost a seat-of-their-pants approach. While there are others that take a very pointed marketing position. They target an audience, they establish their look, they do everything they can to brand their band's identity into the minds of the public. Where does Lo Ball fit into this picture?

"I think that we are more in the seat-of-the-pants camp. There is always an element of our performance that we know our fans are really going to love" Pauley explains. "We may add something funny into a song or a part of our show, but we are very aware of our fans. We have a pretty specific sound and I think we are a fun band to watch."

Where has your band been playing around town?

Pauley began an impressive list, "We play at The Dragonfly, The Playroom, Goldfingers. In fact we're doing a New Year's Eve show at Goldfingers. We played up in San Francisco several weeks back at the Cat Club. They asked us to come up and it was absolutely packed. We really didn't know what to expect but it was a great show. We played in New York a few months back at the Mercury Lounge."

Really, what led you to play in New York?

"We were invited to go to the Bryant Park show, you know the runway show?" She continues. "Well, there is a company called Girls Rule that manufactures really cool and hip clothing, they invited us to go to that show. So we were trying to decide if we could afford to go out to New York and we decided that if we were going to go that we would have to perform, so we booked a show at the Mercury Lounge and it was great. I don't know how a person found out about the show, I don't even think that there was an ad in the paper, but we sold it out. Now we're trying to figure out a way to save our money and go back there to play again.

"We have also played the EATM festival in Las Vegas. It was about my second performance with the band and it was so much fun. We loaded up the girls into a van and just went. That's where Hits Magazine found us and now they have done six or seven articles about Lo Ball. This is where we built much of our fan base."

That's a fairly important gig to be playing so early on, did you feel comfortable with the set?

loball7edit.jpg (22068 bytes)"We all have our anxiety dreams. Luckily things in life are so much scarier in theory then they are in practice. People tend to worry about some crazy things, I mean we all worry about forgetting the words to a song and I'm always afraid that I'm going to have to go to the bathroom. I've never understood Bruce Springsteen for that. He plays four hours, doesn't he have to pee? And what about the rest of his band?" Pauley laughs. "But you know that in reality none of that ever happens. The reality here is that none of us are going to die on stage and short of that, whatever else is just fun. I mean, who cares. It's just music."

Since this interview is being conducted right after our presidential election it seemed fair to ask a political question, boxers or briefs? (Why waste time with the politics of Yemen?)

I guess I got more than I expected when, in their e-mail, the band replied, "Only one wears boxers occasionally, two wear thongs, the other two prefer plain cotton panties."

While one should never underestimate the importance of a woman's undergarments, naturally I meant the question in a less literal sense. Aside from the question being a hard-core MTV rip-off and, what with this ridiculous election that the world was left to endure, I wanted to test the politics of the Sunset Strip. So now with complete certainty I can faithfully report that when you open a can of worms,  you find worms.

"The only reason Gore is not in the White House right now is because Clinton got a blow job while in office." Pauley asserted.

Sound the trumpets, mount your horses and let the jousting begin. Well I guess that would make Monica a very powerful woman then, I countered. I mean it shows that she had the ability to profoundly alter the course of history. In fact, more powerful then the First Lady I would imagine.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

After all, despite all the First Lady's attempts to, for instance, muscle health care reform through Congress and the House, she just couldn't get it done.

I have never found myself a Clinton supporter, but I do recognize the First Lady's personal tragedy. Instead of the high profile self-empowered role she may have imagined for herself, she was relegated to a more traditional position and later left to suffer through the indignation of a world leader's (AKA her husband) very public indiscretions.

"We wrote a song about all this", Pauley starts. "It's called 'Sex in the White House.' The song is not about sex in the White House, it's just the hook that ties everything together."

Pauley takes the time to read the lyrics to me and I must admit that they hit the nail right on the head. The song is all about the many tragedies that were facing America during the Clinton sex scandal, but were overshadowed or forgotten by a media that were feeding on the sensational account of a President and his cigar. I will comment that the poignancy of this song surprised me. It's easy to dismiss any rock band's reach for lyrical credibility when, in fact, most have nothing to say. This time Lo-Ball showed a depth that was unexpected.

loball8edit.jpg (54254 bytes)Music is constantly changing. What changes have you seen? Where do you think music is going?

"Hopefully a resurgence of rock and roll-- real guitars, real drums, rock stars. Front rows that have cool chicks too, not just a bunch of guys beating each other up." She adds, "The Internet is causing music to redefine itself in every way. Because of the Internet you may find that music becomes absolutely free."

It seemed to me that it was more the record companies that are taking a watching-and-waiting attitude. I think it's the smaller bands that are pushing the envelope and most often the record companies or larger bands that are trying to hold back technology.

Pauley points out, "I'm not so sure that history has proven that you can stop technology. I don't know if people have taken the right approach to all this. I mean technology is inevitable. Remember when people tried to stop VCRs? Well, we all have them now and people still go to the movies. It seems that people spend so much time fighting technology rather then figuring out a way to use it."

In the music business or more importantly for a band, how far is too far?

Clearly Pauley had spent some time considering this question, "I think that limits should be defined by the moment. It depends on where you are, what you're doing, who you're playing to, wouldn't you agree? As far as 'too far,' the limits are a dynamic not a static. But I also think that people should be aware of the limits, but not constricted by them. There have been many things that may have been considered 'too far,' but were incredibly necessary. Whether it was politically or socially, there are times where there is need for people to push the envelope. I heard Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit say in an interview, and I'm going to paraphrase, he said, 'Although everybody wants to sell records and everybody wants to be a rock star, certain things aren't worth selling a record'. I think he was talking about doing things or saying things on a record that is blatantly homophobic or racist. These are things that I just can't fucking stand."

It sounds, and I'm guessing, but it sounds like he was commenting on the latest Eminem CD.

"He was," she agrees. "And I thought that the comment was not only smart, but I think he was saying personally, like I would be saying personally, that some things just are not worth it. I just don't think that you have to be cruel to be cool. I support everybody's right to say things, but there are things that I will not do. I just know that I would never want to be responsible for someone's actions against humanity."

What is the craziest thing to ever happen to your band on stage?

This was the band reply from the e-mail questionnaire, "OK, a couple of months ago, Lo-Ball played a show with the Bangles, their first performance together in like 14 years. The venue asked us to do the show, play after them and we were like, 'cool.' We got to the gig before their set. Their set was like 2 1/2 hours long. By the time we were supposed to get on stage, it was almost closing time. Lo-Ball was trying to get stuff on stage to play for the people that had come to see us hours before. The Bangles' crew HATED us for trying to set up quickly and were super rude. To make things worse, while waiting so long, a few of the Lo-Ball members had consumed a few too many cocktails. By the time we took stage, the remaining Bangles fans, who had just been serenaded by a lovely sweet set, I don't think were quite ready for Lo-Ball's huge guitar sounds, kick your ass drums and loud, drunk lead singer. At that point, after waiting for hours, enduring the meanness of the Bangles' crew (not the Bangles' girls, their people) and trying to set up all our gear super fast so we could play before the venue closed, we were like 'fuck it.' We ripped out our songs louder and faster than ever, J.C.'s amp and guitar blew out, so she played an ASTOUNDING set of pure air guitar. Everyone in the band fell down at some point, except the drummer. Pauley fell face first into a pile of beer bottles. We ended our set with a cover of  'Bad Reputation.' People got up on stage to sing it with us. Nobody knew the words, it ended up being a lot of  'no, no, no, no, no, no, noooos, not me, me, me , me, me, me, meeees.' Someone from the Bangles' camp called the next day to complain about us."

"They called up and asked: 'Who do those girls think they are?'"  The answer: "They think they're Lo-Ball".

"For those that were there to witness the pandemonium, it was a great fucking rock-n-roll show."

This is Lo-Ball.  In many ways they are a contradiction of terms but then so is rock and roll.  These girls are just living the life that is placed before them, one day at a time.  They are neither a look nor a marketing ploy but any time you put five women on a stage it is a 40-year-old mans wet dream.  Is it fair?  Of course not.   It just means that they have to work harder and play louder until someone finally hears the music and understands that there is more going on here than a short skirt.

I would like to thank Lo-Ball for this interview. Months back we had reviewed a live performance and were less than gentle with the band. Chalk it up as a bad night. It took some balls to step back into the fire, some real Lo-Balls!

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