Sled Island: Women play it cool
If you ask most musicians what they look for in a band name, they might describe something that’s unique and original, or catchy to the ear and eye. If you ask Pat Flegel, you’ll get the complete opposite answer.
Flegel, the guitarist in the local rock band Women, says their goal was to come up with a name that is “flat and gray.”
“It started out we were just joking around about obnoxious and stupid band names, like “Sex Tiger” and “Love Tiger,” all those bullshit names out there are totally just over the top and ridiculous,” he says. “We like, with “Women,” how it’s totally generic, you hear that word a hundred times a day.
Sled Island Spotlight
Show: Saturday, June 27th @ The Warehouse at 10:00 p.m.
Band website: www.flemisheye.com/women
“The last thing on our minds is self-promotion,” Flegel continues. “I’m the last guy who would make a sticker of the band name and put it on some bathroom mirror.”
Despite their desire to fly under the radar, Women has become one of the fastest rising bands on the Calgary indie-rock scene. Their debut, self-titles album was produced by local legend Chad Van Gaalen and his Flemish Eye label, and the band already has an international tour under their belt, playing throughout Europe and the U.S.
Made up of Pat on guitar and vocals, his brother, Matt Flegel, on bass, Chris Reimer with guitar and vocals and Mike Wallace on drums, Women sounds almost a band that got into a time machine and got stuck in multiple generations. Their breezy, poppy licks have a Velvet Underground/Small Faces feel to them, while other tracks have an early-Stones bluesyness to them. Pat describes their influences as “a combination of things like Skeeter Davis and the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, even different stuff like Firehouse. We get lumped in with stuff from the ’60s, but we don’t try to sound like them.”
To complement their flower-child rock, Van Gaalen and the boys produced their album without any fancy recording equipment, or even a studio. They used ghettoblasters and tape recorders, cutting the tracks in a basement, under a tunnel bridge and in a crawlspace. It had nothing to do with money – it was all for the effects, of course.
“Chad and Matt have been friends for a long time and Chad was bored, and we didn’t have any gear or space, so that’s how it happened,” says the 23-year-old Flegel. As for the low-budget production, there’s a reason for that besides money.
“All our favourite records were made in the ’60s, ’70s and early ’80s, using that equipment. We didn’t do it because we wanted to sound bad, we wanted to sound good and old. It’s not about nostalgia, we just think it genuinely sounds better to do it like that – the fidelity from the tapes, and the reverb we got from the basement and the bridge.”
The unorthodox recording has worked so far, as Women was able to latch onto an international tour with Dungen, Deerhunter and Abe Vigoda.
“We really lucked out and got to go to Zagreb in Croatia and Prague — it was mind-blowing to see people coming to our shows so far away from home,” Flegel says.
As for being in a band and living, practicing, playing gigs and touring with his older brother Matt, 27, Flegel says there are no Gallagher-brother-type feuds in this band. “We get along great, except for that time we both did coke and started brawling backstage.”