'Rising To The Challenge'
The five women of Antigone Rising (Cassidy on lead vocals, sisters Cathy and Kristen Henderson on guitars, Dena Tauriello on drums, and Jen Zielenbach on bass) blend the '70s sound of Led Zeppelin and the Eagles with their love of pop so well it's kept them on the road to the tune of 200 or so shows per year ... all without a record label.
Grassroots promotion and live show after live show earned the band a loyal following and over 20,000 of their independently released CDs sold. Things changed in 2003 when Lava Records president Jason Flom caught one of the band's gigs and quickly signed them. The live EP Traveling Circus was to be the last independent release for the band and by 2004 they were working on their debut for the Lava imprint Hear Music.
The album, From the Ground Up, was launched via a Starbucks-sponsored campaign in May of 2005. As of June 29, 2005, Starbucks had sold more than 62,800 units of said album during its first seven weeks of exclusive availability at the more than 4,500 Starbucks Company-operated stores in the United States. The album charted at No. 93 on the Billboard Comprehensive Album Chart in its first week, jumping to No. 90 in its second week.
Chatting recently with guitarist Kristen Henderson, I first noted that playing over 250 shows a year, crossing over 220,000 miles to do it, seemed to have finally paid off now ... but at what sacrifice? "WE'VE SACRIFICED SLEEP, BALANCED DIETS AND ALL SUFFER FROM VARIOUS BACK AILMENTS COMPLIMENTS OF THE VAN! AND WE'VE ALL MISSED MORE WEDDINGS, FUNERALS, GRADUATIONS, AND FAMILY REUNIONS THAN WE CARE TO MENTION."
And, with all those shows per year, which member of the band was the one that whined the most ... and usually about what?! "A BAND IS LIKE A TEAM, SO WHEN WE COMPLAIN WE DO IT IN PERFECT HARMONY. WE TRY TO AVOID DOING IT BECAUSE OUR LIFE (notice not plural, one life) BEATS THE CRAP OUT OF A DAY JOB. BUT THE VARIOUS RANDOM ITEMS WE FIND IN HOTEL ROOMS (HAIR, TOE NAILS, DIRTY SOCKS AND UNDERWEAR) RANK AT THE TOP OF OUR BIGGEST COMPLAINT LIST!"
How does a band comprising of women fair on tour as opposed to one chock full of men? What are the main noticeable differences?! "THE MAIN NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCE IS OUR VAN SMELLS BETTER THAN MOST OF OUR MALE COUNTERPARTS!"
Have you got a recent tour story that you could tell us that made you all sit up and take notice - but was funny also, perhaps?! "WELL, IF A RANDOM DRIVE BY SHOOTING IS FUNNY TO YOU ...! WE HAD OUR VAN WINDOW SHOT OUT WHILE LOADING OUT OF A SHOW A FEW MONTHS BACK. THE PART THAT WAS SORT OF FUNNY WAS US DRIVING DIRECTLY HOME FROM RICHMOND, VA AT 3AM BECAUSE WE COLLECTIVELY DECIDED IT WAS KHARMICALLY WRONG TO GIVE THE CITY OUR HOTEL MONEY AFTER THE INCIDENT!"
"OTHER THAN THAT, ONE TIME WE HAD A GUY COME UP TO US AFTER A SHOW AND OFFER US $20 EACH FOR THE PAIR OF UNDERWEAR WE WORE DURING THE SHOW. SWEATY UNDERWEAR. WE'LL NEVER ADMIT WHICH MEMBERS DID WHAT!"
OK, let's get this one done and dusted ... where did the band name originate and what else could it so easily have been called?! "THE BAND NAME IS BASED ON SOPHOCLES' PLAY, ANTIGONE. SHE'S THE FIRST WOMAN IN RECORDED HISTORY TO STAND UP FOR WHAT SHE BELIEVED WAS RIGHT. THERE ARE SO MANY OBSTACLES BEING IN AN ALL FEMALE BAND, WE THOUGHT THE NAME SHOULD REFLECT IT. IF WE SUCCEED AT NOTHING ELSE, OUR WORK HERE IS DONE."
"OTHER OPTIONS: ANGORA DEBS, AFTER THE ALL-GIRL GANG IN 'LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY'."
Kristen has been quoted as using the phrase, "That's a kick in the tits"! Er, is this a fav phrase of hers or something that you ladies say in general instead of the male version?!" "KRISTEN'S LIKE A SPONGE IN THE VAN. SHE PICKED THE EXPRESSION UP FROM HER JERSEY BANDMATES, DENA AND CASSIDY. IT'S A BAND FAVORITE ALONG WITH "THANKS, WE'LL BE HERE ALL WEEK" AND "I'LL HAVE THE UNCLE HERSCHEL'S FAVORITE."
How many times has the band nearly split up ... and when was the last time? "WE'VE NEVER ALMOST SPLIT UP BUT LIKE TO MAKE UP STORIES IN CASE WE EVER GET ON BEHIND-THE-MUSIC! WE'VE HAD SOME HAIRY FIGHTS WHERE MEMBERS HAVE JUMPED OUT OF THE VAN AND WALKED DOWN THE HIGHWAY. THOSE ARE GREAT!"
If I had a copy of your 'Traveling Circus' EP signed by you all, what would I get for it on Ebay - could it pay off my mortgage?! "IT MIGHT PAY YOUR MORTGAGE IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PURCHASING A BARBIE
TOWNHOUSE. IF YOU COULD PAY A HOUSE MORTGAGE WITH IT, WE'D ALL OWN HOUSES BY NOW. WE'LL KEEP YOU POSTED!"
Is there any truth to the rumor that you ladies once thought about having a guy in the band?! "UM, AS SOON AS OUR GREAT COUNTRY ELECTS A FEMALE PRESIDENT WE'LL HAVE A BAND MEETING TO DISCUSS!"
Finally, describing your music is extremely hard for most people, so please, in three (3) words only, YOU try! "1) ROCK 2) AND 3) ROLL!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win a copy of their brand new CD, possibly SIGNED by the ladies themselves, just answer this easy question: The first to believe in a female rock band were the Henderson sisters, Cathy and Kristen. Raised in Glen Cove, Long Island, where did they play their first 'official' gig and what was the special ocasion attached to it?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of their new, and possibly even SIGNED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before September 18th with your answer and the subject title 'ANTIGONE RISING CD GIVEAWAY' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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