Gamine Thief
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Gamine Thief

Band Alternative Punk

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"Gamine Thief"


Gamine Thief are a great advert for the potential of Girls! rock Chicago. Where the Franz Ferdinands and Futureheads of the world take the macho art punk of The Gang Of Four and XTC, Gamine Thief mine the less celebrated, but equally as important, female wing of the art punk movement as their inspiration. Musically their Quiet Grrrl approach is influenced by The Slits, The Au Pairs, Delta 5, The Modettes, The Raincoats and Kleenex with a nod in the direction of Huggy Bear and Mambo Taxi for the political bent and personal rage. In a better world than this one Gamine Thief would be role models for all women and Paris Hilton would be sleeping rough on the streets begging for change from strangers. - The Devil Has the Best Tuna


"Future Perfect Radio Presents Bandwidth IV- Gamine Thief"

We threw a lil' house party for the recent New Year celebration, and Gamine Thief showed up. They kicked 2006 and a touchy sound system straight to the curb, and with style no less. They play first at BANDWIDTH iv. They're the reason you don't sit in your car huffing Nitrous until the headliner comes on stage. Trust us on this one.

The whole interview, a free MP3 of the group's "The Workout", and info on free BANDWIDTH tix after the jump.

Future Perfect Radio: Who/what is a "Gamine Thief"?

Renee Neuner (Guitar/Vocals): That's open to interpretation.

FPR: You have the opportunity to open for any band ever at the historic moment of your choice. Who/when/why?

RN: I'd like to go back to 1981 and open for the Slits during their last few shows in the US. I think maybe we'd shove Alison's [Gamine Theif drummer] drums in the back of a DeLorean and we'd be on our way. Viv Albertine was totally dreamy then, in a scary sort of way.

HL: There are two moments in musical history that I would have liked to perform in. Either in the NYC punk scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s or in the early 1990s at a basement riot grrrl show with Bikini Kill and Heavens to Betsy. I think some of the most interesting and influential music for me happened during those times.

I found out about riot grrrl in high school and through that started listening to artists like Patti Smith, The Raincoats, Sonic Youth, etc. Riot grrrl could not have happened without those bands, and Gamine Thief, at least for me, would never have happened if it weren't for riot grrrl encouraging me to play music and write my own songs.

Actually I think I'd just like Sleater-Kinney to get back together so we could open for them.



FPR: You were all involved with the Girls Rock! Chicago project. What's it like to have a hand in the rock-formative years of impressionable youth?

HL: We are all still involved with Girls Rock! Chicago. We're hard at work putting together the 2007 summer camp. I wish I'd had female role-models that were more than just voices on my favorite records. My guitar teachers were all men and I was the only girl I knew in high school that played electric guitar.

All the girls at camp this summer were excited to meet other kids (and counselors) that shared their interests and I think it made them feel more confident in working towards their musical ambitions. It was really thrilling to be a part of that because I know I would have loved to go to rock camp as a kid.

RN: The implications are a little frightening sometimes, but its entirely inspiring. I think I can speak for all three of us when I say that we look back at our own awkward adolescent years (Alison's mostly) and wish we'd had something like the camp. They're dealing with so much at that age and there's a lot of pressure to look and act like the stupid shit you see on teevee, because you think thats the only way anyone will ever want to be your friend.

It was amazing for us to see something that we dreamed up on the train one night to actually happen in a real and persuasive way. I think we were experiencing some growing disillusionment with our music right around the time that the camp took place. Once we started to interact with these 9 year old girls who just wanted to play regardless of what anyone else thinks it changed how I felt about what we were doing. We wrote a lot after that.



FPR: Does it get easier to write personally/politically conscious songs the shittier things in the world get?

HL: We try to write about politics but put ourselves in the songs too. Renee and I both write the lyrics and often times we have two divergent vocal lines happening simultaneously. Sometimes we write the songs together, sometimes we pick a topic and both write on it, and sometimes two different topics get merged into one.

RN: I think sometimes it becomes more difficult. The shittier things are the more people seem to want to cover their ears or not even read the paper. People are more accustomed to seeing or hearing art that addresses political issues and after awhile there's a numbing effect. Lately we've been responding to more local issues like the Jon Burge scandal or more political things we're dealing with on a personal level like the commodification of queers. It gives us a way to look at the situation differently, learn something new about it and respond.



FPR: Who practices their chops the most in the band?

RN: Karate chops? Definitely Heather.

HL: I think it's all pretty equal. It's a little harder for Alison I imagine because she doesn't have a drum kit in her apartment. I try and pick up my guitar at least once a day, and I've been doing that since I started playing at 13.



FPR: If you ran Rolling Stone magazine, and had to publish an equally
stultifying and dubious male-focused analog to their Women of Rock issues, who would you put on the cover?

RN: J - Daniel McSwain


Discography

5-song demo

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Gamine Thief began in September 2005 when guitarists/vocalists Heather Lember and Renee Neuner converged upon Chicago with an itch for a sound that fused riot grrrl ferocity with an indie-rock thoughtfulness, but one that ultimately didn’t compromise to Chicago’s dude-dominated punk scene. After adding the tom-prominent tempos of drummer Alison Murray into the mix, the result merged a political bent and a personal rage while remaining true to the rudiments of punk.

While they claim they’d rather not be mixed up in the post-feminist, post-punk, post-queercore name game, the trio’s cut and thrust vocals, and biting yet upbeat textural sonic lends them to the obvious comparisons among riot-grrrl distinction. Murray’s lively, insistent beats mirror that of Erase Errata’s Bianca Sparta, while the sometimes friendly/sometimes fierce electric guitars of Lember and Neuner battle towards a jarring union, reminiscent of Sleater-Kinney, Team Dresch and The Gossip. Lember’s uninhibited roar layers against Neuner’s more subtle musing in vocals that often converge on a simultaneous debate. This seemingly competitive singing teamwork between Lember and Neuner weaves in a caustic, urgent edge that sets this trio apart from its tacit ancestors.

Gamine Thief’s resonance is sometimes chaotic and sometimes comforting, frantic yet dancey, but despite their contradictions they never stray from their keenness to a larger musical ambition. Songs like “q for consumption” and "wire-tap" subtly seethe on political arguments ranging from commercial consumption within the queer community to The Patriot Act, but the band doesn’t just push their worldly agenda within their lyrics. The trio heads Girls Rock! Chicago, a week-long summer camp in Chicago inspired by Portland’s Rock Camp for Girls. As Murray leads the camp’s bass training and Lember takes on a group guitar lesson, Neuner directs the camp while the three work together in continuously organizing towards gear donations, volunteer support and non-profit status.

Neither the band’s songwriting nor its political convictions waste time with conventional archetypes. The result is apparent in a forceful live performance that continues to draw crowds of women seeking to revitalize female punk empowerment.