Hazard County Girls
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Hazard County Girls

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New Orleans' Hazard County Girls are just like any other travelin' rock band, ridin' in a van and rubberneckin' at road wrecks. That's a point Hazard County Girls vocalist-guitarist Christy Kane makes. By virtue of their gender, the good-rockin' HCGs are being heralded as one of those magical girl bands that breeze in and out of rock fans' lives every decade or so (you know the type: The Runaways, Go-Gos, Babes in Toyland, L7). By virtue of their music, they're beyond a generalization.

But that's the thing. There are so many bad, bad, bad female bands as a result of men and women buying into and/or perpetuating stereotypes. Enough people think women should be prancing around suckin' on lollipops and singin' about puppy love. So many of them do. Then, when a really good female band comes along, it's a Big Deal. Why?

"There are countless bad [female bands]," says Kane, "and a lot of good ones. But as far as all girl groups, if it happens to be woman playing? Awesome. If it's a guy, that's fine with us too." Her bottom line, paraphrased: rock is rock and if it's good, it's good.

Kane and drummer Sharon Heather met at a party thrown by Sean Yseult, ex-bassist of White Zombie (currently with Rock City Morgue). After a few weeks of jamming, the pair had enough songs to play a show at New Orleans' renowned Mermaid Lounge. For that show, Yseult played bass, but due to her Rock City Morgue commitment, Katie Campbell signed on to sling bottom. Campbell's tenure with the band was short-lived, however, as Nashville Pussy snatched her up after a few months. Current bassist Jennifer K was plugged in soon after and Hazard Country Girls have been static since, releasing an EP (Living Room) in 2002 and debut full-length, Never No More (Wooden Wheel Records) earlier this year.

Never No More, produced by punk/metal uber-producer Daniel Rey, is a frightening example, if merely a surface scratch, of Hazard County Girls' mettle. The HCGs have listened to anything and everything, and by intent or osmosis, retained and employed key elements as their own. "Sonic" strikes a balance between alt-rock and '70s and '80s punk; "Uninvited Mess" melds Black Sabbath riff rock to Sonic Youth's pop side (an oft-mentioned comparison); "Spy" and "Train" checks surf and garage rock without overt loyalty to either; "Exit" is almost sweet, sunny pop rock circa '94-but for its somewhat ominous chorus. The HCGs are doing it all, with aplomb and seemingly little effort. They're a helluva band.

"Honestly," says Kane, "[the music] is nothing we think about too much; it just sorta happens. We just kinda really click together, because musically we all come from such different interests that when we write together, it makes something unique. We have real good-I hate to use the word because it's so stupid-chemistry."

What might now be stupid or cliche because lesser bands have cheapened it by insisting they have it, is profound when it's authentic. And Hazard County Girls have The Real Thing in kilo bales. Never No More and a scorched-earth live show (which they've put on throughout the Southeast and up and down the East Coast) are garnering the HCGs a steady, throbbin' base of fans.

That's not to assign superhuman qualities to a still-young band, just to speak of potential. They've still got earth to scorch-as she spoke, Kane and her bandmates were en route to the first show of their first-ever West Coast tour-and ears to win. Sometimes, like when they're booked on the basis of their hillbilly-ish name, it can be a challenge.

"We've ended up being put on bills where [it seems like] our press kit hasn't been looked at or our disc hasn't been listened to," says Kane. "And sometimes people think we're this hillbilly, country novelty thing; I think it's safe to say we've scared some people away. Now I always preface a crowd that looks like they're assuming we'll be something different, 'Hey, if you think this is gonna be country, you're wrong. We're a really loud band.'"

Most brave the imminent onslaught, she says, and eventually get down with it since, after all, few can resist the sound of one band rocking. Kane says college kids, punk kids, bikers, hicks, metalheads, men and women now claim membership in the Hazard County Appreciation Society-and that pleases the HCGs.

"It's shocking sometimes, but obviously we shouldn't judge a book by its cover. It seems like there's no specific stereotype as far as people that are into the band.
- City Weekly (Salt Lake City , UT)


There's a gothic darkness in New Orleans' Hazard County Girls. I'm not talking black lipstick and unrequited crushes on Robert Smith; this is more of a bedroom-eyed gothic sensibility, one that conjures images of chain-smoking to Birthday Party discs in a dimly lit corner and feeling a sharp mix of serious brooding and steely resolve. The female trio's debut, Never No More, showcases heavy-lidded vocal harmonies and rock 'n' roll that saunters instead of coming out swinging, a sound that alludes to skeletons in every closet between the lines of every song. When frontwoman Christy Kane warns, "Your tracks are loose; your engine, bound to fail... you're doing it to yourself," you can feel her subject matter sliding down a path of self-destruction. Matching them up with the Superstars of the BWF--Ballard's campy wrestling effort where masked characters throw down on the Sunset stage--may lead to some unusual mood swings, but Hazard County should be well worth the emotional battle.
- The Stranger, Seattle WA


by Seth Rogovoy

The Hazard County Girls, an all-female, New Orleans-based trio, played a late-night set following Gauthier. Theirs was also a mood of gloom, but rendered in an entirely different style - straight out of CBGBs circa 1981. The guitar-bass-drums trio played classic punk, hardcore and post-punk, seemingly untouched by subsequent tangential movements like Seattle grunge and Californian pop-punk save for a few delicious surfcore tunes.

The surface harshness and atonality of the music was belied by the beauty of its almost perfectly mathematical proportions. Guitarist Christy K.'s vocals cut through the instrumental din with unusual clarity and sharpness, and were arranged in precise counterpoint to Jennifer K.'s monstrous, melodic bass lines. Buried behind her kit, drummer Sharon H. defied what seemed physically possible in pounding out the group's beats.

The Girls, who must have been infants when this style of music was first heard, were at once a nostalgic throwback to the birth of punk-rock and a welcome harbinger of hope that the torch may yet be passed to a new generation. No other band that I've seen in over a decade seems more worthy and likely to lead the charge. And no other band seems as glamorously fun.
- Berkshire Eagle (Berkshire County, MA)


In New Orleans, its nothing new to see girls going wild. But if the Hazard County Girls get a craving for something shiny, they can flash raw power (Show us your riffs!) rather than anatomical assets. While there's no decoder ring needed to determine that this band can shred a stage, the Hazard County Girls' identity remains shrouded in contradictions. For starters, there's that name, one that conjures images of short shirts and Southern cousins' hijinx. In interviews, the Girls bemoan the dinky-denim expectations and all-country bills that accompany that moniker, a plight with which it's difficult to emphathise. After all, they weren't branded by some malicious rancher. Perhaps they should have christened themselves after singer Cristy Kane's remarkable response to a "describe your band in three words query: Monster truck loud.

Also, for a group that touts its gender on the marquee, Hazard County Girls doesn't dabble in devil-doll dynamics like, say, Babes in Toyland. Kane never coos cutely or shrieks like a banshee scorned; her tuneful vocals never seem sexually self-aware. As a result, the Girls seldom rate comparisons to other all-female outfits. A quick scan of sound synopses in music magazines uncovers Black Sabbath and Sonic Youth, but no nod to Sleater-Kinney or the Donnas, reliable requisite touchstone in almost all articles about women who rock.

White Zombie's Sean Yseult was an original Hazard County Girl, and though she departed more than a year ago, the group's 2003 debut disk Never No More features her songwriting contributions on more than half of its tracks. Played by current bassist Jennifer Kirtlan, Yseult's burly basslines cut through the dissonant haze like Drano diving into a clogged sink's standing water. Kane's delicately droning delivery fits the vaguely morose midtempo backdrops, and Sharon Heather's cymbal thrashing adds just the right amount of menace to spook listeners without scaring them away.

After a few minutes of the trio's bludgeoning bayou blend of gator bite and swamp-thin sludge, awestruck observers just might leave beads and any other gaudy baubles they can find at its altar, eager to worship the group's members like the noise goddesses they are.
- Portland Mercury (Portland, OR)


During filming of The Learning Channel's A Makeover Story on Aug. 24, the members of the all-female New Orleans rock band the Hazard County Girls had definite plans as guests on the show. They wanted to spread their music on national TV and to show off the "real" New Orleans throughout the program.

But sometimes, reality TV can seem like anything but. On A Makeover Story -- a program where a fashion expert reinvents guests' styles -- the line between what is "real" and what is staged is often blurred.

With the cameras off, drummer Sharon Heather asked from her dressing room at the Trashy Diva boutique on Magazine Street, "Am I allowed to dislike?" She had just finished trying on her new outfit and was worried about her ability to play drums in high heels.

With cameras once again rolling, Heather emerged from the dressing room in the heels, black dress pants and a frilly pink shirt. Host Danny Beckman and the rest of the band oooh-ed and ahhh-ed appropriately.

"Cut!" said the director. "Jen, feel free to react more."

The scene was shot again. Sharon emerged from the dressing room again, and once again the band and host acted as if they were seeing her for the first time. This time, bassist Jennifer K voiced her concerns that the wide pant legs might get caught in the bass drum pedal.

Moments like these trigger anxiety in reality-show participants. On TV, such shows appear only barely manipulated. However, in the real reality, there is a director behind the camera who wants certain things to happen, and will shoot multiple takes until it happens.

"You never know how they'll edit these things," said lead singer Christy Kane after the shoot. "We shot hours and hours of footage, but when it's actually played on TV, so much of that is cut out."

On a typical episode of A Makeover Story, a knowledgeable host helps bring a fashion-clueless guest's hair, makeup and wardrobe up to date. The idea for the Hazard County Girls' episode was to take the band's gothic-cowgirl style and give it a shot in the arm.

"The girls have a strong sense of style," Beckman said before the shoot. "We're mostly sticking with their same look and keeping it New Orleans-y, but amplified."

The crew followed the women for three days while they drove Beckman around the city in their tour van. They showed him their favorite spots while he got to know the girls and pinpointed their individual looks and attitudes. They spent the first day driving around mostly and ate lunch at Juan's Flying Burrito. On the second day they tried on the different outfits at Trashy Diva and decorated equipment with feathers, rhinestones and flowers. They spent the third day at Twisted Hair Salon doing the band's hair and makeup.

Though Beckman loved the city, how would he and the production crew portray the "reality" of New Orleans to the home audience? This was a real concern for the Hazard County Girls.

"We plugged things like crazy," said Kane. Going into the show, the girls all wanted to make sure it portrayed the New Orleans that they know, not the typical tourist notions. On one day, Heather prominently sported a T-shirt with local band Suplecs' logo. They took the crew to Sharon's Bar (no relation to the drummer) and were even the ones who suggested the use of Trashy Diva and Twisted.

It's no wonder, then, that when given the choice of where they would play their makeover-revealing live set, they picked the Mermaid Lounge, where Kane tends bar.

"When tourists come, they know Tipitina's, the House of Blues, but they don't know the Mermaid Lounge," said Heather. "We wanted to represent small businesses that local people patronize."

For the set, Beckman chose their final outfits. Heather wore a blue corset, rhinestone heels, and big fake lashes. Kane wore a light-blue "grandma" dress, fishnets, heels and barrettes all through her hair. Jennifer K wore heels and a red satin dress. As striking as the outfits were, the band's concerns about their practicality were prescient. By the end of the first song, Heather's eyelashes fell off and stuck to her snare drum, Kane had pulled out all the barrettes for head-banging purposes, and all three girls had kicked off their immobilizing high heels.

The show first aired on Oct. 15. As it aired, the girls called each other laughing.

"A makeover show's a weird experience. It's kind of hokey so you just do your best with it," says Kane. "We all agreed that it was not as mortifying as we thought it was going to be."

The band wishes the live performance was featured more prominently -- it is shown only during the credits in a tiny box at the bottom of the screen -- but as Christy says, "The upside of that was that maybe we were just too metal for middle America." - Gambit Weekly (New Orleans, LA)


Opening up the festivities was a trio of malcontents from the Bayou that called themselved the Hazard County Girls, a misfit trio that seemed simply content in pummelling the rather receptive audience with extremely low-end Louisiana sludge. Oozing nice and thick out of their gator ravaged weapons of choice, you could almost taste the rancid stench of distortion. Thick, meaty chops that sledghammered out of the frail frontwoman's pulsating BC Rich as she skillfully molested the transfixed audience with her infectious venom. The trio of skilled musicains did a extremely commendablejob winning over what could have very easily been an extraordinarily hostile batch of hellraisers. Overall, a nice way to get the blood pumpin' and the fists-a-flyin'!!
- HorrorwoodBabbleon.com


I highly recommend this heavy, stoner rock-sih trio from New Orleans if you've been feeling as doomy and gloomy as I've been lately. Hazard county Girls don't really sound like anyone else nowadays; these are not songs so much as raw hunks of cathartic hypnosis. HCG possess some of Babes in Toyland's menace, but lead singer Christy Kane has a more coolly serene, melodically beguiling delivery. Lest you think they're cutesy or poppy, i'm talking about the Hazards as purveyors of grungy/loud, propulsive, midtemp HARD rock--drony, fuzzy, apocalyptic. You could compare 'em to a bunch of other groups, from Black Sabbath to Emma Peel, but these are only the loosest of reference points since HCG don't appear to be imitating anyone (rare these days) and instead seem to be working out their nightmares, which come with their own private-hell soundtracks. You don't have to call "Sonic" and "Train" primitive, garagey or low-fi when you have a relentless drumming force like Sharon Heather. Meanwhile, Jen K. is the most influential bassist I've heard in a long time, and by that I mean the way she influences the tempo and fire of the band--and the tilt of the whole room--driving everything with these dreamy but pounding octave-ravaging, droney rumbles. Hardly anyone plays this kinda throbbing psychedelic dum-dum bass, but then Hazard County Girls in general aren't some sloppy punk/garage retro-rock shtick. They're much darker, something swampier, three times a thousand-yards staring. They conversely convey a prettily archaic, antique lacey-curtain, wrought-iron-twisted, N'Awlings-fading, decadent kind of beauty, the way Kane's voice coos sweetly doll like and controlled over the music's quicksand slam. Sludgy foreboding & ghost-dream intonation. Fulsome, Folsom Prison bass. Stoic poetry. Crash bash begone. I have left enough clues. - Carbon 14 (Philly)


What makes the New Orleans doom-rock coven Hazard County Girls so fuzzily
hypnotizing is the contrast between singer Christy Kane¹s somberly veiled,
coolly delivered vocals and the pendulous, rampaging storms stirred by
bassist Jen K.¹s thunderbolts and Sharon Heather¹s floor-shaking,
staircase-rattling drums. "Monster, you are everywhere," Kane intones
morbidly (rather than merely screaming) on the blurrily furry "Monster" and
layers stun-drone Stooges guitar throughout the grunge dreaminess of
"Ceremony," from the trio¹s new EP, Twin Oak. With their steep cliffs of
volume, Hazard County Girls make for an eerie lead-in to headliners
Rasputina, the elegantly foreboding cello-drums combo who¹ve worked with
Nirvana, Marilyn Manson and Cheap Trick. Leader Melora Creager¹s calling
tonight¹s appearance A Radical Recital, after their new live CD, available
only at shows. "We have come here expressly to scare the bejesus out of
you," Creager warns, introducing the marching rock stomp "Saline the Salt
Lake Queen." She sounds like she¹s kidding, but she¹s not. (Falling James)
- LA Weekly


The Hazard County Girls are such sweet folks off the stage – good conversationalists and talented artists who know how to mix a good drink and scoff at pretentious behavior and the putting on of airs. Lovely, lovely ladies they are…. Then they get up on the stage and drummer Sharon Heather counts off the first tune and hell hath no fury like a Hazard County Girl deep in performance, cranking out heavy hard rocking melodic sludge, slamming a metaphorical stiletto heel through your forehead (the third ear, you see, makes for better hearing) and generally inciting the audience into involuntary doses of head banging. The band released an EP, Twin Oaks, in 2004 and the full-length album Never No More in 2003. They have plans to enter the studio again this summer. For this performance, The Hazard County Girls will begin with a set of their material and then follow it up with a set peppered with Black Sabbath tunes. –Billy Thinnes - Where Y'at (New Orleans)


A good amount of ink has of late been given to the plight of New Orleans' rock musicians, an underrated bunch fated to labor in perhaps the only city in the nation that consistently shoves the genre out of the limelight in favor of more tourist-lucrative jazz and funk. Hazard County Girls (who spoke at length on this topic in the Ones to Watch column a few months back) are endemic of this trend: fiercely talented, full of attitude and blessed with that intangible quality Simon Cowell so gratingly harps on as "the Look," they have yet to receive their just due as one of New Orleans' finest flat out rock groups in recent memory. Hopefully Never No More can remedy that. Produced by Ramones and White Zombie collaborator Daniel Rey, the album is a little gem of driving bass lines, raunchy guitar and frenzied drum work. It's a little bit punk, a little bit OZZY and a whole lotta grunge-era Sonic Youth (dub a Kim Gordon vocal over tracks like "uninvited Mess" or "Exit," and it would be hard to tell the difference). The riotous instrumental rave-up "Spy" makes it easy to see why the Girls once opened for Dick Dale, while the seven-minute "Birthday" closes everything out with a gloomy majesty that could have turned early '90's Seattle the darkest shade of green. Never No More establishes itself as the one to beat for best local rock album of the year, and the Hazard County Girls as one of the brightest lights on the city's murky scene. - Where Y'at (New Orleans)


Discography

Divine Armor release date May 2 2006
Full Length produced by Grant W. Curry
Twin Oak EP * Summer 2004
Produced by Jason Dietz
Never No More 2003
full length produced by Daniel Rey (Misfits, Ramones)

Photos

Bio

 
The group started as a duo. Drummer Sharon Heather
and guitarist/ singer Christy Kane had an albums worth of
songs in a matter of months but no bass player could be found.
They asked their friend Sean Yseult (White Zombie) to stand in
until they could find a permanent member. Sean not only stood
in but she contributed the bass lines for a few of the songs Christy &
Sharon had written, and eventually recorded their first demo with
them. Next on bass was Katie Cambell who fate would take from
the land of Hazard County after a few short months when she was
recruited to join Nashville Pussy. Weeks later, the HCG's found a
permanent member in Jennifer K.
In May 2002, the HCG’s played their first show with Jennifer K.
Since then they have been touring all over the US, gaining fans and
defining their sound. Their first album Never No More was recorded in
2002 and was produced by none other than Daniel Rey (Ramones, Misfits,
White Zombie).

Their heavy touring schedule caught the attention of Rasputina and the HCGs
joined them as their opener on 3 different occasions. Proving they could reach
a variety of audiences the HCG's then did a national tour with Hank Williams III
and his metal band Assjack. The response was immediate and enabled the
girls to get back in the studio to record their greatly anticipated follow up album
Divine Armor.

Recorded in July of 2005 with Grant Curry, Divine Armor has truly captured the
HCG's heavy sounds, and after a long road and many delays due to Hurricane
Katrina the album is finally slated for release May 2 on Rev'd Up Records. The
HCG’s are excited to be working with Team Clermont to promote this much anticipated
record.

The Hazard County Girls are proudly endorsed by Mesa Boogie, B.C. Rich, and
Horror Picks.