The Maybenauts
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The Maybenauts

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"LISTEN: The Maybenauts – “Here Today”"

The three adorable glitz girls and the space panda from The Maybenauts are back with a new song and a lovely new lead singer, Dixie Jacobs.

These glam poppers seem to be heavy on the move with new music, new shows and quite possibly a new album out soon (please!). For now, we have “Here Today” to suffice our Maybenaut-cravings.

This little ditty is filled with wistful lyrics, lush harmonies and those strong, groovy Maybenauts bass lines. A sort of nod to the 90's garage rock ballad, the song pulls elements from bands like Veruca Salt and Belly. Jacobs is a very welcome addition with her husky, powerful vocals pulling out the passionate side of the band. Of course, you all can just hear it for yourself right here: - Britni Day -- Loud Loop Press

"Around Here: Review of Big Bang"

Excerpt: The Maybenauts hit all the right notes on the Big Bang EP, from the irresistible, high-speed pop of “Girlfight” and “My Head Is A Bomb,” to the more intricate “Blue Line.” “Not Aware,” a heartfelt look at unrequited love, features an ambitious vocal arrangement by lead singer/keyboardist Leilani Frey, bassist Ellie Maybe, and guitarist Vee Sonnets. Drummer Emily Austin keeps the beat on this fun, well-crafted effort. (
– Terrence Flamm - Illinois Entertainer

"Meet the Maybenauts"

Rock music has always skewed toward worship of the ones who exude cool. Chicago quartet the Maybenauts hope audiences discover that dorks have more fun.

“We don’t want people to think we’re cool; we’re total nerds,” said Leilani Frey, lead singer of the Maybenauts. “Being cool is not cool. Being a dork is cool.”

Wander into any Maybenauts show and you will find that all eyes fall on guitarist Vee Sonnets dressed in a space suit and panda mask.

Dressing the band’s only male member as a panda was not a preconceived idea but one that fell into its lap.

Bassist Ellie Maybe purchased the panda mask to protect her face while biking during Chicago’s brutal winters. As a joke Sonnets wore the mask during a radio interview with and it stuck.

“Some people like it; some don’t get it,” Sonnets said of wearing the mask on stage.
Maybenauts guitarist Vee Sonnets at Lincoln Hall on Jan. 28, 2010. | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

Maybenauts guitarist Vee Sonnets at Lincoln Hall on Jan. 28, 2010. | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

Frey believes Sonnets’ panda costume helps to break the ice with their audiences while Maybe said it gives the audience something to latch onto.

“Even if they (the audience) don’t like the music or may not want to see a band they haven’t heard or they showed up for their friend’s band, they think, ‘Oh, I have to watch this for a minute.’,” Maybe said.

The space panda gimmick aside, The Maybenauts are actually very capable musicians with a flair for pop harmonies and a lead singer that can belt it out with the best of them, despite the fact that the band has only been in existence for a year.

Prior 2009 the band has worked together in several capacities after meeting at various Live Band Karaoke events. “[Live Band Karaoke] was a community of awesome people and awesome Chicago kids,” Frey said. “You got to live your rock star dream.”
Leilani Frey of the Maybenauts at Lincoln Hall on Jan. 28, 2010. | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

Leilani Frey of the Maybenauts at Lincoln Hall on Jan. 28, 2010. | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

Frey remembered first seeing Maybe at Live Band Karaoke while she was sitting at the bar even though she was underage at the time. “She was 20, drinking, and had a look on her face like she was the most pissed off, divorced 40-year-old woman I had ever seen,” Frey said. “I thought, ‘this girl is fucking cool. I gotta talk to her.”

Maybe and Maybenauts drummer Emily Agustin became fast friends after singing a duet of the Journey classic “Don’t Stop Believing” even after Maybe burned Agustin with her cigarette. “[Emily] was really tall and really gorgeous,” Maybe recalled. “She scares me but I love her.”

While the ladynauts, a nickname the group uses to refer to the women collectively, performed karaoke at Live Band, Sonnets was busy playing in the live band.

The ladynauts soon formed a band with Agustin’s brother Mike on guitar. They performed their first show as Bikini Kill at the “Cover for Covers” benefit for women’s homeless shelters produced by Chic-A-Go-Go hostess Miss Mia. The group was short-lived according to Frey and Maybe. “Mike didn’t want to be in a pop band and we didn’t want to be in a noise band,” Maybe said. “Emily was fine either way.”
Ellie Maybe of the Maybenauts at Lincoln Hall on Jan. 28, 2010. | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

Ellie Maybe of the Maybenauts at Lincoln Hall on Jan. 28, 2010. | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

Frey and Maybe could not fight the urge to work together, though, and the Ellie Maybe Experence (yes, there’s no I) was born with Maybe on bass and lead vocals, Frey on backing vocals, Sonnets on guitar and Eric Yoder on drums.

The group put out one album Meet Ellie, which was named one of the worst album covers of 2009 by Time Out Chicago, which Maybe considers an honor.

“I wanted to get on the Onion’s worst band name’s list,” Maybe said. “But I got one better (the Time out Chicago list).”

After Yoder left the Experence, the band changed things up with a new name, the Maybenauts, and recruited Agustin to be on drums.

The lead single, “My Head is a Bomb,” from their forthcoming EP Big Bang contains a dash of 60’s girl groups mixed with a little bit of punk rock and driven by a unforgettable guitar solo.

The song was produced by Travis Kasperbauer and Jane Wiedlin (of the Go-Gos) in a session that included four other songs, which have since been scrapped according to the band. Of working with Wiedlin, Maybe said it was interesting to get someone else’s take on the songs but ultimately the year-old group felt the material would not work as it’s first release.

Via email Maybe said that the Maybenauts decided not to go forward with the other songs from the recording session because the band felt its performance on those tracks wasn’t up to par. “We were still developing our sound,” Maybe said.

“From the time we recorded with Travis and Jane to now we’ve totally honed in on our sound,” Frey said. “We’ve played so many shows in the five months since that stuff gets figured out and we get more comfortable.”
Guitarist Vee Sonnets and singer Leilani Frey, of the Maybenauts, perform at Lincoln Hall on Jan. 28, 2010. | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

Guitarist Vee Sonnets and singer Leilani Frey, of the Maybenauts, perform at Lincoln Hall on Jan. 28, 2010. | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

The Maybenauts will celebrate their one-year anniversary at the Abbey Pub on 3420 W. Grace St. The band asked fans via its blog and MySpace to bring a gift – the first anniversary is paper – to the show for a special surprise.

The show is just one way that the Maybenauts are reaching out to fans. The group uses social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to keep in contact with fans.

“I spend an hour or two a day answering emails and responding to comments,” Maybe said. “It’s time consuming but it’s important to build a relationship.

“If you don’t have a way of communicating with your fans, then you don’t have fans,” Maybe said.

Maybe would like for the band to get more interactive with fans by staging contests once the fan base grows larger while Frey wants to see the group’s YouTube channel host more original video projects.

“[Social Networking] is a way for your fans and friends to be a part of the band as much as you are,” Frey said.

Fans can interact with the Maybenauts at their shows on Feb. 11 at the Abbey Pub and Feb. 27 at Quenchers Saloon on 2401 N. Western Ave. Tickets are $8 and $5, respectively, and both shows are 21+. - Loud Loop Press

"Demo2DeRo: The Maybenauts"

Little more than a year old--they played their first show in January 2009--the Maybenauts have the sort of imaginative arrangements (glam-rock to psychedelic pop), sophisticated melodies (three-part vocal harmonies a specialty) and cohesive vision (think of a '60s go-go bacchanal in outer space) lacking in many power-pop groups that have been slogging it out for a decade or more.

Lead vocalist and keyboardist Leilani Frey and bassist and backing vocalist Ellie Maybe are old friends who've been harmonizing and writing songs together for years. Guitarist Vee Sonnets came into the fold while Maybe was recording a solo record, "Meet Ellie," and the Maybenauts were completed by drummer Emily Agustin. The quartet already has won some impressive fans--Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go's produced its debut single, "My Head Is A Bomb," released digitally--and the band is issuing its first full album on March 21. Meanwhile, you can listen to its alternately grungy and giggly tunes online at, or see the band onstage at Cigars & Stripes, 6715 W. Ogden in Berwyn, on Friday, March 26, and at the Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison, on Thursday, April 8. - Jim DeRogatis (Chicago SunTimes)

"The Maybenauts - Big Bang"

Chicago’s pop-punk kittens, The Maybenauts, have reminded us once again how much girls and a boy dressed up in a space panda costume can kick ass with their new release Big Bang. It almost seems inconceivable that this band has been together for a little over a year, but they seem to have found the the magic formula for riot grrrl meets glam rock that’s just plain fun. Reminiscent rocking ‘90’s bands like Letters to Cleo, Veruca Salt and the Dance Hall Crashers, the Maybenauts relentlessly tear open Chicago’s punk rock scene with epic harmonies, and wailing guitar solos.

The album opens up with a little ditty called “Girlfight”. Vee Sonnets’ opening riff takes me back to the days of The Donnas and had me grinning like a fool the first time I heard it. Lead singer Leilani Frey really uses all aspects of her rich voice in this song, and even though it’s a fast moving punk song, Frey’s voice is like silk and you really have to love a vocalist with that much control. Drummer Emily Agustin also takes the forefront in this song with all her attention to detail. Agustin knows exactly how to accent every beat and still behave like a driving force. All the background vocals and harmonies just put the cherry on top of the face-rocking sundae.

“My Head is a Bomb” takes us on the next part of our adventure as it opens with a quiet cymbal tap, a quiet steady beat from bassist Ellie Maybe and a little taste of the guitar from Sonnets right before Frey’s vocals come in. It’s truly the calm before the storm of harmonies, classic wailing guitar riffs and dynamic drums and bass. It’s very Garbage-esque and intelligently written. This song features some excellent riot grrrl-influenced lyrics as Frey sings, “Some girls can eat their feelings, but I can spit mine out!”

The Maybenauts change it up a bit and take us on the other fork in the road with “You Are Here”. Slowing it down and drawing on harmonies featuring the whole band, this song shows that this band has talent beyond just straight forward rockers. Unfortunately, my only complaint about this album comes during this song as it sounds like it was mixed a little heavy on the treble side. Frey’s normally lush voice gets a little shrill when she hits the highs. I can hear that it’s the mixing of the album because Maybe’s bass also gets completely lost. But I’m sure with a little more tweaking this song could sound much better. I commend them for taking a chance and putting a very fine ballad on an album made up of only five songs.

“Not Aware” is almost a cross between Screaming Trees and Veruca Salt. Sonnet’s unique guitar lines in this song really catch your ear, and Frey’s voice once again blossoms with this song, taking on a sassy, strong-willed quality found with lead singers like Miki Berenyi of Lush. The entire band takes up the back up vocals again that fills out this song and accents the playful yet simple background tune. It’s quite different from the rest of Big Bang, but it rounds out how talented these girls and panda-boy are.

The album closes with “Blue Line” -- I just have to take a moment and say that I love it when Chicago bands talk about aspects of the city. Its a pretty big way for the audience to connect with the band to literally be able to see what the band was feeling as the song was written. This takes them off of the rock pedestal and brings them back to the floor with the rest of us. It’s a sign of a band that truly knows where their roots lie.

But back to “Blue Line”, the Maybenauts twist it for us again with this bluesy semi-ballad that features subtle harmonies, smooth guitar and quiet drums. They were even able to get the bell sound from the “Blue Line” itself to put on there which is a very nice little detail.

Talk about Chicago glam-girl rock at its finest, the attention to detail, the stories, and spectrum of talent that is show throughout this record are jaw dropping. Every twist and turn and intimate moment on Big Bang offer a very personable approach, one which I was able to share with the Maybenauts. It’s will be exciting to see what this band will do next, but for the time being, I’m sure The Maybenauts will keep on kicking ass and taking names! - Loud Loop Press

"The Maybenauts - Big Bang"

The Maybenauts, one of Chicago’s straight-up coolest (and friendliest) bands, can crank out poppy glam stompers all day long -- lead-off tracks “Girlfight” and “My Head Is A Bomb” combine the dashing guitar work of Vee Sonnets* (also, hilariously, known as Space Panda) with tight rhythms and Leilani Frey’s dynamic vocals to create a kind of unholy Bowie/Benatar hybrid that rocks you hard without skimping on melody or (especially) harmony. But when the group slows it down, as on “You Are Here,” their full potential becomes readily apparent: anybody who misses the kind of grrlcentric alt-pop that used to soundtrack ’90s slacker comedies should latch on to this stuff immediately and never let go. As good as all of the tracks are, one stands head and shoulders above the rest: “Blue Line,” a paean to riding around on the CTA and “counting the houses ’til you get home,” is damn near hypnotic in its melancholic swirl. Your initial impulse might be to view the Maybenauts as some kind of gimmick -- three ladies and a panda, making a stylish racket. But the songwriting chops are there, and all this band needs is a little more time to perfect their sound before they make the kind of record that puts everybody at full attention. Big Bang, though, is a pretty satisfying appetizer, and one of the cooler things I’ve heard this year. (Chicago residents, take note: The Maybenauts are playing Darkroom on Friday for their official record release party. Don’t miss it.) - Oswald Hobbes, AssaultBLOG

"Pandas, Flying Dogs & Pixy Stix"

"It is a gimmick!” cries the Maybenauts singer Leilani Frey when asked about having the band’s guitarist, Vee Sonnets, perform in a panda mask. “It’s not like we’re doing it for some profound reason. He just wanted to be a panda one day. If he decides tomorrow he wants to change it to a giraffe, he’ll change it to a giraffe.”

Clearly this is a band that believes in the adage “If it feels good, do it.” That’s the reason Frey occasionally throws Pixy Stix into the audience, and it’s a feeling that definitely can be gathered from the Logan Square-based outfit’s debut EP, “Big Bang.” The new disc, being celebrated Friday at darkroom, is a burst of giddily enjoyable glam-pop that bounces and wails, and tries to have fun first and worry about the other stuff later.

While working as a nanny in the South Loop, Frey, 27, explained why she wants to be seen as a dork and why the band features three girls in their 20s/early 30s and a space panda (not a human guitarist in his early 40s).

Listen: “My Head is a Bomb”

What reactions do you get to the “three girls and a panda” concept? It sounds like the start of a dirty joke.

[Laughs] That’s awesome. The whole panda thing just might make the fact that Vee’s, like, an older guy in a band with three younger girls easier for him. [Laughs] I think he kinda hides behind the panda mask ‘cause he gets to be a different character. I think it’s more fun for Vee because we’re three girls and we’re super-silly, and I think it just lets him be like that too without being looked at like, “He’s a guy; he should be cool.” ‘Cause he doesn’t have to be ‘cool’ if he’s a panda.

So it’s less weird for three young girls to be in a band with a space panda than with a man in his 40s?

I wouldn’t put it that way. I just think that, in Vee’s eyes, it lets him have more fun and there’s less focus on him being different than we are. Both because he’s male and because he’s older than we are. And that’s why the panda thing I think is fun for him specifically. But, for other people who see the show, I just think it’s fun to look at.

You’ve said you want people to think you’re dorks. Why?

[Laughs] I don’t like it when I go see a show and what I’m noticing from the band is this level of not arrogance, really, but an entitlement thing. There’s an intimidation factor involved. I just don’t get it. I would rather just enjoy the band and meet ’em in the end and be like, “Hey, you guys are cool” and not have it be like, “Yeah, and we’re cooler than you, ‘cause we’re in a band.” I’ve never understood that.

What makes you huge dorks?

We’re just silly. We tease each other all the time. We’re all music dorks. [Drummer Emily Agustin] and Vee know crazy amounts of trivia that me and [bassist Ellie Maybe] probably know but [are focused on] the really bad stuff, like bad pop music. And Vee and Emily are the obscure music dorks who have worked in record stores and know about bands that I’ve never even heard of. I light my farts on fire constantly at band practice. I have three brothers and just grew up with dick and fart jokes. I love video games and science and Carl Sagan and space. Ellie likes to make little clay monsters, and Emily likes to sew and knit, and Vee plays “Bejeweled,” like, all night long on Facebook.

The EP cover depicts the band as cartoon characters. If there were a Maybenauts animated series, what adventures would you get into?

The most fun we have together is in band practice, and that’s where all the crazy stuff happens. I feel like if there were a Maybenauts cartoon, there would probably be some kind of hover-dog episode ‘cause Ellie’s writing this song called “Hover Dog.” It’s the doggy of the future. I’m pretty sure it’s a dog that hovers like a hover board and flies around.

Can you ride it?

Yeah, you can ride it. You can ride it like you can ride Falkor from “The Neverending Story.” We’d probably get into space-rock throwing fights.

Someone said the Maybenauts are “pure awesomeness.” How does one achieve that?

I would say staying to the very end of any show, waiting ‘til the bar closes. Every time you do that you accumulate gold coins. It’s like in the new “Super Mario” where you get the coins at each level you have to try to find ‘em. If you do that enough times you get these coins and once you collect a certain amount of coins you reach pure awesomeness status.

And what do you do with that?

You sparkle in the sun like a “Twilight” vampire.

Matt Pais is the Metromix music and movies producer.

The Maybenauts at a glance:
Their sound in five words or less: “Space explosion girl panda-riffic.”
Frey’s influences: Nancy Wilson, Heart, Veruca Salt. Siouxsie Sue. “Just, like, girl rockers that kick ass.”
What to expect live: Glitter, metallic pants and a panda
Random tidbit: The Go-Go’s Jane Wiedlin produced single “My Head is a Bomb” - Matt Pais, Metromix/RedEye

"Go to This: Girls Out of the Garage"

The Maybenauts: These guys list some truly ridiculous influences on their MySpace (“The Zombies, Duran Duran and Kraftwerk in a rock-and-roll blender,” for example) but the music speaks for itself: simple, sharp riffs with awesome vocal harmonies. My favorite track is probably “Love Is Blind,” mostly because I like the surf-y, girl-group sound, which shows remarkable depth for a band still in its infancy (they formed January of ‘09), but also because the lyrics display a sense of humor that sets Maybenauts apart from many of their super-serious indie contemporaries. Here’s a video of them performing another of their winners, “No Eggs”:

(Full article available from URL.) - AssaultBLOG

"Daily Diversion - Girls Out of the Garage"

Three reasons to brave the cold and come out to Lincoln Hall tonight…

1. The Maybenauts are pure awesomeness. This Chicago four-piece belts out bouncy, sugary, pop rock that you cannot get out of your head. They even have a panda! This is a band not to be ignored; local radio stations like Q101 and 93 XRT are already paying attention and playing their super catchy track “My Head is a Bomb” (listen), so what are you wanting for?

2. If that’s not enough, also on the bill are two up-and-coming Chicago punk powerhouses the Scotia Widows and the Wanton Looks. Not a fan of punk? Indie pop singer Leslie Hunt will also appear.

3. Check out the Maybenauts performing “Carcinogens” at the Darkroom from August 13, 2009. - Loud Loop Press

"Women Who Rock Wednesday: The Maybenauts!"

As I mentioned last week, tomorrow (Thursday Janaury 28th), I'm going to this incredibly rad concert called Girls Out of the Garage at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. It starts at 8, is only 10$, and if you are over 18 and near Chicago, you should definitely come and rock out with me.

I was lucky enough to snag a Women Who Rock Weds interview with one of the bands, The Maybenauts. I love their sound and think you will love them too. So read on and learn all about them!

The Maybenauts are:
Leilani Frey - vocals, keys
Ellie Maybe - bass, vocals
Emily Agustin - drums
Vee Sonnets - guitar, vocals

Q: When did you start playing music? What inspired you? A certain musician, family member, teacher or friend? Who are some of your biggest musical influences (especially the women since it's Women Who Rock Wednesday, but men too!)?

Leilani: I use guitar as a song writing tool, but I definitely consider “my instrument” to be my voice. I started singing before I could talk. My Dad always included songs and singing into daily activities. He would videotape me and my brothers acting like a band, lip syncing and dancing to songs. They were always a hit to watch at family parties and stuff, and I guess I just grew up performing for fun. Singing just always made me feel good. Now it’s something that I must to do to feel right with myself. Females that I look to for inspiration, particularly with The Maybenauts include Ann and Nancy Wilson (Heart), Cyndi Lauper, Fiona Apple, Louise Post and Nina Gordon (Veruca Salt), Karen O (Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs), and Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie & The Banshees).

Ellie: I started playing woodwinds at about age 10 and bass around 13. My dad was the horn player in Heavy Manners, so I grew up surrounded by ska and reggae. Some of my earliest memories are of being in the Wild Hare listening to Gizzae. My inspirations and influences have changed over the years, but the mainstays have a strong emphasis on songwriting and arranging: Tom Waits, Foreigner, Bad Company, The Eagles, pat mAcdonald [sic], Bob Marley & The Wailers, Marvin Gaye, The Kinks. Surprisingly, I haven't been influenced by a lot of female musicians, even though I went to every year of Lilith Fair. Maybe that's why. Ha!

Emily: I took piano lessons as a kid, and am classically trained as a percussionist, but I didn't really start playing drum set until the end of high school. I'd spent some formative years listening to metal, and I was totally intimidated by the stuff those guys were playing. It wasn't until I'd spent a few years listening to noise punk and some really lo-fi indie bands that I realized I was just being silly, and that I didn't need 20 toms and a double kick to be a good drummer.

My family has always been really musical; my mom is a pianist, and she and my dad sing in the church choir. My older brother did the school band thing as well, and currently plays bass and guitar. He and I have been in a number of bands together, and he was the first person to kick me in the butt and make me get over my insecurities about playing, because he needed a drummer.

As far as influences, I still cite the video for "Pretend We're Dead" by L7 as my first feminist awakening. I grew up listening to the Monkees, Fats Domino, and the Beach Boys, so there's a basic backbeat in my bones; I don't really go for the flashier, more fill-heavy stuff. I've studied Japanese taiko drumming in recent years, and performed in theatrical percussion ensembles (Jellyeye, Redmoon Theater), so I'm trying to expand my rock drumming to incorporate that as well. My two biggest influences as a drummer are probably David Lovering (Pixies) and Todd Trainer (Shellac). Simple, but interesting and effective.

I wrote my MA thesis on female musicians, so women in rock is a topic near and dear to my heart. Furthermore, I'm currently a DJ at CHIRP Radio, and a huge record collector nerd, so there are a lot of bands that have influenced me as a musician in general (as opposed to influencing me as a drummer). As for the Maybenauts, let's say the Breeders, the's, old girl groups, and Sonic Youth.

Vee: I have been playing since I was about 3. I picked up instruments rather easily and playing music was never really hard for me. It was more about the desire to do it rather than be intimidated by an instrument. I just have no fear playing things because they just felt natural. Umm biggest influences? I'd have to say too many to list. I can tell you that I was brought up in a very diverse musical home (my dad played trumpet and was church choir director. My mother sang in church choir), and that there was all kinds of music. Rock, latin, soul, blues, r&b, classical, gospel, choirs, music from all over the world basically.

Q: Tell us about the Maybenauts. When did you form, who plays what in the band, and how'd you come up with the name?

Leilani: I think The Maybenauts are four friends who really just enjoy making music together. Our motivation is simply that little “must make music” monster that lives inside all four of us- and we all like to have fun. When we play together, everyone contributes a piece of their creativity, and each piece is different. I think because we all have such a wide variety of musical tastes, it creates an interesting sound that is unique to us. There is no other band that sounds like us that I’ve heard, and I like that.

We formed in January of 09’ after working together before in various forms. Ellie and I used to get together occasionally for years to harmonize and write for fun, and we always talked about playing together hypothetically. Then another opportunity arose, and she, Emily, and myself played together for the first “Covers for Cover” benefit show as the band Bikini Kill. It was super fantastic.

Then when Ellie recorded her solo record, “Meet Ellie”, Vee played guitar and I sang backup vocals on it. We started playing those songs live for people under the name “The Ellie Maybe Experence.” Then we realized that we wanted to grow away from those songs and actually write new material together. Our drummer Eric Yoder was busy producing records for his business Horse Drawn Productions, and couldn’t really keep up with the amount of shows we wanted to play. Also, he was just too busy with other things, like raising two kids and relocating his entire studio to Berwyn. Needless to say, when we needed a drummer, the obvious choice was Emily. After she joined, and since we were a new lineup, sound, and band, we decided to go by a new name. I wanted to keep the word “maybe” from “Ellie Maybe” because the band evolved from that project. We all liked a the idea of a play on words. I liked “The Maybe-Nots” but then I thought it would be cool to change the spelling of nots to nauts, and everyone loved it. It was cool because there are so many awesome costumes and stage props that work with a space theme. The other awesome bonus is that Emily wears metallic hot-pants all of the time. YEEOOWW!

Ellie: We played our first official show as The Maybenauts in January '09. January 30th is our one year anniversary! We evolved from a project called The Ellie Maybe Experence when Emily came in on drums and Leilani took over lead vocals. We were stuck trying to come up with a name for weeks when Leilani blurted out "Maybenauts - like ASTRONAUTS!" at a rehearsal. After a considerable period of giggles, it was our new name.

Emily: I'm sure Ellie or Leilani will answer that one in-depth, so I'm going to skip this question. :) I will say though, that Ellie had been bugging me to play drums with her pretty much since the day we became friends. I got sidetracked by some health issues for a couple years, but joined the Ellie Maybe Experence in November of '08, which then became the Maybenauts.

Vee: I joined when Ellie Maybe Experence was looking for bandmates. Ellie Maybe and I have played together doing live band karaoke with the Karaoke Dokies, and in The Sonnets, so playing with her was rather comfy. I play guitars. The name was just thought up in a brainstorm (uk equivalent of an 'idea shower').

Q: Please share the link to your MySpace page (or the best place to hear your music) and tell us about your favorite song on there/the one you are most proud of or think best represents the Maybenauts. Feel free to talk about a few if it is too hard to choose ;)

Leilani: It’s really hard to choose between “Head Is A Bomb” and “Blue Line” for me. I think I will always have a soft spot for “HIAB” because it is such a personal song about a really messed up time in my life when I was dealing with bulimia. It’s also really rockin’ and emotional, and the whole band just goes nuts on it. So that one for sure is up there. I gotta say though that “Blue Line” really feels more creative to me, and much more complex. Ellie and I got drunk on Tequila one night and wrote it really organically, or drunkenly. We had a blast coming up with harmonies. There's actually a video on YouTube of us harmonizing that night to Riskay's "Smell Yo Dick" that we just thought was hilarious at the time. Anyway, now when I hear that song and I see how much it has changed due to everyone pouring their creative ideas into it, it's really magical. Vee’s guitars are just so amazing, and the drums are so fucking sexy! I was riding the train today with my iPod on shuffle, it came on, and it totally feels like a train song. I love that one from start to finish and think it is a great accomplishment for our band.

Ellie: My favourite is Blue Line, though I never thought it would be until I heard it back right after we tracked it in the studio. It just sounded so sad, like the song needed a hug. It's a topic that isn't touched upon often in pop music, but one that probably speaks to a lot of city-dwellers. It's a song about Chicago, about politics and poverty and being disillusioned with the home you love - and I feel like it efficiently conveys the desperation of wanting to escape but being unable, because the city is as much a part of you as you are of it.

Emily: My current favorite Maybenauts song is either "My Head is a Bomb" or "Girlfight," mostly because they're really fun to play. I'm really pleased with "Blue Line" as well though, since it's a different style for us. I think the recording of it came out sounding great.

Vee: I like them all because they all have a part of us but i think Blue Line has magic due to the dual leads and words by Leilani and Ellie. I also think the whole folk rock flavor of that song is a perfect compliment to the lyrics and is almost visual. The blend of bluesy guitar riffs, jazzy bass, the quiet pounding of drums, the dual vocals...its a trip on its own.

A Note from Ellie: Blue Line isn't up yet, but keep checking back for it. You can listen to the Maybenauts on MySpace here or Facebook here. You can also visit their website or follow them on Twitter.

Q: What was it like working with Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Gos on your new single along with her boyfriend Travis Kasperbauer who engineered/co-produced?

Leilani: Jane gave me vocal tips I could use, and thought of the smallest changes during parts that wound up making all the difference in the end. She’d be like, “try it this way,” in her "Jane" voice, and she’d change one note, or go up or down slightly, and BAM, THAT WAS IT! It was crazy. No one I’ve ever worked with could do that for my vocals. When you think about all of the great songs she’s been a part of creating, and that she was a part of our songs, it's awesome. There is something about that chick though, you know? Like, she’s got it. She oozes talent. You can feel it just sitting next to her. It’s not a idolizing thing or a celebrity thing. It’s just Jane.

Ellie: I had the chance to work with Jane the year before at Steel Bridge Song Fest (, where we wrote and played on a handful of songs together, so I think she and I had a pretty strong rapport going into it. She's an extremely intelligent and talented woman who hears things that you might never think of - working with her is sort of like working with someone from another planet. Or maybe she's from Earth and I'm from another planet. Or maybe we're both aliens from different planets trying to fit in here. Yeah, I think that one's it.

Emily: I love Jane! I was kind of nervous and fan-girly before I met her, but she's so down-to-earth and sweet that she instantly puts you at ease. As a producer, she really knows her shit, and I was grateful that we had the opportunity to work with her. She also makes a great cup of coffee.

Vee: It was a good time! Jane and Travis are pros and they are comfortable behind the scenes as well as in front. More than that, they both opened their home to us and we had a blast! Jane is a doll who gives her whole self uncensored and is the biggest sweetheart. I love her dogs too, they're like her little army!

Q: What do you enjoy most about playing live? And when/where can we see you live?

Leilani: When the crowd reacts positively, that’s definitely something I feed off of. I love to see people rocking out having a good time. I really want to write a few dance songs so people can get really weird with me. When you can see people getting into your music, you feel like you are all sharing an experience, and that’s the point. Also, I can always count on my bandmates to have a good time with me.

Ellie: Our next show is January 28th at Lincoln Hall... but you know that already!

Emily: I think that live is the best way to experience the Maybenauts. A recording just doesn't compare to the energy of a live show. Also, if you come to our shows, we will share our Pixy Stix with you.

Vee: Live is where the challenge is. I hate seeing lip-synching or playing to track. Nothing in this world is so much of a let-down then watching a band one pays good money to see fail at recreating the songs live. I want us to sound like us. The music is there, the mistakes are there too but that is what makes us human right? Playing live is living on the edge as far as a musician goes. You don't know when you might break a string, burn out a tube, have a cable short, get lost in the song, screw up a solo...its all there and you are showing it off to everyone; the good the bad and the uncertainty. It is different every time. That is live entertainment! I hate safety nets.

Q: I have two standard questions for my Women Who Rock. The first is a two-parter: What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge.

Leilani: The first album I bought with my own money was by an R & B girl group from the early 90's called "Jade." They had a single called "Don't Walk Away Boy" that just kicked so much dance. Yeah, I just said that. I've always been a fan of girl groups. That time in my life I was listening to a lot of "En Vogue" and "TLC." I was 10 years old and wanted to be a little bad-ass diva.

When I was old enough to drive and buy tickets to a show, I went to Warped Tour and saw bands like Rancid, Anti-Flag, and AFI. I just remember smoking a lot of cigarettes and smashing into big meat-heads in the mosh pit and feeling super angsty all of the time.

Ellie: It's either "Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?" by The Cranberries, "Music Box" by Mariah Carey, or "The Sign" by Ace of Base. All three came out in '93 so I can't make an educated guess based on release dates... but really, none of them are any less embarrassing than the others, so... oh well.

My first concert was probably Poi Dog Pondering, but my childhood was littered with street fairs and being snuck into bars to see my dad play, so a lot of it is a colourful blur of local bands, many of whom no longer exist. Around age 10 I went to see Sheryl Crow and Collective Soul out in Tinley Park; my dad was friends with Sheryl's drummer and if I remember correctly, I wanted to ask her to speak at our career day event but was too shy.

Emily: First cassette I ever bought with my own money was "Kick" by INXS. First LP was the first Fugazi album. First 7" was the Nirvana/Jesus Lizard split on Touch & Go. First CD was "Trompe le Monde" by the Pixies, in a long box! Told you I was a record nerd. ;)

First concert I ever saw was Weird Al at Six Flags. Ha!

Vee: 1. first album my sister and i bought together was the Beatles at Hollywood Bowl. We were trying to collect every Beatles album we could and that one was one our parents did not have. We must have worn out "Things We Said Today".
2. First concert i went to see by myself and my own free will was Cheap Trick at Chicago Fest 1981. What a show and everything around it seemed like a movie playing out.

Q: Please dish about the moment where you felt most like a rock star. Maybe it was a moment of big success in your career, an "I'm Not Worthy!" Wayne's World type moment where you met someone cool, or a time where you just got the rock star treatment.

Leilani: I don't really buy into the whole "rock star" thing. I never want people to kiss my ass, because that's weird, and it creeps me out. However, I have met a ton of amazing people like Miss Mia from Chic-A-Go-Go who is just so down to Earth and cool, Pat MacDonald from Timbuk3 (who sang one of my favorite songs as a kid "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades), and of course Jane Wiedlin who was so hospitable and totally let us all crash at her place for a weekend. Meeting people who you've really enjoyed in some way before meeting them and finding out that they are wonderful human beings is so rad.

Ellie: There's no question about it - it was at a show we played last year in Sturgeon Bay, WI (for the aforementioned Steel Bridge Song Fest). We played for over 100 people in a bar that probably shouldn't have held even 50. There wasn't a stage or lighting; we played on the floor in front of the women's bathroom - I had to dodge out of the way every time a girl needed to pee because the bassist from the band prior set up the bass rig right in front of the door! When we finished our last song, there was this veritable wall of sound, applause, screaming - these folks were so excited they actually moved air with their cheering; it felt like someone had physically shoved us. That is the kind of feeling that makes you want to keep doing this, knowing people are having that much fun just listening and dancing to your music.

Emily: It was when we played the Steel Bridge Song Fest up in Sturgeon Bay, WI. I was bending over to pull something out of one of my cases, and someone started smacking me on the ass. I frequently wear gold leather hot pants to shows, and Ellie and Leilani smack me on the ass all the time, so I thought nothing of it. It wasn't til I finished what I was doing and turned around that I realized it was Jane Wiedlin. She later came up on stage and sang backing vocals with us, in this tiny little bar with no stage, packed to capacity. People had to walk through our set up to get to the bathroom! The whole thing was ridiculous and surreal, but amazing.

Vee: I dont think i ever had that. Sounds surreal. I did get lots of applause in a concert when i was in Conway, Arkansas for live band karaoke but i think those poor kids were starved for attention. They did invite us to their kegger afterwards and i naturally obliged. :)

A last word from Ellie:
The EP's title is Big Bang and will feature 5 original tracks (including the MHIAB single). We're hoping/planning to release it in late February or early March. At this show on the 28th we'll be selling "download cards" so that folks can download the album immediately and trade the cards in later for a physical copy of the disc when it's released.

And for those of you who aren't able to go to the show tomorrow night, you are luck. One of these lovely little download cards is the prize for this week's contest!!!!

Contest Rules:

So, if you wanna win the Maybenauts download and of course you do, there are many ways to enter.

First and foremost, leave a comment about today's interview and you will be automatically entered. Don't forget to leave an email address so I can track you down and send you your prize.

And here are some ways to gain extra entries.

+1 for blogging, linking to or tweeting about this interview, the Girls Out of the Garage Concert, or the Maybenauts

+1 for following the Maybenauts on Twitter, becoming fans on Facebook or Myspace

And yes you can do all of those things and get lots of extra entries, so get going on it!

I will announce the winner next Wednesday when I feature author Suzanne Young as my next Woman Who Rocks! - Life, Words, & Rock 'n' Roll (Stephanie Kuehnert)

"Girls out of the Garage review"

Chicago’s most promising female rockers shared Lincoln Hall’s cozy stage for the Novo Arts’ Girls out of the Garage showcase on Thursday, Jan. 28, and proved why their stars have nowhere else to go but up.

The Wanton Looks’ lead singer Traci Trouble admitted to the crowd that her band, the night’s headliner, had never spent any time in a garage but that didn’t stop them from participating in the showcase.

Each of the night’s performers - Scotia Widows, The Maybenauts, Leslie Hunt, and The Wanton Looks - are far from simple garage acts. Each has its style nailed down, be it low-fuzzed out punk or upbeat, pop rock with undeniably catchy harmonies. It’s that certain sense of self that allowed each act to effectively command the stage on this night.
Gina Knapik of Scotia Widow | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

Gina Knapik of Scotia Widow | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

Scotia Widows, a highly enjoyable mostly male four-piece with a female lead singer, raced through its short set of fast-paced punk rock with little stage banter. The band’s dynamic of alternating male and female vocals reminds one of the now defunct Madison, Wisconsin, band Rainer Maria. Scotia Widows played several songs that are currently on its MySpace page including crowd favorite “Amish Sluts.”

Once The Maybenauts hit the stage the mood lightened considerably. The pop rock four-piece’s only male member, guitarist Vee Sonnets, proudly sauntered on stage dressed as a panda. Lead singer Leilani Frey told the crowd that she left her keyboard at home so she could dance tonight. And Frey did not disappoint, expending serious amounts of energy literally bouncing off the walls, and the floor.
Leilani Frey of the Maybenauts | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

Leilani Frey of the Maybenauts | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

The Maybenauts performed all of the songs that will appear on their Big Bang EP including the insanely catchy single “My Head is a Bomb” as well as an enjoyable cover of David Bowie’s Moonage Daydream.” The Maybenauts came to have a good time and rock faces and they achieved both goals.
Leslie Hunt | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

Leslie Hunt | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

For those in attendance who craved a softer side to their rock and roll, Leslie Hunt provided just that, reaching deep into her bag of tricks and delighting the audience with her soulful, smoky voice. The former American Idol season 6 contestant performed her solo album Your Hair is on Fire in its entirety. The album serves up a mixture of many different styles from the swinging, new-wave pop track “American Dream Man” to the countryfied “Way Too Much.”

The all-female four-piece Wanton Looks closed out the night with their brand of old fashioned punk with killer harmonies and infectious guitar solos. Lead singer Traci Trouble is a true rock star in the making, effectively using her pulpit to make the audience laugh as well as draw them into the music by bouncing around on stage and at one point, collapsing on the floor.
Traci Trouble of The Wanton Looks | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

Traci Trouble of The Wanton Looks | Photo Credit: Audrey Leon

All the while Trouble grinned widely, clearly enjoying herself; the crowd was right there along with her eating up every minute of the action. The Wanton Looks ended their set with the song “Electromagnetic Force.” It is the kind of song that stays inside your head long after the show ends because of its lingering guitar solos (courtesy of Susie Q and Inga Olson) and impeccable drum beats (courtesy of Meg Thomas).

The Girls out of the Garage showcase at Lincoln Hall proved that there is a considerable wealth of female talent in the Chicago rock scene. The four bands presented on this night are certainly ones to keep an eye out for in the near future. - Loud Loop Press

"Girls out of the Garage review"


From the moment The Maybenauts took the stage with their sonic smiles and silver outfits, it was clear that their sound was going to be less sporadic and fueled more by danceability. To my amusement, and I’m sure others, the guitarist was wearing a panda mask. The Maybenauts were not there to just play, they were there to perform. Unfortunately, Front woman Leilani Frey left her keyboard at home, but she was all energy as she danced across the floor belting out unapologetically catchy and melody derived rock music.

Full article here: - Familiarize Yourself


Still working on that hot first release.



"The Maybenauts have the sort of imaginative arrangements (glam-rock to psychedelic pop), sophisticated melodies (three-part vocal harmonies a specialty) and cohesive vision (think of a '60s go-go bacchanal in outer space) lacking in many power-pop groups that have been slogging it out for a decade or more." --Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun Times

The Maybenauts make glam-pop girl rock... with a space panda! Their music is glitzy and dynamic, rich with three-part harmonies, danceable grooves, and air-guitar-inspiring rock riffs. With harmonies and hooks inspired by artists ranging from Heart to The Kinks to The Go-Gos, the Maybenauts' songs are fueled by the audacious passion of arena rock glory. This band has a touch of that something-for-everyone vibe, but they create a unique brand of pop/rock music that is all at once saccharine, scandalous, and out of this world.

“The Maybenauts are pure awesomeness. This Chicago four-piece belts out bouncy, sugary, pop rock that you cannot get out of your head. They even have a panda! This is a band not to be ignored." --Audrey Leon, Loud Loop Press