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Austin, Texas, United States | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Band Rock Punk




"Schmillion at Fun Fun Fun Fest"

Video interview with performance clip at Fun Fun Fun Fest - Tina Phan, Austin 360

"Schmillion at Fun Fun Fun Fest"

The band goes acoustic to perform a song and video interview. - BalconyTV

"The Girls of Summer Redux"

"Do you want to sleep over tonight?"

Schmillion are standing barefoot around their instruments in the practice room of guitarist Frankie Blue's house. They're going to dye singer Natalie Shea's hair later, and maybe go swimming. Summer's at hand, and the world is theirs.

The local quintet works out the kinks of new songs for a fall full-length, which follows 2010's self-titled EP. Just as practice starts, Blue drops her guitar on her foot and hobbles to the bathroom. Her father, Jack, a former punk musician, follows behind. She returns a couple minutes later with a hunk of white gauze around her big toe.

"You look a little pale," Shea says. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yeah." Blue sits on an amp and smiles. "Let's go."

In Ellen Willis' affecting new posthumous collection, Out of the Vinyl Deeps (see "Summer Reading," July 15), the pioneering music scribe writes of listening to music in the 1960s and 1970s through "filters of pop conventions and cliches."

Willis continues: "But feminism made me lust for the voice without the filters, and so I longed for a female rock and roller who would be my mirror. She would make music I loved as much as Blonde on Blonde or the Velvet Underground's third album."

Willis' was certainly a radical thought at the time, but there's something about being a fly on the wall, years and "waves" later, and watching that theory unfold before your eyes. The generational flow in action. The mirror, unbroken.

Each member of Schmillion, formed at GRCA two years ago with a slightly different lineup, has a distinct personality. Blue is the magnetic left brain of the band, intense and confident beyond her 15 years – Johnny Ramone with better bangs. Second guitarist Zoe Graham, 16, is the right brain to Blue's left: soft-spoken and effortlessly funny. Eighteen-year-old Shea is the natural center, her red hair and pale blue eyes amplifying her whopper of a voice. Cecil Blackwood-Cross, 15, is the "bass attitude," as she says, the dry sense of humor and rhythmic anchor.

"I was born this way," she cracks.

And 16-year-old Graham Bailey, well, he's the guy in the band, which gets lots of mileage tonight. Original drummer Sienna Blaw left this year, and multi-instrumentalist Bailey filled in, which the ladies don't have a problem with, even if some of their friends and fans are concerned they're not a "girl band" anymore.

It's a valid point.

GRCA has that way of attracting girls with the same affinities. Shea remembers following Blackwood-Cross and Blue around camp, wanting to do whatever activity they were doing because they seemed cool. A sense of humor is Schmillion's secret weapon, however, summed up by the group's logo: a barcode with their name embedded. The music's punk and rock & roll, timeless and youthful, what Ellen Willis describes in another essay as "a potent means of expressing the active emotions – anger, aggression, lust, the joy of physical exertion – that feed all freedom movements."

Whether they know it or not, Schmillion is part of a freedom movement, whatever wave we're on – a new generation of ladies brought up to believe they can do anything. Not that some songs don't remain the same for teenagers.

"The best part of learning to drive," says Shea, "is cruising at night on the open roads, windows down, music really loud."

They're also a band on the verge, in a way that seems scripted for an MTV reality show. Shea just graduated high school and is going to college at St. Edward's so she can continue playing with the group while they finish the LP."Things keep happening," nods Blue. "Summer was starting and we were writing cool music, but there was no buzz, and I felt like we were losing it. Then we got, like, five gig offers."

In the last year, Schmillion has triple-crushed it: opening for the Bangles at South by Southwest, playing three Texas dates with Arcade Fire, and winning Best U-18 Band at the Austin Music Awards.

"We came back from that Arcade Fire show and played a little girl's birthday," Blue says.

"That was the best show," adds Graham. "They screamed like we were the Beatles and asked for our autographs. We signed, like, three casts."

"A lot of our songs, without meaning to, are pro-women," Shea says later, after the band runs through the addictive "Overgrown" and contemplative "Planes" and tests out new material.

"Really?" asks Blue. "I thought they were just about badass people."

"Yeah, but there are a few I'm really proud of," Shea counters. "Like 'Taste,' when I say, 'Whisper in your ear, I know your name and what you're doing here. The thrill you get every night from this game, slandering my gender's name.'"

We talk about riot grrrl and how, even though that movement's ideas are still valid 20 years later, it's time to move on from that as a catch-all for female-dominated rock bands who think and write independently. We talk about Bridesmaids and X-Men. We talk about songs that make us sad ("Heroes") and those that make us lose control ("I Wanna Be Your Dog").

"All of my favorite musicians are male," Blue says. "When I write a song, I'm not thinking Joan Jett. I wanna sound like Iggy Pop."

"We do like Bikini Kill," Cross says. "I mean, we covered ['Rebel Girl'], but I always remember these Kathleen Hanna interviews where the only thing people talked about was that she knew Kurt Cobain."

So what's the next thing?

Blue doesn't miss a beat: "We're the next thing." - Audra Schroeder, Austin Chronicle

"Five Things: Bands to check out at SXSW"

The first things to know about Schmillion is that the all-girl, Austin-based group released its first EP in December. Even before that, though, the group won the Austin Chronicle's award for “Best Under 18 Band.” Let's be clear: They're teenagers. The gals will play at SXSW with Sick of Sarah and The Bangles, who been inspiring women to rock since before the Schmillion members were born. - CNN

"SXSW Showcase Review: Schmillion"

It's hard not getting a little teary-eyed seeing Schmillion play a few slots ahead of the Bangles. The local quintet, which formed at Girls Rock Camp Austin a few years ago, is edging out of their teens, and has quickly become a group that can't just be labeled a "girl band" anymore. They certainly channeled their various influences with vigor and no trace of irony, whether covering the Stooges' "Search and Destroy" and Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl" or playing original tunes that will hopefully end up on their debut LP this year, following up a 2010 EP and win of Best U18 Band at the 2009-2010 Austin Music Awards. The sound at Cedar Street was dodgy and blown-out, but the ladies soldiered on unaffected, even with a fill-in drummer. What more could you ask for? Singer Natalie Shea chugging honey to keep her pipes up to code? Guitarist Frankie Blue's "I Heart My Badass Attitude" shirt? The wild abandon with which they played?

Seeing them reminds you that rock & roll can still be conjured of a very pure place. - Austin Chronicle

"Arcade Fire at the Backyard"

Schmillion managed to turn in an impressive set of edgy rock that will no doubt help in continuing their upward trajectory…their blend of both ’70s underground punk and riotgrrrl energy sounds well beyond their years. It’s fitting, then, that the band covered Iggy and the Stooges’ “Search and Destroy” towards the end of their set. Singer Natalie Shea has a really solid rock n’ roll primed voice, and guitarist Frankie Blue provided some especially impressive solo work throughout. All five band members exhibited a great amount of talent, and they made a solid argument as to why they should belong among the top tier of Austin-bred bands. - Austinist

"Schmillion Recommended"

…(Schmillion) has harnessed the smoldering punk of Exile In Guyville to etch out its own fine formula. Considering Austin’s beehive of a music scene, the band’s many accolades are notable: In addition to being singled out as a “young, emerging band” by SXSW, the band has gone on to share stages with Explosions In The Sky and even Grammy-winners The Arcade Fire. Considering its wide-ranging appeal, this performance should be the perfect opportunity to get up close and person with the band—just don’t try to slip the members any drinks. - AV Club


An awesome all girl punk rock band from Austin, Texas.

Did you go see Schmillion last night?
Yeah they were incredible! - A Fan, Urban Dictionary

"Schmillion Best U18 Band"

Schmillion wins Best U18 Band, Austin Chronicle Music Awards - Austin Music Awards

"My So-Called Social Life"

"...Schmillion is a band of teenage-girl rock gods. Their moms are insanely cool. Their fans are sweet and numerous. Their Mohawk show closed the Butterfly Project, but it also made me want to flit around Austin all over again..." - Cindy Widner, Twitter and Austin Chronicle


"...A glamorous vibe radiates from all five girls, surprising since they've only been playing together for about a year. They're inspired by Karen O, Radiohead, Joe Strummer, David Bowie, the White Stripes, and the Pixies, and their mix of musical tastes contributes to a unique sound..." - Livvy Bennett, Austin Chronicle

"Here Comes Tomorrow"

"...Further U18 wins came from multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz for Best Female Vocalist, Best Country/Bluegrass, and Best Folk Act. The all-girl band Schmillion won the Best U18 Band, a first for that category..." - Ricardo Valenzuela, Austin Chronicle

"Festival Brain"

"...Standout performances came by the handful. Schmillion, the all-girl group who won Best Teen Band this year stole the TKAA festival's heart with their sweet harmonies and Breeders-like indie rock. If they are not already on the Mohawk and Emo's stages, they should be." - Margaret Moser, Austin Chronicle


Schmillion, EP, Seven, to release May 2012
Background vocals on Peelander Z, Space Vacation, released April 10, 2012
Schmillion, EP, self titled, released December 2010



Born and bred in Austin, Texas, Schmillion formed in the summer of 2009. Originally a line up of 5 girls, 13-15 years of age at the time, the group quickly gained notoriety for their crunchy guitar riffs, unexpectedly heavy sound and belting vocals. Their sound is sometimes lyrical, sometimes driving, always infectious.

In March 2012, Schmillion headlined a showcase at the 35 Denton Music Festival and played their second official SXSW Showcase presented by the City of Austin and featuring some of Austin’s most exciting exports – including two of the contestants on NBC’s “The Voice.” They also played with Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery of R-Ring, walked the runway at Style X and many SXSW dayshows.

In 2011 Schmillion opened for “Best Album” Grammy winners Arcade Fire at their Texas dates in Dallas, Austin and Houston. They earned a coveted spot on the black stage at Fun, Fun, Fun Fest and played the annual pre-ACL party, Art Disaster 13, showcasing emerging bands. Schmillion shared a bill with the Bangles at their first SXSW Showcase.

Schmillion has also shared the stage with Ume, Okkervil River, Explosions in the Sky, Peelander Z, Follow That Bird and many others.

The bands second EP, Seven, will release May 2012. They provided backup vocals for Peelander Z's 2012 release, Space Vacation. Schmillion's first self-titled EP released in December 2010.

Voted “Best Under 18 Band” 2010 and 2011 in the Austin Chronicle’s Reader’s Poll, Schmillion won for the third year in a row at this year's Austin Music Awards, with four members of the band still just 16-17 years old.

When they aren’t playing music, you’ll find Schmillion at the movies, at one of their favorite local taco stands or out watching live music in Austin.