San Francisco’s Pamela are putting together their next release. I sat in with them last Friday at Temple Randolph Studios to observe their first session for the new record. It is being recorded by Jasper Leach and Brian Davy, of the Myonics and Symbolic Jews, on a vintage Tascam Midistudio 688 cassette recorder.
I had a chance to sit down with Courtney, Ashley, and their dog Pablo to ask them a few questions. This interview was recorded April 25th, 2012
Let’s start easy. What are you’re names and what do you guy’s play?
Ashley: I’m Ashley and I play the guitar.
Courtney: I’m Courtney and I play the drums
And there is a third member who is not here?
Ashley: Yes, Chrys is our other awesome guitar player…who rules at everything. He plays the bass too on recordings sometimes. He’s really good at it.
Courtney: We’re just going to talk about Chrys the whole time.
So you just put you’re debut cassette: Pamela is Hung Over up to stream for free online. What prompted that?
Ashley: It was just time. I don’t know why we didn’t do that a long time ago.
Courtney: We were just kinda lazy.
Ashley: I was bored at work one day and I was like I don’t know why this isn’t all up.
Courtney: And you were on tour.
Ashley: Yeah I was on tour with a different band.
What band is that?
Ashley: Young Prisms
Do you write songs for them?
Ashley: I wrote one song on their new record…Actually I didn’t write it. I just wrote the melody and the vocal part. My band mate Geo wrote the rest of it. All the instruments were already recorded and then I just karoked it.
You play guitar in Young Prisms?
So you guys are working on some new recordings right now. Is this going to be a single, EP, LP?
Ashley: Eventually we’re definitely going to record an LPs amount songs. We don’t really have anyone to put out a proper release besides tapes, which are awesome. So we’ll probably put out another tape.
Courtney: We’ve already put out one 7inch through Southpaw.
Ashley: We don’t have anyone set to put anything out.
Courtney: But we’re recording today so it’s the beginning.
Ashley: They’ll be out in the world soon enough.
Do you know what you’re going to call it?
Ashley: Well we were just joking because when we recorded our tape we were in a really big bender stage of our life, and we were super hung over. That’s why it’s called Pamela is Hung Over. But we went on a hike yesterday and we’re all healthy…relatively.
Courtney: Yeah we’re in healthy stage of life.
Ashley: So we’re like maybe it should be “Pamela Has Quit Smoking” even though were smoking cigarette right now…
Courtney: Something along those lines.
Any Idea when we can expect it out?
Ashley: No idea.
Ashley: The sooner the better. I’m really impatient with these things.
Courtney: But I have a weird job were my schedule is kinda limited.
What’s your job?
Courtney: I just got a job as a restaurant manager at a really busy restaurant. So like tonight is one of the nights we can record. Basically about once a week is probably going to be when we can record.
Ashley: But Brian and Jasper are super cool and awesome to work with and patient.
They’re the ones recording you?
Courtney: Yeah, they’re the best.
Ashley: Temple Randolph, that’s what this place is called.
Courtney: Jasper is the only one that can do Pamela right.
Ashley: He’s our daddy.
Courtney: Jasper Leach.
Ashley: and Brian Too.
Courtney: Brian Davy.
How long have you two been playing in Pamela?
Ashley: In Pamela, we’re almost a year old. Actually right about now (last year) is when we got together and figured out the songs for the EP. But we’ve been playing together our whole lives.
Courtney: We tried to start a band in high school.
Ashley: It was called One Sleeve Up.
Courtney: It lasted like a week.
Where did ya’ll go to high school?
Courtney: This public school called Nordhoff High in Ojai, California… we’ve been friends since we were ten. Then in college we were like lets start a Misfits cover band and call it The Skull Fuckers. Then we were like let’s start a girl band.
Ashley: Actually you didn’t. Remember?
Courtney: Oh right they started it and I joined.
Ashley: Courtney was too cool for the Splinters… at first.
Courtney: I didn’t believe it was real. I was like “Sure guys when you get a real show give me a call.” Then they got a real show. Well kinda…at a coffee shop.
Ashley: And John offered to drum, “And you were like that’s not going to happen.” Our friend John Morgan who is also a really fucking good instrumentalist and songwriter.
And after that you guys were both in the Wax Idols live band right?
Ashley: There is one song that I wrote on that record and we play on like half of it. Then we were both going through a bunch of life shit and freaking out about our existential crises. And we were like “We have to quit this!” and we didn’t even know Pamela was going to happen for sure.
Courtney: But it did because we started drinking a bunch.
Ashley: and we got bored… Yeah kids out there. If you want to start a band just get drunk…
Courtney: …and become an alcoholic for a little bit.
Where did the name Pamela come from?
Ashley: Courtney and I were G-Chatting one day.
Courtney: We were both at work…
Ashley: …Not doing our jobs, and Courtney was like what’s one woman that would embody both of us.
Courtney: We’ve been friends for so long. We’re like yin and yang. And then we were thinking about names and I was like “Sheila?..No…Like Deobra?” Then we through a few out…
Ashley: …and then Pamela
Courtney: Pamela. It was just perfect. Like tough but kinda classy.
Ashley: Pamela is a trashy woman, but who is classy at the same time.
Courtney: Trashy but with tons of self-respect.
Pamela Anderson is the first name that came to my mind.
Courtney: Yeah not that.
Ashley: But it’s partly Pamela Anderson. It’s partly like Pam, like a lesbian named Pam.
Courtney: Like a tough dyke, but also like sexy Pamela Anderson.
Ashley: We don’t really consider ourselves sexy females.
Courtney: No we don’t…Then it was perfect because Pamela became like a real person. It was like “What’s Pamela going to do tonight?” or like “Pamela feels tired, I don’t know.”
Do you you mostly prefer to collaborate with other female artists?
Ashley: We’ve talked about this a lot because we were going to add a bass player sometime.
Courtney: There are few girls that want to join.
Ashley: But it really just depends on the person. Chrys is like our sugar sprinkled onto our shit sandwich. It doesn’t really matter…
Courtney: …as long as we can get along and work well with them and work well together.
Ashley: I think we look for personality a lot more than musicianship
Courtney: We were already really good friends with Chrys so that was easy. And he just so happens to be an amazing guitarist. We were like, “here’s our songs” and he was like “how about this?” and he sprinkled a bunch of shit on top.
Do you have any thoughts on the role of women in Garage Rock?
Ashley: It’s definitely something that’s funny because it’s usually the first thing people think of. That’s the first compliment someone gives you a lot: “Whoa it’s cool that you’re a girl…and you’re doing this.” So it’s interesting to me that that’s the first thing that someone’s brain goes to. But other than that I think it’s cool that there are a lot of girls and guys playing rock and roll.
Courtney: I try not to think about it too much.
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