Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, April 27, 2001

We're Sorry and you're not (from left to right): drummer
Noey, bassist Mindy, singer Lani and guitarist Naomi
(who plays a bit of keyboard as well).

Nothing to
be sorry about

Female punksters forge ahead

By Gary C.W. Chun

For Lani, Naomi, Mindy and Noey, being Sorry has nothing to do with meekly expressing regret with tears welling in their collective eyes and mouths a-trembling or, for that matter, their sometime messy performances ...

Well, to be honest, maybe a familiar, excrement-filled expletive also ending with a "y" would be more appropriate for those times the band has performed with little or no rehearsal time. But don't blame them for not trying. All four friends are juggling school time and jobs, besides making the occasional appearance as this town's one-and-only all-female, all-the-time, punk band.

Sorry will be one of a slew of opening local bands for this weekend's punk rock gigs featuring the unbridled energy of Alabama's xbxrx and the two-gals-and-a-guy that make up The Sissies from Indiana.

The band's been together for two years now, and things are coming around for them musically -- but there was nowhere to go but up, considering that, in keeping with a time-worn punk practice, they learned to play their instruments while in the band.

In a post-rehearsal chat Monday night at the newly-relocated Junk Studios on old Waialae Road, Noey, Mindy and Naomi told of how, in their previous short-lived guise as Kathy's Dream, they backed up a singer friend of theirs who initially thought music was her calling. After three shows, she suddenly decided the "dream" wasn't for her and left.

"We were totally in limbo," Mindy said.

"We had a show scheduled in a week, so all three of us had to learn the words to the songs," Noey added.

Unadvertised tryouts for a new female singer weren't working out ("We wanted to get someone that could also be a friend," insisted Naomi), until Lani showed up.

She wasn't exactly stage-tested, but her singing credentials were good enough for the band. "I basically spent five years singing Bikini Kill songs in my bedroom. Even though I'd never sung in public, I was willing to put it out there for the band, like I'm not scared to do it," she said.

Lani's forthright attitude is in the tradition of strong female punk frontwomen, dating back to Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex right up to her personal hero and inspiration, Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill.

They're only slightly exaggerating when they say their cassette release "Empathetic Songwriting" will melt the rest of your music collection, it's so dang hot. The heat coming off their music isn't generated in the busy, aggro way most of us think of as punk rock, but usually through a smart combination of starkly textured interplay of instruments and Lani's clear vocals.

Where most of their songs have been pretty static rhythmwise (which has worked to their advantage, distinguishing them from other local bands), "we're writing songs that are more rockin'," said Mindy.

"And more danceable," added Naomi.

"The description I like to use for our sound is spooky-sweet," said Noey. "Like just imagine being in a haunted house in the middle of the night, and you hear a noise that super freaks you out, and you turn to see a jewel box from a distance, and you walk to it and open it and you see this ballerina doll spinning, but it's got no head!

"Anyway, the music the box is playing is like our music."

"Our music is discordant -- but not to the point where you can't stand it," Naomi said.

Sometimes the four of them use cosmetic crises to their advantage. "Once, Mindy had a pimple on her face she was embarrassed about," said Noey, "so instead of trying to hide it, we played with Band-Aids stuck everywhere on us!"

The band even has a small fan base, partly made up of "little punk rock boys, kids with mohawks, who sing along to our songs," said Lani.

Sorry hopes to get its organizational skills and finances together to tour the mainland by van next summer.

"I think it's important that a band like Sorry exists right now," Lani stated. "It's like 'yeah, we're girls!' It's something we shouldn't downplay."

"Before, there weren't enough girls in the scene to do all-girl shows," said Noey. "But I think we've showed a lot of girls that they can be in a band too, and we're seeing more bands with at least one girl in them."

"We try to be inclusive in our music," Lani said.

And, just as important for them, to make it fun with your friends.

xbxrx/The Sissies

In concert: With Sorry, Deep 13 and Hutchinson tonight; with Prom King, Bronson and 2face4 tomorrow; 6 to 10 p.m.

Place: Club 478, 478 Ena Road

Cost: $6, all ages (must bring I.D.)


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