Dedicated to Women Guitarists and Bassists
Mars Needs Women

The Ladies in Silver Suits: An Interview with Mars Needs Women

March 6, 2015
Written by
Annemieke Boehm
Photo by
Konstanze Habermann

It has certainly been a while since a German band sent the petty coats flying, but the ladies from Mars Needs Women have decided to give it a go.

Commander Valentina Chichikov aka Peta Devlin (Vocals & Bass), Lieutenant Ivana Punkawitch aka Barbara Hass (Guitar & Vocals), and Dr Daphne Doublebind aka Susie Reinhardt (Drums & Vocals), relative of jazz-virtuoso Django Reinhardt, have put on their space suits and set out on a mission to save Mars from its dull and colorless existence. Just before taking off to outer space the trio has decided to take their debut album for a test drive on good old earth. In between their European tour and space travel, the ladies in the silver suits made some time for an interview.

She Shreds: You have all been musically involved pretty much since the 1980s and have played various musical styles. What was it that pushed you towards founding a space-themed rock ‘n’ roll band?

Ivana: We truly believe in the future. And rocket science is our favorite hobby. So the space theme seemed obvious. And there were these urgent radio transmissions we received from Mars. Our mission was clear.

Val: The outer space theme opened up a whole universe of very cool stage costumes, super hero alter-egos (we’re big Marvel fans) and gravity-defying hair-dos. I have to say that was a big pro. Musically, I think we were all craving to get back to something that was direct, simple, rough and exciting. We love rock’n’roll, R&B, punk, country, and soul and so it was a bit of a no-brainer once we got together in the practice room.

Your debut album comes out March 6 [today!]. You chose a pretty vintage sound. Does your gear play a role in creating this sound? What gear do you play?

Ivana: My no-name guitar amp has one input where you plug in your cable. Then there’s one knob that you crank up to the absolute max. That’s it – there’s nothing left to be added.

Val: When we bought our instruments, they were old and cheap. Now they’re called vintage and cost a lot of money. But the amps and instruments we play are, of course, not just by chance. We like that old crunchy, hot valve sound. I play a really old Fender Bassmaster that was standing around in the practice room and a Fender Precision from the 70’s. Only bass I’ve ever had! But in the end, it’s only equipment and it’s what you play on your guitar and put into the amp that really makes the sound. It all starts at the source…

On your album there is a cover version of Smokey Robinson’s Motown classic “Get Ready.” What’s the story behind this?

Ivana: I love miscellaneous gibberish – ‘fee-fi-fo-fum’, ‘fiddley-dee, fiddley-dum’ and ‘tiddley-dee, tiddley-dum’. These are the three reasons why we choose this song.

Val: I also love Motown and Smokey Robinson. Those folks could really write the perfect 3-minute song. My other favourite of his is ‘Shop Around’. Perfect pop songs. Perfect melodies. And ‘Get ready, cos here I come’ seemed like a pretty good opener for a debut album..

Does Earth need women too? Let’s say for example, in music?

Val: There’s never been a time when there haven’t been female musicians actively putting out really good music. The only thing Earth needs is more appreciation and recognition of this fact. It’s getting a bit better but there’s still a ways to go.

You were recently signed onto the record label ‘B-Sploitation’ by Bela B., the drummer of famous German rock band Die Ärzte. How did this fall into place?

Val: I’ve been working with Bela for the last couple of years – playing guitar and singing with him in his solo band. A kind of June Carter to his Johnny Cash or Dolly Parton to his Porter Wagoner or whatever… When he heard I’d recorded an album with my band, he asked if we’d be interested in joining his label. We gracefully accepted.

If you had to describe your music to an extraterrestrial life form, what would you say?

Ivana: Take the heat and the brightness of a solar flare. Add the speed of a comet e.g. Comet Lovejoy, formally designated C/2011 W3, which was moving at 536 km/s when we last saw it. Flavour the mixture with a hint of juvenile recklessness – which follows an uncertainty principle like Heisenberg’s – and there you have it.

Val: Alternatively I’d make him run around in circles for 10 minutes until he’s totally out of breath, dizzy, heart pounding and then I’d shout very loudly in his ear until he doesn’t know up from down. Then I’d hit him with my favourite joke (the one about Darth Vader at Christmas) so we’re both rolling around on the floor laughing. That should do it.

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