Two of The Sunset Strip’s sexiest and most ferocious female rockers—Jodie Schell (photo 2), frontwoman for The Shakers, and Candice Levinson (photo 3), guitarist for Warner Drive — have been playing (and singing) circles around many of their male musician contemporaries as their respective bands take the regional rock circuit by storm, selling out shows wherever their spike-heeled stilettos step foot.
Gearing up for two very hyped, headlining shows at the world famous Viper Room, these stage sirens recently took a break from grueling rehearsal schedules to do a little window shopping at The Sunset Strip’s home furnishings flagship, Diva Rocker Glam, and interview each other, swapping stories and comparing notes on what it means to “play like a girl.”
Schell: What Top 40 artist did you rock out to as a kid that might surprise your fans?
Levinson: That's a tough one because I didn't really listen to Top 40 as a kid. However, the first CD I ever got was from my dad… it was Prince. You can't go wrong with Prince!
Schell: What are the top two questions you get asked after a show; and do they vary from the questions your bandmates get asked?
Levinson: Sorry, but I’m going to have to change it to the top three questions:
-What's it like being the only girl in the band? (Jonny Law gets the same question.)
-How long have you been playing guitar?
-Who in the band are you dating?
Schell: I'm so excited that Europe will have the Warner Drive experience this August. The band received an amazing amount of support during your Kickstarter.com campaign to raise funds for the trip. Can you tell me what that was like to start that campaign and watch the numbers climb?
Levinson: First off, I have to express how grateful we are to our fans and friends for supporting us in this way. The only thing better than actually raising the money to make our first European tour possible, is the fact that so many people actually care enough about our band to want to help us make this a reality.
When we first launched the Kickstarter campaign, I can’t tell you how many people told us we would never raise the money. I will admit that it was pretty satisfying to prove them wrong! It was most definitely very exciting to watch the numbers climb every day because at some point I said to myself, “Wow this crazy thing is actually going to happen!”
Schell: If and when Warner Drive become wildly wealthy and successful, what are some rock and roll decadences you one day plan on indulging in?
Levinson: Rock band decadence…. I love new socks, but I feel like once you wash them they are just never the same. One day I hope to be so rich and famous I can wear a new pair of socks every day!
Schell: Who in the band is the smelliest? And you don't have to tell me the name, just rhyme it with something.
Hmmm, you may not believe me, but the guys in Warner Drive don't smell at all! While on the road, we fight over who gets the first shower!
Levinson: How long have you been singing in bands, and how did you get in to it?
Schell: My mom and dad were folk musicians, and were actually in a band together. They taught my sisters and I four-part harmonies when we were little, so we would stay busy in long car rides (and so we'd leave them alone). That led to years of performances for relatives: "Lets go, girls. Grammy wants to hear Walk Like An Egyptian again.”
When I moved to L.A. to be the Greatest Actress Of All Time, mom gave me her guitar so I could "keep creating." I taught myself to play and joined a little singing duo, and then a Southern rock tribute band called Barnfire [laughter]. I also did some little solo shows and started songwriting…then The Automatic Music Explosion, a punk/power pop band, swooped me up. But I wanted to write songs again, and front my own band, so The Shakers was the perfect fit!
Levinson: Where are some of your favorite places to play a show in the United States?
Schell: Southern Utah is our happy place for sure! It's beautiful, and the people out there are ravenous rock fans. The energy they give you when you're onstage is pretty overwhelming, and there is always a warm meal, and a cozy home to stay in. I'm always grateful!
Levinson: Are there any superstitious rituals that you do before a show? I know I definitely have some and I wanted to see if you are as crazy as I am…
Schell: It could take us ten minutes to get ready for a show, but I prefer to spend a good 90 minutes; get some favorite tunes playing… I get pumped when I hear a really cheesy old pop song from the '50s or '60s, or some Bon Scott. I wanna play dress up a little, I want a cold beer, I want time to get ready... But the reality is I'm usually racing to sound check, and I'm four minutes late already, and I'm putting mascara on at traffic lights while I'm making really awful voice warm-up noises.
I always get a "break a leg" text from my mom right before I go onstage (even when it's way past her bedtime), which is cute. I'd really miss that if I didn't get those.
Levinson: What advice would you have for a young female musician wanting to be in a band?
Schell: Never let anyone convince you that there's a set role you need to fill. Create your own path and define your own role.
Levinson: Do you think you chose to be a musician or did it choose you?
Schell: I don't think the choice was in my hands. If it had been, I'm far too indecisive, I'd still be stuck standing at the crossroads somewhere looking down the path to a husband and motherhood, looking down the path to corporate jobs with suits, and medical insurance, the path for acting, etc. I could be a thousand different things and I'd be good at it, but I'd never be as happy as I am when I'm onstage singing a song I helped create.
The Shakers play The Viper Room tonight, July 7, with special guests Black Carl and Pink Fuzzy Animals. Doors open 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door. www.ilovetheshakers.com
Warner Drive play The Viper Room Friday, July 13, with special guests Lady Sinatra and Beta Wolf. Doors open 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. www.warnerdrive.com
Known as Hollywood’s “Best Kept Secret,” the Diva Rocker Glam flagship showroom is located at 8711 in the heart of The Sunset Strip's Sunset Plaza. Established in 2009 by interior design diva Cindy Rocker, Diva Rocker Glam is the epitome of ultra elegant, sophisticated and glamorous furniture, lighting and accessories. www.divarockerglam.com
Photos courtesy of Genie Sanchez