Band members generally do interviews, don’t they? If Amy from “Our Lady of Righteous Rage” did an interview, what would it be like? It would probably appear in Rolling Stone magazine. So, for your entertainment, here’s a mock interview with Amy, with an RS cover to boot!
Our Lady of Righteous Rage Plays Us A Song
Loud guitars, crazy lyrics and bouts of insomnia: Amy Edwards takes us into the weird world of Our Lady
By Nicole E Woolaston
Amy Edwards stands in the center of her closet, staring down at the row of shoes on the floor. They’re sneakers mostly; separated by brand. She wears only two: Converse and Macbeth. Everything else is a miss-mosh of various brands and styles acquired over the past few years from birthday gifts and photo shoots. “Almost all of my shoes have laces in them,” Edwards says, playfully kicking at a pair of burgundy Chucks. “Flats hurt the back of my heels, and high heels? Forget about it.”
Do you own any dress shoes?
“A few” she says. “But how often am I in a dress?”
It’s true: the girl from Bayside is, who she has always been. She’s not flowery dresses and brilliant manicures. She’s jeans and band tee’s. She wears her nails short on her left hand in order to play her guitars. She still hates the color pink.
“It’s despicable,” Edwards says. “It’s an okay color on its own, but not for clothing; not for me anyway. When I was born, I had almost no hair, and everyone thought I was a boy. So, until I was old enough to have my ears pierced, my mother always dressed me in pink. In fact, until the day she let me pick out my own clothes, most of what she made me wear was pink. So, I stared hating it. To this day, I can’t stand it.”
Which is why she has never worn the carnation pink sweater she received from a family member for one of her birthdays.
We move the conversation to the finished basement in the two-story house she shares with husband and band mate Rob Zickye. The entire basement is a musician’s dream, with Rob’s Sabian drum set, her guitars, recording equipment, Marshall amps, and a keyboard. On the walls, pictures of other bands, some of whom Our Lady has either opened for, or had the privilege of opening for Our Lady. Her first picture (and favorite) is on the far left.
“Me and [drummer] Tre Cool,” Edwards says, pointing to the picture in the black frame. “I met him completely by accident, when Our Lady was first getting started. One of the greatest experiences of my life.”
If you weren’t in this band, where would you be? What would you be doing?
She laughs, and shakes her head. “Probably still working retail,” she says. “Retail is brutal. I pity anyone with a retail job, especially cashiering. It’s the worst. And anyone who has never worked in retail who disagrees, needs to spend a year in retail. It’s a bitch.”
Would you want to do anything else?
Edwards pauses, thoughtfully. “I used to think so,” she says. “I mean, I can draw, and I do a lot of writing. But then I realized being in this band incorporates those other things. I get to write some of our songs. I help design our album covers. So, I’m right where I’m supposed to be. Plus, I get to coach my son’s band.”
Edwards’ son Jon and two of his friends formed Sons Of War And Peace only a few years ago, but they’ve already come a long way. During an Our Lady tour last year, Sons opened one of their New York shows. “They were scared to death,” Edwards recalls. “We did a show upstate, and they opened for us, for the first time ever. They were nervous, but once Jon played that first chord, they were okay.”
Is that what is was like for you, the first time you went on stage?
“The first time?” Edwards asks. “Its like that every time!”
“God, yes!” Edwards says. “Its not something you ever really get used to. I think its because every show is different. Anything can happen, anything can go wrong. People tell me to be optimistic not pessimistic, but I believe it being realistic. It would be different if the same people came to our shows, but it’s a different group every time, so you can’t look out in the audience and be comforted by a familiar face. Its always new.”
What helps you get over your anxiety?
“I remind myself I’m doing something I love,” Edwards says. “With three of the people I love most.”
Of course, those three are husband Rob, and longtime friends Nick Lianetti and Aidan Sirci. The four have known each other since high school, and have been a band for nearly ten years. They started out playing under the name Torch, which was the name of Lianetti’s old band. They broke up, and Lianetti attempted to form a new band with Edwards and her then husband (and Lianetti’s cousin) David Sarconi. Sarconi dropped out of the band and he and Edwards divorced shortly after. In need of a drummer, they turned to Rob Zickye. They played as a three-piece band until Lianetti reached a critical decision.
“He (Lianetti) thought I was being wasted as a bass player,” Edwards says. “He heard me sing and said I needed to sing with him more. He got in touch with Aidan and talked him into joining us. He became our bass player, and I moved up front with Nic.”
I heard this wasn’t an easy change for you.
Edwards smirks and looks away. “No, not really. I mean, it was cool just playing bass and singing back up. Nic wanted me to be in the front, next to him, playing my guitar and singing. I was scared to death! But I was willing to try it for his sake.”
We’re momentarily joined by Jon, Edwards’ son. He comes half-way down the steps and pokes his head into the room. He says hello, and says he’s on his way out the door to meet up with his band mates. Edwards nods and waves him on.
Is he as dedicated to playing as you are?
“Oh yes,” Edwards says. “They play together nearly four times a week, a couple of hours a day. And they’re good. I’m not just saying that because of Jon….they’re really freak’n good.”
Our conversation transfers from Edwards’ house to her office at Our Lady’s recording studio. The rest of the band is already there, along with their manager, Mike Murnsen. Murnsen has been with them since the recording of the first Torch CD. The band has been offered contracts with major labels, but has decided to remain independent. I asked Lianetti if they would ever reconsider.
“Signing with a major label would mean surrendering a lot of creative control,” Lianetti says. “We had a meeting with a label who will remain nameless in this conversation. They had all of these stupid ideas for our next record. We’re a punk band, and they wanted us to play pop music.”
“Nic hates pop music,” Sirci chimes in.
“We outlined our plans for Rise Resist Reform,” Lianetti says. “They said it wouldn’t work; concept albums were dead. We walked away, recorded Rise Resist Reform, and watched it climb Billboard’s Top Ten.”
The next hour or so is spent inside the recording studio down the hall. Edwards and Lianetti work on guitar solos while Zickye bangs away on his drums. Sirci fills in the gaps with a bass solo he’s been perfecting on his own. Lianetti has been playing with different effects on his guitar, and he’s encouraging Edwards to do the same.
“I have absolutely no coordination for this,” Edwards whispers as she stares down at the array of switches on the floor next to a foot pedal. “I don’t know how Nic does it.”
She plugs in anyway, and begins to play one of the band’s new songs, “Seeing in the Dark”. She’s playing the song on Jack, her Fender Starcaster. As Lianetti once put it, it’s “not the Monte Blanc of the Fender family”, but over the years it has served Edwards well. She and Sirci have tweaked it to perfection: working on the wiring and changing the pickups. Jack can now compete with any of Lianetti’s Gibsons. As she strums a few power chords, Edwards launches into the chorus of “Seeing in the Dark”. “I don’t need you to light my way/ I don’t need you to light my way/ Without you/ I’m getting better at seeing in the dark”.
There’s a brief intermission; the band discusses their next move. Lianetti yawns. Its contagious, as everyone else begins to yawn, too.
“Nobody sleeps in Our Lady,” Edwards says. “You just learn to deal with insomnia. If you wake up in the middle of the night with lyrics in your head, you have to get up and write them down.”
How much sleep do you guys get per night?
Lianetti smiles weakly. “Maybe three hours.”
Sirci nods in agreement. “Three sounds about right.”
Lianetti picks up a guitar and announces he wants to add a new riff he’s been working on, to “Seeing in the Dark”. Sirci adjusts the strap of his bass, while Zickye seats himself behind his drum set.
Edwards says this is the way it’s always been. Writing crazy lyrics. Functioning with little or no sleep. It’s tough, but they manage to hold it together.
What helps you guys function as a band?
“I believe we pull it off because we’re friends,” Edwards says. “Real friends. We were friends before we were in a band, and I think that’s very important. So if the day every comes when we don’t want to do this anymore, at least we’ll still have our friendship. I don’t think every band can say that.”
After rehearsal, Sirci and Zickye head out to pick up food for the band, Murnsen goes into his office to make a few phone calls. Lianetti stays behind with Edwards. She begins to recall the day Lianetti taught her the value of believing in the power of what being accomplished.
“He played Ray Charles’ Money: That’s What I Want on stage at a club one night,” Edwards says, nodding towards Lianetti. “It was just him, his guitar, an amp and a microphone. His vocals were killer and he really went to work on that guitar. It was one of his best performances. Afterward he told me he didn’t really know how to play the song on his guitar. He just played the chords he thought sounded correct, and sang. It completely blew my mind, because he had the crowd eating out of his hand.”
“It’s not about how well you play,” Lianetti said. “It’s about believing in what you’re doing. Even if you only know a few chords, you can play any song. Give the audience a show, and you’ll own the stage.”
“Even today, I still feel like my playing ability is limited,” Edwards says. “But because of everything Nic has taught me, I learned to take a little bit of knowledge and stretch it out.”
I asked Edwards what the next Our Lady album will be like.
“It’s gonna be dark,” Edwards says. “We’re considering the title, Spectre. Nic has a sinister idea for the cover art. Most of the songs we’ve been writing lately have been sort of creepy. They’ve had this very dark element to them. We go through these periods where everything we come up with has a common theme: political, humorous, dark…and so on. It seems to be based on whatever was going on in our lives at the moment. Or, in this case, whatever was serving as entertainment.”
What do you mean?
“We’re into horror movies,” Edwards says. “A lot of horror movies came out last year, and it had an effect on our writing—-especially Nic’s. We’ve all been watching more paranormal shows lately (Edwards is a huge fan of Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures). Plus we’ve picked up more Emo and Goth fans, and I think that had something to do with it, too.”
Is that why the band changed their colors to red and black ?
“I think so,” Edwards says.
In the adjacent building, is another one of Edwards projects. Last year she created a clothing line, Punk Couture. Her line consists of pieces designed for her Emo and Goth fans. There’s also a line of lipsticks and nail polish, known as 30 Shades of Black. All of the colors are either black, or black mixed with red, brown, blue or fuchsia. “I have a hard time finding what I like,” Edwards says of her shopping experiences. “I’m very picky when it comes to clothing. That’s why I started designing. I know what I like, and I won’t wear something just because it’s in season, or everyone else is wearing it. I have my own style.”
So we’re not likely to see you in pink or yellow?
Edwards smiles and giggles. “I don’t think so. Maybe if there are little skulls on the clothing.” She pauses. “But I doubt it.” NW
This is a promotional piece for the book “Our Lady of Righteous Rage”. I do not own any rights to the “Rolling Stone” logo. This was created for entertainment purposes only.