Motley Crüe. Aerosmith. Def Leppard. For most, these names conjure an era of rock and roll that was once great, but has not reigned supreme since those four simple notes of Smells Like Teen Spirit sounded over the airwaves. Not so for the ladies of Cockpit, who are doing everything in their power to keep the good times spirit of arena rock alive and kicking. Made up of four no-nonsense female musicians, this band seeks to revive the monster riffs, showmanship, and yes, a bit of the camp of what they see as the greatest era of rock music.
Though she is only 26 years old, singer/guitarist Linda Lou grew up listening to the great hair bands of the eighties, as did all her bandmates. With the exception of bassist Terrii Kiing, who has a degree in music, all the band members are self-taught; “most of our ability,” Linda tells me, “comes from listening to all the rock albums we grew up loving and playing along to them.” This is especially impressive considering the level of technical skill required to play this type of music: unlike grunge or punk, metal songs are built upon riffs that are sometimes complicated and always fast. This all adds up to many hours spent trying to get that solo just right.
Fortunately, these women are up to the task. Talking to Lou, it’s clear how committed they are to the task of music making. “Every single one of us has pretty much always wanted to be in a band,” she tells me, and all of them have played in other bands that, for whatever reason, never panned out. The unique thing about Cockpit, she says, is “we all agree that it’s the first time any of us felt like we were in a band where each member of it was equally invested in working equally hard…there’s no dead weight in this band.”
This work ethic has helped them overcome many obstacles, including the reluctance of some people to accept an all (sexy) female rock band as more than simply a novelty act. “I think a lot of people are confused when they first see us,” says Lou; “they have a misconception that we’re not gonna be good because we’re all women, and that’s a really hard stereotype to break.” But, she says, “pretty much any time somebody sees us live that stereotype is broken immediately.” Though the band remains focused on their “primary objective,” i.e. “to write great songs that people will remember for a long time,” Lou says that if they “can help change some people’s perceptions of who should be in a rock band, that’s all the better.”
However, when asked if they feel some special sort of lady-bond, Lou is adamant that they’re just like any other group: “I don’t think that there’s any more of a bond in an all female band than there is in an all male band…just being in a band is kind of like this weird automatic family that happens no matter what gender you are, so I wouldn’t say it’s any different because it’s all female.”
In addition to dealing with issues of gender, they have the combined blessing and curse of playing a type of music that’s instantly recognizable as drawing its main inspiration from a bygone time. When asked what she’d say to critics who would dismiss them as a throwback band, Lou responds reasonably that she thinks “it’s kind of silly.” “All bands are influenced by what they grew up listening to,” she says, “I don’t think anybody could say that the rock bands that came out in the 70’s were throwback bands because they sounded like they were heavily influenced by blues, you know?” She goes on to tell me that “there’s definitely things about our music that are updated and are very now,” though I refrain from asking what those things are.
Regardless of the debatable newness of what they’re doing, this band is immensely fun. They just finished mixing their debut EP, which Lou describes as “good rock anthems with a classic feel.” If the band’s myspace page (myspace.com/cockpit) is any indication, the EP will be chock full of arena-filling riffs reminiscent of the aforementioned dude bands and strong, clear vocals that will remind you of Heart. They are touring heavily to support this EP, and according to Lou, audiences across America can expect “a lot of energy, and a lot of entertainment.” She says happily that they like to “engage the crowd and get everybody’s fists pumping in the air…make them part of the show.”
All this rocking out leaves time for little else, Lou says; “we rehearse constantly and most days in the week, any free time we have is spent with our families or friends…when we’re not doing that, it’s pretty much the band.” But they wouldn’t be a classic hair metal band if they didn’t party at least a little, so whenever they get the chance, they like to hang out at places like the Viper Room, the Dragonfly, and the Roxy. They often turn out to support their friends’ bands, but Lou admits “there’s not a lot of new stuff that’s come out that we really love that much, to be honest…the last show that we went to together was Van Halen at the Staples center, and that was pretty amazing.” A fitting response for a group singularly committed to rocking harder than anyone has in recent years. Love them or hate them, the ladies of Cockpit are committed to the big sounds of the '80s, and it shows.
Catch more of Cockpit at www.myspace.com/cockpit or at www.ILoveCockpit.com