Navigating the music scene as a new band can be difficult at the best of times, but as a woman there can be extra challenges and perils that you might not have considered. Luckily we got in touch with Gemma and Amie from Uk prog-power metal band Dakesis, and they have agreed to share their top 10 tips for being girls in a metal band with you all.
Find some boys who are really good at instruments and get them to write all your songs for you. There is zero chance that any of the songs you write about ponies, kittens and make-up will cut it in the metal scene.
Make sure you choose the easiest instrument. It’s bass guitar incase you didn’t know. You don’t need any stage presence or personality, you can just literally play the open E string for an hour and as long as you’ve got enough cleavage out no-one will notice.
Your only other realistic option is to be the singer. Or backing dancer. If you’re not a backing dancer, remember definitely don’t be offended when a crew member asks if you are*, how can they be expected to know any better.
Be sure to be the only responsible member of the band. Drive the van, answer the emails and most importantly get really really good at making sandwiches. The boys only allow you to be in the band because they know you will always provide catering at practice. If you are rich/have rich parents even better. You MUST have some other skill or resource to make up for the fact that girls definitely cannot play metal music.
Picking out stage attire.
If you’re planning on going down the band t-shirt route, you definitely don’t have krieg enough shirts if you’re a girl, so borrow some from your boyfriend (who is probably also in the band and the only reason you bagged a space on the line up). Ensure the logos are unreadable, and that you don’t actually know any songs by the band. You then have two options: wear the oversized shirt as-is to show how much you don’t give a shit about looking good, or take a pair of scissors to it until there’s only the band logo and a few straps left to cover your modesty. There is no in-between.
If you decide not to wear band t-shirts and go for a more theatrical approach, something that makes you look like the princess bride of satan can really cement your position as the token girl, bonus points if you’re wearing 17 layers of taffeta but your guitar player looks like he strolled in off the street. I mean, why should he have to put in any effort to a cohesive band image anyway, he’s a real musician!
Preparing for your first live show.
As you’re only really there to be eye candy you don’t have to worry too much about knowing the songs, just make sure you look pretty and smile at everyone on the front row lots. Remember to ask the guitarist to tune up your bass on stage right before the set (as you definitely don’t know how to do it on your own).
If you’re borrowing the headliners gear, don’t bother asking them about their equipment, just draw a smiley face on their EQ to match the lovely beaming smile on your face! Whilst on that subject, don’t even think about doing anything but smiling nicely in all performances ever or someone, somewhere will say that you look bored and uninterested* (boys can grimace and pout as much as they like without question OBVIOUSLY)
After the show, under no circumstances get offended when someone tells you “You’re pretty good for a girl”, this is the highest praise you can expect from a soundman in a toilet circuit venue.*
Recording your first demos/E.P.
Just save yourself the trouble and get another male band member to play your parts for you. This is what will be assumed anyway.*
If you do decide to record your parts, don’t even think about making any suggestions on the tone, effects or equipment used, everyone knows that girls have no idea how all that technology works and the engineer will likely converse slowly and quietly with you as though you are some kind of adorable lost woodland animal if you dare make even the slightest suggestion*. When discussing your takes it’s highly probable that the engineer will direct all questions and comments about your voice/instrument to the nearest male band member*. He probably just thinks you’re a girlfriend who has come along to have a look at the recording process*
Getting your band on at a festival.
Sleep with the promoter, there is literally no other way that a band with a female member can get a prestigious festival slot. Established bands will tell you that they worked hard, sent off a professional press-pack, got a name for themselves on the scene or the organiser happened to see them play and was impressed, they might even tell you that they’ve played before and were requested back…but they are all lies!
Know Your Influences.
There is a chance you may have to conduct interviews. Chances are the interviewer will ask you about your influences and the style of the band. Don’t even think about going for an even slightly non-mainstream genre such as death metal, doom or prog. They will insist that your main influences stem from Evanescence and Lacuna Coil even if they aren’t*. You are after all either a female fronted metal band, or a symphonic gothic metal band.
Dealing with other women in other bands.
Don’t even think about trying to make friends with other women in the scene, women are naturally competitive bitches and they will spend all their time trying to put you down to make themselves look better.
Women -cannot- be trusted.
If you end up on a bill where more than one band has a female member, avoid the female dressing room (“dressing room” being the flooded toilets in the upstairs of the bar you are likely playing in) at all costs, it is a hive of PMS, backstabbing and lipstick.
Handling over-familiar male fans.
Even though the boys in your band will write all the music, inevitably there will be members of your fanbase who believe you are the only member worthy of their attention. They only want your signature on the CD and they definitely don’t want the male guitarist in the sweaty post-gig photograph they want taken.
When posing for said photo, it is perfectly acceptable for fans to put their hands wherever they fancy. You must remember that the boys most likely only let you in the band to be ogled at, and thus one of your most important jobs (secondary only to making sammiches) is to pose nicely regardless of the circumstances. These people after all are your only chance of selling enough merch to pay for your fuel ride home.
In the unfortunately too frequent possibility that someone thinks it is okay to get onto the stage whist you are performing and try and pull your top down**, make sure you thank them for the extra merch sales you might make that night,
Dealing with the online promotion of your band.
It’s absolutely your job to handle all social media and band communications. All messages will be addressed to you regardless of who actually handles managing the band.
The only thing you need to remember when posting updates is that a blurry picture with some cleavage will get approximately 400% more interaction than one of the male drummer doing something actually interesting.
You will probably get a lot of pictures of male genitalia*, requests for sexual favours* (or just out of the blue sexual comments regarding you and your appearance*) and if you’re really lucky hardcore porn and descriptions in Brazilian about how they would like to recreate it with you*. This is of course absolutely acceptable and as they are clearly expecting you to return pictures of your genitals, accept their advances or find some porn of your own to send back, it would only be polite to oblige!
What it’s really like being a girl in a metal band.
Okay so incase you havn’t noticed that this article is (largely) satire by now, every word above should be taken with tongue very much firmly in cheek. I mean at some point you will almost certainly encounter some cheeto-dust stained looser on the internet that genuinely believes that your place is in the kitchen, but by and large the metal scene is one of warmth, acceptance and brotherhood regardless of which way your buttons do up.
Unfortunately there are still fading remnants of sexism in the metal community, mostly (and unsurprisingly) in online forums and comment sections, but occasionally also out there at gigs. We have been asked if we are backing dancers, we have been told we are “alright for girls”, we have been told that our band would be better if we were guys and yes, we have been pawed at, gawked at and groped at. But you know what? That’s fine, because for every man trembling in his boots that a “shit female-fronted chick band”* are higher on the bill than Brother Metal and the Broflakes (the hottest all-male groove metal band ever to be seen in their local pub)* there are thousands of normal, everyday metalheads of both sexes just getting down to the music and enjoying a beer and a chat about the glory of Manowar with us afterwards.
We have to also say that we’ve been privileged to meet some incredible female metal musicians over the years who have paved the way to the general acceptance of women in the scene, a sisterhood of battle-hardened valkyrie warriors, combat wearing brutal babes and dreamy gothic princesses alike, and we are proud beyond measure to stand alongside them AND our male brothers-in-arms. 99.9% of the time being a woman in a metal band is exactly like being a dude in a metal band. Fucking awesome.
One final note. If you’re even contemplating rage typing a vile little rant in the comments about how we’re just two fat feminists with a chip on our shoulders because we can’t handle the fact that metal is only really for men anyway / women deserve everything they get when they step into a man’s world / all bands with women in suck anyway or the singular most hurtful thing you could say – YOU’RE IN A POWER METAL BAND WHAT DO YOU EVEN KNOW ABOUT METAL!!!11one…don’t bother. We’ve heard it all before, and nothing can stand in-between us and our love for metal. The music, the bands, the regional and genre scenes, crew and industry people, the fans, the noobs and elitists and all and everything in between are the reason we get out of bed every morning.
As a wise bald German herald once said, Metal is Forever.