By her own reckoning, Amy Gore couldn’t play guitar to save her life when she started the Gore Gore Girls in Detroit a decade ago. But she definitely had the itch. “It was a desire I couldn’t get rid of,” says Gore, whose playing, by the way, has improved dramatically since 1997. “I feel Herschell Gordon Lewis directed with the same determination.”
In case you didn’t know, Lewis directed 1972 B-movie masterpiece The Gore Gore Girls, from which Gore found inspiration and a pseudonym. “He took what was around him and made it happen,” she says, meaning: made it happen without a budget.
In the decade since the Gore Gore Girls’ schlock-inspired inception, Amy has transformed her all-girl quartet into a band equal parts Motown, rock ‘n’ roll, and theatrical stage show, complete with Gretsch guitars, knee-high boots, and go-go dresses. She calls their latest, Get the Gore, “the perfect representation of the concept, the idea, the style of the band.” They’re like Amy Winehouse without, you know, the obnoxiously public drug addiction — or, better yet, the Stooges trying to cover the Ronettes.
“I think it’s seen as a gimmick more than anything,” she concedes when pressed about how the music industry and even pop culture views an all-girl band that insists on wearing costumes. “My idea was to create a band that looked a certain way and sounded a certain way. They’re our characters; it’s who we play. It’s like a three-dimensional art.”
Nor could she really imagine taking the stage without the short dresses and shiny boots. “It’s part of the deal at this point,” she says. “I mean, what did you think when Kiss took off their makeup?”
So, yeah, there are folks who can’t quite get past the notion that the G-cubed just happens to consist of four women in go-go skirts, such as one snooty writer at SuicideGirls.com who recently told Gore he considered “an all-girl act as a novelty, gimmicky approach,” she reports. But she won’t admit to being bothered by such points of view. Gore insists that the only real bias the band contends with is that a lot of people just can’t seem to get past the stage antics and take them more seriously as artists. “I think there are way more novelty acts out there now based on humor — like all these joke bands,” Gore contends. “Like death metal is a parody. They’re making a joke out of rock ‘n’ roll, singing about girls and getting drunk. To me, most rock ‘n’ roll has become a parody of itself.”
Although they might not recognize it, the Gore Gore Girls offer up a bit of parody, too, albeit of the self-conscious, not-annoyingly-ridiculous sort. But beyond the gimmick of their personas, they do produce some genuinely great rock ‘n’ roll. There are the Gretsch-lovin’ “Fox in a Box” and “Loaded Heart,” but it’s “All Grown Up,” an undeniably fun cover of the Crystals classic, that defines their third full-length release, Get the Gore. It’s an anthem for female rockers everywhere.
It turns out that Gore and her sisters-in-rock are, as the song declares, more than willing to be who [they] want to be, no matter what pesky adults or snarky journalists, might say. And with a decade of performing under their belts, don’t expect the go-go dresses to be coming off anytime soon. Er, wait, that didn’t come out quite right.