Torrid Thursdays, hosted by that colourful creature, Kamil Krulis is a kooky, little shindig that takes place each week at Vicious Circle. On this particular night, the reoccurring toga party was underway which always produces a handful of sweaty, extrovert-y males wrapped in worn-out bed sheets—soiled beige, dragging on the floor—garnished with a bit of sparkle/face paint and some kind of tinsel crown stuffed in their hair. You can look, but you don’t really want to touch.
And then there are three fair ladies, looking like Rome’s finest goddesses, hair up held with golden leaves, wrapped like fresh flowers in glowing white, pink and teal togas. Although these garments are also recycled—window curtains cut up, apparently. Nonetheless, the trio looks spectacular; hips move in circular motions as they roam around on stage playing a lush brand of blues rock that ebbs and sways. All Hands on Jane, the crowd couldn’t agree more, especially when Kaitlin Gibson jumps up on her bass rig shaking a tambourine.
Ms. Gibson definitely registers as an object of desire. Recently she was identified in the Misconnections section on both craigslist and Kijiji as the girl in All Hands on Jane that someone was terribly fond of.
“When I read it I thought for sure it was someone I knew was making a joke, and kind of laughed it off,” says Gibson. “Then X92.9, because they read Misconnections over the radio, said All Hands on Jane on air, the thing about me, and my phone started going off. All these people I know calling.”
And the admirer was revealed?
“No. No one fessed up.”
Did you get to the bottom of who it might be?
“Noooo! I’m too scared, I don’t want to perpetuate anything. There’s a whole lot of crazy going on out there.”
The other two members of Jane, drummer Tess Thomas and guitarist-vocalist Teri Wagner, along with Gibson, grow quiet and ponder a potential stalker problem but only for a brief moment.
Thomas breaks the silence. “Let’s get a shot!” Tequilas soon arrive at the table basking in a warm, red light that fills the lounge. In Japanese they all shout, “One, two, three, cheers!” and quickly knock back the tequila, then bite into the lime. “Not bad,” someone remarks. “Yeah, it’s pretty smooth,” says another.
Although All Hands on Jane was formed in the fall of 2010, the current lineup with Gibson on bass is a pretty smooth experience as well. Surprising when you learn that Gibson, while trained on keyboards, only picked up the bass a mere nine months ago, and Wagner, who originally started on bass but now leads the band playing rhythm adding tasty leads and fills on electric guitar, has only been at it a little over a year.
Often compared to a grungy version of Sabbath, Jane actually started out with another singer on acoustic guitar doing what Wagner, scrunching up her face, refers to as “lady, coffee house music.” Something she obviously wasn’t into. “No, I’ve always had a little of Seattle in me,” she reveals. “I also definitely love Black Mountain, and wanted to go more in that direction.”
Thomas is a hardcore Zeppelin fan who also loves dance music along with bluegrass, banjos and pot-smoking country. She’s amazed at Neil Peart’s technical prowess but cites Bill Ward’s laid back swing in Sabbath as the major influence on her drumming style and admits to having Master of Reality stuck in her car stereo for “months.” When combined together, Thomas attacks her instrument closer to Keith Moon more than anything else. Clearly, she wasn’t suited for mellow, girl rock either.
Breaking off with the original singer Thomas and Wagner started playing as a two-piece that included a long progression of shows over several months slotted between metal bands at Vern’s. Both girls sing high praises for Clint, the club’s big burly owner for all the gigs he gave them allowing Wagner to stomp on her orange fuzz box and Thomas to smash her kit silly.
“Those shows at Vern’s really opened it up for us. I can’t say enough about Clint,” raves Wagner with Thomas nodding along expressing her gratitude. “He was phenomenal giving us that live experience even though we weren’t technically ready for it.”
The two-piece would run its course within six months, at which point Wagner says, “We wanted a warmer, ‘60s sound to fill things out.” Enter Gibson, a high school friend of Thomas who agreed to join the budding rockers after witnessing just one show thinking, “It could be fun.” Gibson is the pop fan in the band, fascinated with electro-dance, funky grooves, Gossip, Black Keys and Pink Floyd and also loves the Beatles, “mostly for the warm bass tones.”
With Gibson in the band, they started learning how to play their instruments better and songs took on a new shape. “It came fairly naturally,” explains Wagner. “Just being comfortable with the guitar, and becoming more experimental, thinking that, ‘Hey it’s okay. I don’t have to play chords all the way through. I can break it up a bit, leave some space, diversify.’”
Jane may have a Sabbath connection and a bit of Seattle seeping through (Nirvana’s “Love Buzz” often makes the set list), but they noticeably deviate from metal and punk by absorbing the big, gushing bluesy feel of Cream and Hendrix and drawing from Mudhoney’s sweet spot, fuzz box psychedelia.
Wagner’s vocals are far from punk as well. Smooth, melodic and seductive, she freely admits that she really only writes love songs and has a deep affection for Eric’s Trip, Hayden and Julie Doiron.
The outcome is a different kind of girl band. Loud, full of guitar built on a tough rhythm section, but not aggressive and ripping, tearing away. Instead the counterpart is flowing, enticing, persuasive and sensuous even when wrapped up in old window curtains.
“I definitely want to make music…” Wagner sighs, and pauses, “Hmm, what’s the word I’m searching for here.”
“It’s sexy,” jumps in Thomas, then blurts out, “It’s sex, rock and roll. That’s exactly what it is.”
“Yeah,” Wagner agrees. “When I listen to Queens of the Stone Age, I want to have sex. I’m a bit careful with that because we’re three girls in a band, but I definitely find that some of those breakdowns are just… aaaaaah!”
There’s some quiet reflection over the idea that playing rock ‘n’ roll is a sexy thing. But a consensus by All Hands on Jane is quickly reached. Thomas, once again, breaks the silence opting to be the spokesperson, “Yeah, playing good rock and roll really is just that.”
All Hands on Jane release their new EP at Broken City Friday, August 24.
By B. Simm
Cover photo: Melissa Molloy