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Interview: Simi; Lead Singer, Suffrajett

By Scott Smith in Miscellaneous on Jun 2, 2006 3:20PM

When Chicagoist started thinking about what band we thought would be perfect for our 2nd Anniversary Party at the Pontiac on June 8th, we pulled out our Rock Rolodex (tm) and looked for a group that was local, enjoys tossing back a few, and digs a good time as much as we do.

2006_06_suffrajett.jpgWe think you'll find that Suffrajett fits the bill quite nicely.

Formed in New York in 2003 by lead singer Simi and guitarist Jason Chasko before they set up shop here in 2004, Suffrajett mixes raw, personal lyrics with guitars that crunch and a rhythm section that pumps a thunderous heat into your bloodstream. Their most recent tour resembled something out of an episode of "Scooby-Doo" thanks to a busted van and a corpse in the basement of the house where they were staying. Little wonder then that rock writer Chuck Klosterman said you will like Suffrajett's music "if you tend to be frightened by the women you're attracted to."

Somehow we were able to keep our fear in check as we talked with Simi about their recent tour on the East Coast, plans for their next album, and what keeps them motivated onstage (hint: it rhymes with Shaker's Bark).

Chicagoist: How did you and Jason get started with the band in New York?
Simi: I was in a three-piece [band], and I was thinking of adding a fourth member. They were like “Oh you should meet this guy.” He ended up living three blocks away from me in the West Village. So he came over to my place, and we met and he started playing with us. I didn’t really like him at first. But he ended up being really great, and everyone else in the band was kicked out, and then we made our record ourselves.

C: You guys are just getting off a tour of the East Coast. How did that go?
S: We had a really fun time, actually. Our van broke down in Baltimore so that wasn’t good and we almost had to call off the tour. But a buddy of ours from NY saved us. Basically, we had to drive to NY and pick up a van and drive back to Baltimore and then drive back to NY to make the show, all in one day. That was fucked up.

C: Who usually drives the van?
S: The boys usually switch off driving. I got banned from the wheel. I almost killed everybody taking a turn so they were like “That’s it for you.” It would really ruin the whole day if I killed everybody.

C: Any other major problems?
S: Not really. We had one night when we were kinda wasted and our bass player fell into some trees and there was a big fight and all this bullshit happened. And we stayed at some people’s houses and there was some haunted dude downstairs or a dead guy downstairs, I don’t know. Someone saw a dead ghost downstairs in his house. A dead ghost! (laughs)

C: As opposed to the live ghosts you tend to see.
S: Yeah, so that was kind of a nuts night. I don’t know. It’s all a blur now.

C: So people fighting and corpses. You’re pretty much used to that at this point?
S: Yeah.

C: How are things going with the new album?
S: Hopefully we’ll be done mixing it by the end of next week. Then we’ll be getting the artwork done. It’s been kind of a long process. The two of us have been in the studio for days, weeks now, trying to get it right.

C: Is the new album the same kind of stuff we’ve heard on the EP?
S: I think the EP was a little bit clean-sounding, sterile maybe. We’re trying to get it to sound a little more like us, how we are live. Just a little dirtier.

C: Have you been playing any of the new stuff on tour?
S: We’ve been on the road so much, we haven’t had time to be home and rehearse and get the new shit together. We’ll have a couple new songs for the show we’re doing for you guys and then over the summer we’re going to get all the new shit down so we can start playing that out more.

C: What’s the hardest thing about being on tour? Do you miss being away from home?
S: I think it’s actually harder being home than being on the road for me. You just know what you’re doing, it’s a simple life. You wake up, you drive to the show, you play the show, you party, you go to sleep, you wake up, you go to the next show. You have your bag, it’s very simple. You don’t have to worry about anything else at all. It’s like a bubble.

C: How do you usually wind down after shows?
S: You know: have a drink, have a smoke. Take a hot shower.

C: So if someone were looking to buy you a drink at the show, what would you prefer?
S: I would prefer vodka and grapefruit. I’m into vodka right now. Vodka, grapefruit and pineapple. It’s summertime, you know? But not too many. I want to keep it together up there.

C: So the band’s not in favor of getting shots delivered to the stage?
S: Oh no, we love that. Anytime! Preferably one Jager, one tequila and two Maker’s. (laughs)

C: The lyrics in your songs tend to be very personal. Is that really what you’re feeling or is that all about creating a persona?
S: I think that I can’t be a faker. It’s just not in me. I want things to be as honest as possible. I don’t want to be too obvious or give too much away. I feel things a little too intensely sometimes, which can be to my detriment.

C: Good for songwriting though.
S: Yeah, it is. But it’s a double-edged sword because you have to deal with your mind being tortured all the time. I think I’m a happy person at the core.

C: Is there a song you almost didn’t record because it was too personal?
S: I think the song off the record called "Like You Better" is really … it just came out of me all at once and is a really honest song. Every time I sing it, I feel like “This is how I’m feeling.” It represents what’s going on inside of me. I’m proud of that one.