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Zepparella Is Zeppelin Meets Barbarella, Of Course

By Casey Moffitt in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 11, 2014 4:00PM

Photo by Ransom & Mitchell

With 1,001 Led Zeppelin cover bands roaming the country it can be a little tough to differentiate one from another, but the ladies in Zepparella have found a way to do it. Not only is the band comprised of all females, but has incorporated a Barbarella theme to the stage show. We caught up with bass player Angeline Saris yesterday to talk a little bit about the unusual California-based quartet and their Chicago debut Friday night at Bottom Lounge.

Saris explained drummer and founding member Clementine had a fascination with Barbarella when she had the idea to put together a Zep cover band.

"She didn't want it to be like every other cover band, but she wanted to honor the era," Saris explained. "Barbarella came out around the same time as Zeppelin and she developed a look for the stage show."

The ladies in Zepparella don all white outfits on the stage. Saris said that started with the act's first show nine years ago.

"At the first show, Clementine choreographed the movie with the music," Saris said. "She timed the whole thing out and set the movie to the music, and they projected the movie on the stage. They wore all white so the movie projected onto them. I guess the audience was enamored by the white outfits and they just stuck with it."

Saris said she, too, thought the white outfits were pretty wild when she first saw the act.

"I think it's so powerful, visually," she said. "Everyone pops on stage. We really don't want to look like Led Zeppelin. It just doesn't work. We tried one year on Halloween and were all looking at each other like, 'Why are we doing this?' It really wasn't attractive."

Plus, Saris has the added bonus of not having to sport a haircut like John Paul Jones.

"I know, right?" she exclaimed with a giggle. "He was good-looking man, but that haircut! It just isn't a very good look."

Although the Barbarella theme was incorporated into the stage show, Saris said audiences can expect the band to be pretty true to the music.

"We've all studied our respective members of the band and understand what they were doing on those albums," Sari said. "But we do our own take on the songs, too. We try to have fun with them. Like on "Whole Lotta Love," we break it down and improvise over it and try to make it our own a little bit.

"We'll play some of the greatest hits, but we like to do some of the B-sides, some of the more eclectic stuff that we think are just fucking awesome songs," she continued. "And bring your earplugs because it's loud rock. I mean, it's really fucking loud."

All four members of Zepparella have fairly impressive resumes on their own and work on their own original projects aside from the cover band. Saris said when she was first approached to join the group, she wasn't particularly interested.

"I never played in a cover band or with an all-girl band either, and I never really had any intentions to do so," she said. "I thought I was going to have to move and I wasn't really interested in that. But after (guitarist) Gretchen (Mann) asked me to join, I had a dream that I was taking out a pair of all-white pants from a Goodwill bag. So I think it was supposed to be."

Plus playing Zeppelin songs is a lot of fun, and the audiences seem to enjoy it, she said.

"I find it fulfilling," she said of playing with Zepparella. "The people who come out are really happy and it's great to see their faces light up when we play. Plus the girls are all super positive and we like to hang out and talk to the fans for a good hour or so after the show. It's fun."

"And for me it's a unique experience," Saris said. "I've played with mostly men. I think it's powerful to play with the girls. There's something to be said for an all-women band like this. It's cool for young girls and women to see other women get on stage playing Zeppelin songs and rocking out."

Zepparella will perform with Model Stranger on Friday, July 11, at Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake St., 8 p.m., $15, 17 +