Ginger Coyote Goes One On One With The One And Only
Cecilia Frightwig
Interview By: Ginger Coyote
We have been friends forever and I decided it was time to ask one of my favorite drummer's a few questions..... I hope you enjoy my one on one with the fabulous Cecilia Frightwig...
Punk Globe:
Thanks so much for the interview Cecilia. Can you give the readers some background on yourself?
Cecilia Frightwig:
Well, first I want to thank YOU for your interest and enthusiasm for Frightwig. A long time ago when I was first on the scene, I never dreamed I would someday be interviewed by Punk Globe. Life has twists and turns and you just never know how things will turn out.

I have to admit my background is boring. I was born in California, raised in Arkansas, divorced in Texas, and came into my prime in San Francisco. I took piano lessons as a child, and that gave me the basis for the music and writing that came after. I grew up at a time when everyone had a piano in the living room and music was encouraged in the family. But growing up in Arkansas, I felt very isolated. In the summer of '67, I was 11, marooned in Little Rock, and sulking because I knew something very cool was going on in California. It was my goal to get out to California and I finally made it in 1978.
Punk Globe:
How old were you when you decided that drums would be your instrument of choice?
Cecilia Frightwig:
Actually, piano was my first instrument. From a very early age, I had the awareness that I would always play music, or be creating in some way. I had encouragement from an old boyfriend to pick up any and every instrument I could, and not to be afraid to make mistakes or sound awful. That advice literally en-couraged me, gave me courage to be adventurous with music. I played guitar, recorder, autoharp, and tried banjo, although that never worked out for me.

At around age 25 or 26, I had moved from San Francisco down to Woodside, and had a stupid job that involved going down to southern California. I was flying into LA, and I was just disgusted with my life. I looked out the window as we were landing, and I clearly said to myself, "Fuck this. I'm learning drums." A couple of weeks later, I started taking drum lessons.
Punk Globe:
Tell us about your first set of drums and what color were they?
Cecilia Frightwig:
I bought my first drums from one of my workmates for $100. They were cheap Japanese copies, just horrible. Two of the drums were black and one was brown. They were awful, but they made a big noise. I was in heaven!
Punk Globe:
Stylin' Girlfriend!!! Tell us about your first band Cecilia?
Cecilia Frightwig:
Soon after I started drum lessons, I moved back to San Francisco. Of course, I couldn't have drums in an apartment, so I looked around for a rehearsal space. My sister knew someone who knew someone else who managed the Vats. Through that connection, I rented a vat and moved in on a Sunday. By Wednesday, I was in two bands---not because I was a good drummer, but because I had a rehearsal space. I don't remember their names, but I will say they were completely dreadful. One was a punk band, the other a blues band.
Punk Globe:
You go with your bad self.... Who were some of your inspirations?
Cecilia Frightwig:
I think if you listen to some of my vocals on some songs, you will hear John Lennon in there. When I'm onstage blowing up, I think—or I hope—you will see some shades of Iggy Pop. When I write, I am trying to produce a mix of Frank Zappa, Hunter S. Thompson, and Joan Didion. These are my inspirations. They were powerful to me. The Ramones and the GoGo's were very important, and inspired me to think I could get up there, too, and that punk rock was valid in the larger world, not just our little scene.
Punk Globe:
I love your inspirations... The Ramones rule... Had you played with any bands in San Francisco prior to Frightwig?
Cecilia Frightwig:
My first band in Houston was a cover band and I was just singing harmonies. We played songs by Kansas, Boston, and Yes. That was a good education, because the harmonies in that kind of music were very important. I was ultimately kicked out because I suggested we learn a song that was too "rough," not the kind of repertoire they wanted to play. The song was the Beatles' "Birthday." The guys in that band were really nice, but they did me a great favor by kicking me out.

In San Francisco, I was in one band that was kind of punk, rough blues. We played a gig at the S.F. Motorcycle Club and once at the Sound of Music. I can't remember anything about how we sounded. I think we probably had more fun than anyone in the audience. We were probably very annoying.
Punk Globe:
When and how did you join Frightwig?
Cecilia Frightwig:
My first gig with them was a street party in May 1984. I remember first seeing them at the Mab in '83 with Al, the drummer from MDC. I was totally digging them and I told him I wanted to play drums in THAT band! He put the kibosh on that right away, saying, "I think they're very happy with the drummer they have." So I forgot about that. Six months later, I was in the band. You know, things happen. Like I said at the beginning, life has twists and turns that you could never predict.
Punk Globe:
Tell us some of your favorite shows from the early days?
Cecilia Frightwig:
I don't think it's a "favorite," but one memorable show was when we opened for They Might Be Giants in NYC. We were playing at our friends' venue, 8BC, and I didn't realize they had a pet rabbit that lived on the stage. This rabbit would come out from backstage and hop around around while bands were playing and turn over their beers and lick up the beer. The rabbit had a taste for alcohol. So Frightwig is playing, and this little white bunny comes out and turns over my beer. I can't get to him to shoo him away, because I'm in the middle of a song. That little guy drank my beer! I was so mad at They Might Be Giants, because I thought it was THEIR rabbit. I was making all these negative judgments about them, and how pretentious it was to bring your rabbit to a gig!

There was another gig, I have no idea where it was, but it was in the midwest. The sound man at this club had some effects that he put on our voices for some HEAVY psychedelic vibes. Susan Miller and I were in heaven! This guy totally got us, totally understood what we were doing. It was like he knew our music and knew what was coming next, and when we were revving up, he would slide this effect or turn a dial and transform our vocals into pure psychedelia. It was like he was another member of the band, because of his participation. It was an amazing gig, at least for us!
Punk Globe:
That is what the Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" is about!! Who were some of your favorite bands to play with?
Cecilia Frightwig:
We loved playing with Snakefinger. Their audience didn't always get us, but every show was good with them. We loved playing with the Butthole Surfers. They were our soul brothers, so twisted and fun. DOA was very kind to us, very sweet, and their music really inspired me. They were our big brothers, and invited us to open for them in Europe. That was such an opportunity! My favorite bands were all the ones whose music I really loved to listen to, and who were also very kind to us. Let me tell you, onstage is one thing, but backstage is where you find out the real deal. Are the band members nice? Is there some kind of ego contest going on? I don't subscribe to that hierarchy. It costs NOTHING to be kind and compassionate, yet it always pays me back ten-fold. I get so much friendship back when I am friendly.
Punk Globe:
In what year did Frightwig decide to call it quits and did you join any other bands?
Cecilia Frightwig:
Hmm, well Frightwig had personnel changes but philosophically, I don't think you could say we called it QUITS. "Quits" is forever, yet here we are, playing just like no time has passed. When people left the band, it was because they had to, and it was better for the band that they leave. Rachel slipped out, I came in, Susan came in, Mia slipped out, people coming and going, but it was all good, ultimately. This band is more like "Hotel Frightwig," in that you can check in any time you like, but you can never leave!

In 1987, it became clear to me that I really needed to not be in the band. You know how emotions whirl and eddy in the underground; well, my currents changed and I just felt like the band was a cross-current that was making too much upset in my inner life. In other words, there was no event that happened that made me leave. It was an inner event, and I had to stay true to myself and treat that event as important.

I left and kept writing and playing in the living room, but no bands. It wasn't Frightwig that was the problem, it was just that I needed to go in a different direction. It wouldn't have made sense to get back into another band, but I definitely kept writing. Once a writer, always a writer. I played guitar by myself, did some experimenting and fooling around, but mostly just worked a day job and dealt with life and growing up. This is important work, and I think I did a good job!

Back in 2003, I joined a local band in northern California, and I was playing accordion and singing, if you can believe it. I had bought my first accordion at a sidewalk sale and taught myself to play. If you know how to read music and you know some music theory, you can fool around on many instruments! So I fell in with some fun people and we had a little band that played on weekends, doing country and folk and some rock. That band is no more, but the friendships remain!
Punk Globe:
I guess I should have used the word hiatus rather than quits... You also moved out of the Bay area. Where did you relocate to?
Cecilia Frightwig:
I went to NE California. My nearest Trader Joe's is in Reno, Nevada, just to give you an idea of where I am.
Punk Globe:
You live in the same area as Meri St. Mary Tell us about your life in the country?
Cecilia Frightwig:
I live with my husband in a little cabin that is off the grid. Now, that probably sounds like we're survivalists or something, but I'll tell you right now that we just didn't know any better and accidentally created this really cool situation. We are computer nerds, not survivalists, and we live in this cabin because it's just too hard and expensive to get permits to build in this county. So we just live in the structure that was here when we bought it. I don't know any adult who voluntarily lives like us. It's simultaneously difficult and yet very peaceful and strange. I don't know how else to describe it. None of my friends wants to do what we're doing. If I'd known how hard it was going to be, I wouldn't have done it, either. I hear people say that about having kids, too, but they're still glad they have kids.
Punk Globe:
I watch "Survivor" if that counts for anything! This last year you won Homecoming Queen at the San Francisco Punk Homecoming 2013 that was held at The Verdi Club. Tell the readers about that?
Cecilia Frightwig:
Now, is that just the most bizarre thing to ever happen! I tell you, I was floored. I was not expecting that.

First, the SF Punk Homecoming was a weekend event featuring an old-style punk line-up of bands from the original scene in San Francisco. It was an amazing event just by itself, and for a laugh, they called it a Homecoming and took nominations for king and queen. It wasn't serious, just a joke really, because NONE of us ever participated in that stuff in high school. This was our lampoon of the straight world.

I was getting ready to leave the Club to do an errand. I was just this close to leaving, and then they announced Cecilia Frightwig won homecoming queen. What! I thought it was quite a hoot. And then they announced Eddie Valentine as the king and that was just the best thing ever, because he is a really sweet guy and a good friend. We went up on stage and got these second-hand crowns (which we exchanged) and plastic skull goblets, and little skull busts of a queen and king. We hammed it up and had a great time!

But I must say during that very same weekend there was a real homecoming contest in Huntington Beach, California, where a transsexual teen girl was voted homecoming queen. I was so proud of that school. That was a real homecoming event that meant something. I was thinking about those kids supporting that sweet homecoming queen, Cassidy Campbell, and my heart went out to them. Our little homecoming was all in good fun. Their homecoming was a wonderful step forward for acceptance and a sense of FAMILY.
Punk Globe:
The Transgender girl winning Homecoming Queen was epic! But did you have any idea that you were going to win?
Cecilia Frightwig:
No, I didn't even think about it. The fact that I got so many votes is probably an indication that people really liked Frightwig when we'd played the night before. We are really grateful for the recognition that people are giving us now.
Punk Globe:
When you won did Julie Brown's "The Homecoming Queen Has Got A Gun" run through your mind?
Cecilia Frightwig:
AHAHAHAHA NO! But I just re-listened to it and it's perfect! However, I must say, guns are not really my style.
Punk Globe:
The song is beyond guns.. It's all about fun!! Overall, how do you think the show went over?
Cecilia Frightwig:
I think the Punk Rock Sewing Circle did an amazing job of herding cats, creating a great atmosphere for reminiscing and visiting, and building the energy to an amazing finale. I think it was so much more than just a weekend of music. It was an invocation of spirit, misspent youth, dreams and the old camaraderie that was flowing so long ago.
Punk Globe:
Who were some of your favorite bands from the event?
Cecilia Frightwig:
I enjoyed Death Valley Girls, the Blowdryers, the Alley Cats, Rubber City Rebels, and Thrill of the Pull. I particularly love the Mutants and got very emotional when they were playing. They are big fun and I love the humor and intelligence in their songs. Factrix is MY kind of music, and I was ready to party. Their music just resonates with me. Nervous Gender was very exciting, very old-school. I loved their set and their vibe onstage. Winston Tong was very moving, very beautiful. It was such a privilege to see him. White Trash Debutantes were rocking and played an excellent set! I love staying true to the punk spirit. We need that spirit in this world.
Punk Globe:
Thank you for the compliment Cecilia... We aim to please and of course Rawk! Frightwig played in Austin, Texas tell us about that?
Cecilia Frightwig:
We were invited to participate at MEOWCon, Musicians for Equal Opportunities for Women. This conference provided a place for women in music to come together for presentations and workshops, and trade stories, tips, advice, and get to know each others' music. Frightwig was asked to participate in a panel on.... FRIGHTWIG. It was very surreal to be interviewed like that and get questions from the audience. The conference had music at night, and Frightwig got to play and introduce our music to a whole new crowd. We also saw some wonderful bands there, and I enjoyed hearing MyDolls and Jane Lee Hooker.
Punk Globe:
Much congratulations! I also hear you had a great New Years show....Do tell all?
Cecilia Frightwig:
We were honored to open for Redd Kross and the Melvins at the Great American Music Hall. I thought it was a great line-up, if I do say so myself. We had a wonderful time! Redd Kross are old friends, and the Melvins are now new friends. I love it when people are mellow and friendly. It makes the whole night more enjoyable. We all rocked our hearts out and I think Frightwig got some new fans that night. Eddie Valentine, the Homecoming King, was there to assist with our make-up and hair. He is fun to have backstage, let me tell you. I wrote a more detailed report on my blog and also posted some pictures:
http://cfrightwig.tumblr.com/post/72992847555/our-new-years-eve-gig
Punk Globe:
Does living a few hours away from where the others live cause any problems?
Cecilia Frightwig:
I suppose it does, but what we have really noticed is that everyday life with responsibilities causes problems. The expense of living in San Francisco causes problems. Having a job causes problems. Life, in general, has changed for everyone. This makes us very focused when we get together. When we come together to practice, we must make it worthwhile. We value our time even more. So having the "problem" makes us work together better.
Punk Globe:
What does 2014 have in store for you and Frightwig?
Cecilia Frightwig:
Frightwig is busy writing and recording this year. It seems like people are ready for Frightwig now in a way they weren't, back in the 80s. Does that make sense? I mean, maybe we were ahead of our time and now in 2014, people are ready for that Frightwig energy! Putting out another album just seems like the right step to take!
Punk Globe:
Who are some of your favorite female drummers?
Cecilia Frightwig:
My favorite is Yvette "Babygirl" Preyer. She is very soulful and she sings. She has played with Michael McDonald, who is not my favorite, but I like what she does, not who she plays with.

I like Kasey, the drummer from 9th Moon Black. The music is good and the vibe of the band is very unusual. They're an instrumental doom/psychedelic band out of Eugene, Oregon.

I enjoy the playing of Akiko Matsuura, of Comanechi, a duo out of London. Their music is primal and has that good punk energy. She's also a singing drummer.

I love to watch Lynne Perko-Truell, of Imperial Teen. She is another singing drummer. Their music is very catchy and moving. They are also old friends of Frightwig.

Patty Schemel used to play in Hole, then I saw her at the Homecoming, with Death Valley Girls. Now she's touring with Upset, a female band with a great sound. She is a great drummer. I always learn a lot from watching other drummers. It's part of my ongoing education.

Of course, I have a special place in my heart for Gina Schock of the GoGo's and Karen Carpenter, another singing drummer.
Punk Globe:
You also take over lead vocals at some point in the show. Who plays drums then?
Cecilia Frightwig:
We usually ask the drummer from one of the other bands on the bill, but Mia is also ready to take over at any time. She is a very powerful and dramatic drummer and I admire her style very much! At the Homecoming gig, Patty Schemel of the Death Valley Girls helped us out on that song. At the new year's gig, Steve McDonald from Redd Kross helped us out.
Punk Globe:
Please give the readers some Internet addresses to find out more about you and Frightwig. Frightwig's website: http://frightwig.org/
Follow Deanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FrightwigDeanna
Follow Cecilia Frightwig on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfrightwig
Cecilia's blog: http://cfrightwig.tumblr.com/
Look up Frightwig on Facebook
Punk Globe:
Describe yourself in three words?
Cecilia Frightwig:
Dork. Opinionated. Sincere.
Punk Globe:
Thank you for the interview. Any words of advice for young girls wanting to play drums?
Cecilia Frightwig:
Young drummers, listen to the recordings of the bands you admire. Study those songs, play along with them. For young women who want to play ANY instrument, I highly recommend learning to read music. Take lessons. Reading music helps you with many instruments. Take yourself and your music seriously, and maybe put off getting drunk and doing drugs. Life is long and maybe you can catch up later on all your partying. But for right now, just get some maturity and tend to your craft. There will always be time for the negative drama later, I promise.

For ANY punks out there who are struggling with life, trying to find yourself or what you're supposed to do with your life, take heart. I have to say I'm not a huge success in life and I have made a lot of mistakes. I ask that you just keep going, inhabit your space and just be YOU. Give yourself a chance. You don't have to justify your existence or prove that you deserve to be here. You don't have to look a certain way or make a bunch of money. You don't have to have it all figured out by a certain age. You have a right to be here just as you are. You are welcome on this earth.
Punk Globe:
Thank you Beautiful!!!! You Rawk and Rule!




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Comments on
Cecilia Frightwig

Name:
Karen Schavoni
Time and Date:
0:17:28 07/02/14
Comment:
Awesome interview. You Rock Cecilia...

Name:
katheleen
Time and Date:
13:04:01 31/01/14
Comment:
wonderful interview!

Name:
Sue
Time and Date:
14:38:10 07/02/14
Comment:
Thank you for this!!!!

Name:
Ditto
Time and Date:
15:52:37 07/02/14
Comment:
Cool interview, Cecilia! Damn! Frightwig has done some major cool gigs!!!!!!!!!!! Way to go, old friend! Isn't accordion fun?

Name:
Chiron8839
Time and Date:
2:20:51 07/02/14
Comment:
Great interview. I missed most of the 70s and all of the 80s (prison), but Cecilia F. has been one of my chief informants about what went down back then, in the years since I've been out.

Name:
Mr. Edward Taste Valentine
Time and Date:
20:37:08 04/02/14
Comment:
WoW! So honest, so real. That's my "Queen" Ginger and you did her proud. You both Rawk my whirl and I feel so happy and blessed to have both Frightwig and Punk Globe/Ginger Coyote in my life. Keep the faith ladies. PUNK ROCK! \(^o^)/

Name:
Marty
Time and Date:
22:57:20 06/02/14
Comment:
A great interview with a wonderfully talented fascinating woman who is also a real sweetheart.

Name:
Shadoe
Time and Date:
6:27:23 07/02/14
Comment:
This unbelievable woman is stunningly beautiful inside and out. Thank you, Punk Globe for this wonderful interview!