Word by Alex Pompili
Heavy metal vocalist, Betsy Weiss with Hollywood’s own, BITCH, took some time to do an interview with Rock Journalist, Alex Pompili for Tempi-Dispari, Rome,
Betsy, what has been your musical influence and your approach to the music?
I’ve always maintained that my influence as far as wanting to front a rock and roll band is Alice Cooper. He’s the epitome of a front-person playing a character, as I do with “Betsy Bitch”. And even though I adore Alice’s interpretations of songs, my true vocal influence is Robin Zander, lead singer of Cheap Trick, the best rock & roll vocalist EVER, in my humble opinion. I also have to give some credit to The Runaways, who I saw in concert before I began singing in bands. I remember looking up at Cherie Currie onstage and saying to myself “Hey, I can do that too!”
You formed rock band Bitch in 1981 and were the first that signed with Metal Blade Records. What are a few of your fondest memories of those days?
Bitch was actually formed in late 1980, just for the record. The whole 80’s metal scene was so much fun. There was something going on every night of the week at clubs in Hollywood and in the San Fernando Valley. We were all one big metal family. Often times you didn’t even have to go into a club in Hollywood – there was just this big party happening out on The Sunset Strip; bands milling around, doing their P.R., putting up flyers. The gigs were great, featuring awesome never-again line-ups, like Bitch, Armored Saint and Malice – and the after-parties were monumental, a lot of which took place at my house that I shared with my Mom at the time. She partied right along with us! (and also managed the band, by the way).
Bitch was one of the first rock bands with a female singer. A lot of females are interested in playing rock music and role model after someone like you. What would you like to tell females who are considering playing in a rock band regarding any difficulties you may have discovered?
You’re right, I was one of the few women fronting a metal band back in those days. As far as running in the same circles as the male musicians, I was kind of fortunate in that I felt very accepted by them, always kind of felt like “one of the guys”. In terms of critics, reviews, press coverage, etc. – it was mixed. I largely was not taken seriously at first, but then when the music was actually listened to, it lent to the band’s credibility when it was discovered that my/our image was backed-up with talent and kick-ass material. My advice would be to have confidence in yourself & your sexuality, have a sense of humor about what you do and make sure you have the talent to get out there and impress people.
Your notorious attitude gives you an edge on stage. During The “Bitch Is Back” period you have some problems with Tipper Gore of P.M.R.C. but you have included her on the credits of this album. What was your thinking about doing this?
Tipper Gore and the PMRC gave Bitch some of the best publicity EVER! She carried around “Be My Slave” wherever she went to speak on behalf of her cause. I felt honored that she found me so offensive. As we say in show business, any press is good press – as long as people are talking. Those warning stickers, “Caution: May contain material not suitable for younger listeners”, or whatever the hell it said, only increased record sales. Everyone needs a little “guilty pleasure” in their lives.
I think the band should have been more successful. Why do you think it hasn’t been?
Let me preface with by saying that I in no way negate the notoriety we HAVE gotten (substantiated by the fact that I’m even conducting this interview at this very moment). We got further than a lot of the L.A. 80’s metal bands did and I feel very fortunate for that. Bitch fans are the greatest and I appreciate everyone’s continued support. I think the reason why we didn’t have the momentum to advance early in our career is possibly the lack of tour support from our record label. In those days, Metal Blade was mostly just an album-producing-machine, which was very effective in getting our music out internationally and getting us the kind of recognition we enjoy to this day. Because it was in wide release, we garnered a lot of European fans who would’ve loved to have seen us play before we finally did in 2003 at The Bang Your Head Festival in Germany, and then again in 2011 when we went to Belgium, Holland and at the Keep It True Festival, also in Germany. Perhaps that would’ve kick-started our career if we could have gotten out and played to the masses earlier on. Who knows, it’s all hypothetical speculation. I, more than anyone, would’ve loved for this band to go farther. Maybe if we had encountered the correct management with which to facilitate the promotion we needed at the time, maybe the S&M, leather & studs, B&D image we initially adapted kept us as “cult status”. Those are my educated guesses.
What are your plans for the future in music? We will still see the Bitch in Italy or anywhere in Europe any time soon?
Currently I have re-formed Bitch with an all new line-up and we have been playing locally in Southern California. Our most recent show was with Hellion at the world famous Whisky A-Go-Go on The Sunset Strip. We are playing there with Doro in March, and we’re headlining The Throwback Metal Festival taking place in Las Vegas in October of 2015. I’m quite certain there will be some things between now and then, but nothing’s confirmed as of yet. We are also in the songwriting stages of releasing new, original material. I would absolutely love to return to Europe and I hope that will be a possibility in the near future.
I want to ask you the same thing I am asking others because it is a profound occurrence now. Why do you think the 80’s are re-igniting? I mean, it is like it’s 1985 in Colombia, South America; it is happening here in Italy and it is apparent all over the world that the 80’s and even the 70’s rock styles are becoming enlivened again.
I know the exact answer to that question. It’s because that’s the music that will NEVER go out of style. As a matter of fact, it never was a “style” or a “fad”. It’s classic rock and roll that people will ALWAYS want to hear. It’s those concerts that will always sell out, it’s those songs that never stop from playing on the radio, on the internet and on people’s I-Pods. Even the younger generation, some of whom weren’t even born in the 80’s are discovering it and loving it. After the trends of punk, grunge, alternative and “nu-metal” (never knew what the hell that was anyway), have come and gone, classic 70’s and 80’s rock, even 60’s, which is where it all started (thanks to the legendary Beatles), will always be a mainstay. It’s the background of our lives, of my life. In closing, thank you so much for your interest in Bitch. As long as there is support out there and people who still want to interview me, hear our music and see us live, I will continue to keep it out there. The Bitch Is Back! (and I actually never left…)