By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Dec 04, 2010 at 5:33 AM

Upstart Milwaukee garage rockers the Spectras spike the sonic punch of '60s girl groups with a dash of punk snarl.

The result is a sweet and sassy concoction that's instantly made them one of Milwaukee's band's to watch.

The band-- guitarists Wendy Norton and Erin Dorbin, bass player Karen Deau, and drummer Heather Sawyer--features current and former members of Milwaukee and Madison garage standouts The Hussy, Plexi 3, International Datelines and Ramma Lamma as well as Albany, NY and Hozac Records outfit Cave Weddings.

And while they've only played a handful of shows they've already recorded and posted three insanely catchy tunes that hopefully hint at the awesome records to come.

You can catch the Spectras Sunday at the Hover Craft craft fair after-show where they will be playing along with Chicago's Magic Milk, The Midwest Beat and The Hot Toddies. The show is at Bay View Brew Haus, 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Admission is $5 and free to those who attend the craft fair. caught up with three-fourths of the Spectras via email and found out that you should probably be wearing a cup if you decide to call them a girl group. How did you all meet?

Erin Dorbin: I met Heather in 2009 when I was in a band called The Cave Weddings out in NY through mutual friends and bandmates. She and Bobby traded me some Hussy records and I fell in love with them. We had talked about how we should start a band, you know, if I were ever in the area. While it was quite geographically impossible at the time, just fast forward six-months or so and I found myself living in Milwaukee. (I had always been envious of those living in a place that had so many great male and female musicians.) I had been trying to get a new band together for a while after I moved to Milwaukee when I heard that Wendy was looking for ladies to start something new. Everyone knows Wendy of course and I said I'd do it. I immediately suggested Heather be our drummer. We got together in the summer and it really just clicked.

Wendy Norton: I met Heather and Karen through their other bands, playing gigs with them with my other bands over the past four or five years. Erin is the new girl in town, and I met her through Facebook, because I wanted to start a new all-girl band and someone tipped me off to asking her if she would like to start something up, because she had been trying to start bands with people around town.

Erin and I started off playing some song ideas for each other at our practice space while my husband played drums for us. We were both really excited and would exchange 100 emails every day, bouncing ideas off of each other. Then we got really lucky when we found Heather. She was just ending one her bands, The Hussy, because the other member was moving away. I think she was on the market for like one day or something! She is really fabulous and makes my songs sound better than they really are!

We played three or so gigs as a three-piece band and decided that it would be beneficial to our sound if we added a bass player in. While playing our last gig at the Rock and Roller Remote Controller show Erin suggested Karen from International Date Lines.

OMC: Are you recording?

WN: We write and record all of our own music. We are in the process of finishing up a session including 8 songs that we hope to have released on vinyl format this spring. Following that we hope to tour the Midwest and South this summer

ED: We also plan to do a video as part of the Rock n' Roller Remote Controller series in 2011, too!

OMC: What's your writing process like?

ED: As a band, we all three split song-writing duties equally which makes it a very fun process. We also collaborate on most every song on some level whether it's additional vocals, guitar work or drumming.

OMC: How'd you come up with the name?

WN: Erin and I came up with the name as a reference to our shared enjoyment of photography, but quickly the name took on a different meaning for us- we all write songs for the group, and naturally they are all very different sounding. We'll have a garage rockin' honkey tonk style number, then we'll go on to a pop ballad, then switch it up to a fuzz-driven '60s styled punk song. Our spectrum is wide, but it's all rock and roll to us! We are not named after that one car!

OMC: What are five of your favorite songs from all-girl groups and why do you like them?

Heather Sawyer:

Runaways "Cherry Bomb"- This song is just badas$.

Sleater Kinney "Jumpers"- This song has badas$ drumming.

The Shaggs "Philosophy of the World"- This song is so weird it's good.

Carter Sisters "Keep on the Sunny Side"- They just rule, hard to pick one song from them.

The Go Go's "We Got the Beat"- Why not?


The Tammys "Egyptian Shumba"- Crazy, frantic, garage rock with pounding drums and animal noises!

The Whyte Boots "Nightmare"- One of the greatest and over-the-top teen tragedy songs, but there's a twist at the end that I won't give away!

Irma Thomas "Breakaway"- Nicely composed Pop and Doo Wop track from 1960s New Orleans.

The Orlons "South Street"- I dare you to try to not dance while this song is playing!

Circus 2000 "Try to Live"- Just got this LP for my birthday and it's been in heavy rotation ever since. Awesome Italian prog rock from 1970.


I have to say that just because we are women, I refuse to be pigeonholed as a "girl group" or defined be the lowest common denominator—that we are female...Look around Milwaukee and you'll see a very large group of women and men that are simply playing rock n' roll because that's what they were meant to do. It's a cool place to be.