The Barrettes, a bad-ass all-girl punk band, will rock your face off, but really, they think you should just get up and dance.
"We highly encourage dancing at our shows," says drummer Joolz Kaczmarek.
The Barrettes consist of Joey Zocher (vocals, guitar, mandolin and melodica, which is a horn / keyboard mouth organ); JoAnn Riedl (vocals, guitar, ukulele); Kari Lynn (vocals, bass guitar) and Kaczmarek (drums, cowbell.)
In 2009, they released the CD "A Whole Lotta Melodica." They are "always working on a new album," according to Kaczmarek.
Tonight - Saturday, July 30 - The Barrettes will compete in the Battle of the Bands at German Fest. The show starts at 10 p.m. The Barrettes are one of 17 bands competing to open for the 10,000 Maniacs on Sunday night at German Fest.
Recently, we caught up with Kaczmarek and asked her about the past, the present and the punk rock.
OnMilwaukee.com: When did The Barrettes originally form and have any of the original members changed?
Joolz Kaczmarek: The Barrettes formed in 2007 and still have three original members. Kari Lynn, our super star bass player, joined the group in 2011.
OMC: I was reading articles about you online, and one publication described your music as "meat and potatoes" punk rock. What do you think about that?
JK: Meat and potatoes punk rock? We're closer to seitan and rice indie rock! It's always tough to describe our music, we like to think of it as innovative, aggressively happy rock, maybe with some riot grrl influences.
OMC: Are The Barrettes still affiliated with the Brew City Bruisers roller derby team?
JK: Yes! Joey (whose roller derby name is "Pound Anya") is not only a member of the Crazy 8's, but was voted as "Fan Favorite" this year. The Barrettes appear on the Roller Derby Compilation CD and have played, and are playing, shows for them and with them regularly. Matter of fact, we are playing for the Bruiser event "Brew City Bruiser Community Appreciation Nite" on Wednesday, Aug. 10 at the
Washington Park Band Shell.
OMC: What other upcoming gigs do you have?
JK: On Aug. 13 we're playing in the Humboldt Park Band Shell for SlutWalk Milwaukee. The show starts at 2 p.m. and it's free. On Sept. 2 we're playing at the Frequency in Madison at 10 p.m.
OMC: How and where did the band get started?
JK: The Barrettes morphed from Skexies, when the Skexies bass player moved out of state. Joey and I found JoAnn at LadyFest, in Michigan, while with another band, and the rest is history.
OMC: How often do you practice? Is it tough as you get older to find the time to play?
JK: We do practice and meet once a week and, while we all have several other hobbies and interests, it can be a challenge to find time for it all. We give it all while we can and take breaks when we need them. However, we love The Barrettes and somehow we always find time to rock the melodica. For some people, getting older means giving up on passion and creativity, while writing and playing music is a way for us to keep on living.
OMC: Any comments on being an all girl band? Is it a coincidence?
JK: Definitely not a coincidence, there aren't nearly enough women playing music out there and we would never have just stumbled upon each other. We were all friends first who met at shows. Although our musical tastes differ drastically, our song-writing philosophy is the same. Everyone is a respected, valuable contributor to the music. It takes a lot of trust and respect to write music collectively, knowing what you hear in your head will end up being something completely different and your initial ideas may be shot down. We all have different degrees of technical abilities as well, but we recognize that it is the overall song that is important, and we are a team. We focus on our assets, collectively, instead of the details. There is an interesting shared power dynamic that needs to be present to accomplish this, and we feel being an all-girl band helps create this atmosphere.
OMC: Why the name "The Barrettes"? Looks like you all have short hair?
JK: Have you ever tried coming up with a band name? It's really hard! Actually, I wanted to name the Band "Tourettes" as our songs are short and change dramatically and often. However, the band thought that was not politically correct and The Barrettes just happened to rhyme with it. Although, we like to hang out in bars, so maybe we should have been "The Bar Flyettes"?
OMC: What other bands are an inspiration to you?
JK: We're all very eclectic with our individual tastes, together we're all over the board. Perhaps that is a benefit with getting older, it's easier to accept and admit we like certain groups because we just do. We don't care who we are supposed to like, or if we like each other's music.
Joey's inspirations are The Au Pairs, Talking Heads, The Gossip, Cat Stevens, Peaches, Dolly Parton and anything that Dori Zori plays.
JoAnn's influences are the YEAH YEAH YEAH's, PJ Harvey, The Silversun Pickups, My Brightest Diamond, Neko Case and Milwaukee's local musicians.
Kari's influences are the Muppet Mahem Band, Sesame Street and the Motown soul / singers.
My passion for music started with the '80s Hair bands, continued thru the '90s grunge bands and sits today with hard rock / heavy metal bands.
OMC: When not in the band, what do you do for work or play?
JK: I'm a Harley Rider and world traveler. Kari works for the Man. Not only does JoAnn love wrestling in the dirt with her garden, she sings and plays sweet, soothing sounds of a kazoo in a three piece folk band, Blue Sky Hour. And besides Derby, Joey spends some of her creative time with a new musical project with her brother Ken and Andy Theile. On weekends, Joey likes to contemplate life in her trailer down by the river.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.