The Summer is here and what goes better with the summer than new music for your stereo?! I am so excited to introduce you to a new band in Niagara. The lead singer and guitar/piano player is a constant burst of musical energy. Not only is she full of talent, shes also been an ally to the LGBTQ + community over the years. When I heard that Niagara Falls native Ashlee Standish and her friends had started a band and that one of the band mates also had a community connection, I knew I had to interview these girls. I hope you enjoy getting to know Whatzername.
A Brief Introduction: Whatzername is an alt-rock band with punk influences from the Niagara Region featuring Ashlee Standish on lead vocals/guitar/piano, Clairisa Rose on bass and Jess Gold on drums.
Last year Ashlee Standish released a solo EP and started to experiment in her songwriting with different instruments and then met Jess Gold at a local show. Standish was busy behind the scenes at different Niagara festivals for years and been itching to try something new that would get her on the stage instead of helping behind it.
“There was a natural connection between us, due to our music tastes. We immediately bonded through punk rock and having the same favourite band, Green Day. I think it shines through our playing as well,” said Gold.
Meanwhile, Standish had been watching her friend and former guitar student Clairisa Rose develop her bass chops in her online videos that she was posting and decided to extend an invitation to the project. Once they got together last fall they continued to rehearse while writing new material for the band.
The band name took a while to formulate. The girls thought long and hard for a while about what would fit their music. It turns out, Gold and Standish’s bond through their love of Green Day brought them right back to the title of a track from their 2004 album American Idiot.
To date, they’ve played a handful of shows and have released a track called “Something” through Spotify.
“The song is an inspirational anthem to find the fire inside of you, whatever that is. We want it to make you come alive and appreciate this life we have, how sacred it is and how it will inevitably end,” said Standish.
The song was originally written on piano, thinking about how a recent trip to a medium told her about her deceased great aunt, who was once a musician (and not allowed to follow her dream in music as she was a woman) and was giving her encouragement from beyond the grave to live her dream.
Whatzername recorded “Something” and a few other songs (“Vulture” to be released late this summer) at the Wow! Pop-Up Recording Studio at the Oddfellows Hall in St. Catharines with producer/engineer Joe Lapinski. “Vulture” features Serena Pryne of The Mandevilles on backing vocals and Danno O’Shea, drummer of My Son the Hurricane on lead guitar.
“Working with Ashlee and Clarisa in the studio was a truly wonderful experience,” said Gold. “I think that when you’re working with friends it takes a lot of the pressure off. We’re all on the same page about how the songs should flow together and having Danno sit in on guitar was a special moment for me as well, because he taught and encouraged me to play the drums.”
This past May, Whatzername performed their first show in celebration of their “Something” single release, and followed the performance with one at In The Soil Arts Festival in June, offering the band to play to active crowds.
Rose explained that her goal is to not only empower women and young girls through their music, but everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, “especiallly those who are just as confused about the entire thing as I am”. She said that she feels like the LGBTQ+ community needs more positive representation in the area.
“My own experience is unique, just as everyone else’s is, and it’s a beautiful thing. My fiancé is a transgender male (female to male) and we started dating a year or so before his transition, having been best friends for about five years prior. It is amazing to be able to see him grow to finally accept and love himself, and I am honoured to be by his side through it all,” she said.
“I hope to spread awareness and show that there isn’t only one way to be. That there isn’t a mold you need to fit into. Furthermore, we are all human beings walking this giant rock we live on. Who we love and who we are doesn’t change the fact that we are all living beings with thoughts and feelings that deserve to be respected.”
Feeling inspired? I know I am. Thank you to the girls for sharing all of this with us, I see nothing but good things in the future for Whatzername.
Make sure you follow @whatzernamemusic on Instagram and also give them a follow on Facebook. You can find their hit single “Something” on Spotify, iTunes and most music media platforms. Definitely be on the lookout for their next release (and possible music video) “Vulture” near the end of the summer. I know I’m excited to hear what’s next.
Support local music, it’s where it’s at. Get out and listen to the sounds of your city! It’s the best advice I can give you this Summer.