Amy Gore is a songwriter, singer and a ferocious guitarist. She's also the founder of the Gore Gore Girls, the first of a handful of all-female bands of the garage rock genre. An international recording artist who has toured 17 countries, Gore has rubbed elbows with rock legends, including the Stooges and Blondie.
Gore has has a new project, Amy Gore & Her Valentines. The group debuted at the Metro Times Blowout 2011 and recently recorded with Al Sutton at Rustbelt Studios in Royal Oak. Her new band will perform at the Magic Stick in Detroit on Saturday.
Gore and her husband Freddy Fortune live in Royal Oak. Patch caught up with Gore at home and asked her five questions.
Patch: Your bio is amazing, so let's start from the beginning. You founded the Gore Gore girls in 1997. Along with the White Stripes and the Dirtbombs, the Gore Gore Girls really established the Detroit garage scene of the late '90s. What was that time like, when Detroit was at the forefront of modern garage rock?
Gore: It was crazy, it was fun. Gore Gore Girls was my first music project. The first show was opening for the Detroit Cobras at the Gold Dollar July 1997. I'd never played in a band at that point, it was raw, baptism through fire for sure.
Artists in Detroit at that time all got a lot of attention, worldwide. It was like a 10-year long party. Being a musician in that scene, everyone was important. I think Steve Shaw (original Detroit Cobras) is right when he said 'People wanted it to happen (in Detroit), they were looking at us'. Detroit in the late '90s-early 2000s was the next wave, and the last wave, before the recording industry as it once was collapsed.
Patch: The Gore Gore Girls were just the beginning. You've also collaborated with cult-hero Nikki Corvette to form Gorevette and have a new band called Amy Gore & Her Valentines with Leann Banks, Joe Leone, Jackson Smith. What can you tell us about your latest project?
Gore: I'm honored to have worked with Nikki Corvette, she's one of rock-n-roll's treasures. "Girls Like Me" is a classic, it's 100 percent her, an anthem. Working with Nikki Corvette is different from what I did before, writing songs for someone else. I love doing that.
The new band, Amy Gore & Her Valentines, came as a surprise, and it's really cool. Instead of writing for my "girl band" (the Gore Gore Girls), the songs are direct from me without any pretense. My writing standard for the Valentines is more a universal one. There is no set genre, like "garage rock" or "indie rock" or "rockabilly" or whatever. It is definitely more pop than anything. The band is tight. Leann came from the Von Bondies, Joe Leone is a veteran Detroit drummer from a pop-punk background and Jackson Smith is a virtuoso guitarist. I'm in good company and we're having fun.
Patch: You have played all over the United States, Europe and Japan. You've shared the stage with big names like the Stooges, the Strokes, the New York Dolls and Blondie. What shows or tours stand out?
Gore: Opening for Blondie at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square with Gorevette last year was incredible. It was sold out. Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las came as my guest and waved to me. I had to pinch myself that it was happening, it was surreal. We played well and were well-received.
Patch: We have to talk about your wonderful sense of style. You definitely have a look. Is there any place in Royal Oak that you like to shop at?
Gore: on Washington is my favorite place for vintage clothes. They always have something that just makes it, for photos or a show or a party, whatever, and fits perfectly, too. The place is magical. The right thing finds me at Lost & Found. I don't have to look very far!"
Patch: You've lived in Royal Oak for seven years. So many artists move to the East or West Coast. Why do you stick around?
Gore: Because I couldn't do what I do the way I do it in New York or L.A. Berlin, maybe. I've thought of that. The last time I was in Berlin in 2008 I fell in love with it. But I don't speak German. It's like they're yelling at you when they talk. I love the Germans - my husband is a Kraut - so no hard feelings people.
I've lived in Detroit around Hamtramck, and then in Woodbridge, and then Ferndale off of Eight Mile. I love Detroit, the architecture and community. As an artist working in and around Detroit, anything is possible. I have everything here I need to create, including inspiration. Both sides of my family are from the Detroit. My grandfather emigrated in 1910. He lived just outside Hamtramck. My grandmother on the other side a drove cab, eventually running the company at the Greater Detroit Cab Co.
I like coming home to the quiet suburb of Royal Oak. It's still like a 1950s-era small town here. There's a hardware store, health food store, the post office, a recording studio. I feel at home at Rustbelt Studios (owned by head producer/engineer Al Sutton), all within a mile of me. And you can get good vegetarian food and coffee close, all without getting on a highway or paying a toll, like in NYC or L.A. My hubby, Freddy Fortune, and I live in a 1950s ranch kept in its original style. We're very comfortable here. We've kind of created our own little world. I dig living here."
More about Amy Gore
See and hear Amy Gore & Her Valentines
July 30 at The Magic Stick with Jeecy & The Jungle
More tour dates coming, including Arts Beats & Eats and DIY Fest Ferndale. Visit thisisamygore.com/tour.