Suffrajett's Simi has a rock 'n roll lifestyle just like her music: down and dirty. She avoids reading articles about herself or the band, and although bold bloggers post their love for the Suffrajett frontwoman after every show, she still doesn't see herself as an up-and-coming rock goddess.
"You're in a van. It's not glamorous, so you don't feel like a sex symbol," says Simi, speaking before a gig in San Francisco.
"When a guy approaches me, it's shocking. I don't think about myself. I think about how I feel a lot, that type of shit, but I don't think about myself physically. It's nice though -- I don't mind," she says.
Simi's musical aspirations were born when she began playing violin at age 7. She worked up to playing and singing backup for various bands, but it wasn't until she met guitarist Jason Chasko that Suffrajett was formed.
Initially, Simi thought Chasko, who previously had worked with Liz Phair as co-songwriter and co-producer on Phair's Whitechocolatespacegg, was "a bit of an asshole," she says. But the two worked things out, and with the addition of Kevin Roberts on bass and Frank Ferrer on drums, Suffrajett was born.
For all of the band's grimy bar rock, they're true softies, even downright poppy at times. They're heavy on great riffs, but Simi's strong vocals and nearly Lenny Kravitz-like showmanship are what fans remember.
Despite her own hesitation to admit it, the girl's undoubtedly a rock star, and her powerful presence dominates both Suffrajett's live performance and recorded works. Esquire magazine aptly described the group's sound thusly: "... you will like this album if you tend to be frightened by the women you are attracted to."
Simi is slightly befuddled by the statement, but attempts to find some understanding.
"Well, I just try to live my life the strongest I can," she says. "You get different reactions, but you always do get a reaction. But, yeah, it is because I'm a girl."
And as a girl, she's inevitably compared to other rock frontwomen, usually Debbie Harry and Joan Jett. Suffrajett's own press release, however, tosses in an odd one: '80s icon Grace Jones.
Suddenly, Simi's not unique just because she's a strong female performer, but because she's a strong black female performer. Of the Jones comparison, Simi agrees it makes no sense.
"I think maybe just because I'm black, right?" she questions. "I think for the industry it's a real issue, but for the rest of society, I think they see me more as a woman than a black woman."
As a burgeoning rock star, though, Simi's got more on her mind than comparisons. Between working on a second full-length album and preparing for a European tour, Suffrajett's going places.
"You know, people talk so much shit," she says, laughing. "Sometimes the things that people come up with are hysterical."
-- Kara Luger
Suffrajett with Bob Schneider
Bluebird Theatre, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
Saturday, Dec. 17, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $16; call 800/965-4827 or visit nipp.com for more.