Bones UK on manifest destiny and the beauty-industrial complex 

click to enlarge Bones UK - Saturday, Nov. 2, 7 p.m. - Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave. - $9.43, all ages, blacksheeprocks.com, 227-7625
  • Bones UKSaturday, Nov. 2, 7 p.m.Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.$9.43, all ages, blacksheeprocks.com, 227-7625

You don’t need to be a musicologist or own an extensive collection of Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Sleater-Kinney records to know that women can play guitar as well as men. But in a 70 percent male-dominated music industry, that fact has often gone unnoticed.

Just ask post-industrial punk duo Bones UK, who remember one especially Spinal Tap moment during an early gig on the outskirts of London a few years ago.

“We did this show in Camden, where we’re from,” says singer/guitarist/lyricist Rosie Bones, whose British accent hasn’t been diminished by the band’s relocation to L.A. two years ago. “And this guy came up to us after the show and was like, ‘Oh my God, your band is amazing. But your band will never be as good as my band, because girls can’t play guitar as well as boys.’ And then he went on to say that it was biologically impossible, because girls have got small hands. So our male friends got involved, and we ended up having a fight with him, and the next day I wrote a song called ‘Girls Can’t Play Guitars.’”

So, um, who exactly was this guy?

“No, we’re not going to say who they are, or where they’re located,” says guitarist Carmen Vandenberg. “But yeah, it was somewhere in Camden.”

“It was John Mayer,” declares Bones, prompting the women to break into laughter. “Who does he think he is, anyway?”

It wasn’t really John Mayer. In fact, they both love Mayer’s work, particularly his cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Bold as Love.” They’re also fans of classic American blues-rock, with Vandenberg citing her guitar influences as “Stevie Ray Vaughan, Hendrix, Albert Collins, and the three Kings: B.B., Freddie and Albert. All of those.” Also, Jeff Beck, who caught the band at a gig and enlisted them to write and sing most of his 2016 album Loud Hailer.

The blues-rock influence is apparent on the band’s swampier songs, when Vandenberg turns her fuzz-tone pedal past 11 and delivers blistering guitar leads. But that isn’t necessarily the first genre that comes to mind when hearing Bones UK’s self-titled debut album, which was released back in July on Sumerian Records. With their grinding guitars and industrial electronic beats — which their tour drummer triggers from behind his kit — more obvious points of comparison would include Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson, both of whom have been name-checked in the band’s increasingly rapturous reviews.

And then there’s Rosie Bones’ brazen lyrics about sex, gender politics and what the band has described as the “beauty-industrial complex,” delivered with a mocking intensity that suggests a more aggressive version of post-punk frontwomen like The Au Pairs’ Leslie Woods or Bush Tetras’ Cynthia Sley. A typical example can be found in the single “Beautiful Is Boring,” which includes lines like these:

“Do we make you sick? / Do our imperfections make your blue breath run thick? / Give me scars and stripes / It does not please me to be easy on any of your eyes. Any of your eyes.”

As provocative as Bones UK’s music can be, the one song that’s earned them negative reactions so far on tour, at least in the South, has little to do with gender, nor is it particularly salacious. Instead, it’s their brutal take on David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans.”

“It was mostly in Florida and Texas,” says Vandenberg, “just a couple of middle fingers and a quick booing. And then those people must have figured out that it was a Bowie song, and that they were insulting his lyrics instead of ours.”

So are the two ex-pats at all afraid of Americans?

“I mean, obviously there are a few Americans we’re afraid of, and there’s one American who’s absolutely terrifying,” says Bones. “But there are really scary English people, and there are really scary Europeans, too. There are really messed-up things going on, and they’re happening everywhere.”

At least the band’s former homeland wearily accepted the sun going down on the British Empire. America, on the other hand, seems determined to go out kicking and screaming.

“Well, it’d be terrible if it took America that long to get over that,” says the singer. “We’ve been waiting for America to get bored with it, but I think it may be a long wait.”


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Concerts

More by Bill Forman

All content © Copyright 2020, The Colorado Springs Independent

Website powered by Foundation