THE ANDWUTZ by Kier Byrnes
The Andwutz aren’t your ordinary rock band. Hell, nothing about these girls is what I’d call ordinary. Four devastatingly cute chicks who can rock the hell out of their instruments is something you don’t see every day. Also, this Waltham-based band recently released a new CD called Project 4 am to much critical acclaim and even won a national contest hosted by Curly Grrlz Skateboards in recognition of their music. The band starts off with the adorable Karen Pino behind the drums with a glass of wine, followed by the equally beautiful and talented Lauren Mangini wielding a guitar and some Coors Light. Next up is the gorgeous Michelle Philbrick, who delves out both sarcasm and guitar licks equally well. Holding it all together is the lovely Lili Bellini, who supplies the bass guitar and lip-gloss. Each one of the girls can not only rock, but also sing.
Noise: What does the band name mean?
Lili: We used to say “and what!” all the time just to be jerks and kick each other out of the band (which didn’t even exist at the time). It’s like another way of blowing someone off or saying “whatever.” It only made sense to call ourselves that since that’s all we’d ever say to each other. It’s justified to have attitude sometimes right?
Noise: How did the band get its start?
Lili: Our friends booked a show in Billerica in April of ’05 and forced us to play. We were like, “what the hell are we gonna do?” We had only been playing our instruments for like six months and could only fill about 20 minutes. It was so worth it though because we haven’t stopped since.
Noise: What makes the Waltham music scene such a special and unique subset of the Boston music scene?
Lili: Music is shared with everyone. That’s what most of the Waltham musicians are about. There are always collaborations going on and new bands forming. We’ve had the Morgan Knockers, Primary Others, Haloburn, the Peet Golan Disaster, Graveyard BBQ, the infamous Mike Mangini, Gain 211, A Cold Reality, and Favorite Atomic Hero all play a set with us at one point or another.
Lauren: It’s a pretty tight knit community.
Michelle: We’re a large group of friends who have friends and friends of friends that play in bands or always go to shows. There are always people to spread the word and support what you’re doing. Also, just about everyone in the Waltham scene supports music outside of that scene, which has led us to meet so many awesome and talented people.
Karen: I feel the band Waltham really opened a lot of doors for the bands that come out of Waltham! I love being a part of a town surrounded by fellow musicians that support each other all the time and step outside the box and support bands from all over! The people of Waltham are like a huge dysfunctional family yet the strongest family ever!
Michelle: Frank Pino and Pino Bros. Ink have really helped us out a lot. Frank recorded Project 4 am with us in one weekend, almost 48 hours straight (no kidding). Frank is a huge part. He’s been behind us all the way.
Karen: The Pino brothers [Dave and Frank] have always supported us individually as well as with the Andwutz. They have an amazing support system with their folks and it’s definitely rubbed off on them. To have two of the most talented rockers of Boston support and encourage you has been huge!
Michelle: Plus they gave us places to practice or extra gear when we needed it.
Lili: Frank is like my Yoda of the music business. He’s helped me so much. If he pops into a practice, we make him listen! We respect his opinion. Shit, but don’t tell him I said that ’cause he’ll bust my ovaries for like a month!
Noise: Where are some of your favorite venues in Waltham?
Lili: Well, the options are pretty limited. You either got the Skellig, Jake and Earl’s Dixie Roadhouse, or Franco’s. That’s pretty much it. All three places treat their musicians very well though. The Skellig is probably my favorite place to play and see a band.
Karen: Paul Chiasson [from Primary Others] does sound there and makes it sound kick-ass. The whole place has a good vibe. I love it there!
Michelle: I think my favorite is the Skellig as well. The staff there has always been super cool to us and the place always gets packed. We’ve always had fun playing there.
Lauren: It’s too bad the Wal-Lex isn’t still around though. I always thought it would’ve been cool to have all-ages shows there.
Noise: That will be one tough period of time. Not many girls —and some guys—are strong enough to load in guitar stacks, bass rigs, and drum kits on their own. But I’ve seen you do it. Who would you say is the toughest in the band?
Lili: You know this is gonna cause a fight right? Karen does kiss her “guns” at practice, but I am the Tetris master getting all that gear in my truck. You gotta work that much harder being a female band. Little is expected, yet you got more to prove. It’s all good. We have a fun whether people dig it or not. I guess that’s what makes us tough.
Karen: We have been around bands for so long that we figure carrying our own gear was just what comes along with the job!
Michelle: This whole band thing has toughened us all up. You know the situation: it’s pouring and cold, we gotta load gear in heels and skirts, but we suck it up with minimal whining.
Lauren: We can definitely hang with the guys. But I’m not gonna lie—if a guy wants to carry my gear, I wouldn’t see a problem with it.
Noise: So who’s then is the wimpiest in the band?
Lili: You really are trying to get us to fight aren’t you? I think it’s a tie between Lauren and Michelle. They both whine a lot. Hahaha! Sorry girls!
Karen: Hahahhaha, I won’t go there!
Michelle: Pass! No, wait… Lauren. No, wait, pass!
Lauren: My first response to this would be Michelle, but I’m not gonna say that.
Noise: How is it playing in a band with family? Are there ever any good catfights?
Karen: I love that my sister is one of my bandmates. Lili and I have always been attached at the hip; being able to share a stage with her is such a bonus! Lauren is my girl and we always have each other’s back, no matter what. Michelle keeps me laughing all the time—I love that girl. All of these girls are my sisters and I would do anything for them. As far as catfights? Hahaha, yeah, Lili and I get into it sometimes, but after a glass of wine and a scream fest, we forget what the hell we were fighting about and end up making fart noises by the end of the night. Just girls being girls!
Lili: It’s the best thing ever. We’re all best friends. As sisters we can fight and be over it in a second. Lauren and Michelle are family to me as well. I love them bitches!
Noise: In the Bangles it was Susanna Hoff. In the Four Non Blondes it was the brunette. Which girl gets the most groupies in The Andwutz?
Michelle: When most people see us play for the first time they don’t really know what to think, so they don’t approach us.
Lili: Usually though it’s our merch girls that get hit on, though we’ve had both guys and girls hit on us though. Sometimes guys just stare at us and don’t know what to do or say. I guess it can be a bit intimidating. I signed a boob at our CD release party though! I bragged about it for weeks!
Karen: I would have to say our merch girls as well. They’re hot, and just stand in the back and everyone ends up talking to them!
Noise: I heard a rumor. Did you guys really meet Ozzy Osbourne?
Karen: Yes… Lili did at Ozzfest in 2006! She was recording him talking with her phone backstage and his bodyguard almost tackled her. She got two sound clips out of it anyways. Haha! Andwut! She met Sharon too and got front row tickets after that. Lili must have had a horseshoe up her ass that day!
Noise: I was in a department store a while back and saw a First Act acoustic guitar for sale. On the packaging, there was a girl who looked suspiciously like one of the Andwutz. Was that one of you?
Karen: Yes! Lili again! First Act had her pose with some of their new guitars and stuff! She also got on one of their electric guitar boxes too! Yet another horseshoe!
Noise: Which would you rather have happen; get flown to a beautiful Caribbean island for a modeling deal or be forced to hang out and record an album full of kick ass music in a stinky basement with no windows?
Karen: Well, as much as I love the Caribbean, I hate taking pictures and always seem to make faces every time I do. I’m gonna have to go with the album full of kick ass music that was recorded in some subterranean basement.
Lili: How about recording in a basement on a Caribbean Island surrounded by models. Can you make that happen?
Noise: Your CD debut, Project 4am, has done well and received a lot of critical acclaim. What’s the significance of that album title and what’s next on your agenda?
Lili: Thanks. Everything we do is till at least 4 am. We even call Lauren “LuLu 4 am.” We love the vibe on that disc! We’ve been working on some new tunes and revamping some of the older ones. We recently went from a five-piece to a four-piece and somehow managed to write new songs and make the old ones better… Andwut! We already recorded one of our new tunes with Alex “the Greek” at his “Old Folks Home Recording Studio” in Medford. It sounds amazing and we can’t wait to share it with everyone!
Noise: Where do the Andwutz see themselves in five years?
Lili: Selling out arenas, touring all over the world or ya know what? I wanna play at a mall! That’s what I want a mall tour!
Karen: Hopefully doing some touring and playing on a new kit! I would really love to see how us girls would do in Europe or, maybe I just need an excuse to take off and go to Europe.
Michelle: Back from our tour in Japan sleeping in our mansions. Just kidding. That’d be cool though.
Lauren: Maybe on that island you mentioned, except we’ll be modeling as spokeswomen for an elderly home or something.
Noise: “Andwutz” up next on the Andwutz radar?
Lili: Our next show is Saturday, April 19 at the Middle East upstairs in Cambridge MA. It’s a benefit for Mass Cann/NORML. Check in with us at www.myspace.com/theandwutz or join our email list for updates by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll keep you posted! Andwut!