Connect with us


DS Exclusive: Interview with Gina Volpe of Lunachicks and BANTAM

The first full-length solo album by Gina Volpe, of the seminal NYC punk band Lunachicks, is scheduled for release on February 23, 2024. Delete The World was produced by Barb Morrison, and will be available on all streaming platforms. The first single off the record – “Drink Me” – and its accompanying video dropped on […]



The first full-length solo album by Gina Volpe, of the seminal NYC punk band Lunachicks, is scheduled for release on February 23, 2024. Delete The World was produced by Barb Morrison, and will be available on all streaming platforms. The first single off the record – “Drink Me” – and its accompanying video dropped on November 3, 2023. A second single, “The Plan,” follows on December 1, 2023. I caught up with Volpe via email to discuss her new music, her legacy, and more.

DS: What inspired you to do this album at this time?

GV: I had always intended to record a full-length album. It just took a little while to find the time and come up with the funds. I started releasing my solo stuff in 2017 with a 5 song EP followed up by several singles over the past couple of years. An LP was a long time coming so I’m pumped that I’m now finally able to release a full body of work.

DS: How is this album different from the music in Lunachicks?

GV: My solo stuff is different in that it’s more diverse stylistically and not as easily categorized into one particular genre. Sometimes it’s pop, sometimes it’s punk, indie, retro, or rock. Sometimes it’s more singer-songwriter. I have the freedom to shape-shift and experiment. I use synthesizers, acoustic guitars, and samples – along with heavy guitars when called for, so I get to color outside the lines and be as messy as I wanna be.

DS: Will there be more to come from BANTAM?

GV: We got together last year and messed around in the studio for the first time in over a decade. We even released a single entitled “Yo-Yo.” I’m not sure what the future holds for us though. We’re kind of spread out across the country now but none of us would be opposed to playing some shows and putting out more new music. We left the door open so anything is possible.

DS: How did your work with Lunachicks inform you as a musician and prepare you for solo and other work?

GV: I received a hands-on education coming up in the ’90s with Lunachicks. We started very young so I was able to cut my teeth on writing, arranging and recording songs (as well as learn my instrument) throughout our career. Plus, just watching all of the amazing bands we got to play with over the years really brought so much insight and inspiration to me.

DS: The trippy and surreal video for “Drink Me” reminds me of some of the technicolor joy of the 1980’s MTV heyday. Was that intentional?

GV: I came across Stanzii‘s work on Instagram and was immediately drawn to it. It’s very much my same artistic sensibility with all of the bright colors, details, and surrealism she uses. I was so mesmerized by it that I sent her a DM not sure if she would get back to me being that I was a complete stranger. To my surprise, she did get back to me and was totally into making a video for the track. I feel like I hit the jackpot by getting to work with her.

DS: How did the idea come about? Did you approach Stanzii with your own ideas about it or did Stanzii come up with the concept wholecloth? How collaborative was it? 

GV: I trusted her to do whatever she wanted. It was important to me that she have the freedom to create in her style and employ the imagery she envisioned for the song. I would put my two cents in here and there but ultimately, I left it up to her to steer the ship. I helped with some of the editing and grunt work – like wiping the greenscreen from the clips and photos but the creative work was all her genius.

DS: Please describe what the video is trying to say, or the ideas being communicated.

GV: The song is about obsession, addiction, and escapism. It relates to the vices we use to check out. Maybe it’s the use of a substance or maybe it’s an addictive relationship with someone who is no good for you but you can’t let go of. I wanted the video to be a trip down the rabbit hole of self-destruction, then coming out through the other side only to go through the whole process all over again. The secondary reference is to Alice In Wonderland. “Drink Me” is labeled on the bottle she drinks in order to make her small enough to go through the door, which is clearly (to me at least) a metaphor for exiting the world and entering into another portal of being.

DS: What is it about NYC, especially at the time Lunachicks was formed, especially the part of NYC from which you hail, that sprouted so many punk legends?

 GV: I think what makes NYC so special is the pure infusion of ideas and cultures from all over the world. There is always so much happening here. So many creatives are drawn to this city and with them comes all of the contributions to music, art, performance, etc. that they make continually laying a foundation for the next wave of artists coming in to build upon. There seems to be an endless supply of inspiration due to the sheer number of artists packed into this one crowded city.

DS: Do you see the same spirit there now with newer musicians?

GV: I do and it’s always cool to see all the different generational influences the up-and-coming bands are drawing from. Sure, it may look different from an older generation’s perspective but really, the kids are alright.

DS: I first met you at Riot Fest 2022 . From what I heard around the park so many people agreed with me that Lunachicks were one of the highlights of the weekend [I agree. Plus, I found the band members to all be so nice and fun].

GV: Love to hear that. We had a blast playing Riot Fest. Although it was really hot if you remember [I do recall that it was an absolute scorcher all weekend long]. Chip. our drummer had heat stroke during the set and puked so stealthily in the middle of a song that none of us noticed what was happening lols.

DS: That must feel pretty damn good to know that decades on you are still making such an impact and garnering new fans.

GV: It really is an amazing feeling. We didn’t realize that we had so many younger fans that became aware of us well after we had stopped playing. So for a lot of the people in the audience it was the first time they had ever seen us live even though they had been listening to us for a decade or so.

DS: What was writing Fallopian Rhapsody like, and do you feel it was a comprehensive history of Lunachicks or is there still much to say? 

GV: Writing that book was such a great experience. It was hard though and it gave me a newfound respect for authors. It’s a long arduous process and a lesson in patience and grit. In the end though I feel like we got it all in, said what we wanted to say with the expert help of co-author Jeanne Fury and overall I’m super proud of it.

DS: How did you see the response to the book?

GV: We were happy with all of the positive responses we got. People really seemed to enjoy the book whether they knew the band or not. A lot of fans wrote in to say that they identified with a certain story, experience, or feeling and that it impacted them, inspired them, or simply gave them a new perspective to try on.

DS: What has it been like to create an identity outside of Lunachicks with the music you do as a solo artist and with other bands? Of course, even with these questions, there are a lot of references to Lunachicks

GV: Well most people know me because of Lunachicks which is fine because I’m super proud of our band and our history but it can be also tough to get away from that label and just be a solo artist without the qualifying “Gina from Lunachicks” tag. I do understand though that people need reference, they want to know “Who is this person?” and I totally get that. But, my solo music doesn’t always translate over to the Lunachicks’ fanbase, some of my fans don’t even know who the Lunachicks are (most do) but in a perfect world I’d just be able to be me -insert terrible Sammy Davis Jr. impression, “I gotta be me…!” sing-along folks!

DS: How is creating music for a film different from creating music for a more traditional record or band?

GV: It’s certainly a different exercise in that you’re not actually songwriting, there’s no lyrics or any kind of verse/chorus song structure necessarily. It’s also a practice in pairing down and being mindful of where and how you place certain textures and sounds so they don’t step on dialog or feel too intrusive in the scene. I lean towards less happening in a score than more. I’m not a fan of music scores that overdo it.

DS: You played most of the instruments for this record? How is that experience different from playing in a full band or having a full band contribute to an album?

GV: I usually record most of the guitar, bass, and synths in my home studio. Then I bring it all into a professional studio with my producer Barb Morrison and their engineer to finish the track. We do vocals, drums and adding all the cool layers and textures. It’s quite the opposite experience of recording live in the studio with a band. This way I have a lot of room to manipulate the track, try different arrangements etc. and change my mind a hundred times about it all–which is not always a good thing!

DS: Are there newer bands, up-and-coming bands, or artists that excite you at this moment? 

GV: I’m obsessing over the UK’s post-punk explosion that’s been happening in the past couple of years. I love Idles, Shame, and Dry Cleaning. I also love Viagra Boys, and FIDLAR, and Turnstile. This year I’ve been listening to Yves Tumor and Nilüfer Yanya.

DS: Can you see any influence you might have had on them?

GV: Hmmm, doubt any of the bands listed above would have known who we were!

DS: You came up as a musician when there were not as many female-fronted, or mostly female-comprised bands. How much of an improvement has there been in the way such bands are accepted? Is there still a struggle to be known less as a female-fronted punk band and just a punk band. Or is that label something you are ok with?

GV: I’m really glad to see so many more women in bands. It really doesn’t seem to be such a novelty anymore. When we played Riot Fest last year there were some women kicking ass both in mixed-gender bands and all-female bands. But as you mentioned that was one of the things that was the most maddening for us, no matter what music we were making we were always categorized by our gender instead of musical genre. “All girl band music” became the genre we were placed in, what the fuck does that mean?!

Sadly (that) element is present today when I listen to Spotify’s algorithm. If you were to put on a Lunachicks radio on Spotify, the algorithm will mainly stick to suggesting only other female-fronted bands, then conversely, if you were to start a Rancid radio station the algorithm won’t be offering any recommendations for bands with female singers therefore reinforcing this gender separation in rock/punk music.

I am proud to celebrate being a woman and if women and girls (and non-binary people) find inspiration in seeing people up onstage rockin’ out that look more like themselves (as I had when I went to see my she-ros play live) then I am all for it. But we need to do away with thinking that there are two different musical genres solely based on gender.

DS: There is still so much toxicity in the punk scene as we have seen with recent disbandings of decades-old groups. Anti-Flag situation, of course, being the most recent example. How have you tried to confront that? Is it something you have still encountered?

GV: Have to admit that I literally just heard about this, I don’t want to comment until I read more about it. But from what I’ve seen over the years things have gotten better – I mean we wouldn’t even be having this conversation back in the ’90s – or even the ’00’s. And I do believe it will continue to get better and that we will evolve. Sometimes that’s hard to see and there will certainly be setbacks and shitty humans messing it all up but I’m an optimist and I do think eventually we’ll get our shit together, may not be alive to see it, but we’ll get there.

Gina Volpe’s new record will be released in February. A documentary film “Pretty Ugly- The Story of The Lunachicks,” directed by Ilya Chaiken, had its world premiere in NYC in November and just finished an initial online run.

Many thanks and cheers to Gina Volpe!

Photo Credits: featured portrait by Barb Morrison; Dying Scene images at Riot Fest 2022 by Meredith Goldberg; and additional stage images by Hillery Teranzi.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *