More On Real Lulu

MOO - For once, I am at a loss for words. This disc rocks; it is awesome, hard hitting and ...well, lotsa things. But the word that keeps springing to mind is BALLSY! That's pretty impressive, considering that 2/3 of Real Lulu are women. But these two women - Kattie Dougherty and Sharon Gavlick - are very much in control. When Kattie screams "I wanna suck your big toe!" you know she means it, and that you'd better let her... or else. And then there is bassist Gavlick. Her vocals can be downright wicked, her gutsy growl changing to a kittenish purr with the turn of a phrase. Being a Dayton band and hobnobbing with the likes of Kim Deal has rubbed off a bit - she even produced the cut "Hell", but Real Lulu rises above this Breeder beacon to find a sound and attitude all their own.
Dougherty and Gavlick share songwriting responsibilities, and to have two incredibly talented songwriters in one band can either spell trouble or a recording contract... my bet is the latter. The songs on "We Love Nick" prowl around behind you, stalk you, and when you least expect it, they pounce o yer ass and give it a good swift kick. Don't even try to figure out what hit you. All you'll find is sheer pop brilliance batting a playful eyelash your way. GRADE A - Luann Shockley

SNAKEBITE E-ZINE - Where to start ... well, first off, 'We Love Nick' is loud. So if you like it loud, this band's for you... Real Lulu's sound is aggressive, in-yer-face thrash-punk with walls of fuzz guitar and shrieking vocals. Occasionally, though, their pop roots show: I found myself catching the GoGo's (on speed, on a bad hair day?) at times in their melodies, hooks, and vocals. This is grrl music, to be sure. And "I wanna suck yer big toe too!" screamed at top volume is a strangely refreshing auditory experience. Dougherty, Gavlick and drummer Gregg Spence make an ass-kicking punk-pop trio, and 'We Love Nick' is just the thing for times when you'd love to get LOOOOOOUUUUUD. - Paula Feldman

GT ZINE - ...The influences here come from all over the place. You'll hear everything from Kim Deal's side project the Amps, to a faster Veruca Salt, and even a little Blondie. This is great stuff, and now the band even features the Breeders' Jim Macpherson as their full-time drummer. The song "Hell" is already on here but you still need the 7" anyway 'cause of its b-side. Send $13 to Big Beef Rex and get both the CD and the EP and rock your heart out.

CAROLINE RECORDS - Who would've thunk that Dayton, Ohio could be a hotbed of talent? Well, here's more proof. This debut full-length is a great pop record. The songs are riff-heavy and hook-laden, sort of reminiscent of The Fastbacks.

THE DAYTON DAILY NEWS - Kattie Dougherty may be small, but she can really grab your attention at the microphone. The lead guitarist and singer for Real Lulu has a scream that sets her whole body to shaking and makes a room full of people take notice. And what they notice is a band that has a lot more going for it than a great scream. The crowd at Canal Street Tavern last Saturday night already knew that, though. Fans of the local trio, they were there to help the band celebrate the release of it's first CD, "We Love Nick". Let's hope the CD serves to make more people take notice.

THE DAVIS ENTERPRISE (DAVIS, CA) - "'We Love Nick' is definitely one for today's Buffalo Exchange crowd, and serves as a welcome reminder that women are just as prone to shout lyrics about hell, breaking up and sucking big toes, although a song like 'Dangle' is less likely to appear on U2's next release. ...Their charm is in their straightforward simplicity. It's just good, hard-driving thrash, and I'd have them at my party any day. - David Meyers

IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION - Real Lulu is uncompromising "grrrll" stuph...kick-butt rockin'...the thing that saves (or condemns) these kinds o' bandz is their ENERGY level, & LULU have light years o' that! Wanna get your blood pumpin'? Get the CD! - Dick Metcalf

LOSERCORE - Big Beef Records out of Dayton, Ohio, offer up a cool debut record from Real Lulu. The release is titled 'We Love Nick', and its garage-tinged girl pop inspired by major legend Kim Deal. Kim produces one track, in fact, and the two gals who make up Real Lulu have enlisted guest drummers from the Amps and Brainiac for the recording of their debut.

"PEACE, LOVE AND HAPPINESS:
MY LIFE WITH REAL LULU"

-By Brad King

"I just think it's a stupid question. And if we don't want to talk about it, we should quit asking the questions."
--Real Lulu drummer Jim Macpherson's thoughts on the media and its treatment of bands with women.

Dayton, Ohio. It's October 18, 1996. Gem City Records. Lead guitarist Kattie Dougherty and bass player Sharon Gavlick, the nucleus of Real Lulu, are on "stage" for an acoustic set for one of the final times with two-time Real Lulu drummer Gregg Spence. The store is flush with white ligh. The hardwood floors hold the neatly laid-out racks of music. The walls are brick. Spanish music plays. I expect Rachel and Ross to walk in at any moment. Instead, youngsters with knit hats and baggy pants swarm around and take their obligatory place on the floor. Andy Valeri, the head of Dayton's Big Beef Records, and I stand by the door, out of the hipsters' way.

The music starts and the women look a little stiff, apparently uncomfortable with the immediacy of the crowd. Gavlick, with her 50's mop-top and retro black glasses, is particularly nervous about the closeness. She backs away from the crowd and refuses to look up from the bass. Dougherty's voice is almost trembling and cracking as she tries to hold back her explosively harmonic vocals which are much more suited for a large stage, smoke and electric sounds booming around her. But slowly the band gets in the groove as the members begin to play for themselves, letting the crowd join them in the energy they are creating. "Anybody got any requests?" Dougherty asks once the band has found its groove. "We don't have a set list"

A young boy, not even close to high school graduation, softly hollers for "Hell." The song, which Kim Deal produced on a 7" in 1995, has become the best known song to casual Real Lulu followers. Who needs MTV? Even in a town like Dayton, it's easy for people to get pigeonholed.

"I was really pleased with the CD ('We Love Nick' on which "Hell" appears), and really glad people liked it, but I'm ready to do new stuff. We played "Hell" for our very first show and I'm sick of playing it", Dougherty confesses a month later, well after she had played the song to the swaying masses. And as the trio begins to hit its comfort zone, I notice something funny. Outside the record store, husbands and wives much older than the crowd inside, stop. Their feet shuffle. Their heads hop. Just like the hipsters sitting in the store. As the band moves tighter together, it almost seems like it is one large entity.

BRIGHT LIGHTS, LITTLE CITY

Although officially formed by Dougherty and Gavlick in January of 1993, the roots of Real Lulu grow through Nick Kizirnis (of CAGE and 'We Love Nick' fame) and Valeri's living room. Up until early l99Z, Dougherty had been singing in The Pure Plastic Tree, all the while toying with the idea of starting her own band. She was beginning to learn how to play the guitar, but had yet to actually play onstage. With the help of Kizirnis, who seems to have a hand in everything Dayton, she began to gather steam not only in her understanding of the guitar, but also in her desire to get her own project going. Through the grapevine, she heard that Gavlick was taking bass lessons. So Dougherty and Gavlick hooked up and began practicing in Valeri's living room, where CAGE (remnants of The Killjoys and The Raging Mantras) also practiced. Among the members of CAGE: Kizirnis and Spence.

"They were practicing and they would get together, working on stuff -- and it was fun," Valeri recounts. "But Kattie was the one that who would say, 'Let's get this thing on stage. Let's do it. Let's do it'. Sharon would say, 'Let's just keep this ln the bedroom." But the women didn't have a drummer yet, so it looked like Gavlick's wish to stay off stage would come true. But Spence, who had never played drums in a band before, offered his services. Just 18 months later, Real Lulu was capturing the 1994 Canal Street Tavern Dayton Band Playoff, beating out 48 other bands. The buzz was on. The band received a swarm of media attention and caught Deal's eye because Macpherson (formerly of The Killjoys and currently with Real Lulu and The Amps) had brought her out to see the band play. She offered to produce the now famous 7" which garnered even more local attention for the band. And just one year after that release, in 1996, the 14-song CD "We Love Nick" was released on Big Beef Records.

Despite the media attention and the wave of success the band was riding, a potentially disastrous pattern was emerging. In just three years, the women had gone through seven drummers (six of whom appeared on the CD) including Spence, Macpherson, Brainiac frontman Tim Taylor and CAGE drummer Matt Espy. On top of the Spinal Tap rotation of drummers, the CD was recorded at three different studios. Although the two women were fast becoming friends and developing an intensity about their music, maintaining a singular director was becoming difficult

"We had a lot of help from Andy and Big Beef because he innately has a very good ear for production and music", Gavlick says, as Dougherty leans forward to add on as soon as Gavlick finishes. "And as far as the songs go, it was sharing our feelings," Dougherty remarks. "So when Jim played on "Always/Never," we thought, 'This is it'. "We knew what songs called for which style and were blessed with that many drummers who all had different styles", Gavlick remembers. "And we felt that they shined on those songs, and since we were in a predicament to have these different drummers and they all came and saved us when we needed them, we thought, 'Okay, would you be willing to be on our CD?"' Dougherty shares.

End of problem.

That's the attitude that has allowed them to surpass any roadblocks that might pop up. Dealing with problems and turning the solutions into positives has built an intense loyalty toward Real Lulu within the music scene in Dayton. "I just want to follow how they write music and then maybe put something to it," Macpherson says in a rare moment "They have a sound already. I liked the album a lot and I have seen them play live. I just like their music".

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED

Corpus Christi Elementary School. It's August, 1996. To a small group of elementary school kids, through one microphone which a student dutifully swings back and forth between the two women, Real Lulu jammed away, unaware that there weren't 40,000 fans screaming and yelling. But beyond just a community show, Dougherty couldn't let her training in Montessori education go unused when a teachable moment occurred. "There was one point where four boys were kind of getting rowdy and I pulled my little hippie thing and said let's take care of our brothers and sisters okay," Dougherty laughed.

Find a problem, solve it. That day, the band passed out well over 40 stickers to the kids. And the adults felt the groove, just as the folks outside Gem City did, thanking the band for being so good to the youngsters

Right from the beginning, having fun has been the name of the game. "I remember at the very beginning saying two things," Dougherty recounts. "I don't want to get stuck in any kind of style. I want to do whatever we want. "And the second thing is I want us to be friends. The most important thing to me is that we are friends in a cooperative goal. And that goal is music."

Despite the rigorous demands faced by the members, those goals have remained an important part of the Real Lulu mindset. Even if that means being just a bit flexible. Dougherty, who travels to Cincinnati during the week while she comp]etes her Master's degree at Xavier University and Gav]ick, who works in an office throughout the week, have worked together long enough to have ironed out any kinks. Now the band has added Macpherson, who has wife, children, a construction job and another gig with The Amps. Yet Real Lulu hasn't broken stride.

And that flexibility, loyalty, trust and friendship have not developed easily. Just over a year ago, the band was faced with a harsh reality that cou]d have pushed other bands past the novel goal of a musical co-op and into a mere business partnership. "A couple of weeks before our 7" re]ease party, my younger brother tragically died," Gavlick recalls. "We had these 7" to get out and we had a release party and I didn't know if I'd ever be able to do anything on stage again... and Kattie and Gregg were like, 'You don't have to.' I felt very comfortable wth that. We are not just a product. We are people with a lot of interests. Not that we don't take this seriously, but we have to make allowances for what people are going through in their lives."

Peace. Love. Happiness. Between the women. With their drummers. With the fans. Real Lulu is more family than product.

Originally published in MOO MAGAZINE (Issue #28)

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