The all-female tribute band Black Sabbitch, booked for festivals by Sharon Osbourne and Dave Grohl, includes Alice Austin on vocals, who has released her second solo album, which she discusses along with Black Sabbath songs, and Katie Jacoby’s violin driven Black Sabbath cover. Ashley Myles follows with her debut EP which includes tracks with a touch of an Adele and P!nk atmosphere.
PART ONE – ALICE AUSTIN
GOLDMINE: Congratulations on Goodnight Euphoria. It is a wonderful album.
ALICE AUSTIN: Thank you. It is an interesting record. I didn’t know what to make of it before I got some feedback from people. I like it but didn’t know how to describe it to anyone. A lot of artists target a specific genre, but I am pretty old school and I feel it may fall in classic rock somehow, even though it is new material.
GM: To an old school guy like me, it is very enjoyable. Speaking about old school, let’s go all the way back, over fifty years ago to the summer of 1971 when my cousin introduced me to the heavy sounds of Black Sabbath’s second album Paranoid and played it over and over until I liked it, which I do, but initially, it was kind of scary. Tell us about Black Sabbitch, a name I love.
AA: Thank you. The name of the band is what started it before my time in the group. The drummer Angie Scarpa thought of the name and the concept and wanted to make it happen. I joined them a few years ago but it seems like just yesterday. We have done quite a few tours and have a nine-show east coast tour this month. It has been nice being part of the group. As a kid I enjoyed Ozzy Osbourne’s solo recordings first before I found the music of Black Sabbath. One reason why I love Ozzy so much is that my vocal range matches his range. He has a high voice. I could sing his songs without having to change the key, and as a little kid, I didn’t know how to change a key, until I became a better singer. I didn’t think I could really sing the way I wanted to until I found Ozzy. I have always covered his songs, no matter what musical project I have been involved with, even as part of a country trio, every once in a while, we would throw in an Ozzy or Black Sabbath song. It was through a friend of mine who sent me an ad that Black Sabbitch was looking for a new singer and I thought that was right up my alley.
"I didn’t think I could really sing the way I wanted to until I found Ozzy.” – Alice Austin of Black Sabbitch
GM: The first U.S. charting single for Black Sabbath was the fast paced “Paranoid.”
AA: It is definitely a hit with the fans, not a deep cut. It is fun to sing.
Fabulous Flip Side: The Wizard
A side: Paranoid
Billboard Top 100 debut: November 28, 1970
Peak position: No. 61
Warner Bros. 7437
GM: A couple of Black Sabbath’s U.S. flip sides were songs pulled from their prior albums. That is the case with the flip side of “Paranoid” being “The Wizard” from their debut album. Katie Jacoby’s new version features her violin substituting for Ozzy’s harmonica.
AA: Her video was fun to watch. She has a lot of really cool intricate trills in her version of the song.
GM: My daughter Brianna and I saw Katie perform with The Who and a fifty-piece orchestra here in Florida, pre-pandemic. Katie’s violin solo on “Baba O’Reilly” became the show’s finale. What are some of your favorite Black Sabbath songs to perform?
AA: “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” is right at the top of my range, feeling like an exorcism. I also like doing some slower tempo deep cuts like “Solitude” and we also do the gentle “Changes.”
Fabulous Flip Side: Changes
A side: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Debut: January 1974
Warner Bros. WB 7764
GM: “Changes” is a beautiful song, which was also used as the flip side of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” Like you, I also like Ozzy’s slower emotional songs like “She’s Gone” from Black Sabbath’s Technical Ecstasy album and “Mr. Crowley” from Ozzy’s solo debut.
AA: I think it is fun to mix it up. I like to do the heavier songs more with Angie on drums, Emily Burton on guitar and Melanie Makaiwi on bass all rocking it out but also depart from that by doing some of these softer things in the middle of a set.
GM: Now let’s talk about Goodnight Euphoria. It opens with “No Such Thing.” I’m reminded a bit of Letters to Cleo, from Boston, a city where you have lived and performed.
AA: I remember crossing paths with Letters to Cleo around the time I was in that region. I was in Vermont during their heyday and then I moved to Boston after that. They were always a household name in the area.
GM: “Wooden Mind” has the type of drama of the slower, softer Black Sabbath and Ozzy songs we discussed.
AA: That’s very cool. Thank you. It does have a darkness to it. I wasn’t consciously going to a Black Sabbath sound but thought of it more of a Lana Del Rey style, but now that you mention it, I can hear it.
GM: “Loveless Waste” has power and emotion, a bit like R.E.M. to me.
AA: Cool. There are a lot of sounds and textures overlapping. I like the R.E.M. overtones comparison a lot. I think I have had so many musical influences and inspirations over the decades, that they just come out sideways.
GM: My favorite song is “Oxygen.” It is so atmospheric and beautifully recorded.
AA: Thanks. That was a lot of work for my producer David Drouin. I think he put a little extra time in on that one as far as trying to arrange it. I gave him an acoustic demo of it, and I said, “Here, have at it. Use whatever ideas you have for this.” He wanted to turn it into a big cinematic song, and I think he did a great job producing it and playing on it.
GM: After all that drama, you go right into a very bouncy song with “Everything You Touch.”
AA: I heard it as sort of a yacht rock song. I like to have a bouncy melody and rhythm to offset a dark subject. Maybe we should do a video, like the old follow the bouncing ball approach on this bouncy song. For this song, the subject matter draws on the case when everything is going wrong, and nothing is working in your favor.
GM: “The Neighborhood” is fun and exciting with a surf guitar sound and the “Livin’ La Vida Loca”-type melody.
AA: It does have a bit of a mariachi influence. Maybe my neighborhood has rubbed off on me. I live in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, right by Mariachi Plaza.
GM: Another influence on that song might be The Shocking Blue from Jerry Ross’ Dutch Invasion. I know we share a mutual love of their music.
AA: That was a late find for me. Their sound embodies everything that I grew up loving from my parents. My mom listened to a lot of Motown but also psychedelic music, so their sound kind of ticks all the boxes for me, having a female vocalist, a bit psychedelic, rock, garage, a punky element, and overall, just catchy songs.
GM: The gentle finale, “Saving My Tears” reminded me of another Bostonian, Aimee Mann with your voice and delivery. It is very nice.
AA: Thank you. I appreciate that. I have always liked Aimee Mann a lot. I covered ‘Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry” at the album release concert. Seth Campbell is playing piano on “Saving My Tears” taking my piano parts that I wrote and Seth doing it a hundred times better than I could. Emily Garcia plays violin on the song, too. I enjoy playing these songs in our shows. I appreciate your attention to the songs and your attention to the overlap with Black Sabbath, which is a far reach. I have always wanted to do a heavy record, but this is not the one. It is in me somewhere and I am sure some Black Sabbitch fans would love to hear that, but this is where I am at right now. I am really enjoying these indie rock songs, where they take me and how they come out. I appreciate Goldmine readers who will care to listen to them. Thank you. I appreciate your time and I will share this article widely.
PART TWO – ASHLEY MYLES
GM: I am enjoying your Tides EP. Let’s begin with the title song. It is soulful and powerful. In addition to your voice, the bass, trumpet and keyboards stand out.
ASHLEY MYLES: Thank you. “Tides” is a song I co-wrote several years ago with my producer Rob Kleiner and put on the back burner. I told him that I wanted to revisit it now. He agreed, calling it a strong song and one to definitely include on the EP. He plays most of the instruments on the track and Mark Rudin plays trumpet. “Tides” is about the cyclical nature of relationships where the same pattern can be repeated in your life, sometimes mistakes or sometimes not. It doesn’t always have to be a negative pattern.
GM: “Fire” has Adele-like power with wonderful rhythm as well.
AM: That is quite a compliment. Thank you. With a lot of my songs, I like to deliver a call and response style along with a driving beat, making it catchy and feeling great to sing and to listen to. I like things that grab you versus being too subtle.
GM: “Bricks” is empowering with wonderful imagery, “Bricks can build us up. Bricks can weigh us down.” I thought about P!nk and what she brings to a song like this with just her voice and piano, which is how you approach it initially and then that big build at the end with a choir of voices and strings is so impressive.
AM: For the ending, I was fortunate to be able to sing all the background vocals, becoming my own gospel choir. When Rob and I were writing together, he said that he had always had a note of just the word “bricks.” I was hesitant at first but from that, this whole song was born. It became something vulnerable and beautiful on the edge of a relationship wondering where it would go.
GM: When you had this opportunity to be your own choir, I wonder if you drew upon the bel canto style of singing that you studied.
AM: Well, that did help me to build my range as a mezzo-soprano and give me proper technique so that I don’t hurt myself. I did classical training for many years with an operatic tenor as a kid through my early twenties.
GM: We talked about Adele and P!nk. If you put the two of them together, that is how I hear your fitting finale “The Storm” which pulls the songs on the EP together nicely.
AM: “The Storm” is a very big and powerful song and I hope that it translates encouragingly that you can get through all things in life. At the end of the day, you have the power to push through obstacles and move forward.
GM: I enjoy the rhythmic piano, recalling the sound of your 2015 song “Do It Again.”
AM: That was Rob then and now. We started working together on that first track and have continued since. He is a great collaborator and a fantastic producer. I cold emailed him and told him that I like his work and I asked if he worked with independent artists. He said, “Of course,” and that is how that relationship came about.
GM: The ending of the song has a big finish, sounding a bit Broadway to me, like Les Misérables, which makes sense as I know you are a musical theater fan, and you live in New York City.
AM: I started my career as a kid doing a lot of musical theater, a few stints in different shows in Manhattan. That was the direction I was going because it was a natural fit for me at the time. My love of Broadway relates to my current projects with storytelling, which is important in my lyrics, that there is a clear story being told and that it is not just fluff. It should be entertaining, but I like having a real message. I am a huge Barbra Streisand fan and I love Hello Dolly, which I saw her perform in the film version. A few years ago, I saw Bette Midler in that role, and she was phenomenal. I am hoping to see Funny Girl, which is out now and is a classic. I like the big classics and I also enjoy the modern shows. I saw Waitress and I think that Sara Bareilles’ songwriting was perfect for that. I also like the photos Shervin Lainez has taken of her, so when it came time to find a photographer for my project, I reached out to him, here in New York, and I was very fortunate to have him photograph me. I look forward to playing these songs live. I am writing songs for my next release and want to build momentum before doing any big shows. Thank you so much for your interest in my music. It was a pleasure speaking with you.
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