You'd probably say it sounds like Amy Gore has dialed back her sound just a bit from the aggressive punk she was playing in the late '90s, and most people would likely agree with you. Most people except Amy Gore, that is. "I still think I'm playing heavy punk music," Gore says. "Please don't tell me otherwise!"
Gore's latest band, Amy Gore and Her Valentines, certainly rocks pretty hard, but they're still nowhere near the in-your-face sound of the Gore Gore Girls, the group Gore started in 1997. Hitting the local and national scene at the same time as fellow local heroes the Dirtbombs and the White Stripes, the Gore Gore Girls specialized in hard-edged garage rock shot through with a touch of old-school pop. "I was listening to Black Sabbath, Bo Diddley, the Ventures and the Kinks almost exclusively at that point," Gore says, also noting that the Girls were her first musical project. "So the sound that I was making as a result, and not knowing how to play, really, at that point, made the group sound pretty specific. It was intended to be like a band of female aliens in go-go boots."
Of course, the Gore Gore Girls eventually grew up. Their latest record dropped in 2007 and Gore says she and her old bandmates, while still friends, have no interest in a reunion. "I don't know how the hair and boots could translate," she says. Gore teamed up with Nikki Corvette for a project called Gorevette in 2008, working as a songwriter and guitarist, but she says she was "feeling the itch" to start a new project of her own. She booked a solo show at last year's Hamtramck Blowout and wound up adding an all-star band comprised of the Von Bondies' Leann Banks; Jackson Smith, who's played with all-stars including T-Bone Burnett and Wanda Jackson; and Grayling's Joe Leone.
Gore says that in just three weeks of rehearsal for the Blowout gig, something clicked with her new crew. "After the first rehearsals, we knew something special was happening," she says. "The chemistry and musicianship was really good. It was magical." Gore's gone on to play more shows with her Valentines, and they're currently finishing work on their debut full-length. The album features a bevy of remarkable local guest stars like pianist Chris Codish, Eminem collaborator Luis Resto and legendary session guitarist Dennis Coffey. "It's pretty sweet," Gore says. "We've had incredible luck with contributors to the album." A badass (and Detroit Music Award-nominated) video for the record's first single, "Drivin' Around," dropped in October, and the band is running a Kickstarter through 5/15 to fund the project.
It's a busy time for Gore, who's preparing for showcase performances with both her Valentines and Gorevette at this year's DMAs. She's also preparing to shoot a second video for the Valentines album, including a live shoot at her upcoming 4/29 show at PJ's Lager House. Now with 15 years in the business, Gore's made quite a musical career for herself, despite having tried her hand at other work. "I was a full-time farrier [horseshoe and hoof care specialist], and still do some farrier work, and I tried to sell houses for a while," she says. "It's become clear that music isn't going away for me." But she says there's no secret to her staying power as a musician. "People think too much about this stuff," she says. "Just keep doing what you do, and if music is it, you're doing it." | RDW
Amy Gore and Her Valentines and Gorevette • 21st Annual Detroit Music Awards • 4/27, 7 p.m. • Fillmore Detroit • 2115 Woodward, Detroit • 313.961.5450 • detroitmusicawards.com • $50-$100