All Access Magazine Articles

February 15, 2007

The Bitch Is Back

By Maya Dawn Henderson

BitchBITCH... their name synonymous with the 80’s metal scene. They were one of Metal Blade’s first signed in 1982, with Damnation Alley. Albums like Be My Slave (’83) and The Bitch is Back (’87) were a staple in any metal head’s collection. Bitch was also regularly seen during the PMRC era, televised worldwide, their album held front and center, in Tipper Gore’s clutch, on talk shows and televised congressional hearings, inadvertently showcasing them in front of the world... Amused, the band only took advantage the free press. Back then, if you were in the scene then, you knew their name.

Today, the Bitch is back, indeed. Had a great time catching them play out recently, complete with studded leather, whips, riding crops and hand cuffs. Their music was, and still is, packed with feisty, raucous lyrics with plenty of hooks and snarls. Today Bitch is Steve Kara and Jay Dean on guitars, Steve Gaines on bass, Bitch’s original drummer, Robby Settles and... on vocals and whip, the lovely Miss Betsy Bitch. On this January evening, Betsy’s good friend and muse Christopher Patrick Drury charmingly chatted them up before introducing... Ms. Betsy and... B-I-T-C-H! With a Pussycat Doll swagger and whip in hand, she appropriately opened up with Elton John’s The Bitch Is Back. They seamlessly launched into the Bitch classic, Be My Slave. Time to get back to your heavy metal roots with this timeless hard-hitter. The room reciprocated the love. Drums were heavy and hard-hitting, as they should be, along with an intense bass line, hitting the bottom end to this classic slammer. Guitars carried grinding riffs and infectious melodies. They went on to play the screamy-loud Riding In Thunder, where you immediately understood why she’s thought to be related to Rob Halford. Betsy Bitch wields an impressive talent, yet she still is able to hold herself back where need be. A great swing beat on this tune, reminiscent of UFO’s Doctor, Doctor. Next up, Leatherbound. She really is great fun to watch. Much like being at a Kix concert, Betsy is the theatrics of the show, emulating her hero, Alice Cooper. She gets sweaty by the middle of the set. Her skin glistens, her hair gets wet and little droplets of sweat stream down her washboard abs. I think that Betsy sweat may be pure sex serum. If you were to drink it, you’d probably have superpowers...

This time around, Betsy is more polished and genuine than could ever be expected for anyone who has spent a large piece their life imbedded in rock ‘n roll. Not content to coast on her leather coattails, she’s neither disillusioned nor lazy, nor is she a diva. She doesn’t reinvent the wheel, she just keeps pedaling. Save You From The World was next, with both guitars ripping out some Ozzy-like riffs…they closed this evening’s set with Live For The Whip that epitomized the band perfectly…Betsy sweetly acknowledged her Mom who was in the audience, right before she belted out the infamous Skull Crusher! A superior show all the way around.

Chatting with Betsy about her band, she shared some classic Bitch moments. “What was the biggest show the band has played?” “We played with Metallica,” she informed me, “they opened up for us in San Francisco in the early 80’s. W.A.S.P., Slayer, Armored Saint and believe it or not, the guys from the film “Spinal Tap”, got together to play a show at this place in West LA called the Music Machine, and we opened up for them. Ironically enough, the biggest show we ever played was just a couple of years ago in Germany called the “Bang Your Head Festival”. The promoters flew us out there, all expenses paid, all accommodations, our own driver. They treated us like royalty. We played at the two-day festival for about 15,000 adoring fans from all over the world, along with such bands as Twisted Sister, Dio, Y&T, Udo, Thin Lizzy, Angel, Witch and Dokken. European Bitch fans are the most enthusiastic crowd. To them, it’s not just a fad, it’s a way of life, musically speaking.”

“Tell me a great road story”, I egged her on, knowing she must have a ton of them . “Well…we once played in club in Fresno with band called London. (Nadir D’Priest, TimYasui, Lizzy Grey). It was not only a rock joint, but it was also a bait and tackle store! We shared the dressing room with a little stream that literally ran around the perimeter of room, filled with live minnows! There were shelves lined with mason jars that were filled with dead worms. Oh, it was also December, and they were selling Christmas trees in the parking lot! Something for everyone, I guess?! Another time, we played a military base in El Toro with Rough Cutt (Paul Shortino’s band). It was their annual “At-Ease Weekend” and I think the Marines expected a Holiday Inn-type cover band to play, you know, something they could dance with their dates to. Instead we come out, with the whips and the chains, singing S&M themed songs, with me in my teddy, garter belt and thigh-high leather boots! They were in complete shock!

Mind you, as I talk with Betsy at the club, a male fan is falling all over himself to speak to her and take a video clip of himself with her, in doing so, horribly blowing off his date. “Do you get a lot of this?” I had to laugh. She just shrugged and took a swig of champagne. “So what is happening with Bitch now?” I went on to ask. (With so many resurrected rock bands are coming out, how could they not jump on board?) “We’ve recently played several local venues to favorable reviews. We plan on releasing a four or five song EP later on this year, featuring all new material! It’ll still be rock-hard but with an emphasis on melody and songs. While she talked I couldn’t help think how revitalizing it was to see a band not tributing, but instead being themselves. I asked her about her roots and why she got into metal in the first place. “What I like the most about hard rock/metal, is it’s the most dramatic and flashiest form of rock, in my opinion, as a performer, and not just a singer... it really gives me a chance to spread my wings on stage and implement my character “Betsy Bitch” into the music.

So go see and submit to Bitch! They’ll make your jaw drop - and stick a rubber ball in it! Watch for the new Bitch EP later this year, check their website too, it’s smokin’. www.bitchtheband.com

Story by Maya Dawn Henderson
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