Vocalist and guitarist Ida S. Vollmer – Va Rocks
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Promo pictures taken by: Jörgen Rasmusson, Distortion Media
Live pictures taken by: Björn Olsson
Additional live pictures taken from the archives of: Anders Sandvall
If you’re into rock n’ roll music in vein of The Runaways, Ramones, AC/DC, and Airbourne, I think you ought to check out PULL NO PUNCHES, the debut album from Swedish all-female trio VA Rocks. The band has been active for a decade and have toured their way through the southern parts of Sweden for quite a while. Now it’s time to make the world aware of this ass kicking trio. I consider PULL NO PUNCHES as one of the best albums of last year (2016). I had the pleasure to speak to vocalist and guitarist Ida; down below you can read what she had to say about why it’s taken the band so long to release their debut, what the songs are about, and what the future has in store for the band. VA Rocks is a band that has the future ahead of them; remember where you read about them first…
Hi Ida, thanks for taking the time for this interview today, are you ready to begin?
Hey Anders! It’s great to talk to you. Yeah, I’m ready!
Let’s head back in history. Tell us a little bit about when and where the band was formed; is it correct that the band was founded a decade ago? Who founded it?
Yes that’s about right! Frida and I had played together a lot longer but VA ROCKS was born about a decace ago!
How do you and the rest of the members know each other?
Well Frida and I go way back. We got in touch with Klara the “old school” way, by putting up a paper ad at the local supermarket where we called for a bass player. Klara was the only one who answered, haha!
How old were you when the band was formed?
We where about 13-14 years old… just kids!
How come you chose to stay as a trio?
We all come from this small village outside of Malmö and we’ve gone through a lot together for bad and for worse! We always have so much fun together on and off stage…
When did you begin to write your own songs?
When I was about 10 I wrote my first song about this guy I liked. The title was “The Guy is Mine” and when I showed it to a teacher she just laughed in my face haha! Good times.
When we were kids and hung out at my Dad’s, we were really messy and left make up and stuff everywhere. When Dad told us to clean up we were always like “What….!?”. Long story short!
I saw the show the band did at Malmo Festivalen in 2015 when you announced the name change; who came up with adding “Rocks” to the name?
It was impossible to find us on the internet with “VA!?” as a band name… ROCKS just came to mind one day and we changed it!
Do the members have any artist/band in common that you look up to or that have inspired you?
We all love The Donnas, Ramones, and the Swedish punk band Ebba Grön, but we actually have very different tastes in music. I guess that’s what makes it interesting for us 😉
When did you do your first live show? How was it?
Our very first show was at school when we were about 13-14 years old. We only knew one song, Ebba Grön’s “Totalvägra”, about young men who refused to join the army. An interesting song for young girls to play, haha!
Do you consider VA Rocks to be a DIY band?
Yeah in most ways we are! Of course, we have had a lot of help from friends and family BUT we have never got gigs and so forth on a silver plate. We have always worked hard! If you want it, go and get it!
The past year the band’s performed in the southern parts of Sweden but also in Germany and in the Czech Republic, how was that and are there any differences when it comes to the audiences in the countries?
Njaa. If I have to say something, the audience outside of Sweden is more dedicated to bands, especially going to shows and so on. A couple of Germans have even come to see us here in Sweden; that’s just amazing!
We can never play too much!
The video to “Bluesman”, which features Pontus Snibb from Bonafide on vocals, has got over 10,000 hits on the Internet so far, congratulations! How does that feel? How was it to shoot the video?
Thanks! It’s huge for us. We had so much fun shooting this video in the studio during the time we actually recorded the song together with Pontus! Jörgen, who shot the video, did a great job capturing all the fun those days.
Bluesman – (ft. Pontus Snibb) – Official Video
Where in Sweden do you girls live today?
Klara and I live in Malmö, while Frida lives in Lund.
The band has been a support act to Bonafide, The Poodles, Sator etc. but was that single shows or have you toured with them?
It has all been single shows! It would be fun to go on a support tour soon!
I read in an interview that you are inspired by old school rock and that you try to put your own twist on the rock music of today, could you explain what you mean with that?
Well, there is only one band like AC/DC, right? I don’t wanna hear a band today with their own songs that sounds just like them. We try to play rock n’ roll where you can hear where we’ve got our influences and still not sound exactly like them!
What response did you receive on the three track single KISS THIS, launched in 2013-14?
It was our first release ever so it was very exciting for us! We released it on our own, both as a CD and digitally on Spotify and iTunes. Despite this, I think it was spread as well as it could have been and was well received by our supporters. We have a few copies left and it can be bought at our live shows!
Yeah of course, we take that as a compliment! It’s a great feeling when people compare us to these bands. As I said before, they’re our idols and inspiration! If someone says that we sound JUST like another band then I think it’s time to think about what we’re doing!
What acts inspired you to begin writing music?
Once again, AC/DC is the reason why I picked up a guitar when I was a kid…
How would you like to describe what kind of music VA Rocks play?
Fast & dirty rock n’ roll!
VA Rocks is a really solid and strong live act, do you like being on stage and are you ever nervous before a show?
We’re all a little bit nervous. That’s just a good thing because some nerves always brings the best out of everyone!
Debut album PULL NO PUNCHES
Are you happy with the outcome of PULL NO PUNCHES or do you feel you should have done anything in a different way?
We are so proud of our debut album, and we love it! I have no regrets about PULL NO PUNCHES but maybe we will put the second album in another direction. Still rock n’ roll, always rock n’ roll, but maybe with a new sound… To be continued!
How long did it take to write and record the album?
PULL NO PUNCHES is like a “best of album” of our time together so far. Some songs were written a few years ago and some are new like “Rockbitch” or Play It Like an Animal”. We recorded the album under a 3-4 month period.
Why did take you so long to release the debut album?
We didn’t have the money to do it up until now! We were so young at the time and now we finally had both the money and the right studio to do it! Erik Wiss did such a great job in the studio with us!
Who is Jake Lundtofte that’s been co-writing with you?
Jake is my boyfriend! He plays guitar in Swedish punk band THE HEADLINES and writes all their songs.
When you’re writing what comes first – the music or the lyrics?
To me it’s both… I usually come up with the music first and let it set the tone for the theme of the song!
Is the band a democracy where everyone has a say in what songs to use or is it you that decides what lands on the album?
All three of us has a say of course!
A bunch of people, like Pontus Snibb (Bonafide), Jalle Lorensson (ex- Wilmer X), Erik Wiss and Jake Lundtofte are making guest appearances on the album, how did they all end up on the disc?
Well I just popped the question to Jalle and Pontus and they said both “yes” on the spot which was so freakin’ cool! Erik Wiss, who mixed and part produced the album, just got a feeling and recorded the piano without us knowing; we loved it when we heard the first mix, so it stayed. I co- wrote “Sunday Walk of Shame” with Jake, so it was just natural for him to play on the track too!
Was it given that the brilliant song “Bluesman” was going to be a duet between you and Pontus Snibb?
Yes it was. I knew I wanted us to work with Pontus and “Bluesman” was just THE song for it.
In “Rockbitch” I sing “pull no punches, hit the road”…You know, full speed ahead! It’s what VA ROCKS are all about.
You featured all three songs from KISS THIS, why?
We decided we wanted to keep them for PULL NO PUNCHES because this was actually our very first ALBUM. We didn’t want these songs to not be on it! The next album will be new, not before released, songs!!
These were the songs we wanted to feature on the album when we started to record it about a year ago. It’s better with quality rather than quantity. 😉 We are and have been working for new songs for the next album, we can’t wait to start working with that! 🙂
Band member Frida did the graphic design and the cover photo was taken by Jörgen Rasmussen, what did Frida have in mind when she began designing the album?
Frida is great with photo shop and design…which Klara and I are not, haha! It ended up with us wanting a simple cover design with no fuzz. It’s easy to become cheesy when you try too much!
What are the longest song “I Wanna Be You Captain” (4.08), and the shortest “Rockbitch” (2.02), about?
“I Wanna be Your Captain” is kind of about a girl who’s tired of the guy she likes being a p*ssy and asks him to “join her crew” as the lyrics go in the chorus. Tired of him telling lies and being with other girls…
“Rockbitch” is what VA ROCKS is about! Pull no punches rock n’ roll!
Were there any songs that you wrote that you didn’t feature on the album?
The only mid-tempo songs on the album are “Killing Me” and “Sunday Walk of Shame”; was it your intention to feature few slower songs in favor of more upbeat tunes?
We thought it was cool to have a few songs weren’t all fast rock. We wanted to show our other influences too!
Which song is your personal favorite on the album?
“Sunday Walk of Shame”! It’s so different to all the other songs and I just have a thing for it, haha.
What do the fans think of PULL NO PUNCHES?
From what we have seen and heard, people like it! It’s a great feeling that something we worked so hard to get done is appreciated!!
In retrospect are you happy with the outcome of the album?
I’d say that the album is brilliant and includes tempo, energy and some high fuelled rock n’ roll. The band really managed to make the perfect party album, congratulations!
Thank you so much!!
Which studio was used to record PULL NO PUNCHES and where was the album mixed and mastered?
We recorded all songs at Wiss Music Productions here in Malmö. Erik Wiss “The Wissard” did a kick ass job. He mixed the album and sent it off for mastering to Thomas Plec in Skövde.
Does each member record their part separately or do you record everything together?
This time we recorded our parts separately.
VA ROCKS and Erik Wiss.
Where did the guests record their parts?
Everything was recorded at Wiss Music Productions!
Label and management
Was it easy to land a record deal?
We have a distrubtion deal with Metalspiesser.
You inked a deal with MetalSpiesser Records, I haven’t heard of them before, where is the label based?
Metalspiesser is based in Germany!
Would you like to release the album on vinyl?
Yes it’s available on iTunes and other digital sites that I’m not sure of…
Is the album released in North America/Canada and Asia yet?
No it’s not!
Are you currently working with any promotion agency?
Lotta Rock Stars handles the band’s booking, are you satisfied with the co-operation? However, I read at the website that they were closing down, how does that affect VA Rocks?
LOTTA ROCK STARS is not closing down, the live club LOTTA ROCK is! We couldn’t be happier to work with them!
Of course it means a lot to us as a band that people are buying the album that we worked so hard for! But at the same time I don’t have a problem with Spotify etc.; I use Spotify myself
Past present and future
You held a release party in Malmo at the end of last year, but things didn’t go as planned because something happened to your drummer, what happened? And how was the party?
Frida was in a minor car accident just the night before and hurt her neck! We couldn’t believe the bad luck but we were just happy that Frida was okay! We managed to put together a small unplugged show instead of a full electric set that we had planned. It turned out to be a simply amazing release night anyway with a lot of people showing up to celebrate with us!
YES! And we will be doing the first gig since the accident and the first gig of the year next week on February 3rd in Tranås, Sweden!
How was it to throw an unplugged show, and what did the audience think of the changed plans?
It was actually really fun and a new experience! The audience took it so great and sang along to the songs! It was an amazing feeling for us.
Was it easy to transform the songs into unplugged versions?
Yeah… It was!
It’s still in progress!
Besides Facebook, is the band active on other social forums?
We have also Instagram! We go under “varocksofficial” there!
Who runs your Facebook and website?
It’s mostly Frida and I.
You’re also going to perform in England for one show, are you exited? Is it correct that you’re only going to do one show? If so, why not take the chance to perform more while you’re over there?
We are SO excited. Frida and Klara has been to London before but it’s the first time for me over there! It just happened to be this way this time.
Yes! We are booked at Rock&Blues festival in Ystad! More to be added.
What can you tell the readers about the video to “Rockbitch”; when and where was it shot?
We wanted to capture the rehearsal room feeling! Where the blood sweat and tears is being shed, haha!
Rockbitch [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
The video’s got 6,000 hits so far, are you happy with that and are there plans on shooting videos to any of the other songs on PULL NO PUNCHES?
Yeah! And yeah again, we are doing more videos!
Are you currently working on material to the next album and when can we expect it out in stores?
Yes we are! To be continued!
What are the plans for the band in 2017?
To play our asses off everywhere we can and write music for our second album!
Well that was all for me and Metal-Rules.com for now. Thanks for doing this interview and do you have any final words of wisdom to share with readers and fans?
It was fun, thank you!
If you want something in life, don’t sit around and wait for it. Get off your ass and work hard and you just might get it!
I wish you and the band all the best and really hope to see you all three live in action soon!!
Thank you!! Hope to see you at a show sometime soon!