speaks with Kathy Peck
I have known Kathy Peck
for over twenty five years or since birth and am always amazed by her
accomplishments. Many may remember her when she played Bass with the all
woman band The Contractions and others know her for her the selfless
energy that she puts into H.E.A.R. Hearing Education and Awareness for
Rockers. I got a chance to speak with Kathy about her life, music and
Globe: I know that you suffered hearing loss after a gig your band The
Contractions played with Duran Duran. Tell the readers how bad it was
performing onstage at the Oakland Coliseum was a great experience. Duran
Duran were making their famous MTV live video. Contractions were on
stage opening up as a three piece with our stacks circled all around us.
I had rented an STV for more stage volume. It was the screaming little
girls that really sent my ears over the edge. They rang for three days.
After that I experienced deafness to the point were I could not
understand conversation. It was really scary.
Repeated noise exposure caused ringing in my ears (tinnitus), and my
hearing ability decreased. Eventually, I lost most of my hearing. I was
helped with two hearing aids, lip reading and sign language to
understand simple conversation. Ten years later, an operation helped my
middle ears, but the tinnitus and some hearing loss remained. In
addition to the personal and professional setback, I couldn't’t
understand why people in the music industry weren’t openly discussing
the damaging effects of loud music.
Hearing loss provided the incentive for me to throw my energies in a new
direction. After my friend flash gordon, MD suggested an outreach
program to educate people about the potential damage loud music could
cause, Dr. Gordon and I launched Hearing Education and Awareness for
Rockers (H.E.A.R.) to do just that.
Punk Globe: Tell the readers about your musical career? You have done
all sorts of music including Country with the wonderful Tammy Why Not.
Kathy: The Contractions were really my first band (1979) before
that I was a singer/songwriter with Punk sensibilities and an aspiring
recording engineer. I really loved the new direction music and fashion
was headed in when Punk first came out. I also really enjoyed playing
music with women who rock. We played with bands such as the Dead
Kennedy’s, Black Flag, the Go Go’s and really had a great time of it.
The Contraction’s Mary Kelley guitar/vocals and Debbie Hopkins drums
were seasoned musicians. I really was new at bass playing but I had
songs that were fresh and a definite style that was PUNK. So the
combination really worked.
I played around in a few bands while still with the Contractions. Baby
Buddha with David Microwave, Meg Brazil and Charles Hornaday: ZaZu Pits
Orchestra. I was in the original ZaZu band when it first formed with
Katy Gunthorn, Morey Goldstein, Steve Ashman, Lou Vacaro and many more
folks. A short time with the Cheap Dates with Contractions members,
Bonnie Hayes, Rebecca Kmeic and Sara. The Casual Italians with Steve
Ricablanca. Mystery Train, Tammy Why Not and the Bush Whackers with
Cornelia Benavidez, Jim and Gary and Chuck. Tammy was really funny
because, I was in character, lassoing and spouting fireballs out to the
audience, singing Great Balls of Fire!
Punk Globe: I know that The Contractions put out a CD tell us about
all your releases.
Something Broke (1984)
Rules and Regulation/ You
Touched Me (1980)
Breaking Up Is Not Hard To
Do /Don't Blame It On Me (1983)
(5 or 6) Various compilation albums throughout the 1980’s
HEAR THIS CD Compilation
(Sub City Records, available through hearnet.com, at Tower Records and
other records stores across the US.)
Who Not Forgotten CD 2004 Compilation
Currently we are working on CD achieving of original live Contractions
Punk Globe: In what year did you officially start. H.E.A.R (Hearing
Education and Awareness for Rockers?)
Kathy: Since our inception in 1988, H.E.A.R. has received
support from some of the most respected, popular, and influential names
in the music and medical industries. From performers such as Pete
Townshend of The Who, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, and Les Claypool of
Primus, to media giants like MTV, Guitar Player Magazine, Bass Player
Magazine, Keyboard Magazine, and MIX Magazine; from medical groups such
as The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, The American
Academy of Audiology, and The American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head
and Neck Surgery, to trade groups like the National Association of Music
Manufacturers, Audio Engineer Society, Consumer Electronics Association,
as well as the Grammys, The Mix Foundation /TEC Awards, The Monterey Pop
Festival, Aearo Corporation, Westone, Etymotic Research, Virgin
Megastores, Ziljian, South by Southwest, Future Sonics, Shure and
Energizer. H.E.A.R. is recognized and supported as leading the charge
against preventable hearing damage.
Hearnet.com is our interactive website that is updated regularly,
providing information and resources on tinnitus, hearing loss, hearing
evaluation referrals, hearing protection, musicians earplugs and hearing
devices), as well as a referral service of audiology and ear doctors
HEAR partners, and entertainment links.
In addition to distributing information, H.E.A.R. conducts hearing
evaluation clinics in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as producing
school programs, and public service announcements with music celebrities
for national radio, TV and cable networks. H.E.A.R. has established
H.E.A.R. Partners worldwide.
Punk Globe: Tell us about the early days with the organization and
how far you have come as an individual and an organization.
Kathy: Ginger, it’s been a whirlwind. The tipping point was
the outstanding support forms Pete Townshend of the Who in 1989 helping
us to go international in the media with our hearing health message with
coverage in Rolling Stone Magazine. We also had stories in Time Magazine
and People Magazine in the early days that really helped.
Building the organization
and getting our information out to the schools, music professionals,
hearing health professionals and the media has really been a challenge
but a rewarding one.
Punk Globe: I know that you have fought and won many battles to keep
H.E.A.R. going. Do you care to elaborate?
Kathy: It’s all
part of developing as an organization. If it weren’t scary it wouldn’t
be any fun, says my friend Dennis McNally publicist for the Grateful
Dead. There was a dispute in the Federal trademark court with hearing
health corporations battling over our website HEARNET.COM. That was a
hardship but we prevailed.
Punk Globe: Tell the readers about some of the very prominent
professionals you have on your Board of Directors.
Board of Directors:
Douglas L. Beck Au.D. is the Editor-In-Chief of three leading websites
addressing communication disorders www.audiologyonline.com for hearing
healthcare professionals, www.healthyhearing.com for consumers and
patients, and www.speechpathology.com for Speech Language Pathologists).
Dr. Beck earned his Master's Degree in audiology in 1984 from the State
University of New York at Buffalo, and his doctorate from the University
of Florida at Gainesville, in 2000. Dr. Beck started his career in the
early 1980s at the House Ear Institute where he specialized in cochlear
implant research and intraoperative cranial nerve monitoring. He was
appointed to the medical school faculty as Director of Audiology at
Saint Louis University Medical School from the late 1980s through the
mid 1990s. After leaving the university, he started a private audiology
practice. He moved to San Antonio in 2001 to joinwww.audiologyonline.com.
Dr. Beck has published many articles addressing hearing, hearing loss,
hearing aids, cochlear implants, intraoperative monitoring,
electrophysiology, professional politics, and he has lectured
internationally on these same topics. Dr. Beck is a highly sought-after
lecturer and author. He was appointed to the Board of Directors of
H.E.A.R. in 2003.
John Doyle, ESQ. is Secretary of the H.E.A.R. Board of Directors.
Hearing Impaired since birth, he is an attorney specializing in
appellate and civil rights litigation. His involvement with H.E.A.R. is
only one example of the many ways he works with disadvantaged groups.
Dr. Jerome Goldstein is the Senior Executive Vice President Emeritus of
The American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery and a
Board of Director of the Deafness Research Foundation, SHHH and Sertoma.
He is based in Florida.
Flash Gordon, MD, is a primary care physician living in San Francisco.
He's now in private practice in Greenbrae, California, and founded
Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (H.E.A.R.) along with Kathy
Peck. For more information, or to contact flash, see flashgordonmd.com.
Mont Stong, Au.D , is an technical audiology advisor. Mont has
volunteered his audiology services since the formation of H.E.A.R.'s
Clinic Program in 1989.
Punk Globe: How about some of the many awards and achievements you
have been given?
Here are some of our
Hearing Education and
Awareness for Rockers, (H.E.A.R. ®) Is First in Musicians’ Hearing
Education. First hearing health nonprofit:
To receive the prestigious
“Leadership Award” from The National Council on Communication
Disorders for its pioneering work in educating musicians and music
listeners to the dangers of hearing loss and tinnitus from loud music.
(Washington, DC, 1989)
To work with popular
international recording artists spokespersons, such as Pete Townshend
of the Who, on hearing education awareness issues. (H.E.A.R.® National
Public Service Campaign, 1989)
To collaborate on a video
documentary “ Can’t H.E.A.R. You Knocking ™ ”with a foreign country
and receive international and national film awards for its efforts. (Flynner
To become established on
the internet. (HEARNET.COM ™, 1995)
To distribute hearing
protection and hearing information on a US and Canadian Music Tours.
(Lollapalooza Tour’s 30 cities, 1996)
To provide a curriculum
hearing health science program for high schools (“ Can’t H.E.A.R. You
Knocking ™ ”, video and Active Physics™ textbook funded by The
National Science Foundation and The American Association of Physics
To launch an independent
record label (H.E.A.R. Records ™) on HEARNET.COM to celebrate music
and musicians while promoting the value of protecting your most
important musical instrument.... your ears. (H.E.A.R. This CD ™, 1998)
To work with MTV on its
first televised award winning health documentary on musicians’ hearing
loss and tinnitus issues. (MTV® - MEGA DOSE Segment, 1999)
To pass an Earplug
Ordinance for San Francisco Music and Entertainment Venues. (SF, 2002)
To launch a national
hearing health campaign with a major manufacturer of hearing products
and a Grammy ® award winning music celebrity spokesperson. (Energizer
® EZ Change ® Batteries “It’s Hip to H.E.A.R.™ ” Program with Pat
Benatar, 2004 and Mick Fleetwood 2005)
Punk Globe: You recently were featured in a cover story in News Week
and I was shocked by the number of people who suffer hearing loss?
Kathy: 60% of the inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame are hearing impaired. Americans are facing hearing loss earlier,
affecting life at home, work and play.
There are more baby boomers aged 45-64 with hearing loss (10 million)
than there are people over the age of 65 with hearing loss (9 million).
Punk Globe: It was amazing to read that not all hearing loss is
caused by loud music.
Kathy: The first indications of hearing loss are often subtle
and usually ignored. Difficulty following conversations in a noisy
environment, a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears, and a
high-pitched ringing or buzzing in the ears are some of the warning
signs that something is wrong.
The symptoms may appear for no apparent reason and may be temporary at
first, but may become permanent with repeated exposure. Sounds that can
result in hearing loss include live rock concerts, chain saws, power
mowers, and other noisy recreational activities. The reason why? Loud
sound first destroys the hair cells in the inner ear that respond to
high pitches. These are the sounds that enable you to distinguish one
word from another.
More than 28 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, which
may be due to an ear disease, a middle ear disorder or an inner ear
problem. Investigation of the causes of hearing and related disorders is
hampered by the fact that the extremely hard temporal bone completely
encases the hearing and balance organs, making them inaccessible for
study during an individual's lifetime.
A disorder of the middle ear such as ear infection, wax build-up or
eardrum perforation may impede the mobility of the three small ear
bones, the hammer, anvil and stirrup. This disrupts the conversion of
sound waves or acoustic energy into mechanical energy and conductive
Sensorineural hearing loss, or nerve deafness, occurs when the sensory
cells in the hearing organ or cochlea are permanently damaged. This may
be due to a variety of factors including hereditary disorders, ear
disease, aging, over-exposure to sound or an adverse effect to drugs.
Punk Globe: In an interview I did with Jim Verraro(American Idol) .
He told us that his both parents lost their hearing after a bout with
German Measles. Do you ever treat people such as his parents?
Kathy: That is a medical condition. We would refer people to
an ENT doctor or Otolaryngologist for an ear exam and an audiologist for
a full hearing evaluation.
Punk Globe: Can you tell me about a normal day when you see patients
at your office?
Kathy: We refer to them as clients because we are not seeing
them for medical treatment.
We make custom musicians
earplugs and custom fit molds for personal ear monitors.
We also give a free hearing
screening. If there is a medical condition or hearing damage we refer
folks to our HEAR Partner audiologists and Ear Doctors. H.E.A.R. has
HEAR Partners in many cities throughout the US. They can be accessed at
To take a hearing test
online, find musicians ear earplugs or to find an audiologist in your
area, log onto http://www.hearnet.com.
Musicians Earplugs are designed to replicate the natural response of the
open ear. Sound heard with these earplugs has the same quality as the
original, only quieter. The result is that speech and music are
clear--you still hear the blend clearly, feel the bass, and distinguish
Accurate sound reduction is achieved by combining a patented filter with
the specific acoustics of a custom earmold. The combination of the two
produces a resonance at approximately 2700 Hz (as in the normal ear)
resulting in a smooth, flat attenuation.
Three types of attenuator
buttons are available: ER•9, ER•15 and ER•25. The number corresponds
with the amount of sound reduction provided in dB.
Personal Ear Monitors place the performer in a completely customized
listening environment. This environment is free from feedback, excessive
stage volume, and the acoustical variability typically associated with
conventional wedge / side fill monitor systems.
Every Personal Ear Monitor set is custom fitted, and designed to be
operated at safer output levels than conventional monitor systems.
Personal Ear Monitors form a secure and comfortable acoustical seal,
conforming perfectly to the natural configurations of each individual
ear. The high fidelity audio quality allows performers to hear
themselves with studio-quality clarity. We have made personal ear
monitors for many touring recording artists.
Even Apple iPod ®, portable computers, portable DVDs and recording
studios are now enjoying the excellence of personal monitors for their
best performances. Professional, performance grade products make nearly
any audio device sound its best.
Punk Globe: You have filmed many PSA's with all sorts of Musicians
supporting H.E.A.R. and your efforts. Give us some of the artist names.
They are very impressive.
Kathy: You can check some of them out at
We have worked with Jack Black, Pete Townshend, Ray Charles, Green Day,
Missy Elliott, Pat Benatar and many more.
Punk Globe: Tell us about "H.E.A.R. This"
out on Sub City Records?
with you on H.E.A.R.This was a great experience. We had the best of old
school and new school PUNK, Dirk Dirksen the Pope of PUNK, Mary Monday,
The Contractions, The Lewd, The White Trash Debutantes, Link 80, BelRays
and lots more great bands!
Punk Globe: Although, you have gotten so much acclaim H.E.A.R. is
still very grassroots. How can readers support the organization?
Ginger. They can support us by putting a link to
Or donating an item to our auction, or even give a tax-deductible
They can find out more how
to contribute by going to our website
Globe: Do you miss playing music? Yes. Occasionally, I sing and play the
Kathy: I recently
sang at Spencer Dryden’s benefit with Pete Sears from the Jefferson
Starship , Nick Buck , Peter Kaukonen and Naomi Ruth Eisenberg and at
the Black and White Ball 2003 with the Contractions for a reunion.
Punk Globe: Tell the readers about future plans with H.E.A.R.
Kathy: Currently, I am working with the San Francisco Opera
Orchestra making custom musician earplugs. We are also working with
videographers Dirk Dirksen and Damon Molloy
on the updated DVD version of our award winning documentary “ Can’t Hear
We host the Music and Sound Auction on eBay with Mix Foundation and the
House Ear Institute raising funds for hearing health programs. Look on
for updates on the auction. We have lots of great recording gear and
autographed memorabilia. Finally, we are conducting research that has
spans over 15 years on hearing loss and tinnitus in the Music Industry.
Punk Globe: You have also been working with Music Cares. Is there a
cross over with your organizations?
Kathy: We work really like working with MusiCares at the
National Association for Music Manufacturers (NAMM) and the Audio
Since 1989, MusiCares' Emergency Financial Assistance Program has been
helping music people across the country cope with financial hardships
and crises. It provides totally confidential crisis intervention, health
care referrals and financial assistance. MusiCares' confidential and
caring approach allows those in need to seek help with dignity and
H.E.A.R. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of
hearing loss and tinnitus among musicians and music fans through
education and grassroots advocacy. With support from, the music
industry, musicians, audiologists, physicians, hearing health
organizations, health manufacturers and individual donors, H.E.A.R. is
helping to raise awareness of the real dangers of repeated exposure to
excessive noise levels from music.
Punk Globe: Any last comments Kathy?
Kathy: Bless you
for your ambition and drive to keep such a worthwhile organization going
for the people and NOT for the money.
I just want to say how thrilled I am to have the PUNK Globe back and in
action on the net. Ginger you are a great interviewer with a wonderful
sense of humor and a great band. Congratulations! Keep on doing it!