Wendy James, Henrich Strahl, James Meynell, Goldenboy and
punk rhythm and blues with beautiful harmony, a straight
garage pop/rock that kicks you hard. It’s pure adrenaline
put into music with razor sharp lyrics brought by vocalist
and guitarist Wendy James, leader and rock-icon of the
English 80’s band Transvision Vamp.
their debut came with the indie label Pia-K recordings on
vynil, CD and DVD. The album “Racine n1” has 11 tracks
including the single “Grease Monkey”, another album “Racine
n2” is due very soon.
have the chance to know more from the voice of Wendy.
1 WHEN DID THIS PROJECT BEGIN?
Racine really began back in
London about 5 years ago, when I started writing songs and
demo-ing them. Those songs resulted in RACINE NO1. Before I
recorded that album though, I moved to NYC. I met an
engineer, and even though I didn't have a band around me, I
recorded the album. I played everything and produced it...
it is like a little lo-fi beautiful thing, much detail, but
quite simple too. Then there was growing demand for Racine
to go out and play, so I started getting the band around me.
We did go and play some UK dates, and we also played the
Tribeca Grand Hotel here in NYC, but we were a three piece
and some backing tracks had to be used - which made quite a
modern sound up against the loud guitars and drums - and
that is how the sound on R2 evolved. Now, however, we are a
five piece band so all the parts are being played live...
and I've picked very rocking guys who play great, hard and
Again, I have written RACINE NO2
and am producing it.
I expect the album to be
finished recording at the end of March, then decide who's
going to mix it, at the same time, start tour rehearsals. We
really want to be touring for the rest of the year, once the
album is done.
2 WHERE DID YOU MEET WITH THE
OTHER BAND MEMBERS?
I met Ray the drummer in a bar on the LES of NYC, he was
drumming in a band that was playing there... I met the
keyboard player, Goldenboy, through a friend in london,
Golden is English but lives in NYC.
I met the guitarist Henric and
bass player James through a DJ friend of mine in NYC who
said his brother was a bass player, (James) and James knew a
great guitarist - Henric.
We all got in a room and played,
and it worked, so - we began tracking R2.
3 WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION
I really believe all the
influences a person picks up in life are what shape their
music, and of course their inherent musical taste. My first
love and influence in life was early British punk and 70's
New Wave from NYC - The NY Dolls, The Ramone's, Patti Smith,
Televison and of course (from earlier) The Stooges, The MC5.
In the UK - The Pistols and The Clash.
My other main area of influence
was/is reggae - as the area I grew up in in London was West
London, known for it's Nottinghill Carnival and it's roots
reggae culture - very, very important to me, as groove and
as diginity and as renegade sound.
On the whole, these influences
have remained constant, though I find Hip Hop far more
interesting, and groovy and exciting than white rock music
now - my three all time favorites in the world - are Bob
Dylan, The Rolling Stones and Jay-Z.
I think Jay-Z - his rhymes, and
his musical production (Kanye did a lot of it) is genius,
and forever marks a time in history, (Public Enemy too, from
earlier), Jay-Z is unbelievable - he inspires me endlessly.
The Stones ARE the greatest rock n roll band in the world,
and Dylan gives me, soul, wit, intelligence, roots,
reaction, perfect melody - Dylan has it all. He is capable
of being very ascerbic with his lyrics, as are Jay and
Jagger - and this is the common attraction, and of course
BLACK rhythm and blues.
4 HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THE NAME
OF THE BAND?
I chose the name after the street in Chicago where Al Capone
ran his prohibition business from in the time of the
American depression. Whenever I'd seen movies about Capone
(Edward G Robinson - for instance) I'd always notice the
street sign RACINE and think it was somehow poetic.
Years later, I was in a second
hand book store in London, Nottinghill Gate, buying a book
by one of my favorite authors - Damon Runyon, and his book
was called 'The Racing World Of Damon Runyon' (about
gambling at the racetrack) - days later, at home, I glanced
at the book and misread it as 'THE RACINE WORLD' - so in a
flash the whole thing came together... my two french
girlfriends then told me it means 'ROOTS' in french, and of
course is also the name of one of France's great writers
Jean Racine. (It's also a city in Wisconsin here in the
US!), but as I say - the reason really derives of a mix
between Al Capone and Damon Runyon.
5 YOUR ARTWORK IS VERY
BEAUTIFUL AND SOPHISTICATED AND YOUR IMAGE REMINDS ME OF THE
HITCHCOCK WOMEN. YOU ALSO MADE A DVD VERY SOON FOR A NEW
BAND. HOW DID IT COME THE IDEA OF THE SHORT MOVIE? ARE YOU
INTERESTED IN A CAREER AS AN ACTRESS?
I do enjoy the look of the Hitchcock Blondes, specifically
Tippi Hedren. Though I also am equally drawn to Catherine
Deneuve and Monica Vitti. (and Annouk Aimé and Fellini's
style of women)
Between Antonioni's women,
Goddard's women (Anna Karina/Bardot) Truffaut's women (Deneuve
et al), actually Deneuve in BELLE DE JOUR (Luis Buñuel) you
will find me.
I have no desire to be an
actress, I know I could transmit great depth on screen, but
music is my passion and has my complete priority and
loyalty. I do get asked to be in front of the camera, and
possibly I would do it - it depends on so many things,
mostly - can I take time away from music, and do I want to?
When I watch movies it is more
for the cinematography, the lighting, the direction, the
editing, the script.
6 IN ALL YOU HAVE DONE YOU
HAVE BEEN A VERY ACTIVE AND INDIPENDENT WOMAN. WAS IT HARD
TO BE ACCEPTED AS A WRITER, PRODUCER, MUSICIAN, SINGER AND
BAND LEADER IN THE MALE WORLD OF ROCK?
No. As a musician I am taken on the strength of my ideas, my
ability and my conviction. I am a good 'uniter', a good band
leader - I can pull everyone into shape, and have everyone
feeling they are striving to and for the very best of their
abilites, I do this mainly by being very direct and clear
about what it is I want. Anyone entering a creative
situation with me knows this, and so it is a simple equation
to understand. There are times when each of us needs to be
appreciated and encouraged, and that is what builds band
loyalty and understanding, and of course the longer we work
together, play together, hang out together, the more
telepathic it becomes.
The female stuff - I assure you
when i'm working, does not come into it. I am not available
for male/female innuendo. It's a gang - whatever sex you are
- we hang together but we all have to stand on our own two
7 AFTER TRANSVISION VAMP YOU
CAME OUT WITH A CRITICAL ACCLAIMED SOLO PROJECT. WHAT
HAPPENED AFTER THAT?
Well I did the Elvis
Costello album, and I personally was not happy with it,
although the making of it was a tremendous learning
experience. The end result was disappointing, because I had
realised Elvis' intention's when he wrote the record were
not altogether positive. BUT, the making of it was a blast -
great musicians and a lot of adventure.
After that, I literally
disappeared into my studio in London and started to write
for myself. If the Elvis album showed me anything it was
that I could only write for myself from then on, and nothing
less would satisfy me.
8 I THINK TRANSVISION VAMP
CAME A LITTLE EARLY. I REMEMBER THE FEROUCIOUS CRITICS BUT I
DO ALSO REMEMBER THE ENERGY AND THE URGE TO DANCE ON THEIR
MUSIC. NOWADAYS TRANSVISION VAMP WOULD FIT PERFECTLY IN THE
NEW ROCK POP WARHOL INSPIRED NEW YORK CITY GLAMOUR BANDS.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? IS THERE A CHANCE AFTER THAT TO SEE TV
I will never go backwards, I will never be in the
Transvision Vamp line-up again.
The music, whilst it is always a
pleasure to hear it in a club or on the radio, it means
little to me now. I know that what I write is much more
musical, much more creative, and much more genuinely my look
on life, my humour, my intelligence, my viewpoint, my
idiosyncracies, my taste.
I'm so happy I grew up in Rock n
Roll, and I had the best time with TVV, we toured so much
and had so much success, it was the very best way to turn
from a girl to young lady.
9 WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN ENGLISH MUSIC WORLD AND THE AMERICAN? DO YOU HAVE A
FAV BAND AT THE MOMENT?
America is HARD-ASS - it is the home of the Blues, of Hip
Hop, the culture here is very very sharp. I love the late
60's to 70's period of America - with the Black Panthers,
the Anti-Vietnam rallies, The Stones of that period, the
protests, the upheaval of the whole decade was/is so
infectious and inspiring. The authors too - Norman Mailer,
Hunter Thompson, the commentators - Noam Chomsky, the movie
makers - Scorsese, Coppola, Bogdonavitch - everything was
changing, and it echoed around the world - i.e the student
riots in France... I also love America of the 30's/40's in
the depression era - that's when Chess Records started on
the South Side of Chicago...
England has amazing edge too -
The Stones in the 60's , the black families moving to South
and West London after WW2 brought amazing music into our
culture. Punk also was born out of economic and poiltical
depression. All great movements are an act against something
stagnant and oppressive. All art is freedom - in the
beginning, then very quickly it get's co-opted by the norm,
because there is money to be made. As the artist - you have
to keep letting go, and keep moving forward, never being
sentimental about success. You must be brutal in seeking the
new experience and expression.
For me, America is suitable
right now, because it's got real 'balls', I can seriously
expect great work, and I can get great work done, and
everybody's in your face - and I like that kind of
aggression. I like not having to be a 'care-giver' to a
bunch of pussy's!
10 WHY DID YOU LEAVE ENGLAND?
I found myself in a place and
time, where I was able to move - no boyfriend, no real
thrill in my enviroment anymore - quite numbingly
comfortable - which is deathly. I felt a desire for fresh
adventure, and probably the calling of 'greater' things.
I don't need comfort so much as
I need challenge.
- I moved.
11 ANY CHANCE TO SEE RACINE
LIVE IN USA AND EUROPE?
Yes - as soon as R2 wraps, we go into rehearsals, and it is
my fervent wish to tour and tour for the rest of the year.
The dates will always be first available at
www.theracineworld.com and www.myspace.com/theracineworld.
We will be touring the world,
either on our own dates, or joining other tours.
12 WILL RACINE BE SEEN AS THE
NEW WENDY JAMES PROJECT OR THE BAND WILL COME FIRST?
Well - it is me... but RACINE - we are a band - whichever.
Ultimately when we're on stage there's gonna be five of us
If you want to know more about RACINE buy
their CD and visit
TRUST IN ME!