“Quick licks for lovers” – that’s how Billerica baddies Stroke Volume encapsulate their pulsating sound in a single quip. It fits, too, the same way their cover of The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb” creeps into your ears at a recent show at UnchARTed Gallery.
The ladies slink behind ‘80s-glam-rock-inspired stage names when in the game. Cherry Paradise (Angie Bruce) thunders on the drums, Lane Changah (Kelly Dimbat) holds the beat as rhythm guitarist, and Evilyn (Michele Morgan) channels her heavy metal background on lead guitar. Head riot grrrl Roxie Hazeldell (Michelle Heron) plays bass, provides the vocals, and cranks out the band’s catalogue.
The names all hint at something about each member’s personality or past; Roxie lifted the name from her great aunt, Lane Changah got the name from her driving strategies, and Evilyn is a nod to her past heavy metal days. Their close-knit friendship peeks through their straight-faced interview as Cherry Paradise explains her name and Roxie interrupts.
“Well, being with her is like paradise,” Roxie says.
Game over. Five minutes into the conversation, their hokey camaraderie is already showing itself.
“Stroke Volume has history with one another,” Hazeldell adds. “I’ve known Cherry Paradise since we were in Bacharachattack together, Evilyn has been my best friend since age 11, and Lane Changah, I actually taught her daughter piano lessons many years ago.”
Together, the band meets in “The Shed” for jam sessions that are part girls’ night out, part poetic justice. The secret 20-by-20 practice space is an old workshop in Billerica that the gang happily crams into for practice.
“The Shed is something that has evolved over time,” Lane Changah said. “It’s equipped with vintage amps and drums, and we just show up and rock, and all the beer and alcohol we want is here.”
The space could be where the band records their first release this summer. After two years of adjusting to each other’s diverse musical backgrounds and styles, it’s finally time to bring out the audio recorder.
“I think we’ve grown together because we all come from different playing backgrounds,” Evilyn said. “It took some time to get used to playing with one another, and now we’re finally feeling it out with one another.”
After all, the band is a smorgasbord of rock genres, and then some. Evilyn comes from a hardcore background, Lane Changah was a band virgin, Cherry Paradise played Burt Bacharach covers with Roxie before the band, and Roxie Hazeldell is a classically trained pianist who taught herself bass to play in Stroke Volume.
The band is set to record their first physical release of original songs this summer. If the release is anything like their tumultuous original “Dream Date,” it’ll rumble and shimmy the way the ‘80s intended.
“We already have nine or 10 original songs at this point, so we really could make a whole album, but I do think we’re going to focus on three songs by the end of the summer to get quality recordings,” Lane Changah said.
“If we could even record an awesome set in the Shed, we might be able to do that and just have a single,” Evilyn said.
The ladies don’t get to moonlight as their rock ‘n’ roll alter egos often but when they do, they pack the bar. Venues like O’Briens in Allston and Lowell’s UnchARTed become crowded for the band’s Heart, Led Zeppelin and Madonna-inspired sporadic sets.
“I’ve never seen so many girls in here,” joked a fan when the four women thrashed the stage at The Last Safe in Lowell. They were pretty much the only females in the room that night.
When the crowd cleared, the ladies remained a self-proclaimed “sisterhood” of hard rock.
“Music is a pretty intimate thing, and playing music with strangers can be tough,” Hazeldell said. “I’ve written all these original songs and I have a drive to get them to sound a certain way, and I knew these girls would help me. You’ve gotta to have some meat behind the bun, if you know what I mean.”
Hungry for more? Listen to the music at strokevolume.us