From left, Katie Henderson, Cristal Ramirez, Alisa Ramirez and McKenna Petty are The Aces. (Courtesy Red Bull Records)

Aces skip college for up-and-coming rock careers

For Provo, Utah singer-guitarist Cristal Ramirez, 23, and her drumming kid sis Alisa, the career-defining moment for their all-girl combo The Aces happened in high school. As graduation approached for her and fellow seniors (guitarist Katie Henderson and bassist McKenna Petty) the rocker felt the pressure mounting: What to do about university, which they were expected to attend? “Alisa was two years younger than the rest of us, who were all seniors, so we had to sit down and have a serious existential discussion,” she says. “But we felt really certain that we, us four, could do this as a career, and that it would be the biggest mistake ever if we just went to college and gave up on this group that had taken up so much of our childhood. So we got to work on The Aces, and we worked super hard.”

The Aces wound up snagging a contract with Red Bull Records and issuing the chiming debut “When My Heart Felt Volcanic” last year. So your decision paid off?

Yeah. We recorded our first little EP (2017’s “I Don’t Like Being Honest”), set up our own EP release party, and put out everything we needed into the universe. And sure enough, we got connected to great lawyer, and a manager who wanted the same kind of success that we wanted, and a record company that could accomplish that. And the next thing you knew, we were out opening a tour for 5 Seconds of Summer. It’s just been so fortuitous.

What’s the building that you can barely see, poking out like the prow of a boat on your “Volcanic” cover photo?

It’s actually just a suburban home in Los Angeles, a house we chose because a lot of the symbolism around the album pays tribute to the suburbs, where we were raised in Utah. The whole shoot that we did was suburban Californian house. We even set up a trampoline because we always had one at band practice. We’d play and then go jump on the trampoline and then mess around in the back yard.

Were you were raised in the Mormon Church?

Yep. We were raised LDS [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] and some of us are still religious; some of us of course aren’t.

You and Alisa both came out in your teens. Any LDS conflict there?

Definitely. In the Mormon culture where we grew up, being gay is … well, it’s a Christian religion, so it’s looked down upon, and just not accepted. So it’s definitely been tough. But there was never any big problem there, because we all have great families and there’s nothing but love there with us girls. We’re sisters.

The Aces
Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 12
Tickets: $13 to $15
Contact: (415) 861-2011,

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