If you have the connections, why not use ’em? That’s Amy Surdu’s new motto, now that some fairly high-profile stars have begun to notice her all-female, ’60s-retro quartet, the Gore Gore Girls.
When the Gretsch-slinging front vixen became an airplay favorite of E-Street-bander Steve Van Zandt on his “Underground Garage” radio show, she didn’t pass on any of the perks involved.
Thanks to him, Surdu says, “We met Springsteen, actually got to hang out with the Boss! We saw him live when he came through Michigan, and I’ll tell you what — that show was pretty amazing. We were kind of scoffing at first, thinking ‘Tiger Stadium — this is going to be so weird.’ But Bruce won me over ’cause once he started playing there was so much energy, and he did four encores.”
It makes perfect sense that Surdu — who is fond of vintage miniskirts and stiletto-heeled boots — would recognize Springsteen as a kindred spirit. Both have a deep respect for all things R&B and rockabilly, and an abiding love of rock’s most trailblazing pioneers.
“I can’t help it, I like music that’s been around for awhile, music that moves you,” says Surdu, who brings her Girls to the Independent in San Francisco on Tuesday. The band plays on a bill with Electric Six.
“I mean, we’ve toured — and learned so much from — the Cramps. And I’ve met Nancy Sinatra, and I got to meet Charlie Feathers before he passed. And Kim Fowley reached out to us — he called up the house, talked to my husband for a while, and I ended up writing songs with him on the phone. Over a three-hour conversation, he co-wrote a cut for us called ‘Pleasure Unit.’ And I’ve got to say, it’s pretty great.”
The track — reminiscent of Fowley’s early association with another girl group, the Runaways — appears on the band’s new (and third) “Get The Gore” riff-fest on Bloodshot, alongside other Ronettes-edged cuts like “Casino,” “All Grown Up,” and “Hammer Stomp,” in honor of show-stealing GGG guitarist Marlene “The Hammer” Hammerle.
Surdu is, in fact, a rabid gorehound, who nicked her moniker from the classic Herschell Gordon Lewis horror film of the same name. She’s proud of her hometown music scene, with fellow revivalists such as the Detroit Cobras and the White Stripes hipping a whole new generation to archaic garage sounds.
“The White Stripes’ success is almost like a blessing for music in general,” says Surdu, who’s good friends with the daring duo. “Jack White is a total self-made person — he had no help, no fancy lawyers, no dad in the industry, nothing. Like Bruce, he was genuinely winning fans over with good songwriting and a consistently great stage presence. And to see that guy win a bunch of Grammys?”
She says, “It gives me hope that there are fans of good music still out there somewhere.”