Annie Quick is panting. A self-proclaimed lousy sleeper and workaholic, she is preparing for yet another American tour and by the sound of her poorly masked loss of breath, it’s obvious that she’s slammed for time.
“I spend about half of my life on the road,” says the unheralded rock ’n’ roller, adding with a tone of mock reassurance, “I am really just pretending not to have a nervous breakdown.”
A trucker’s existence was probably the last thing she expected back in 1995 when she was checking blood pressure and shoving hypodermic needles into oranges at nursing school in Arizona. Quick and classmate Jad Mintun spent weekends recording music at a friend’s studio in Phoenix, and as it turned out, their debut CD, Ripple, would end up attracting the support of local radio stations. Before long they were in pretty heavy rotation.
“It became progressively harder to study medicine when we heard our songs on the radio during study breaks,” said Quick in an early interview. Ripple would eventually evolve into the navel-gazey post-grunge outfit, Stickman Jones, and bring Quick and her new band mates to New York City. Now residing in Harlem, Quick has since shed the band and the folk rock.
She’d prefer to rip it up.
But there is a serious deficiency in the industry and she’s curious why so few people have anything to say about it. “Where are all the fucking women in this business?” she wonders. She sounds confused more than anything.
Like any artist, Quick appreciates fan support, but is still startled by the constant reminders that she is primarily categorized as a “woman musician.”
“After shows people come up to me and say things like ‘I was worried that you were just another chick with a guitar,’ and ‘I forgot you were a girl.’” Quick doesn’t really know how to feel about compliments like these — and, hell, why should she? In a business that touts hundreds of millions of dollars made annually and fresh meat found every day … where are all the X-chromosomed rock stars?
Even among the thin ranks of famous female musicians, Quick stands apart. Unlike folks like Courtney Love (the media-manipulating poseur) or Pink (PVC and hair-dye alone do not a rocker make) she writes her own songs. Unlike godheads like Chrissie Hynde and Debbie Harry, she’s a hard-touring artist, not a semi-retired legend.
In a recent interview with Blender magazine, Quick explains, “Rock at its core is very macho — and it should be. On one hand, I just want to win the boys’ game; on the other hand I’m bringing my own experience to the game and the most salient uniqueness of my experience is my femaleness.”
And even after she admits that her life moves “twice as fast” as she might like, the need to write songs that “put over a mood” is what fuels her.
“I want to kick your asses and have you thank me for it later,” she explains. Glazing over songs with a pretty smile and an acoustic guitar won’t do. Her latest release, Bigger on Paste Records is an ear-bleeding testament to this. Subtitled Ten Songs About Georgette, Quick explains that this album is simply a collection of stories; Georgette is a modern-day Ziggy Stardust, if you will.
Opening with a thunderclap of dirty guitars and crash cymbals, Bigger’s lead song, “Hit Like a Man,” stings: “It’s your new rope to hang/a quicker way to end your day/and you’d like to go out with a bang/ hit like a man, Georgette, hit like a man.”
Atop the gritty messages, Quick’s wobbly Rickie Lee Jones-like vocals and 10 tracks of heavily layered rock ’n’ roll just might make the kind of impact that modern music could use.
You be the judge.
And for God’s sake, don’t bother to forget that she’s a woman. Just try to remember that she kicked your ass.