As most people who know both M and me are aware, his musical past includes a fair amount of metal; mine, none. And while I usually shy away from heavier sounds, the music of Winnipeg-based band The Solhounds appeals to me far more than I might have expected. While the music has plenty of the loud, crashing sounds one expects from metal, their songs also feature smart, thoughtful lyrics that are reaching for greater heights.
We recently had the opportunity to chat with Solhounds vocalist Elise Roller about their debut release – thanks to Elise for an enjoyable talk!
I was reading an interview you did with “Eyes on Windsor,” in which you talked about some of the inspirations for and the meanings behind your songs. “Body Bandit,” as you said there, was inspired by serial killer Countess Elizabeth Bathory, and also speaks to the double standard applied to women when it comes to relationships and sex. As you said in the interview, these issues – double standards, inequality, and such – are in the forefront of the news right now. As a heavy metal musician, how do you see the #MeToo movement? How specifically does it speak to your experiences?
I mean, being a young woman in the music industry, I was exposed to a lot of men who somehow felt that my being on stage was an invitation for other kinds of attention I didn’t want. I once got on stage to sound check and some dudes yelled out, “take it off!” Because, you know, in their minds that’s all we are – sex objects placed on this earth for their pleasure. It’s disgusting and it’s something you have to overcome by being fierce, getting on stage, and being better than anyone they have ever seen. Screaming in the microphone about how great I am, how angry I am, and levelling the playing field in the way that I am not here for them, that perhaps, they might be here for me (what a concept!) is how I battle those situations. Since I’ve been playing music in this way, it seems that when I get off stage those heckling men are as scared of me as I have been of them every day of my life. It’s nice to feel like I can take the power back. And that’s what the #MeToo movement is all about: taking back the power.
It constantly surprises me – although it really shouldn’t – that we’re in the 21st century and there are still quite narrow expectations for girls and women in terms of how they should look, how they should behave, what they should wear, and such. As a woman in a predominantly male profession, you have an opportunity to broaden those expectations, not just for your son but for girls and young women who may aspire to be you (or at least to be like you). What would you say to them?
Be unapologetic about who you are. I went a long time denying my internal desires and trying to live up to the expectations of what other people thought I should be. As soon as I admitted to myself who I am and what I want, I not only earned respect but demanded it. I stopped following the crowd and became a leader in my own life and, trust me when I say, the stigma of being a single mother made it extremely difficult to own that position. Where single dads are put on some pedestal for simply not neglecting their kids, the jokes about, stereotypes of, and expectations for hard-working single mothers is very real. Stepping outside of the box you’re put in will make the masses question everything you are doing but just set out to be happy and prove everybody wrong. Take something that makes you feel weak and turn it into your story of strength and resilience. Don’t let your circumstances keep you from pursuing your purpose.
You’ve released two songs so far and I think you have others recorded – ideally, what do you see in the Solhounds’ future?
Right now we’re trying to get the word out and gain some traction so that when we finally release a full-length album, people will actually care. It’s so expensive to make well-recorded music when no one’s really buying it so we’ve gotta get those numbers up by working these singles as best we can. We have enough material for a full-length and continue to write more. My hope is that we can come out with a solid release in the fall of 2019 and release a few more singles in between now and then.
You just appeared at Toronto’s historic Horseshoe Tavern on the 29th… how was the experience?
We were really fortunate to have debuted in Toronto at a legendary venue where I have seen some of my favourite bands perform in the past. And sharing the stage with solid Toronto acts SATE, CATL, and Celebration Army, was a huge opportunity for a relatively new band from Winnipeg. Everyone was so kind to us and really excited about our music which, apparently, doesn’t happen too often in Toronto – or so I was told. So hopefully that’s true and we made a mark because we are definitely coming back and looking to make some waves in that scene.
Any tour/concert appearances this summer, e.g., at festivals and such, that you’d like to highlight for folks?
As soon as we get back home we’ll be booking our next tour out this way (Ontario and Quebec) which will be from mid to late August. In June, we’ll be doing some Western Canadian dates with a band from Europe called Maplerun and we’re also confirmed to play Toba Rock Fest and Hoot Owl Festival in Manitoba in August so it’s going to be a great summer!