Royal Court: An Interview with Queen V

Are you ready for a revolution? Then you're in the right place. New York-based rocker Queen V recently held court with us to chat about her album "Decade of Queen V" and give us some gear rundowns and philosophical decrees about rock music. If you've never heard of Queen V, keep in mind that she's worked with rock giants Lemmy (of Motorhead fame) and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave). In other words if you are into rock music, you need to know who she is if you don't yet. How else are you going to keep up with all the "cool" kids at the office? Right, there are no cool kids at your office, but that only leaves you to uphold the torch of rock'n'roll for future generations, so read up!
You've entered into the realm of an edgy, fearless, self-assured brand of rock'n'roll that is in this writer's opinion, in short supply. Queen V was recently featured in Guitar World magazine as an "up and coming" band. Truth be told, she and the boys have been at this rock music thing for quite a while. Here's what she had to say to Playing With Chaos.

Playing With Chaos (PWC): Your new album “The Decade of Queen V” is a representation of the last 10 year’s worth of music from Queen V. For fans that are new to your music, when and how did your journey as a guitarist/singer/songwriter begin?

Queen V (QV):I started playing piano when I was 5 and started writing songs a couple of years later. Eventually I picked up my brother’s guitar, because I wanted to be able to jump around while I played, and you just can’t do that with a piano! I also wanted to be able to play all those rock songs I knew and loved, those iconic riffs and chord progressions. I started my first band soon after that, and over the next several years I started to figure out who I was and what moved me to sing and write and play. I always sang, ever since I can remember, but it wasn’t until the “Queen V” era that I really found my voice. And the more I worked at it, the more my confidence grew, and things fell into place.

PWC: A lot has changed in the music industry in the past ten years. Many bands confuse social media with building a fan base. Many of those bands don’t survive much longer than their latest Facebook post. How have you survived the industry for over a decade and what role does social media play in your relationship with fans today?

QV: For me, it was always getting the basics right, and never straying too far from them, and the basics, of course, are the songs (songwriting), recordings, performances (shows). There’s also what I call overall “interaction” with fans, which was a little harder to cultivate in the early days. The only way to reach fans as an independent artist was to go and play in their town and tour your butt-off, and hope to get an address to send them a postcard, etc etc… Now you can email people directly and keep them in the loop.  You can reach out to them on the Socials and share all kinds of things with them, and I think that’s been really important for fleshing out who you are as an artist, what you’re up to, what you’re working on, etc… But of course the big hope in connecting with fans on line is to meet them in person, at a show. That is the #1 way to interact with them, in my opinion, because they can really see what the boys (in the band) and I are all about.

PWC: You recently won the battle of the bands slot for the Uproar Festival at Jones Beach. What was that entire experience like?

QV: I was lucky enough to experience what a rock festival was like in Europe as a teenager, and from that time on, I have been IN LOVE with festivals! The live music, atmosphere, the people, all the vendors and booths, and being outside all day/night – that magic combination along with my passion for rock n roll just lit me up inside from the get-go. So to win that slot – thanks to our fans!!! – and to be able to perform on that stage in that setting was a BIG thrill. The audience was very receptive to our show, even though many of them had never heard our music before.  And I got the chance to talk to some of them after the show, and to me that’s why the live show is so special – because it’s all about the human element of rock… being there IN PERSON to perform the music, and meeting the people … It goes back to that “interaction” thing…. There’s an exchange of energy between the performer and the audience that to me is sacred. It is an honor to be onstage and an even bigger honor that people want to come to the show to see what’s happening on a stage. So you have to leave it all out there – If we don’t sweat, they don’t sweat!

PWC:You had the chance to work with both Lemmy (Kilmister) and Tom Morello. How did that come about and what were those experiences like?

QV: Back in 2004, we were playing at the Viper Room in as part of the NYC RNR Compilation Tour, opening for Steel Panther (which was called Metal Shop, in those days).  My band and I were all fired to perform as it was our 1st show ever in LA. Lemmy and Tom both happened to be in the audience that night and saw our show. We became fast friends and stayed in touch. Soon enough, I was working on some new songs and simply asked them to be part of it and contribute and fortunately they kindly obliged. They have both been very supportive of my efforts and I have so much respect for them as musicians and as people.

PWC: Your album packs a distinctive hard hitting New York rock punch. What was the songwriting process like and where do you draw your inspiration from for your songs?

QV: Living in New York can be very intense, there’s a whole lot hitting your senses at the same time, and there’s a certain energy there that I feed off of. So some of the music was inspired by just that: what it was like coming up in the city, all the trials and tribulations of being a musician, especially songs like “Million To One,”  “Revolution Baby,” “America” and “Wasted.” Other songs are a bit more personal, … songs like “Good Enough” and “Cry For A Minute.” But at the end of the day, it all comes down to a general feeling and a passion for life that I try to get across in the music, so the process is quite varied but always rewarding.

PWC: You’re a guitarist. What equipment do you use as a part of your live/studio rigs?

QV: I’ve always said I’m a Gibson girl, except for my Tele! I’ve got a Silverburst Les Paul (Ed.'s note: which this blogger is in absolute love with, for the record) and an acoustic J-185 which I love to play anytime, anywhere. My Flying V is a rock MACHINE and has ended up on many of the recordings as well.  String-wise, on electrics I used to play 10-52s but now I just play 11s and call it a day. Acoustic, I play 12s. I pretty much play uniquely through Vox amps (love the hot box!!), and have a couple of pedal boards. One is scaled down, with just a tuner, BB pre-amp pedal, MXR Micro-Chorus and an A/B switch for acoustic/electric. My bigger pedal board is a bit of a monster! Lots more to play with….I am experimenting with it on some new material, so we’ll see what happens there!

PWC: Some musicians do scales studies every morning, while others only play when they’re on stage or in a recording studio. What do you do in terms of your “practice” routine or to keep your guitar skills where you like them to be?
QV: I play guitar (and piano) as much as I can and I am always learning, studying, and trying to improve on my skills, and that goes double for singing and songwriting. There are definitely scales involved! For me, the main thing is to be consistent with the playing and to stay inspired, even in your practice, not just onstage. I just try to keep growing and challenging myself everyday, as much as possible.
PWC: What bands/artists are you currently listening to? Anything/anyone that stands out that fans may not have heard about yet?
QV: I’ve actually been listening to some music that isn’t as hard-edged, but still kicks ass in my opinion… artists like Gary Clarke, Jr., Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and Fitz and the Tantrums. And then there’s the VirginMarys who definitely know how to bring the rock!!
PWC: Female-fronted bands are currently making a bit of a dent in the old rock’n’roll boys club. Halestorm was the first female-fronted heavy metal band to win a Grammy. Heart just got inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. Joan Jett was just honored at the Sunset Strip Music Festival and has a new album out. Bands like Huntress, The Butcher Babies, and Dead Sara are becoming huge draws at festivals. What do you think of the recent interest in female-fronted bands and what do you think the future holds for women in rock?
QV: Well, first let me say IT’S ABOUT TIME!! I am proud of my fellow sisters in arms and give kudos and thanks to all the people who support them.  I am very excited about the recent progress for women in rock, and consider myself part of that crusade. Sometimes it takes a while for people to embrace it that women are in roles that are more commonly associated with men, but history has shown that those barriers diminish over time because society calls for it. The people have spoken and they want to see and support women who will rock their faces off.
Queen V just recently released a new video for the song "Right or Wrong", and a lyric video for the track "Die For You", both of which you can see below (and you should if you still care about being cool). If you have the opportunity to check out Queen V, it is an absolute must. Tour dates as well as updates about the band and their latest projects are available on the website:
"Right or Wrong"
"Die For You" Lyric Video: