Thinking Inside The Box - An Interview with Jackknife Stiletto

Any band that has in its name a weapon and a must-have item of women's footwear has got to be awesome. 


Jackknife Stiletto is a kick-ass rock band from New York. Aren't all great punk bands from New York at some point or another? I certainly think so. Jackknife Stiletto aren't just a band however. They are also the founders of VagXCore, a female-focused music promotion group. The ladies also have a killer sense of humor. Jackknife Stiletto is Sam Stellar (vocals and bass), Annie Stoic (guitars and backup vocals), and Mel Funk (drums and backup vocals). They`re sexy, ferocious, and I`m here to tell you that you owe it to yourself to check them out. Remember, how many times have I been wrong so far? Exactly. 

After listening to Jackknife Stiletto you're left thinking one of two things. First: "What the heck was that? It was awesome!!!!" Second: "I'm secretly, delightfully afraid of this brand of rock'n'roll played by kick ass women." If you listened carefully, you are thinking both of the above. 

The power rock trio recently headed down to play some shows en route to their debut at the SXSW festival. We caught up with them after they tore Austin a new one and here's what they had to say.

Playing With Chaos (PWC) How did your band form/get together? 

Annie & Mel met at a shuffleboard tournament in college while pursuing Zombology degreesThey later met Sam on FarmersOnly.com, where the band instantly clicked. Yeehaw!

PWC: You are also the founders of VagXcore. Can you explain to our readers what VagxCore is and how integral it is to the kind of music you're writing?

Vagxcore is female rock~n~roll, in every way, shape, and form. We work hard at promoting female musicians in the industry and strive to make a community of female musicians supporting each other. We do spotlights of different bands each month on our VagXCore website.Think inside the box.
PWC:  Who are/were your influences and inspiration as you became musicians and continued to grow as musicians?

Annie:Tim Armstrong
Sam: Billie Joe Armstrong
Mel: Neil Armstrong
PWC:  We like gear A LOT at Playing With Chaos. :) What does your live/studio rig consist of? 

Sam: A Crate BT50 combo amp and a Fender Jazz Bass
Annie: I play through a Marshall 4x10 1965A cab, a Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier, a Gibson Les Paul Studio, and a Gibson SG.
Mel: I have my DDrum Diablo Punx 5 piece kit, with a 12x6 Gretsch Mahogany Snare, a 14x5 Pearl Chad Smith Signature Snare, Evans heads, Remo snare heads, Zildjian cymbals, and I use a Tama Iron Cobra Power Glide kick pedal

PWC: Some musicians practice 8 hours a day, others never touch their instrument outside of playing live gigs. Where does the band fall on this spectrum and how did each of you first come to play your instruments? Did you take lessons? is anyone classically trained?

We strive to practice 2 to 4 times a week together as a group, usually for about 2 to 3 hours at a time. We also have sectionals, so the rhythm section, just guitars, just vox, no vox, etc. Band practices are super important to us. It not only helps us connect musically, but mentally as well. It's very important to be aware of what your band mates are playing and really listen.Aside from band practices...

Mel: I first took lessons on organ and keyboard. I later took up the drums in school and have since taken private lessons from various teachers including Brian Viglione (of the Dresden Dolls). I went to college for music education where I learned a variety of instruments. I'm now a private music teacher and therefore get to practice at work, so I usually practice about 6 hours a day. 

Sam: I was classically trained vocally, and then I threw all that out the window. I took guitar lessons to learn some technique, and then put that down and picked up a bass. I try to practice bass at least an hour a day, and I sing all day long.
Annie: I took piano lessons first and hated it. While in high school, I snuck around my parents' back to take guitar lessons. I try to practice at least an hour a day.

PWC: You've had the opportunity to open for some very recognizable names in the industry (Bret Michaels, Cherie Currie just to name two) and you've also had Joan Jett attend one of your gigs. What have those experiences been like and what was it like to have someone like Joan in the audience?

We are so grateful to have had these opportunities over the past year. We are continuing to work hard and hope for more opportunities to arise in the near future.
Mel: Having Joan Jett scream "Fuck yeah!" at me while on stage made me almost fall off my drum throne. It was awesome.

PWC: You're currently playing the SXSW festival, which is a great opportunity for the band. What are your upcoming plans in terms of touring/recording?

SXSW was a blast! We hope to play it again next year. We are in the midst of planning a summer tour and hope to have a new album out soon.

PWC:  Any advice for a young person who wants to start a band or be a part of a band? Any specific advice for the girls/ladies that are thinking of venturing into this business?

DON'T DO IT! Just kidding. And for the girls: don't let people discourage you. If you want to achieve something, be prepared to put in the long hard hours of work and practice and make things happen. Don't let anyone hold you back from your dreams. 

PWC: Do you have any special thank yous or messages for specific individuals/fans/supporters?

We would like to thank all our friends, family, fans, and stalkers for their continued support. We would also like to thank all of the awesome bands that we have performed with on the road, the venues, promoters, and radio stations who have helped us along the way.
Sam: Thank you to my mom and Satan. And to all my therapists.
Annie: Thank you to our European Tour Manager, Nore. P.S. Mom, I did need therapy.
Mel:Thank you to all the music teachers I've had over the years, and "Band Mom"... my #1 fan.
And most of all, thank you to Martina and Playing With Chaos for taking the time to talk with us. (Ed`s Note:The pleasure was all mine ladies!) We look forward to seeing you all on the road!

The ladies of Jackknife Stiletto (Mel, Annie, & Sam) can be found on Facebook, Twitter (one of the BEST Twitter accounts in the world if you ask me!) and on their very own Jackknife Stiletto website. Do yourself a favor and listen to some of their music over at Reverbnation. And remember to think inside the box. Your ears will thank you.