At a time when the music industry’s habit of questionably treating women is in the spotlight, it’s refreshing to see new music continuing to emerge unhindered from all-girl bands. The ways the industry sometimes undervalues, and other times is openly hostile to, women’s involvement in music scenes is not news, but recent testimonies to the industry’s sexism from Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, and Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors, not to mention Ke$ha’s highly publicized, but unsuccessful, court case against producer Dr Luke, have brought the ways ongoing industrial sexism stymies women’s participation into a public conversation. Understanding the systemic challenges facing women in popular music, the fact that so many women not only continue to participate in the music industry but are also producing boundary-pushing and exciting new work provides some solace to armchair feminists who thought these battles had already been fought and won.
It’s this that makes the emergence of The Tommyhawks; a four-piece, all-female, blues influenced, indie-grunge band hailing from Perth, Western Australia, so timely. Owing some debt to the women’s grunge movement of the early nineties, such as riot grrrls, Sleater-Kinney, and Courtney Love who the band supported in their early days on the Perth leg of her 2014 tour, The Tommyhawks are nonetheless fresh, friendly and fierce. With explosive and energetic live sets and a punchy debut EP We’re All Meat And We’re Gonna Eat, The Tommyhawks have established their presence as women who want to rock.
And rock they do. After an east coast tour in late 2015 and extensive gigging on the small festival circuit, The Tommyhawks’ live set is tightly wound around lead singer Addison Axe’s alternately smooth and unctuous or raw and rasping vocal delivery. Bassist Ness and drummer Jess push the groove with a force that’s almost primal to match Axe’s scrawly lead guitar, with punctuation from Thea Woodward on tenor sax. It’s a combination that exudes vitality and gets audiences on their feet and dancing every time.
After a hit crowd-funding campaign to record their follow up EP, the band headed back to the studio earlier this year to make Hurling Sticks and Stones, with veteran Perth producer Dave Parkin at Blackbird Sound Studio. Although not slated for release until June, the EP is already adding to the band’s tight-knit fan base, with first single “New Friends” receiving widespread attention and forthcoming single “Hollow” nominated for a coveted WAM award from the WA Music Industry’s local advocacy body.
You can catch the Tommys at Fairbridge Festival (WA) or Mount Beauty Music Festival (VIC) this April. Hurling Sticks and Stones drops in June, but in the meantime catch up with the band’s four-girls-in-a-van tour antics at their Facebook page, or stream their debut at soundcloud.