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Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011

Resist Her Transistor: Rockin' Tough Ladies

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Before they formed Resist Her Transistor, Mandy Montanye and Stephanie Schreiber decided to step away from the band they had formed with two other women, The Riveters, to pursue a new interest: roller derby. Montanye had signed on with the Brew City Bruisers league on the Maiden Milwaukee team, skating under the name “Mandini.” Schreiber laced up skates with a rival team, the Rushin' Rollettes, coining herself “Jailhouse Roxie.”

“I think it helped me get over my stage fright,” Montanye says of the skating experience. “It's still there, but when you get knocked on your ass into a video camera and five people in front of 2,000 other people, missing a note or a beat isn't really a big deal.”

Although the two had become derby stars, they were still musicians at heart. The two had met a decade ago at the Cactus Club and have performed with a variety of punk and indie-rock bands over the years.

The idea to try another band formed at a roller derby post-bout party where Montanye and Schreiber talked to drummer Andy Stilin, who had drummed in a different band with Montanye, The Mandates. Over drinks, the three dreamed up a power trio with Stilin on drums, Montanye on bass and Schreiber on guitar, with both women singing.

Resist Her Transistor began composing some classic-sounding punk songs, with titles like “Crash and Burn,” “It's Not Me, It's You” and “Patty Hearst.” They inevitably drew some comparisons to The Runaways.

“I think it's just because we're girls, and it's rock 'n' roll,” Schreiber explains.

“That, and Steph's singing is kind of aggressive,” Montanye adds.

“I guess for me it is just more fun to sing stuff that is angrier sounding,” Schreiber says. “It's not really that I'm angry. It's just… I don't know, singing happy songs gets kind of boring pretty quickly.”

Schreiber records song ideas on a CD and gives it to her two band mates, who then give feedback on songs they like and begin writing their parts of the song. The group has limited practice time, so they try to make the most of it.

“It makes our time together more efficient, so we're not just messing around,” Schreiber says.

“We're not really into jamming,” Montanye agrees.

“Well, sometimes jamming is all right,” Stilin offers.

“Sometimes it's fun,” Montanye agrees. “But we're not like, 'Let's get together and smoke weed and play music for four hours,” she adds, imitating a stoner's voice.

The trio has been working on their first album, a 13-song self-titled CD that will see a release party Aug. 19 at Linneman's Riverwest Inn—a show they are playing with Milwaukee punk legends Wanda Chrome and the Leather Pharaohs.

The band members agree that they sometimes face misconceptions because of their lineup. First, people occasionally assume that Stilin is in a relationship with one of the other members because he is of the opposite sex.

“Because you can't have a girl in the band without her doing someone,” Montanye says sarcastically.

And despite the fact that Stilin leaves the songwriting up to his band mates, he is sometimes perceived as the master songwriter.

“They think you write the songs, too,” Schreiber says to Stilin.

“Yeah, we're like your harem,” Montanye jokes. “Your harem of rock.”

Resist Her Transistor's album release party is Aug. 19 at Linneman's Riverwest Inn.
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