Don't Have a... Well, You Know

the band

Vancouver Quartet Hissy Fit

Interview and photography by Rodney Gitzel

43-second excerpt from "Human Waste" (various formats)

Hissy Fit is relatively new to the Vancouver music scene. It was a year ago when vocalist Gisele Grignet decided to finally form a band, something she'd wanted to do for some time. She hooked up with drummer Scott Wong and started doing auditions.

"I dragged a bunch of people in here [the band's rehearsal space] to jam. Half left. Scott's the only original remaining member. It was like a six-week process, I guess, filtering in Rich [Colwell, bass], and then Terry [Armstrong] asked to join when our guitar player wasn't going to work out." Which is probably good, laughs Scott: "We would sound like Bad Company, now, if we had kept him."

So by January they were a band, and in February they played the Niagara for their first show. The memory sets Rich laughing. "I remember that night! I used to play drums, so this was my first time playing a stringed instrument live. It was a kind of... unusual... experience."

The band released a six-song demo cassette, Rude Like Me, in May, "mostly to get shows," says Terry. "We've had a good response to the tape. It's getting played a lot [on radio], which is good. It's even charted on some station in Ontario." Since then, they've been playing as often as they can.

cover of 'Rude Like Me' Hissy Fit was also among 27 bands that made the first cut for CITR's annual Shindig competition, and they managed to win in the first round in September, much to their own surprise. "We're goin' to the semis, man!" exclaims Gisele. "And we weren't even wearing fur bikinis!" [ed. They didn't make it to the finals, as they lost out in the semis to Harvey Switched. Click here for a review of the finals.]

"We did go in expecting to lose," she admits. "But actually one of the other bands that played that night was there to win. They even brought two sound guys!" "It was kinda tense loading out at the end of the night," says Rich. "Yikes, yeah, they were pretty upset," responds Gisele. "They were really pissed off. In fact, those were the dirtiest looks I've ever had from people who don't know me."

They will join eight other bands in the semis in mid-November at the Railway... for another nerve-wracking night of competition? Terry laughs: "You definitely prepare your fragile ego. Rich and I were in Shindig a couple years ago with another band. The judges did not like us." Former drummer Rich concurs: "They said the drummer looked constipated. And that we weren't funny enough." So Hissy Fit was funny enough? "Yeah," smirks Terry. "I kept my mouth shut."

So how do the members of Hissy Fit describe their band? "We don't," says Terry. "I just don't like to describe us, because it always sounds so silly to me to describe what YOU are doing, because people are going to hear it themselves and decide." Scott adds: "If we don't pigeon-hole ourselves, then we can evolve. That's the problem, if we tag ourselves as punk rock or whatever then we can't change."

Punk might be a good first approximation, but they're more bluesy than most punk, and punk isn't where the band all comes from. Laughs Scott, "I'd never listened to much punk before I met these two guys, they're the ones that got me into it. I'm just a hard rock drummer. I'm playing super fast, right, because they're all cracking the whip, 'faster! Faster!'"

the band Has anyone told them the tape sounds kinda like... Hole? You can hear Gisele cringe on the interview tape, but Rich says it's been a while. "The last comparison I heard was to Hüsker Dü," he adds. Says Scott, "I heard L7 and Babes in Toyland, the last time." "Yeah, that and X," says Terry.

But if there's a Hole in Hissy Fit's sound, there's also a lot of Janis Joplin. Gisele agrees, "[Joplin] is a bigger influence, that's for sure." "People are really quick to make the Hole comparison. It's like everyone thinks Courtney Love invented screaming," Terry adds. "I think the comparisons to Hole actually stopped, though, when Gisele's hair fell out. It's kind of a coincidence, but she had blonde hair."

If you wanna see Hissy Fit play live -- minus Gisele's blonde hair -- check out "Girl Feast," an amazing festival of girl bands at the Columbia Hotel November 7-9. Also playing are Spiritual Heroine, It's Not My Onion, Lisa Dewey, the Go-Devils, Lissa Buerge, Celestial Magenta, Jabber, Liquid Amber, Jessica Rose, Puncture, Revulva, Mizmo, Dirty Harriets and Jen Wood. Whew! Proceeds go to the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre, and Hissy Fit play on the Friday night.

Any last words? Yeah, says Terry: "If someone wants a tape, they can come to one of our shows. That's not to bribe people to come to our shows, it's just reality. That tape is like our business card. So, if you come to the show and come up and talk to the band, you're probably gonna get a tape."

First published in Drop-D Magazine on October 31, 1996

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